PHOENIX, Arizona, May 4. IN the second of a four-part series on swimming fan sites, SwimmingWorldMagazine.com turns the spotlight on Ian Crocker Online (ICO). In the first part of the series, ICO owner/operator Sarah introduced herself and explained how she got involved in the site.
Today, we publish the rest of the interview we had with Sarah.
But first, let's hear from the man himself on what he thinks about the site.
"I think ICO is great," Ian Crocker said. "My parents sometimes find out where I am on any given weekend by going to ICO or sites linked from ICO. I think sites like ICO are really great to help build swimming. Places like SwimRoom, which I am a part of, and ICO as well as the other fan sites really help fans to learn more about the athletes. They really give an insight into the personal side of our lives."
What do you like the most about running your fan site?
Sarah: What I've enjoyed most about the site is really watching it grow. When I started, I thought of it as something that a few of my friends and I could enjoy, but as the months passed I started getting visitors from all over the world. It's amazing to think that (hopefully) in some small way I am helping Ian, and the sport of swimming itself be more recognizable. When I check the site stats and there are visitors from all over the world or when I get e-mails from people from China, Hungary, etc., it makes me realize that it's no longer just something I'm doing for myself for fun.
What was the most difficult thing you had to deal with when you started your site, as well as throughout the history of your site?
Sarah: When I started the site, the hardest part for me was just figuring out how to do the basics such as html coding and how to use the server and software. I had absolutely no knowledge about web design or how to run a site well. Through the past few years, I've gotten a handle on the html thing, and become fairly well versed in it, and that's no longer a problem. Since then, the hardest problem for me has been keeping the site up to date. In the off season, and lulls in-between meets, it can be difficult to find new content to post on the blog to keep people coming back. I don't like going more than two weeks without some sort of an update.
What has been the most active story on your site?
Sarah: The stories that typically get the most responses out of people are meet results and pictures. Traffic to the site will double during big meets. Since ICO is still slowly gaining visitors, every meet builds up the base a little bit more. Because of this, the World Championships in Melbourne was definitely the most viewed and talked about topic on the site, followed closely by Nationals in the summer of 2006.
What piece of advice would you give to any other fans out there that might consider starting their own fan site?
Sarah: I would say just have fun with it. Make sure you have the time to dedicate to keeping the site up to date, and be sure to use any resources you have in order to keep it new and fresh and interesting. Be sure to cite all of your sources, those people work hard to gather the news for the fans.