Edublogs is an influential and widely used blogging platform specially designed for teachers and students. Blogger Larry Ferlazzo interviewed its founder, James Farmer to find out his vision for the company's future and the story of its beginnings. When asked about what he had learned since founding Edublogs, Farmer replied:
-Doing something that you are passionately interested in is a great start for any project, I honestly don't think I could really have gotten anything done or, in fact, do anything in the future that I didn't really care about. Of course there comes a point where your interests shift (for example, I'm no longer a teacher) but at that point you better hire some folk who are passionately interested in it! Sue and Ronnie are the backbone of what we do now, they both rock out and I'm very lucky to be able to work with both of them.
- You've got to be generous, and you'll receive what you give back, but you cannot be utopian and there comes a point where you need to recognize the value of what you offer in order to make it sustainable.
I was utterly committed to providing a platform that gave people the world for basically nothing (apart from generous 'supporter' donations by committed users, for a very long time--essentially paid for by institutions using Edublogs Campus and my other work at Incsub.
But it became apparent that this just wasn't manageable $s wise and so I did a bit of a backflip, reducing features and introducing some advertising for non-paying users--albeit at the cost of a coffee p/month for a whole class of blogs--but it was that that's really made Edublogs what it is today, as it gave us the ongoing financial resources to not just carry on but improve and expand.
It was a bloody hard decision, and I got roundly panned by a lot of folk, but I believe that we offered and have consistently improved upon since then a great product for very little cost that really meets the needs of educators the world over.
Basically, you've got to give, give and give again--help people, teach them and care for them but at the same time recognize your value and and how, without a sustainable financial model, you're not going to be able to do the good which was you main intention in the first place.
Goodwill and fresh air only goes so far :-)