Blogosphere

13 years of Down the Road

February 7 is a date I know as well as I know my birthday: it’s the day in 2007 that I created Down the Road and published my first post. Happy blogiversary to me!

I’ve been fortunate, as my blog has become popular. Relatively, anyway. It gets about 500 page views every day. That’s pretty good for a fellow from Indiana who writes about his life and his hobbies.

Me at my computer, hobbying out

It took about three years for this blog to begin to find its readership, thanks largely to one of my posts being included in WordPress.com’s old Freshly Pressed feature. Later, Google started ranking some of my film-photography posts high in its search results. Those salad days are over. But a lot of people liked what they found here and have stuck around.

I can’t believe my incredible luck. I love to talk about my hobbies but nobody in my “real life” cares about them like I do. Through the magic of networked computers, I’ve found my people.

And I’ve always been introspective — to a fault. Writing helps me sort my thoughts and feelings, which tangle easily. I’ve found myself much more likely to write when I know someone will read it. I’m not sure I understand this about myself, because some of what I write is private. But every time I share, many readers tell me they’ve had the same or similar challenges. I feel less alone with them. And sometimes someone will share a perspective in a comment that meaningfully helps me through.

Last year, on my 12th blogiversary, I expressed disappointment that my blog wasn’t even more popular. I’ve worked through those feelings and am now simply grateful that this hobby has connected me with so many kind and interesting people who share some of my interests.

Yet I continue to polish this blog and try to extend its reach. I want to attract more people who will find what I do to be interesting. I recently finished updating all 128 of my camera reviews. I’m also quietly refreshing many other old posts that get good search traffic, lightly editing them and enlarging their images. Finally, I’m doing some SEO work on all of my posts — more than 2,600 — that I hope will rank my film-photography and road-trip posts higher on Google. It had better, because the work is ultra tedious.

In my blog’s 14th year I plan to keep reviewing film cameras. About 10 cameras sit in my to-shoot queue, all donations to my collection. I also have a wish list of cameras I’d still like to try I also have a few more cameras to evaluate in Operation Thin the Herd: do they stay or do they go? I’m only keeping cameras that I think I will shoot regularly. I will keep practicing developing black-and-white film until I get consistent results. I will also keep posting my road-trip reports from my old site. Eventually I’ll either shut down my old site or redo it from the ground up with a new purpose.

I also want to self-publish a book of stories and essays from this blog. Many of you tell me that these are your favorite posts here. I’ve been writing them since long before many of you found Down the Road, and I think you might enjoy having them all collected into a volume. I’m thinking about offering a bound paper book and a Kindle book via Amazon Publishing, as well as a PDF I can offer through this site.

I started working on this book while I was unemployed in late 2018, but paused during the heavy challenges my family encountered in 2019. I had hoped to resume work on it late last year so that I could announce its publication today! But that didn’t happen either. I’ve decided not to pressure myself, and instead make it a soft goal to publish it in 2020 sometime. So watch this space for further announcements.

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Last updated on 5 March 2020 by Jim Grey

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39 thoughts on “13 years of Down the Road

  1. Happy blogoversary! You have built something special, a collection of friends of varying interests who have one thing in common – an appreciation for the way one guy shares interesting things from his life. Long may you continue.

  2. Jon says:

    Congratulations Jim! I think I’ve only been following you for ten years, but I’ve enjoyed every post. I think the book is a good idea, your writing is very compelling. Be well.

  3. That’s a heck of an achievement. Congratulations Jim. I can’t honestly remember how and when I first found your blog, but it must be at least 8 years, possibly longer. It’s probably one of the longest relationships I’ve had!

    I could have been running the company by now if you hadn’t distracted me with your daily posts :)

      • Just to add, I remember your post from last year. And in terms of popularity, I’m sure anyone who has an interest in film cameras and film photography, and who uses the Internet to further that interest, will know your site. Being the shy sort of person I am, I’ve never been on one of these photo meet-ups that some people do. But I bet if I did, and I bet if I mentioned your name, nearly everyone would have heard of you. That’s quite an achievement.

        And in terms of getting new readers, I very often see your site in Google searches that I do. Sometimes those searches are even photography-related ……

        • I am not sure I am in touch with how well known I am (or am not). I just do what I do here, all alone. I write this blog alone, I go out to make photographs alone (or sometimes with my wife), I answer comments alone — I feel like I’m just having conversations with people who have overlapping interests. If I’m “heard of” in the wider film photography community, well, I’m a little astonished by it!

  4. I always enjoy reading your posts, Jim. They’re always a part of my morning routine. Your blog seems to unite people with quite a number of different interests.
    Could you please contact me at djphoto@vol.com? I need to ask you a question.

  5. Congrats! Probably among my favorite posts of yours are some of the single frame shots you post, so probably not what you have in mind for the book. But maybe if you were going to include camera review stuff, you would include a resulting single frame from that camera?

  6. Greg says:

    Jim, Congratulations on your perseverance for these last 13 years writing this blog.
    Down the Road is the only blog that I read daily, and my morning is not complete without it. I stopped by the first time for the camera reviews, and stayed for your writing and transparency.
    May God bless and keep you and yours, and wishing you many years of blogging to come.

  7. Congratulations on your anniversary. Appreciate you sharing your expertise, your photos, and your personal thoughts and struggles. Your blog is a good read, keep up the great work!

  8. Congratulations. A lot of blogs have come and gone in that time but Down the Road has not only persevered but increased in frequency. It’s shifted a bit but that turned out just to be some manual focusing.

  9. SilverFox says:

    Belated Happy anniversary Jim, I can only dream of the sort of readership you have which is down to your good writing and subject matter. I hope your book idea is just as successful.

  10. Victor Villaseñor says:

    I am late to this party, but with a heartfelt CONGRATS!

    As you have said yourself, likes (and traffic BTW) is not the true measure, interaction is gold, leaving a comment is what is actually rewarding.

    Keep at it! I surely enjoy Down the Road.

  11. Heide says:

    (Belated) congratulations on your big milestone, Jim! It has been a pleasure and a privilege to follow you these past 10 years or so. You’ve taught me a lot about writing and photography — but also about intangibles such as authenticity and discipline. Here’s to your continued happiness and success.

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