We talked to Megan Shoup of Fanspeak.com about sports during the pandemic and this is what she had to say about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Megan Shoup: Thank you for asking. This year has been challenging for us all, especially the emotional & financial impacts of the pandemic. Fanspeak.com is a family business, so we’ve worked together to stay safe and healthy, but also to keep our business “healthy.”
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Fanspeak.com
Megan Shoup: As I said, we are a family business. So about ten years ago, my brother and I decided to take a leap of faith and start Fanspeak.com to be a social networking platform for sports fans. That angle did not work, but we evolved and found our niche as an online destination for armchair GMs & diehard football fans. These fans use Fanspeak.com’s interactive tools and simulators year around both for entertainment and information.
How does Fanspeak.com innovate?
Megan Shoup: We were one of the first NFL Draft simulators, with our On the Clock mock draft simulator. And we’ve continued to expand the “On the Clock” brand of simulators for the NBA Draft, NHL Draft, and fantasy football drafts. We are always looking for ways to set ourselves apart from the competition and add more value to our loyal users & subscribers.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Megan Shoup: The ripple effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been immense. When Covid hit, and life kind of shut down, so did online advertising. Advertising and subscriptions sales are our two most significant revenue sources, and the advertising side was almost wiped out. And it was dramatically decreasing during a time in which our traffic is the highest (March & April). So it was a perfect storm and a tough time this spring & summer in terms of the loss of revenue.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Megan Shoup: Absolutely! We understand small businesses frequently need to evolve & pivot to survive. But 2020 has forced us to adapt like never before.
We changed our ad service, and we have added more to our subscriptions to make the subscription revenue a higher percentage of our income. That way, we’re not so reliant on advertising when things out of our control happen. COVID is an extreme example of things out of our control.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Megan Shoup: Honestly, I’ve dealt with anxiety most of my life, and I see a therapist monthly to find ways to cope the best I can with that anxiety. Of course, for a person with anxiety, 2020 & the pandemic is like oil & water. It has been a challenging year, and I think it’s ok to own that. I also think it’s helpful to give myself credit for what we’ve had to overcome.
So I’ve had to work extra hard this year on myself. And that is a combination that includes therapy, meditation (the Calm app), exercise, and doing what is best for me, even if that means hard decisions sometimes.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Megan Shoup: Since we launched On the Clock, multiple sports websites have created similar NFL Draft simulators. But we understand it doesn’t matter who is first. It is who does it best. So we are continually striving to add new features and add to the value of On the Clock and our premium subscriptions. We want to offer the best interactive experience for sports fans, and we want our online tools to stand apart from the competition by offering them something unique!
Your final thoughts?
Megan Shoup: While 2020 has been incredibly challenging, I’m also very proud of how my family worked together to make sure Fanspeak.com not only survived but continued to thrive and grow. Between the pandemic & competition challenges it has forced us to make a lot of changes. But we are now seeing those changes in action. The shifts we made are working to keep the business thriving, and for that, we are very grateful!