Five Questions For Rob Lewis, The Common Fan

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TheCommonFan.com gives ordinary hockey Fans a place to join or create a hockey Pool with absolutely zero hassle, and it’s FREE. There is no need for a Pool administrator, planning, or making decisions. Heck, we can even pick your players for you, though we have a feeling you’ll want to do that part yourself.

One Degree: What made you start thecommonfan.com?

Common Fan was started by five guys who love hockey. After years of using frustrating online hockey pools from OfficePools.com, Yahoo!, and PickUpHockey.com we thought we’d ease our frustration by just building our own. The idea made perfect sense, no longer would we be frustrated by clunky interfaces, trash talk chat so difficult to use that no one ends up using it, and few to no personalization options.

Over the past couple months; TheCommonFan.com has evolved into an amazing marketing tool for anyone interested in our demographic – Canadian men between 15 and 39. Since anyone can set up their own weekly, monthly, or annual hockey pool for FREE, we’ve had quite a few businesses join the countless office and personal hockey pools on the site. For example, InBev’s Beer.com website is running one of the largest pools on our site and has engaged a much larger audience as a result. I’m sure they appreciated the 25,000 promotional beer coasters we’ve handed out across Canada too. On the other end of the spectrum, Jack the Modern Barbershop in Vancouver runs regular monthly pools for their clients and gives away prizes to the winners. In their case, it makes the customers a little more loyal, and brings in new clients to the shop as well.

One Degree: Do you make money exclusively from Google ads or will you be doing more with the site? (Not that there’s anything wrong with Adsense)

To date, we make money exclusively from Google Ads but these ads are essentially placeholders until we have national advertisers on board. Our focus in Season One is on building content and traffic. TheCommonFan.com blog does incredibly well with the search engines and has turned into our main marketing tool. As new Fans sign up, personalize their profiles, set up new pools, and participate in Trash Talk, this user-generated content grows our site. We’re currently delivering 10,000 page impressions per day and expect that to triple that by start of next season.

One Degree: How much explaining do you need to do to get new visitors up-to-speed?

Any visitor that has spent any time on other online hockey pool websites will find TheCommonFan.com more than self-explanatory. The big difference between our site and others is that we’ve made it super simple to register – new users need only an email address and password to get started. Once they’re in, they can join public pools and set up their own pools in seconds.

One Degree: You launched at the beginning of this hockey season. What are you doing to increase awareness and use of the site?

We learned a lot about start-up marketing from 37signals book Getting Real. We started blogging about our impending launch in the middle of the summer. This allowed us to generate some buzz in the hockey blogging community. Capturing over 1,000 email addresses of hockey fans interested in learning more about TheCommonFan.com gave us a huge traffic boost the day we went live.

Now that the season has started, we’re focused on finding organizations that can benefit from using TheCommonFan.com. Businesses that serve the same demographic tend to get the concept immediately after visiting the site. The flexibility of our pool formats means that we don’t have to sit back and wait for the season to wrap up before starting anything new. Monthly pools are driving awareness during the NHL season, and we’re pumped about our Fans using TheCommonFan.com for 2007 playoff pools.

One Degree: What happens in the off-season?

Season Two is where TheCommonFan.com gets exciting. By October of 2007, we will have 10,000 hockey fans using the site and we’ll be close to launching other sports league pools. The simple pool format works for almost any sport, and there a few worldwide that are a little more popular than hockey – stay tuned.

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