Hello, bookwyrms! This week’s post is a special one: the blog welcomes Shareca Coleman, CEO of The Daily Fandom!
The Daily Fandom is a nonprofit website that features academic articles about various fandom topics. With topics ranging from general fandom to academia to comics to animanga, TDF was created for fans, by fans! And it’s my pleasure to interview the CEO herself, Shareca Coleman.
Rachel: Welcome, Shareca! Tell us about The Daily Fandom. How did it come to be? What was your experience with its beginning as the CEO?
Shareca Coleman: In 2016, I graduated with an undergrad degree in English Literature, and I wondered what my next move was. I never planned to be a teacher, and I didn’t want to be just a fiction or poetry writer; I didn’t have the patience to write a novel or the passion for accomplishing it at that time in my life. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do, except that I knew I wanted it to be related to “online writing.” Growing up in the 90s, I was obsessed with technology (AOL, anyone?)
I’ve always loved writing fanfiction, and, frankly, it’s how I got into writing in the first place (a Jonas Brothers fanfic about Nick Jonas), so it kind of comes full circle. I interned for two websites, and The Daily Fandom was one of them. I wasn’t an editor at the time; I mostly did writing (poorly). However, after applying to be an editorial intern, I was accepted. The previous creator was from Spain, so she needed someone to proofread for her in English. After a few months, along with some unfortunate circumstances, I was offered to take over the website. Being ambitious, I said, “Why not?” I didn’t really have anything else to do at the time, and I figured failing would be easier than doing nothing. If nothing else, it’s a learning experience, right? Due to that, I spent about a year teaching myself code and researching web development and WordPress, and since that time, I’ve created what it is now, based on everything that came along with it.
RS: What is the basic idea around TDF? Do you have any all-time favorite articles?
SC: The Daily Fandom can be an enigma in what we cover, but I prefer to think we are simply millennials who enjoy academia and fandom and want to create content around these passions. I think the millennial influence is what makes the atmosphere so inviting and “grabs the reader,” but at the end of the day, it is more like a family than a mere “idea” — a family of readers, writers, and creators who enjoy content!
Here are a few favorite articles:
- The Simpsons Predictions: Conspiracy Or Coincidence?, Ang Cruz
- Is Murder, She Wrote A Subtly Feminist Television Series?, Madeline Conroy
- The Ethical Issues With Stefan Urquelle In Family Matters, Katie Liggera
- Examining The History Of LGBTQIA+ Representation In Children’s Media, Natalie Delphino
- Draco Malfoy’s Plight: The Boy Who Was Never Redeemed, Madeline Conroy
RS: TDF also has a YouTube channel. Can you tell us more about that?
SC: Yeah! YouTube isn’t my thing; I leave that to the writers, as I’m frightened by the platform. I watch a lot of YouTube, but you hear a lot of stories about money and copyright that make being a YouTube creator demanding but rewarding. I made a video that took about 12 hours to complete, edit, and everything, so I said, “I can’t do that again.”
So! What’s great about our YouTube is that we can post whenever we want. Since we don’t have enough to monetize yet, this can be used whenever we like. It’s sporadic, but we don’t have to abide by any limitations or deadlines, and we can use it whenever we want. I like to let writers decide when to post their videos, so I let them choose when to release them. Our current one is Bright Side by Maddie, which I love. I think it resembles us in many ways as we always see the “bright side” of fandom and the things we enjoy. One of the perks is the creators choose the series and schedule the videos, and I tweet and share with everyone!
RS: What is the community like with TDF?
SC: What makes the community feel like family to me is that we act almost like a close-knit family. I strive to create an environment that’s welcoming and transparent. I think that talking about mental health, our ways of being, and people’s struggles build a team and family. I don’t know if it is perceived this way, but I try to make a safe space where everyone feels valued and supported. Because I have a traumatic past, I try to imagine what others go through that they don’t say, especially to bosses. People don’t always “show” mental health on their faces, so I’m always sensitive to what people may go through behind the scenes that they may not want to express to anyone.
I try to make sure I am mindful of what people go through since bosses seem to see mental health as a “reason” for not being able to do your best. In my work, life, and personal relationships, I react the way I want to be handled, and that care and empathy bleed into the team.
RS: What are the pros and cons of running the show? Do you have any interesting stories about being in charge of TDF?
SC: I get to meet a lot of people, speak to them, know them, and have a lot of fun. Meeting and talking to them is so much fun. I think the paths we cross are always meaningful, and that is what I love doing the most. However, I struggle with my anxiety, and I think it makes it challenging.
It’s disconcerting when you can’t turn off being a “CEO,” so, in return, I try to be open about it. When I want to drift into solitude like I usually do, I am honest enough to post about it. People appreciate it if you tell them — and I have had bosses take their mental health out on the team. A bad day is fine, but I think learning to be blunt (as I don’t really know them in the “real” world) is hard!
I really don’t have a lot of exciting stories to tell, but I’ve had people spell my name wrong many times throughout TDF. It’s funny how my name still gets spelled wrong sometimes, even in text. I think that’s amusing because it makes people recognize me and TDF more because of my name, so it’s a double-edged sword. It’s a thrill to get to go to conventions and festivals I haven’t heard of before.
RS: Do you have any advice for readers, whether it’s about writing, editing, participating in fandoms, or running a website?
SC: If you want it, go for it! It’s tiring, but it’s a lot of fun. I would never have ever considered web development before. It is such a niche thing. If you want to do something — write, edit, or even fanfic — the first step is to ask, email, and/or start a blog. Even so, I still have a blog and other things I do. But TDF is my main thing.
The best thing about being a millennial in this field is that we’re the only ones who understand it, so we need to take advantage of it and make it our own. I know it brings a lot of anxiety; I often have the feeling of, “Will this stay online forever?” or even, “Wow, that stinks, and I hate it,” after it is published. But I think it helps a lot with my self-confidence in the end. Because it allows me to keep asking myself, “Was it me, or was it the naysayers in my head?” So, I think it has helped me in a million ways.
RS: TDF has a pretty great internship program. How does that work?
SC: Our revamp has resulted in us becoming a non-profit because I didn’t like waking up every day and being bogged down by views and how many we didn’t have alongside finding/choosing things that led to money or some revenue. I felt like I was creating the website to make money and not because I/we loved writing, so I thought I would make something from scratch, a place that would have no ads, where I wouldn’t be bothered by money so much and was inviting and engaging. One of the things I dislike about online media is that sometimes it’s just advertisement; sometimes, they’re unbearable. We all have to make money, so that’s understandable, but don’t let it ruin your entire aesthetic. I wanted to get away from that and create a place without that. I decided to start a non-profit because we would find a new space no one had explored before after we got going.
Quite a few people ask: How do you pay people? I guess I try to find people who love the craft more than just the money. I wish making money was easy enough to accomplish without saddling yourself with so much extra work; I’ve worked for a lot of websites that are no longer on the internet because money stopped coming in or ads stopped, but I never wanted to be in that situation. I don’t want others to control the fate of my website.
I believe being able to be creative, expressive, and offer ways to connect with people (perhaps another conversation, I dislike the concept of “connections”) is what grabs people’s attention. This is not a required internship; it’s an internship you’re learning along with and taking your time for. I’ve done many internships that were either unpaid or for 40 hours a week with little to no pay. I didn’t want to be that or have an internship like that. When I wanted this to be an intern, I wanted it to be alongside “regular” life. Having a job, going to school, going to therapy — those are the reasons we make good content. When we feel relaxed and in control, we create good content. I try and make a space for that, and the content writer’s pitch is incredible. I wish I came up with some of the ideas that they do.
RS: Can you talk a little about potential future plans for TDF?
SC: In the future, I hope to start speaking at conferences about fandom in an educational setting. This is proof that fanfiction is vital, meaningful, and essential to the craft of writing in higher education. Fandom is not just for kids. It is everything: gaming, comics, films, specific series, everything. It is not just for kids.
I also like to grow, but not how people think; I prefer to grow authentically. I want to find people that like what we do and be glad we exist. That’s what the future and platform will be — a place where everyone feels comfortable. Being able to talk about everything we do and still share something meaningful will be a blessing! I usually take TDF as it comes; I express ideas as I think them. The best thing about TDF is that it is an enigma, so we can take it anywhere it wants to go. Fandom is always evolving; so is The Daily Fandom.
A huge thank you to Shareca for stopping by! If you want to learn more about TDF, visit thedailyfandom.org, TDF’s Twitter page, or Instagram. There, you can follow all the articles that TDF publishes, as well as all the great things that Shareca and the TDF team are doing!