How to Build an Athlete Brand Website: Step-by-Step Guide for Athletes [Exclusive]

Websites for Athletes

In addition to being the "online home" of an athlete, a website is the most important part of an athlete brand, because it provides a plethora of revenue streams, as well as the most customizable, comprehensive, scalable fan engagement opportunities.

When athletes create more fan engagement opportunities, they accrue more athlete brand equity and increase the worth of their athlete brand.

In this guide, we'll discuss:

  1. Choosing a website platform, domain name and hosting service
  2. "Humanizing" athletes via their website
  3. Using a website to maximize fan engagement
  4. Monetizing an athlete's website

Let's get started:

1. Choose a website platform, domain name and hosting service.

There are many website platforms from which to choose, including WordPress, Squarespace and WIX. WordPress offers the highest-level customization options (plugins and themes), Squarespace is the easiest to use, and WIX provides a plethora of do-it-yourself tools.

I personally recommend Squarespace because of its simplicity and ease-of-use, visually engaged themes, mobile-friendly infrastructure, and turnkey solutions for hosting, domain names, podcasting and e-commerce.

  Tony Hawk's  website  runs on Squarespace.

Tony Hawk's website runs on Squarespace.

If you elect to use WordPress, here’s a breakdown of the costs to consider:

2. Use a website to "humanize" the athlete.

An athlete's website should present the athlete as a multifaceted individual, so as to make the athlete more likeable and relatable.

A strategic athlete brand is like an onion — it has multiple layers — and a website is a great tool to showcase each layer. If an athlete's website simply outlines his or her athletic experience, attributes and accomplishments, the athlete's website is not fulfilling its potential. 

NFL wide receiver Kenny Stills, for example, does a terrific job of conveying his 360-degree personal brand on his homepage. (Kenny's website is also built with Squarespace.)

Kenny Stills Website

Blake Griffin offers the same on his homepage:

Whichever approach you take, the homepage is a good place to start with a snapshot of the athlete's personal brand — but it's not nearly enough to maximize athlete brand equity, which increases an athlete's worth to teams, leagues, sponsors, marketing deals, business ventures and other financial opportunities.

To truly maximize athlete brand equity, athletes and their brand managers should deploy a consistent, continuous stream of content experiences on the athlete's website, such as:

  • Blog posts and articles
  • Vlogs (video blogs)
  • Podcasts
  • Lookbooks
  • Graphics, GIFs and animations
  • Web series and documentary-style videos
  • Virtual reality
  Maria Sharapova features a heavy dose of content on her website.

Maria Sharapova features a heavy dose of content on her website.

Here are a few insights to boost the reach and engagement of athlete-driven content:

  1. Take a mobile-first approach. Ensure each piece of content (as well as the website as a whole) is engaging and easy to use on mobile devices, where the majority of fans will interact with the athlete's website.
     
  2. Communicate in the first-person. Athletes are people, and people speak and write in the first-person, not the third-person. Even if an athlete uses ghost writers to help him or her publish content, the most impactful athlete-driven content uses first-person language.

3. Use the athlete's website to maximize fan engagement.

As mentioned at the beginning of this guide: The more engagement opportunities an athlete creates, the more athlete brand equity he or she will accrue, and the more his or her athlete brand is worth.

A website provides unparalleled opportunities to create additional engagement opportunities — known as "retargeting" and "remarketing" — so athletes can systematically keep fans coming back to their website, time and again. These opportunities include:

"Retargeting" and "remarketing" are especially beneficial for athletes who want to monetize and massively profit from their website (more on this below).

  Serena Williams utilizes email marketing on her website, so she can "remarket" to her fans.

Serena Williams utilizes email marketing on her website, so she can "remarket" to her fans.

4. Implement monetization opportunities.

A website provides a range of monetization opportunities, including:

  1. Online Advertising
  2. Affiliate Marketing
  3. Sponsorships
  4. E-Commerce
  5. Subscriptions
  6. Original Content

These opportunities are defined as:

🎯  ONLINE ADVERTISING

Athletes can utilize digital advertising platforms like Google AdSense and Media.net to create additional, scalable, passive income via their website. The more fans an athlete drives to his or her website, the more money he or she will make.

♻️  AFFILIATE MARKETING

Most e-commerce companies offer free affiliate marketing programs, in which athletes receive a percentage of all sales they generate for these companies. Among the most popular and lucrative programs is Amazon's Associates Program.

💸  SPONSORSHIPS

Sponsored content (videos, lookbooks, blog posts, podcasts) provide opportunities for athletes to create more long-term, lucrative marketing deals. The more followers, engagement and fan data an athlete possesses, the more these deals are worth.

🛍  E-COMMERCE

With the evolution of online shopping and a new direct-to-consumer model, athletes who strategically license and sell products direct-to-fan will make serious money. Clothing is an obvious fit for many athletes, but there is a trove of non-apparel potential that remains untapped.

🔐  SUBSCRIPTIONS

Athletes who make a strategic, concerted effort to better connect with their fans online can create and benefit from a membership club, in which their most loyal fans pay a monthly fee to receive exclusive access to and content from the athlete. (If you're using Squarespace to build an athlete's website, check out Memberspace.)

📹  ORIGINAL CONTENT

The most forward-thinking athletes are producing, distributing and selling original content direct-to-viewer, resulting in massively profitable and scalable returns.

Bottom Line

By using a website to "humanize" an athlete and take advantage of the monetization opportunities above, athletes and their representatives will create massively athlete brands.

About the Author:

Josh Hoffman is the Chief Strategy Officer at The Institute for Athlete Branding and Marketing. Connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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