Why did I start an online community?

The truth is, I didn’t set out to. The site was originally started for personal use.

It all started with a seed, a seed of thought. At the beginning of 2006 we, my Wife and I, decided to take a huge gamble and move our family to France. The gamble wasn’t the language, my Wife is French and our kids were both fluent, it wasn’t the country, we knew France and loved it. The gamble was settling into a new community and leaving our comfort zone.

We put our house up for sale in April 2006 and by July 2006 were living out of boxes awaiting our Solicitor to tell us we had exchanged contracts and could move. We couldn’t buy a house in France as we had no idea when we’d complete the sale, we needed the equity in the house to buy and so the ever decreasing circle had started.

Eventually, we moved to France, deciding to rent a short term house in the centre of nowhere while searching for a great place to rent in the beautiful city called La Rochelle. This happened very quickly and we managed to move for the second time to our permanent rental home within two weeks!

So why did we start Fuelmyblog? It was during this particular time that we found the best resources of information came from blogs. Like most people, we didn’t always know that they were blogs, we assumed as do most people that the majority were websites offering advice and help.

Wrong.

The majority of the information and help we gleaned was found within blogs, the problem we had was finding the same blog again. For example, we’d search google for “what is the best car mechanic in La Rochelle” we’d be directed to a blog with some expat’s sharing their real experiences and tips, those tips are so important, Yellow pages doesn’t give true reviews, google offers sponsored results, we could only take advice from real experiences. Instead of writing the URL down, we’d do the same google search a few weeks later once ready to get the work done and not be able to find that blog again, information gone.. The seed had been sown.

After the above scenario had happened many times, it became apparent to me that there must be somewhere on the web that I could find a whole bunch of good, non spammy websites, easily, a place where that same blog would be in one months time. I found some “blog” communities existed but after 5 or 6 (seemingly endless) clicks I would finally end up at a blog selling timeshare on a house in Bulgaria even after calling itself an blog offering advice to English Speakers in France. I found myself simply swimming around communities of spam and well, not blogs as promised.

I still had no thoughts or desire to start a community, all I wanted to do was find good blogs easily. At around the same time, there was a lot of noise on the internet and TV about a site called milliondollarhomepage this was created by a young guy called Alex Tew, he wanted to pay his University fees and basically sold pixels for cash and displayed the advertisers all on one page. This to me sounded like a perfect way of displaying blogs, simple but effective, but I wanted to display things on a larger easier to view format..

I then spent the next three months furiously working on my day job, fixing up meetings with CEO’s of blue chip companies in the UK, my role was selling the idea that the company I worked for would (for no upfront fee) go in and save them at least 20% of their current IT and Telecoms spend. You would think everyone would listen to that kind of statement. Not in corporate heaven, in corporate heaven, executives are unable to see into the future. I had one proposal turned down where we proved to the largest Scottish Bank that we could guarantee to save the £100m of their current telecoms spend, and they would have to do nothing extra to achieve this. They were “too busy” to look. We guaranteed it.. Whilst this job paid well, it was hardly exciting nor a challenge and I kept going back to those damn blogs..

The next chapter of my life was about to start, I Googled “I need a coder”..