2020’s greatest hits

Every year at this time I look back at the year’s most popular posts and review my stats. I started doing this because I figured, who’s reading my blog on New Year’s Eve anyway? Then it turned out to be a nice way to reconnect you with my favorite posts from the year, which never get the most pageviews.

Down the Road got about 15 percent more pageviews this year than last year, returning to 2018 levels but not approaching this blog’s salad days of 2015-17.

I credit two things. First, a change in Google’s search algorithms early this year benefited my little blog — search traffic is up more than 30 percent over last year. Second, I leaned much more aggressively into sharing my posts on Facebook. It helped a lot. Visits from Facebook are up more than 30 percent this year, too. I was especially pleased by the reception my road-trip posts got via Facebook, as those are normally the least popular posts I write.

Comments are up slightly over last year. This is my favorite metric on the blog because it represents engagement with you.

Here are the five posts I liked best this year. True to form, they weren’t the most popular. If you didn’t read them the first time around, I hope you’ll click and read them now. I put my whole heart into them.

My most viewed posts from 2020 rose to the top thanks to heavy sharing on Facebook. Here are the top five:

Pageviews are nice, but I write this blog to engage with you. That happens when you leave a comment! Here are 2020’s five most commented posts:

  • Help me test my blog: I was trying to track down a problem I was experiencing with comments. I wrote this one-paragraph post asking you to leave a comment to help me test the problem. You did, in larger numbers than on any post I’ve ever written!
  • Film photography blogs you should follow: This annual post is always popular and you always recommend in the comments more blogs I don’t know about.
  • 53: Thank you for wishing me well on my birthday!
  • Another go with LegacyPro L110 developer: You all gave me excellent advice and perspective as I continued to learn home film development.
  • Juneteenth: are we really woke this time?: We had a constructive conversation about race and discrimination. Those are so rare on the Internet.

Thanks for reading in 2020!

To get Down the Road in your inbox or reader six days a week, click here to subscribe!
To get my newsletter with previews of what I’m working on, click here to subscribe!


15 thoughts on “2020’s greatest hits

  1. Andy Umbo says:

    Thanks for the revisit on Miami Village and Brant’s. Great to read again. I grew up in Chicago and then Milwaukee, and both had these type of neighborhoods, mostly around the two largest cross-streets near you. Chicago was always known as the “city of neighborhoods”, and we had our own candy store around the corner from me and knick-knack shops, etc. Same in Milwaukee.

    This has always made me a city dweller, and for the most part, I’ve never lived in a neighborhood that I couldn’t walk to get a newspaper (hence me ending up in Zionsville), and my parents were never part of the “white-flight” suburban movement! I can’t imagine what it would be like depending on your parents to drive you everywhere in the ‘burbs, or limiting yourself to what you could do on your bike. We used to run everywhere and do everything, including taking the bus (a block away) to the “Moon Fun Shop” downtown to buy old movie stills, magic stuff, and prank stuff like fake doggy-doo!

    I still live in a city neighborhood with two well known pizza joints, two blocks away, a bus-stop a block away that has a bus line that runs all over town and enough busses that it passes the corner every 20 minutes; and walkable to a high-end coffee shop and two bakeries and, yes believe it, a candy store (altho very high end)! Migration stats show that people want to live in there places, and are trying to move into those areas. Let’s keep them alive!

  2. My favorite posts are typically the more personal ones where you share lessons learned. Perhaps that’s because I’m always trying to unlock the mystery of how to be a better me and you share smart reflections about yourself and your own life.

    My favorites more closely align with yours than with the masses as I remember all of these by title alone but none of the others.

    This is a fun post Jim!

    • I’m pleased that my personal posts are your favorite! It’s a little risky to put myself out there like that and it is worth it only when it connects with people.

      • I look forward to these stories the best! It seems you have a good mixture of content that relates to many readers.

        I know what you mean about putting yourself out there. It’s scary but it can help others and often help you work through your own ideas.

  3. Jen says:

    Are you able to tell when we use a feed reader? I generally read all blogs through feedly, but never thought about how that might impact stats. Happy to click through if it is helpful!

    • Sadly, no. A pageview is registered only when you view my blog on the Web. But truthfully, my stats are all just “fake Internet points” anyway. I’m just happy you’re reading, however you do it.

  4. Thanks Jim. I do enjoy your writing, and like you have found life has many times taken me far from my ideal plans, testing my faith sorely. Untested faith lacks strength, and without all the apparent wrong turns I would not be where or who I am today. So I am grateful for it all, even the really painful bits. Sharing those experiences as you do can be enormously helpful to others struggling with the same issues, so none of it is wasted! Blessings, Steve.

    • I appreciate it, Steve! Life’s definitely taken me far from my plans over the last four years. I’m still struggling to figure out what I need to learn from it.

  5. Victor Villaseñor says:

    Hey Jim! I also use a feed reader but try to come over clicking links whenever I really want to focus on a post. While I do appreciate the camera / film posts… I really enjoy the more personal posts (and sorry, the posts focused on the roads and bridges are not my thing but I like the photos, mainly the bridges!) Here’s to a better-for-everyone 2021!

    • Victor, I do get it that my blog is pretty eclectic and some topics won’t connect with all readers! I sometimes think I should have had three blogs: a roads blog, a photo blog, and a personal blog. Thanks for being a longtime reader!

      • vicvl says:

        I dont think its a good idea, some memorable posts have a mix of all 3 aspects. The road trip with your kids on Route 66 was a great personal post, backed by photos and insights into the route.

        Same as your night time black and white photos of Chicago with the light leaky Nikon.

        All three aspects are part of the blog, even if one is not connecting as much as the other two. All three are part of Down the Road.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.