Most people are fans of something, be it athletes, sports teams, actors, fictional characters, shows, movies, games, and just about everything else. For some, their preoccupation for whatever they are fans of will reach levels that they will want to document and share it with others that share their interest. In some cases, they might even have the motivation to evangelize other people into getting into the same fandom.
People start organizations, start forums and mailing lists, and in many cases (if not all), they claim a bit of internet cyber-real estate and set up a website for their fandom. Nowadays, with all the options provided to the average internet user, setting up a website is virtually free of charge, and it takes just some elbow grease and learning to get it done right.
To aid the would-be fansite webmaster/mistress, here are some universal, practical, and useful tips to get you started on your very own website tribute to your favorite thing/s:
Get a Reliable Host and Platform
All of your creative and physical energies will simply go to waste if you are not going to establish your site in a virtual space that will render it inaccessible, slow, or glitch-ridden beyond browsability. Cheap WordPress hosting (and even free, via wordpress.com), for example, is available from many providers, so there’s no excuse when it comes to this.
It also helps that the WordPress platform is very flexible, and the more you learn how to tweak and add to it, the better your fansite will become. I suggest you start on this and migrate to another platform only if you have a darn good reason (none come to mind right at this moment).
Respect the Intellectual Property
Being a fan doesn’t give you the right to lift any of the material relating to your fandom and posting them onto your site without permission or attribution. You have to do your homework and find out just what images, videos, texts, etc. are allowed to be shared by the owners of your particular interest.
In most cases, if the thing you are a fan of has an official site, there might be “fansite kits” that they provide that contain items that you can use for your site such as images, video clips, and other such material. When in doubt, you can always email them whether something is free to post or share. In almost all cases, do attribute something to their owners/creators.
Provide Meaningful Information
While gushing on and on about how you like/love something is valid in a fansite, it would also be a good idea to provide useful information about your object of obsession. Fansites must be able to provide a wealth of news, updates, and information about the chosen subject, and it should be done in a tasteful manner, especially if one of the objectives is to attract more people into the fandom.
Fortunately, WordPress has a lot of free-to-use templates and layouts that will make your content presentable enough, at least until such time as you develop a good eye for web layouts yourself. A good way to ease into this is to start with an available theme or layout, and begin altering the visual elements on it to make it your own.
Enjoy Your Fandom
Don’t lose sight of the reason why you are setting up your own fansite. Most of the really good fansites are designed and maintained by true adherents to their favorite thing, and that’s what fuels the creative evolution of your site.
Having a financial motivation (like placing ads, selling stuff, etc.) is not wrong, but if it ends up getting in the way of the reason why you set this site up in the first place, then it might just have to go.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Klearchos Kapoutsis