Starting a new forum

There are a number of reasons why adding a forum can be good for your site and also a number of reasons why it wouldn’t help, during the middle of last year I was looking for information on building an aviary and stumbled across Budgerigars with a for sale notice on it’s homepage, nice old article website with around 200 pages so I offered £250 and purchased the website.

Hobby sites are great for forums as a community can thrive and feed of each other and gain new traffic through the search engines and this type of website is great example of sites that can benefit greatly from adding a forum, I asked Al if he wanted to go 50/50 with this site to which he agreed as he could install the forum & mods saving me from paying out needlessly and it would be a nice little addition to the portfolio.

This website had around 200 unique visitors per day and I did wonder if that would be enough to sustain and start a forum with. In July 2006 the forum was installed and the main articles were given a re-design to include adsense and direct some traffic towards the new forum.

If you have never started a new forum I can assure you that you soon get tired or being the one posting every questions and trying to answer every other question and long for the time that interaction can take place without your input. Starting from scratch is also quite daunting so after the forum was installed and categories created I decided to use a paid posting service for the first 1000 posts which cost me around $250.

Couple of points to note if you use paid posting to get your new forum going

  • Agree that all posts have to be 15 words or more
  • Ask for part payment, ie 70% before and 30% after satisfactory completion
  • Agree that all posts must have reasonable grammar & spelling
  • Agree that questions must be researched and relevant
  • Define whether and/or how much posting in the general chat area you will allow
  • Define a timescale for the job to be completed

I was happy with the paid posting service I used and it worked just perfectly to allow new members to interact and feel they were joining a community, within 2 months the paid posters were gone and the forum naturally grew from there. It’s not a hugely popular subject and is a niche which I like however in the last 9 months it has grown from zero to:

Threads: 3,242, Posts: 34,834, Members: 3,365, Active Members: 860

We now have a couple of moderators on the site and it earns around $300-$400 per month which was a great investment. Approaching senior members and asking if they would be interested in being a moderator was soon on the agenda and this not only lets you take a back seat without having to visit the forum several times per day but it also rewards the members and gives them a good reason to stay, help more and post more as their responsibility increases.

As the forum grew that also had an effect on traffic picking up more keywords and long tail keyword terms going from around 250 visitors per day up to around 850 visitors per day at present.

Budgie
Stats for the last 9 months

Plus points learnt from adding the forum on Budgerigars

  • Allows interaction of visitors between each other

  • Increases retention of traffic therefore relying less on search engines

  • Increase new traffic from search engines from long tail search key terms

  • Allows better feedback from your visitors & interaction to get suggestions to improve or offer new services to safeguard its long term future.

b3.jpg

 

So even though the traffic was around 200 per day in the beginning  that was sufficient to install and grow a good sized hobby forum, conversely I tried adding a forum to my tattoo website which gets 20k-30k a day and it just never took off, people go to the tattoo site looking for pictures not for learning or talking so it really helps if the visitors are looking for information on a subject to learn or share experiences, adding a forum for forums sake is not always a success and can cause a lot of trouble and unnecessary workload but adding it to a focused niche can create a vibrant community from nothing and increase the websites income and value.

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Nice post. This was interesting to me because I own a forum with around 18000 posts, but havent had much time to work on it recently. Your post has given me a few ideas of what to change and how to help the forum grow. I will let you know some time this year if your advice worked 😉

  2. Will you share with us the posting service you used?

  3. Took some digging back to find it Jawinn, I used forumshock.com just after they launched last year.

  4. I find forums tricky, the budgerigar forum that Scott and I run is a good example of work upfront and then a residual income. I added a forum to CG which has never really taken off, it does get posts on a daily basis but is far from a thriving community, I think the problem with it was the niche gadgets and technology is simply too large (though I will be promoting it again in the future).

  5. Hi i really like this blog, congrats =D
    i have a question about this post, were can
    you get a paid posting service?
    Thanks!

  6. It was from Forum Shock and there are loads of other companies offering similar services, it’s a case of finding one you’re happy with.

  7. Another interesting post Scott. I set up http://www.dynaxdigital.com from scratch a couple of years ago for a particular make of digital camera. It’s growing, but slowly, 600 members, 200 unique visitors per day. I run adsense for guest users but try and keep it ad free for registered users. I’d appreciate any tips on how I can help it grow and become a source of income too…. if you have time.

  8. One thing that really helped the Budgie Forum Garry was getting Al to install the gallery mod, that allows posting images into the gallery and increased interaction.

    Sounds like that module would be ideal for a photography site as well encouraging people to show off their skills and makes the forum much more of a visual experience when you first enter.

    If I were you I have product reviews if you can and keep them separate from the forum in their own area where you can use affiliate links and adsense reviewing all the photography equipment broken down into categories and get your users to contribute or create a review team with user submissions.

    Perhaps use part of the money coming in from affiliate sales to offer prizes and don’t be shy about approaching companies asking for samples to review they can only say no, also look into getting deals for photography holidays which I am sure must be available and look to source deals and discounts for your registered community.

  9. I did try the gallery idea, but with so many free image hosting solutions, like flickr.com, around users can just display their pictures on the forum by linking to their images on other hosts.

    The product reviews is one area I have thought about, so I’ll explore that idea I think.

    Cheers

  10. The gallery we have implemented allows comments & voting so it is more interactive than a plain hosting solution, it also keeps a neat gallery broken down by categories for future reference. I do think product reviews would be good to get started as a separate area to build on.

  11. just wondering, what forum platform are you running?

  12. and also what mod are you using to display the latest posts?

    thanks in advance

  13. Hi Piggy, we are using vbulletin, Al is the coder so I’ll ask him about how we show the recent posts on the homepage.

  14. You can get all sorts of plugins for vBulletin that let you extend it’s functionality (like displaying the latest posts), as I enjoy getting my hands dirty coding I just knocked something up to do it but there are many freely available alternatives to doing it your self.

  15. Great Interesting Post! It give me a new ideas about redesiging and marketing my Article site forum which has become inactive for a while. I am sure with these tips I will bring back my forum back on rails.

  16. Well done on getting your forum up and running. I earn my living running online communities and love every aspect of them. I setup a community building blog a couple of months ago which offers further advice on creating and maintaining online communities.

  17. Very good article.
    Now I’m inspired to create my own forum on my site which is about littlefighter 2… I have now about 700 unique visitors per day on my website.
    Maybe I will be waiting a year before I get money from this forum.

  18. Hi Everyone,
    I have a carpet cleaning business in Houston,TX that was doing pretty good until the economy went bad, and with it my clientele. I have a website for the business but I dont
    know what I have to do the get it to show up in a search. Right now it’s somewhere in the yahoo/google netherworld (LOL).

    Is there someone on here that can give me some insight or know of anyone that coud give me insight on how I can get my local website on the front
    page of a Yahoo or Google search to increase my business without it costing me 5 or 10k $$$? If so please share with me.

    I thank you and my hungry over-eating children thank you.

    thanks,

    • Hey TonyB, Good to know that you are from Houston,TX. Also what is your URL so that I can look at it and let you know whats the problem. Also you can contact me via my website. too.

      Thanks

  19. great article, thanks

  20. Hello, i guess this is as good of a place as any to post and let you know. I went to subscribe to your RSS feed, and when i clicked it i got an error that said “Parse error: syntax error, unexpected T_CONSTANT_ENCAPSED_STRING” followed by other gibberish that scrolled off the screen. I had to force the page to stop loading because it locked up my browser. Cheers.

  21. One thing that really helped the Budgie Forum Garry was getting Al to install the gallery mod, that allows posting images into the gallery and increased interaction.

    Sounds like that module would be ideal for a photography site as well encouraging people to show off their skills and makes the forum much more of a visual experience when you first enter.

    If I were you I have product reviews if you can and keep them separate from the forum in their own area where you can use affiliate links and adsense reviewing all the photography equipment broken down into categories and get your users to contribute or create a review team with user submissions.

    Perhaps use part of the money coming in from affiliate sales to offer prizes and don’t be shy about approaching companies asking for samples to review they can only say no, also look into getting deals for photography holidays which I am sure must be available and look to source deals and discounts for your registered community.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Starting A New Forum – This is a great article about the ins and outs of starting a forum. One thing that was really interesting was how they used a paid posting service to post the first 1000 posts. What a brilliant idea! It has to be really hard to get a forum going and that would surely jump-start the whole thing. Well done, self made minds. […]

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