Building a Fan Community - Entry 1
Since 1999, I've been the webmaster of a number of fan communities based on very popular properties. The communities have all been very successful, and inspired others to build communities of their own. You're probably reading this to learn from my experiences, and perhaps build a successful community of your own around something that you're a fan of, be it a movie, book or musician.
Whatever it is that you're a fan of, your goal is to provide interactivity and content that people are looking for. Here, I'll tell a bit of what I've dealt with over the years, and things that have since changed. It all goes back to high school, when I learned how to build a simple website.
I started out by looking for things that I was interested in, and creating a website based on all of those things. The site literally had about 10 or so different properties listed. While that is okay to do these days, if you can differentiate yourself enough and build a good readership, you should focus on doing one topic better than anyone else.
I came to that conclusion after visiting all of my favorite Star Wars fan sites. I read in a magazine shortly after The Matrix was released that the directors were planning on doing two more films. I looked for fan sites like those that I visited for Star Wars information, and found about seven sites. The only problem with the sites that I found, and this was a big one: no news, just content. So I set to work building what would become the world's largest Matrix fansite.
I gathered up all of the information that I could find, even downloaded all of the current Matrix sites in their entirety. From that information, I created a single resource that included everything, plus a news page and a title to draw in the crowds: The Matrix Trilogy.
After some time, I was contacted by some folks that wanted to build a network of specialty sites to rival IGN. I got the URL, MatrixFans.net, and added forums which helped to bring people back to talk about the films, the news, the rumors and more.