Tips & Suggestions
Not sure how to run a fanlisting, what is needed or how to make it stand out from other fanlistings? Here are tips from several successful fanlisting webmasters.
Design and Navigation
- Have a nice site design. Spend time on your layout and use pictures of your subject in it. That lets people know you care about your fanlisting, that you really are a big fan, and a nice design will get people to join faster. If possible, use a real graphics program such as Adobe Photoshop or JASC Paint Shop Pro for making your graphics.
- Make the navigation simple and clear. It's fun to use original names for your sections, but always explain what each section is, so people can navigate your site easily. Make sure it is easy to get around, not too complicated and preferably viewable in 800x600 as well as 1024x768. Otherwise, people might give up trying to figure out where to find the codes or the join form.
- More and more people are using browsers other than Internet Explorer and Netscape. If you can, check to see if your site is compatible with other browsers. Or alternatively, put a warning on your site if it was made to suit IE or Netscape so viewers are aware.
Running Your Site
- Update often - as soon as you get a member, if you can. This will let visitors know that your fanlisting hasn't been abandoned and they will be more inclined to apply if they know that they will be listed quickly and that the webmaster really cares about the subject.
- Use a form for your join page instead of just an email link. People like the interactivity and it's easier and quicker to fill out a form on a webpage than to open up your email program and send a mail from there. Make sure you ask for the required information -- name and country -- any other optional information is up to you. Also, when using a form, use a php or cgi mail script, not a mailto: link in the FORM tag. The mailto: link doesn't work on a lot of browsers, and people who don't use a mail program on their computer but webmail instead (think Hotmail, Yahoo etc.) can't use the form. Visit the Links Centre to find links to recommended mail scripts.
- Need a web host? Check out the Links Center or the Hosting Forum.
- You can get lots of traffic from people or sites who like your subject. Become affiliates with websites related to yours and add meta tags to get higher search engine rankings. Join banner exchanges and webrings related to your subject, get listed at fan sites on your subject and in general link directories. The more visitors you get, the more members will join.
- Get as many members as possible. Do not turn people away (for one, it's against the rules). If people have innappropriate websites (hate, porn, illegal sites), just don't list the website, let them know that in your rules. Accept ALL people, not just people with websites -- it's a "fanlisting," not a "fans with websites listing."
- Always explain what a fanlisting is. Not everyone knows about them - some people who find your site through a search engine may not have seen a fanlisting before.
- If your site will have adult content (images; links etc) then it may be a good idea to have a warning splash page before the site.
- Make sure you have a wide variety of attractive codes, using different pictures. Allow people the option to create their own codes and to donate them for your codes page. It is also useful to have the html code to link back available, not everyone knows HTML very well, and having the code available can make it easier for people to link back. The button sizes people use the most to link you with are 50x50, 88x31, 100x35, 100x50 and 200x40 (mainly used for banner exchanges), so it's good to have at least some (if not all) buttons available in these sizes.
- Make sure you have some content. Everybody has the four basic pages – MEMBERS, CODES, JOIN, and ABOUT. However, there may not be many websites about the subject of your fanlisting and people who visit might want to know more about it. So entertain them to remind them of why they love the subject. Good content might also keep people coming back to your site. For example, if you have a movie fanlisting, write a small summary and review of the film. Screencaps are usually also very much appreciated amongst the fans. It's also fun to create small profiles of your members, by asking them additional question like: What's your favorite character (in case of a movie or show) / song (in case of a band/musician fanlisting) / scene (in case of an episode or movie) and so on. Your members will feel more special with their fave character/song listed, and it makes it easier for them to contact fans with similar interests.
- Remember, if you are including a "Favorites" field, this shouldn't be a required field.