This series focuses on creators and maintainers of fan sites for the most popular fandoms around. Fan site creators work as unpaid promoters for record labels, movie studios, book publishers, television networks, and more. They often put their own time and money into a marketing campaign for their favorite entertainment with little, if any, recognition from the creators.
In this series, I’ll interview these fan site creators to review the development of their site; their interaction with the writers, performers, and companies that benefit from their fan sites’ popularity; and the reason they’re passionate enough to work as unpaid promoters.
In pop culture history, there have rarely been words that inspire as much emotion as the next two:
Whether you’re around die-hard fans, casual followers, snobby music critics, or full-fledged haters, it’s likely that the name “Justin Bieber” will get an immediate and dramatic response.
Bieber fans, also known as “Beliebers,” often show up in the media for their willingness to do insane things in the name of Bieber like get a tramp stamp of a radio DJ’s face in exchange for tickets or send death threats to Kim Kardashian.
What DOESN’T get as much press (because it’s not nearly as exciting) are the charity efforts that Bieber fans have supported (raising over $31,000 for charity) and fans that enjoy promoting the performer in order to build friendships between fans and form a community where his music can be shared and accessed by all.
Annalisa, a 15-year-old from Arizona who’s already a pro at running fan sites, is one of those unsung fans, a talented graphic and web site designer with a positive attitude. Check out this interview with this hard-working young lady who is totally devoted to everything Bieber.
How did you get into Justin Bieber?
I first found out about Justin on iTunes when his first music video “One Time” had came out and I fell in love with the song and had it on repeat for hours. At first I didn’t know who he was, so I Googled him and found out that he was a new artist at the time.
How and when did you get involved with the site?
I first got involved with the site in September of 2009, just a few days after the original owner had put the site up. I started to get the word out about the site because at that time there weren’t many sites for Justin. Within a year I took over the site, updating it daily with the latest photos, videos, and news.
How much time do you spend on J-Bieber.org?
I usually spend anywhere from two-three hours a day depending on how much recent news and pictures there are to add to the site.
What makes you so passionate about Justin that you’re willing to put all this time into the website?
Honestly I enjoy knowing that I can help fans stay up to date on what Justin is up to is a motivation for me. Having a site is a way for me to show my support for Justin.
How has the site grown/changed since you became involved?
The site has grown a lot since I became involved. When I first got involved, not many people knew about the site so I started to get the word out on Twitter and now we have over 3 million hits on the site! I never thought anything like that would ever happen.
I’m not looking for numbers, but I’m curious to know if you put your own money into the site. What kind of financial investment and/or return is involved?
We do get offers for advertising, and I put some of my own money into the site. The money is used to help purchase new layouts for the site. I like having a new layout every few months to change up the site and keep it looking new because I know some fans can get tired of looking at the same layout.
What is the most frustrating thing about working on the site?
The most frustrating thing about working on any site is sometimes you can get into arguments with other sites. Sometimes you might post things at the same time such as pictures and one site might think you stole something. That’s what I’ve found to be the most common problem owning a site. But the way I see it is at the end of the day everyone is supporting Justin.
What’s the most rewarding thing about working on the site?
The most rewarding thing is knowing that [by] having a site and putting a lot of effort and time into it, I’m supporting Justin and even more meeting other Justin fans through having a site.
How do you think your website affects Justin?
I think my site has a positive effect on Justin, because by having the site I’m helping his fans know what the latest news is. I never like to post negative articles about Justin. I like to keep the site positive and for it to be an online source fans like to visit.
What recognition have you and your site gotten from Justin or his label?
The Never Say Never website had asked for help to advertise and after making several posts on the site, the site got linked on the movie’s official site.
What kind of response or feedback would you like from Justin?
Honestly any response or feedback but it doesn’t bother me that he probably hasn’t seen the site. I care about the site having a positive look on Justin and for his fans to enjoy going to the site.
How can record labels help fan sites for their musicians in return for all the unpaid promotion the web site maintainers do?
I think a way they can return for the unpaid promotion would be recognition. It’s web admin’s dream to get some kind of recognition either from the celebrity themselves, their crew, or management.
What would you like people to know about your websites?
I would like people to know that it takes a lot of effort and time to maintain the site, even more that Justin is a very busy person but [also] that I enjoy every moment.
It sounds like networking fans together is a big priority for you. How do you get Justin’s fans connected? How does getting Justin’s fans together help build his popularity?
J-Bieber.org is affiliated with a forum website called www.justinbieber.org/forum and it is linked on our theme, so fans can join the forum and connect with other Bieber fans. Having more fans connected builds his career more in the aspect of them tweeting about him and talking about him on forums. I believe the more his fans talk about him online others will get interested and want to find more out about Justin.
Are you interested in a career in web design or online marketing for musicians?
All the layouts I use on the site have been made by other amazing designers. I would more than likely consider a career in online marketing for musicians. Owning a site it’s something that you do naturally and you promote the person that your site is for a lot, so I think I would consider a career in that.
What businesses can learn from Annalisa:
- Keeping the look of your website fresh is a fantastic way to keep loyal fans and customers engaged with your brand.
- Having a place where people of similar interests can congregate can have a positive effect on building your brand. Enthusiasm and positive attitudes are contagious!
- Recognizing the efforts of an unpaid promoter – without necessarily hiring them for a corner office position – can be a very influential motivator for your brand’s most enthusiastic cheerleaders.
- Ask and ye shall receive! Going to your customers or fans for assistance is a fantastic way to open up lines of communication with the people that keep you in business.
And that’s a wrap!
What fan sites do you follow? What do you think of fan sites in general? How should television networks, book publishers, movie studios, and record labels respond to fan sites, if at all? Sound off in the comments below!
Until next time, keep expanding your brand!