Q&A: Blazes Trails with Community-Centric Innovation

Q&A: Blazes Trails with Community-Centric Innovation founder Dominic Ford is a determined leader in the marketplace of fan platforms, fueled by an insatiable desire to be as innovative on a technological level as on a community level.

“When our main competitor launched, it was clear to me that they didn’t really design their system with the adult industry in mind,” he noted. “At the time, I was a studio owner, and we were very afraid of it. I wanted to create a fan platform that not only understood how the adult industry worked, but that allowed every part of our ecosystem to be part of it.”

We are about to release badges, which are a gamification of our platform.

To that end, he designed with a built-in affiliate program, management consoles for managers and agents, a business directory where photographers and editors can advertise their services, and many other industry-relevant features.

“It was also clear that they didn’t understand even finer differences in our industry, such as how the LGBTQ+ community interacts with its fans,” he added. “I wanted to make sure that understood the needs of the entire industry, and was especially a place where LGBTQ+ and fetish models would feel safe.”

With features and services ranging from creator-centric dating platform to a charitable giving option for creators wishing to donate a percentage of their revenues, seeks to set itself apart in an increasingly crowded field by taking a first-to-market approach with its suite of offerings. As such, not only has Ford won an XBIZ Exec Award for Businessman of the Year, but recently won the XBIZ Award for Creator Platform Site of the Year.

In this company profile, Ford outlines the journey thus far, his overarching mission for the brand, how he executes ambitious goals and the milestones he is aiming for next.

XBIZ: Discuss a few of the biggest company milestones you've achieved since launch.

FORD: There have been so many, which I am grateful for. I think we have established ourselves as the tech leaders in this space. And we certainly have established ourselves as the only fan platform that is really and truly built by and run by models. I feel like all the platforms say that as lip service, but only because they hired one person from the industry to represent the company. Our entire staff is truly from the industry.

Our customer support team is comprised 100% of models who are actively using the site. So there is a level of comfort and understanding our models have with our staff. Once our largest competitor started stealing some of our features, I knew we had really made it and were leading the space. We are No. 1 in consent documentation, No. 1 in technology and No. 1 in customer service. On a personal level, winning the XBIZ Exec Award for Businessman of the Year was a really big deal for me last year.

XBIZ: How has the content creation landscape changed over the years, in your view?

FORD: I remember when studio models turned their noses up at being on a fan platform. But they have since realized how much more lucrative the business model is than the traditional studio model. So now, most studio models are on the fan platforms.

There was this sense several years back that the “amateur” scenes didn’t require the paperwork that studio scenes did — I was guilty of that when I was filming my earlier fan scenes too. But recently it has become clear that the same amount of paperwork studios do has to be done in this realm as well.

JFF makes it super easy to collaborate with models both on and off the platform. We do our best to reduce the time it takes to collect the paperwork, and store it all on our secure servers.

XBIZ: What are a few innovative platform features you released recently that creators really loved?

FORD: Models love that you can sell physical items and attach the items to movies. So wherever the movie is shown on the site, the products for sale that were in the movie are listed for purchase. Models love our new playlist feature, which allows them to curate their content into themes and promote them together. Models also really love how many sales we make for them. We have a lot of features on the site that promote models to fans who might not know who they are. Almost half the sales a model gets on JFF come from our internal traffic. That’s a huge difference between JFF and other fan platforms that rely on models bringing in their own traffic.

XBIZ: How do you approach recruiting and retaining talent?

FORD: We sponsor over 20 in-person events per month as a way to get our brand out there and attract talent. We have our own JFF Fan Favorite Award in most of the important award shows, and we sponsor lots of industry events. We have never recruited models individually, and maybe we should have. But I am also happy that we have models on the site who want to be part of our community, and are not just shilling for us because we are paying them to be there.

XBIZ: What are the biggest challenges on the horizon industrywise and how are you positioning to come out on top?

FORD: Our top challenges are always external: unfair banking practices, morality groups targeting us — the same issues so much of our industry faces. We do our best to do everything in triplicate, so if one relationship ends, there are two more ready to pick up the slack. A lot goes on behind the scenes to make our day-to-day operations seem smooth and consistent, when the reality is that we are constantly making sure these external issues can’t affect us as badly as they want to.

XBIZ: Discuss your strategy for marketing the brand.

FORD: is truly a community-based platform. We are the only platform that has a built-in charitable giving program, in which models can give a percentage of their income to charities we work with, which represent all facets of our community. To date, we have raised over $140,000 for these programs. That’s just one example of how we lead by doing things no one else is doing, and how we don’t just give lip service to the community, but are good stewards of it. Our brand is what we do, not just what we say. We are very big in the LGBTQ+ and fetish communities, and we certainly lean into that. But we exist for everyone!

XBIZ: What upcoming feature are you most excited about releasing for the platform?

FORD: We are about to release badges, which are a gamification of our platform. Models, and eventually users, will be awarded badges for unlocking achievements across the site, like selling custom videos, doing one-on-one live cam shows with fans, etc. We have an annual staff retreat in which we write down goals and feature wish lists for the coming year, and we have a lot on our plate this year, so watch us continue to launch features that drive more revenue to our models.

XBIZ: What kind of content seems to sell best on

FORD: Certainly LGBTQ+ and fetish content seem to be the top sellers on JFF. We have fewer restrictions than our competitors do, so fetishes like fisting and ABDL sell really well. But we are a platform for everyone, and most people find success on JFF. Custom videos — we have an interface where users can choose what they want in the video and prepay for it — sell really well. Our SMS sexting service is doing really well, as is our live cam system.

XBIZ: Talk about your long-term goals for 2023 and beyond.

FORD: We launched this year, which is Grindr/Tinder for verified models across all fan platforms, not just JFF. We continue to try to solve issues that all models are facing, not just those on our platform. In 2023, I hope to expand our brand awareness to make sure all models know they have a safe home at JFF. We only work with sex workers, so there is never a fear that we will try and “mainstream” and kick our community off the site. That’s anxiety models have felt constantly with other platforms, and will never feel with us.

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