On the opening day of the 2023 Chicago Fan Expo, I attended a talk by ILoveKimPossibleAlot in a workshop-like panel where she discussed the necessary steps of starting a fan project and making it successful.

As I listened to her tips and her answers to audience questions, I could see a lot of what she advised is what The Game of Nerds does. I started out as a guest for a podcast episode during lockdown when TGON was already live and a renowned resource for 8 years. Speaking with Shannon Parola who was a founder of the fan site, we hit it off and she agreed to have me on as a writer for the site.

In the following, I will share what was talked about at the workshop with side message of how TGON works. I think readers will learn a lot about how fan sites like this works and how to prepare for their own fan project.

  • Know your strengths

The first step is what you can offer. Can you write? Animate? Create videos? When you know what you are good at, that helps you launch what you want to create for your fan project.

  • What type of project?

Now that you know what you can do, how do you want to make it? If you are a writer, do you want to make a blog or fan fiction? If you are an artist, do you want to make a comic book strip on your fandom?

  • Plan ahead

So you know what you offer and how you offer it. Start writing a pitch and blueprint of what it will be. How regular will the project be? Every week or month or day? Write it all down and see what a timeline of the next few months will be like for you. This could turn out to be years of fun (and hard work) of a project on your fandom, just like TGON became.

  • Research ideal talent

Now you probably need help. Let’s say you do want to make a comic book strip fan fiction for your fan project. You know how to draw, but you are not the best writer. Start thinking of who would be good for your project. Maybe your best friend is a great writer and is reliable. Or they aren’t so keen but they know someone and can recommend somebody. Start with who you know for what you need and then go from there.

  • Have deadlines

When you have deadlines of when to have drafts to publication done, it creates a structure on who does what, when, and how. This might mean regular meetings or ways to message like having a Slack or Skype so the whole team can be reached. TGON has a writer’s Facebook Group. We get reminders every Monday and Friday of deadlines and topics that are being requested and opened to grab. If we like something, we comment and the first to commenter gets it. If there are more immediate needs, we FB Message each other.

  • Be professional

You want to have the best work out there so invest in a good headshot, a good bio as well as a consistent schedule. That way, for anyone new to finding your project, they have a good, consistent impression of who you are and what the project is about.

This is also about how to be professional when managing your project with your staff. Most likely, it is a free thing people do on the side, like TGON. However, because of how Shannon and the top staff manage so well and professionally, we know what is expected of us. For instance, if I write something up and know to submit it by Friday. On Friday, the editor will send a FB Message saying the piece is great but I forgot to put image credit which is a must. Thanks for reminding me so no one is in trouble! Confrontation is not many people’s favorite thing to do but as the speaker said,  “Direct communication is your best friend.” It was also suggested to research human resources policies if you are stuck and not sure what is needed to have a professional and productive project.

  • Let the world know!

You can let people know about your project with the power of the internet. Start with your contact list, then go to fan forums, and social media platforms, and get your project out there in the cyber-sphere. This also requires a schedule that you would stick to it. If you want to get the new comic strip, blog, or video out every Tuesday, you know what needs to get done and your followers will know Tuesday is new content from you!

So there you have it, the beginning of creating your fan project! Along with it are examples of how TGON has done it and proven to be very successful.

*Image is from Tara Jabbari