Success Story: Harry Potter fan site business

Have you ever wondered how a fan website can generate money? I thought about it and only revenue model that comes to mind was advertising. Because site visitors would be young to purchase goods and hard to target specific products I thought advertisements will have very low CPM rate and revenue. Reading this success story of Harry Potter fan site I found more useful details about fan site revenues and revenue streams. It turns out other big revenue stream is book publishing. Here are notes from story. Site owner, Emerson Spartz, also reads lots of books and interviews, takes notes to review them later and apply to his businesses.

  • 140 million page views per month, 9 million unique visitors, more than 1 million $ revenue per year. Has 15 websites.
  • Started in 1999 when he was 12 years old.
  • Started with simple html website hosted on free providers like Homestead, GeoCities.
  • First banner advertisement brought 5000$ in 2001-2002.
  • Emailed to all fan sites to promote his site and exchange links on one dedicated links page.
  • Properties MuggleNet.com, OMGfacts.com, Sixbillionsecrets.com and more. Try to launch new website every month. Collect users of one specific topic in one site.
  • Had 8 paid staff and 12 volunteers. Doing weekly meetings with paid staff, then they do meeting with their group. Discuss new ideas, how progress goes on each community.
  • Community is very passionate, everyone wants to participate and show their own work on website.
  • Used facebook to create funny groups like “I will walk slightly out of my way to step on an extra crunchy looking leaf.” and after reaching to some great number of followers post some content from their website and direct followers to their websites.
  • Then facebook changed their pages, but they adapted and looked like a legit company for each fan group created a website. Then same method used on twitter.
  • Communicate with users through social netowrks like facebook, twitter, youtube. Don’t get email address from users but publish news on facebook and twitter, grow their fan base there. Have 6 million fans and 10,000 adding daily.
  • Tried digg to attract more users, they voted for their own content and encouraged their fans to vote. When they got on first page of digg then their website flooded with used content that came from digg. Which in return generated more traffic.
  • Look on other industries and port /adapt features to your site.  Features that work on other sites have greater probability to work on yours if implemented correctly.
  • Promote new sites on exiting sites and promote using social media.
  • Wrote book about Harry Potter assumptions for 7nth book before 7 series published, sold 350,000 copies, was bestselling author for 6 month. Book is collection of ideas published on MuggleNet
  • Every site should have mobile version.
  • Third post in every website in network is from other site on network, to draw attention and traffic.
  • Test everything, A-B tests, test it again and again, 35 different things. Constantly test and measure difference. You can tweet 2 titles for video and ask which one make you click.

Interesting method for remembering useful information that you read is reviewing it next day, next month and every 6 month after that regularly.

You can read full story on mixergy.