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Gofarmer was set up in 2003/2004 by my partner, John and I. At the time we lived on a traditional Lakeland style hill farm which had been in John's family for 3 generations and included around 73 hectares of pasture and rough grazing. The farm ran around 50 suckler cows and about 120 sheep. John had stopped milking a couple of years before and I was just completing my training as a Solicitor in a local high street firm.

The idea for Gofarmer was initially conceived in the spring of 2003 after we considered various diversification routes for the farm and saw that there was a gap in the market for a farming portal whereby farmers, smallholders and rural businesses could advertise and market their products and services directly to each other and to the public. During Foot and Mouth and movement restrictions, we had seen farmers making more use of the internet to showcase their stock and thought that this provided a good alternative sales strategy to taking stock to auction.

The site took nearly a year to develop but in Spring 2004, Gofarmer was ready to accept its first customers and slowly built up the membership base, starting with local press coverage and extending to more national farming and smallholder publications.

As the site and membership grew, new features were added to the site such as an automatic picture resizer to make it easier for sellers to upload their photographs, a forum for members to get to know one another, a news and article section and statistics for sellers to see how many people have viewed their adverts. Plus at the beginning of 2006, Gofarmer went international, accepting members from France as well as the UK to aid the smallholder, expatriat community in France source and sell produce.

As Gofarmer grew and increased in popularity, there were more email enquiries to answer, more press releases to prepare, more advertising to organise and so in May 2005, I left my job as a Solicitor to concentrate on the day to day running of Gofarmer, while John continued to farm. John and I then spent the summer of 2005 attending over 25 agricultural shows, rare breed shows and sheep dog trials promoting the website. During 2006 we revised the list of shows we attended and went only to the more successful ones from the year before including the Rare Breeds Show at York, the Royal Highland Show, the Royal Show and the Great Yorkshire show.  

The site continued to go from strength to strength and through careful and persistant internet marketing and offline promotions receives over 100,000 hits a month and between 4000 and 6000 unique visitors each month.

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However in summer 2006, John and I parted and I moved back in with parents temporarily, pending my planned move to Bulgaria, where I had become involved in the property market and had several investment properties, as well as a new house built. I did not want to see Gofarmer simply shelved as we had put in so much work and felt that we owed it to our membership base to continue the website. We agreed to continue the business partnership with John fielding telephone enquiries back in the UK and I would oversee the generally running of the website from Bulgaria.

But life is never that simple and my new house was not ready until several months later and so my internet access was restricted. John started working other jobs outside the farm and had little time to devote to Gofarmer and so for the majority of 2007, Gofarmer just plodded on. I managed to keep a general eye on the site, answer email enquiries and in the summer of 2007 had several bugs fixed in the script.

In December 2007, John opted to sign over his share in Gofarmer to me and so I now run Gofarmer and am the sole owner. During 2008 I added Bulgaria to the countries where Gofarmer members could sign up from and did some local advertising to expats in Bulgaria.

In 2009 I decided to do a ski season in the French Alps and absolutely loved living in France so after the summer in Bulgaria I returned to France, initially down near the Pyrenees and then moved up to the Alps, where I met my current partner and set up an airport transfer business. I no split my time between France and Bulgaria. 

In 2010 I moved Gofarmer to a new, more stable server and overhauled the Gofarmer Blog and moved it to a more progressive platform and I set up a Gofarmer Facebook Business Page. I opted to discontinue using Worldpay as the payment processor due to the high yearly costs and set up the site to incorporate Moneybookers. However in 2011 Moneybookers announced they were introducing new charges and so in early 2012 the Gofarmer payment system was changed again, this time to PayPal. The first year introductory £5 offer was removed and instead of subsequent years being charged at £45, a flat yearly subscription of £24.99 was introduced.

I am actively building up inbound links to Gofarmer and marketing online. Gofarmer is now well ranked for a large number of farming and smallholding keywords and phrases and work will continue on this.

The philosophy behind Gofarmer was always to bring the farming community into closer contact nationally (and internationally) and in turn closer to the ordinary public as they are the usually the final customer, especially if farmers are doing bed and breakfast, holiday cottages, farm shops or even home deliveries. I want to create a portal for farming and rural communities in the UK and possibly elsewhere, somewhere to promote goods and services, meet others, find resources and hopefully benefit from being part of a wider community of users. Watch this space.......


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