2019’s greatest hits

At the end of each year I look back at how this blog performed: raw stats and popular posts. It’s a chance to revisit the best of what I published this year.

Pageviews are down in 2019, largely due to search driving way less traffic, as I wrote about here. Search started driving big traffic here in 2015 (about 138,000 views) and continued through 2016 (127,000) and 2017 (also 127,000). It started to fall off in 2018 (96,000), and dropped sharply this year (60,000).

If you subtract search-driven views from the last five years’ total visits, you get 132,000 in 2015, 124,000 in 2016, 160,000 in 2017, 149,000 in 2018, and 152,000 in 2019. 2017 remains this blog’s best year in terms of pageviews, but overall I think Down the Road is still growing, slowly.

Here’s a far better measure of this blog’s success: comments are way up. (About half the comments represented in this count are mine, as it’s my policy to respond to nearly every comment.) I blog because I want to engage with people like you, so thank you for every comment!

And now, the traditional Top Five lists. First, my five favorite posts. If you click no other links on this page, click these. I put my whole heart into these posts.

These are 2019’s five most-viewed posts, thanks largely to being shared widely on Facebook. I don’t much like Facebook anymore, but it’s hard to ignore how powerful of a platform it is for promoting little blogs like mine.

  • Welcome to New Carlisle — A small town on the Michigan Road in northern Indiana, New Carlisle retains considerable charm.
  • The giants at Bernheim Forest — You can still go see these remarkable wood sculptures at Bernheim Forest in Kentucky.
  • A 1989 photo ride — I took my camera out on my bicycle in the Terre Haute neighborhood where I lived after graduating from college.
  • Kodak No. 2 Brownie, Model F — This 90-year-old box camera still has the touch. It’s a decent camera even today.
  • Recommended film labs — Do you have film you’d like to have developed? These are the labs I recommend.

This year I decided to teach myself to develop my own black-and-white film, and scan it. You all taught me a lot in your comments — thank you! Three of the top five most-commented posts relate to that project.

I appreciate it when you click Like on one of my posts when you don’t have a comment to offer, because then I know you’re still out there. Here are the five posts that got the most likes this year.

Thanks for reading Down the Road this year! Now on to 2020.

If you’d like to see my Greatest Hits posts from past years, they’re all here.

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2018’s greatest hits

Every year at this time I look back at how this blog performed: raw stats and popular posts.

Down the Road stats as of a few days ago

Visits to my blog were down by 10-15% compared to last year. My October blog sabbatical hurt: visits dropped by a third, and recovered only weakly after I returned to blogging.

The biggest loss was in search-driven visits, which are down a quarter to a third. A handful of my posts answer common questions for film-photography newbies. Tens of thousands of visits each year used to come from people Googling for those answers. Competing articles have appeared on other better-known sites, and disappointingly Google quickly ranked them ahead of my posts. Search-driven visits fell further after I updated and republished those posts this year. Google surely downranked my older posts because the newer ones were too similar.

I’d rather have your engagement with my stories and photographs than fat pageviews from people who never comment, never click Like, never share on social media. That’s why I republished those useful evergreen posts, and plan to do so annually henceforth. It’s also why I’ve been focusing more on great new posts lately. It’s made a difference: new posts get two or three times more views in the first few days than they did just two years ago. That hasn’t made up for the loss of search-driven visits, but it’s helped. I hope this growth trend continues.

My efforts to build a more vibrant community here are paying off: comments were up 30% in 2017, and another 5% this year.

My five personal favorite posts in 2018:

Five most visited posts of 2018:

Five most commented posts of 2018:

Five most Liked posts of 2018:

I look forward to an even more engaged community in 2019!


2017’s greatest hits

It’s my tradition at year’s end to review the most visited, commented, and liked posts I published all year. It always surprises me which posts get the most attention.

Garrett at rest

But as usual, none of my personal favorite posts made the cut. So here are what I think are my five best posts of 2017. I hope you’ll have another look at them; I really put my heart into them.

Thanks largely to having been widely shared around the Internet, these posts were most read this year:

You had the most to say (in the comments) about these posts:

These posts found people’s itchy Like-clicking finger most often:


2016’s greatest hits

Bridgeton Bridge
Well liked in 2016

It’s my year-end tradition to highlight the year’s posts that were most read, commented, and liked.

Thank you for being a part of the Down the Road community this year! I couldn’t have imagined when I started this blog how much I would come to enjoy interacting with you.

Can I ask you to take another look at my five personal favorite posts from 2016? I really put my heart into them, and I’d love it if they’d get a little more attention.

Perhaps the most obvious measure of popularity is pageviews. These posts got the most of those this year:

My favorite measure, however, is comments. I feel like I’ve written something interesting or valuable when lots of you feel compelled to write something in response. And I really enjoy interacting with you over your perspectives and ideas.

If you have a WordPress account, you can click a Like button on my posts. These posts were most Liked:

For giggles, here are this blog’s most-viewed posts of all time:

  • Where can you still get film developed? — This post remains a top-five Google search result when people want to know if their nearest drug store still processes film. Its momentum appears to finally be slowing; it got 20% fewer views this year than last. Still, this year it got 85% more views than the next most popular post.
  • Cameras — This is the homepage for all the cameras I’ve reviewed here. I think it gets mostly organic views, that is, people come here for other reasons and then click the Cameras link that’s on every page.
  • Review: Wolverine Super F2D — This cheap film-to-digital converter has been superseded by newer models, yet this review still gets a lot of visits.
  • What’s a guy who still shoots film supposed to do? — A post in which I lament the loss of inexpensive drug-store film processing.
  • Yashica MG-1 — A camera review. Apparently, few others have reviewed this camera and so my review gets all of the Internet search love.

2015’s greatest hits

It’s my year-end tradition to highlight the year’s posts that were most read, commented, and liked.

Popular in 2015.

But first, some reflections on the year. If I’m judging solely by number of visits, 2015 was the best year ever at Down the Road, with nearly twice as many visits as last year. But almost one in four visits to this blog were to one post: this one about where you can get film developed. It’s a top-ten result for most searches that include “film” and “develop.”

While I love to see lots of visits to my blog, the main reason I write it is because you read it, and you sometimes comment or click Like. It’s enormously satisfying to know that people I’d never encounter otherwise find my thoughts and interests to be interesting.

Here are my five favorite posts from 2015. Unfortunately, my favorite posts are seldom the most viewed, commented, or Liked. So if you don’t remember these, do go read them; I poured my heart into them.

My recent story about the destroyed historic bridge was the most popular post of the year, but film photography with old cameras rounded out the most-read posts I wrote in 2015.

  • 1880 Paoli bridge, destroyed — This post from this past Monday got linked on a couple popular sites and got a lot of views in a short time.
  • Olympus Trip 35, revisited — I hadn’t shot my Olympus Trip 35 for years. I’m a much better photographer now. So I shot and reviewed it again through fresh eyes.
  • Shooting Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400 — Search drove a lot of views of this review of a fast color film.
  • Sears KS Super II — Who would have thought that this simple 35mm SLR from Sears, of all places, would be such a satisfying performer?
  • Canon T70 — Despite being made largely of plastic, this 35mm SLR is capable and fun to use.

You had the most to say about these posts.

My photo posts led you to click the Like button most often in 2015.

These are the most-viewed posts of all time at Down the Road:

Thanks for reading Down the Road!


2014’s greatest hits

Blue flowers
Well liked in 2014

It’s my year-end tradition to highlight the year’s posts that were most read, commented, and liked.

But before I do that, a reflection on this year of blogging. I expanded from three to six posts a week in July, and now I wish I had done that years ago. Since then, you’ve commented and clicked Like more often. A major reason I blog is because of the positive response you give me, so thank you!

Here are my five favorite posts from 2014. I poured my heart into these, so if you haven’t read them, I’d be honored if you’d do so now.

The two most-viewed posts that I posted this year were deliberate experiments in using Google searches to bring visits to the blog. The first was this post about where to get film processed, and the second was this post about the Wolverine Super F2D film-to-digital converter. It took a couple months for Google to catch on, but now those two posts get about 60 visits a day each and have seriously juiced my total daily visit counts. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell none of those visitors have stuck around, but I suppose I should have expected that, as someone looking for advice or a product review is probably not also looking for a long-term relationship with a blog. But check out this stats graph showing the lag between the time I posted the film-processing post and when Google found it and ranked it high in searches about that topic:


The rest of the top five most-visited posts among those I wrote this year are about cameras from my collection:

  • Konica Autoreflex T3 — I’m glad this post got a lot of views because this mid-1970s SLR is a gem and deserves to be better known.
  • Nikon F2AS — Many thanks again to John Smith for introducing me to the world of pro Nikon gear.
  • Kodak Instamatic 104 and Kodak Hawkeye Instamatic — I was surprised at first to find that this post was so popular, but I guess a lot of people must find these common-as-pennies cameras in Dad’s sock drawer, wonder what to make of them, and turn to Google for answers.

These five posts gathered the most comments from you.

You clicked “Like” most often on these five posts.

Finally, just for giggles, here are the five most popular posts of all time (going on 8 years!) on Down the Road: