Websites are not only about making money. Now… hold on. Yes, a lot of people made a lot of money when the so-called "dotcom" era took off, and then came the Web 2.0 boom. So before you stop reading, let me clarify. 

"The primary function of an athlete’s personal website is not about making money." - Me 

I recently contacted a potential client about doing online marketing services for an up-and-coming player, primarily designing and developing a website for the athlete. The first question I got: "How do you plan to make money for (my client) with these things?"

My first thought: "Is his multi-million dollar salary not enough?" But I held the comment. (Not so much anymore. It’s out in the open now.) I then began developing a list of ideas. I continue to create new revenue-generating ideas for athletes through online marketing. However, we were referring to this athlete’s personal website, not an online venture or business, which brings me to my point:

The main reason an athlete should host and maintain a website or some sort of online presence is to communicate with fans, not only to earn income. Through Twitter, Facebook, a blog or just a personal site, an athlete opens up a completely new avenue to talk and interact with fans.

Shaquille O’Neal constantly uses Twitter to display his humor as well as giveaway tickets to games. These are some of the reasons he is the most followed athlete on Twitter.

While there are many ways to monetize a player’s reputation through his online presence, it should not be the first priority of developing a website. Athletes earn high-dollar paychecks on the field, and have other business opportunities that can make them even wealthier. A personal site should be used for the purpose of giving fans what they want: the player’s voice and insight into his/her life.

Fans connect to athletes while watching them play. They idolize their favorite players. And by allowing those fans into a part of the athlete’s life that the fans wouldn’t normally be a part of, it opens the door for more people to associate with that athlete. It allows fans to see these athletes as people, not just as superstars.

If an athlete insists on generating revenue from their personal website, I have five simple ways to earn income and drive down costs of developing and maintaining an athlete’s online presence:

  • Build sponsorships or endorsements to be applied to and associated with the website. 
  • Develop partnerships with outside companies to either sell or develop business ideas in conjunction with the player’s website.
  • Take full advantage of other services to communicate to fans (e.g. Twitter).
  • Develop a premium content only area of the website in which subscribers can access (for a fee) on a consistent basis. This technique may only work for a very select few athletes.
  • And lastly, hire 5M Sports (shameless plug, I know). We don’t do these things for the money. We know ways to take advantage of what’s out there, and we love sports. 

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