This is a topic I’ve seen come up a number of times, it’s cool to have your own website and many of the world’s leading sports stars do. But, if you are an athlete toying with the question of building a website, perhaps start by looking at it a different way and asking yourself, why do you want one?
Websites are something that have always been a part of my world and I’ve seen first-hand how tricky they can be to get right – I’ve also seen how much of a financial drain they can be if you get them wrong.
There is an ever-growing supply of options when it comes to basic blogs and DIY build systems like the popular WordPress platform (the option I took for this website). So, if you’re mulling over this topic and have a good reason to launch one, (short of “it’s cool and Cristiano Ronaldo has one”), here are a few things that I would keep in mind…
Firstly, lock in what your reason for building your own athlete website is, and from that, what are the outcomes that you’re hoping to achieve. You’re a sportsperson, so you’re used to working towards targets and goals, so set some for your website, just like you would your next training phase.
Get some good advice from people who know more about the topic than you do – it’s very easy to burn through a lot of money on websites if you’re not careful.
In writing this article I talked at length with Kody Thompson, a good friend and highly respected web-specialist, who at the age of 21 founded the now very successful tech companies LightningSites and WodSites, the later of the two specialising in building and managing websites for Cross Fit Gyms and Athletes, such as Cross Fit Games superstar, Scott Panchik.
Kody has designed and built many athlete websites and takes the view that the reason for building a website during your sporting career, is “primarily to capitalise on your success in order to help create the life that you want after sport has finished”. So, to this point, it’s a long ball game and this stylish new toy isn’t likely to be the thing that pays your bills over the next few years.
Monetising the Site
But how can you use a website to pay the bills (or at least contribute to them) at any stage? To get you thinking, here are a couple of ideas:
- Product sales
- On-site advertising
- Booking public speaking/training appearences
- Activations for sponsors
To really get you into a mindset around making money through your website, I’d suggest that building an email list needs to be a major part of your website strategy – this means having a way to identify, collect and nurture your fan base online.
The goal for the vast majority of websites out there, is to generate some kind of transaction (examples being):
- Product sales on an e-commerce website
- Subscriptions on a news website
- Training session bookings on gym websites
No matter what the actual transaction is, some principles hold true for all, and these relate to the need to take an anonymous website visitor and find a way to provide value for them, identify them and move them into a state of being ready to transact with you.
Provide value to generate vale
As an emerging athlete, you might not be at a stage where you have fans flocking to buy your t-shirts, nor do you perhaps have a method of providing so much value that they feel obliged to hand over their credit card details and subscribe to your news, BUT that might not always be the case and if one day you have something of value to offer/sell, you’ll want to know who those anonymous website visitors were, so that you can go back to them and suggest a sale!
Further, if you are building out a proposal to offer out to potential sponsors, they are going to be a whole lot more interested in you, if you have an identified and measured audience that they can engage with through you and your website.
So, the message here is that you can have an elaborate website, or a basic website, but if you’re not using it to build your own tribe of followers (database of contacts) that you can engage with at a time of your own or your sponsors choosing, then it’s really not setup to pay for itself.
How to build a tribe of followers
There are many different tactics and approaches and I’ll try to elaborate on these in future posts, but for now, whatever you do you will need some form of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system sat behind your website and whenever you put content out to the world or find a way to get traffic onto your website, you need to try and steer the viewer into giving you their email address, so that over time you can communicate with them, keep them updated on your progress and as much as possible build a digital relationship with them.
To this point, I’d love for you to subscribe to the Athlete Mktg email list, so that I can keep you up to date with as much free advice, tips and tricks as possible – see the form at the bottom of our homepage 🙂
So if you think that you’re on an interesting sporting journey that others might like to follow, you have a desire to communicate your progress and try to build a tribe of followers, and the prospect of maintaining a website doesn’t send you running for the hills, what next?
What to do if you do want a website
Really that comes down to identifying your budget and deciding if you have the time and skills to build out your own website? If you don’t have what it takes then I’d suggest you need to hire professionals to help bring your ideas to life and either leave you to run with it, or charge you small ongoing fees to maintain and update it on your behalf.
Regardless of whether you self-build or bring in the pro’s, I’d suggest you keep the site fairly simple, focus on great images, bio pieces and ample mechanisms to regularly update your audience on your progress both via blogs and video, both supported by newsletters and social media distribution.
It’s easier to get creative and more advanced as you go, than it is to set yourself high bars at the outset and scare yourself off your own homepage, but no matter your approach, make sure you’re doing it with a little strategy in mind and a clear intent as to how it’s going to help support you in the long run.
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