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Starting a Forum - How to Make it Succesful?

Discussion in 'Making Money' started by pirxus, Dec 22, 2016.

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  1. pirxus

    pirxus Newbie

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    Hello,

    I want to start a forum for software developers.

    I wonder, how do I kick start it? How do I promote it? Should I visit other forums and mention it in my signature? Do I start a FB Group / Site and advertise it?

    I'll probably choose vBulletin Cloud (15 USD/month) since it's professional, I don't need a hosting, and it's maintained by them.

    I'd appreciate your suggestions.

    Thanks.
     
  2. davids355

    davids355 Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Honestly I dont know. I have tried several times at building a forum and failed. What I do know is that its very hard. I think you really need to promote it heavily in as many places as you can (Not here because its not allowed to promote other forums), get as much content on there as you can (But quality content and NOT fiverr posters or promotional posters or anything like that) and probably you need a few authoritative people in the industry posting on there so that there is real value and real incentive for other software devs to join.
     
  3. smarty84

    smarty84 Regular Member

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    Promotion/Marketing/SEO is the only key to make any website or forum successful.
     
  4. Mrnewbie

    Mrnewbie Power Member Premium Member

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    Make it more niche specific. Instead of having a forum dedicated to IM or whatever your looking at just focus on one aspect of it. For example, focusing on cpa or white hat seo.
     
  5. mynameisfrankenstein

    mynameisfrankenstein Regular Member

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    Best advice I can give is keep it small. 3 sub forums to start.

    It's funny when you see a dead forum and they have like 15+ different sub forums all organized and dead. No one wants to post in a dead sub forum.
     
  6. dami3n

    dami3n Regular Member

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    The only tip I can give you is your 10 years too late. It's a real grind to grow publicity with forums these days. People are more obsessed with picture sharing and commenting on things like that. There is already a massive dev forum all ready online that pretty much everyone goes to. I admire your passion to build something but seriously you going to have to bust your balls off on this one.

    As for size start small, when there is more demand then you build it up. Also be ready to have a team of administrators it's can be a bugger to moderate certain things.
     
  7. uncutu

    uncutu Elite Member

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    Forums are very tough to promote at the start. Nobody wants to register on a forum that has few users, no content, and a bunch of empty boards.
    If I were starting a forum I would create a site first to position myself as an authority, get traffic from seo/social media/other forums/blogs/sites in my niche, and funnel traffic into my forum.
     
  8. Neon

    Neon BANNED BANNED Jr. VIP

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    Add as much content as you can, create and comment on threads with random fake profiles (again quality comments) do this everyday and people will start to register and engage.
     
  9. uncutu

    uncutu Elite Member

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    Good strategy. Fake it till you make it. Sites like reddit and the infamous ashleymadison used such strategies and it worked for their growth.
     
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  10. pirxus

    pirxus Newbie

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    Thanks for the tips, guys.

    Yeah, I'll keep it small, that's for sure. I too hate to see small forums with 15 or so boards - that's insane. :)

    The forum will be niche. There was a forum in this niche that was VERY popular, but the owner got a job at a big company (that we all know it), and left it behind. Now it's filled by bots only. Before that, it was a thriving community and everyone I know in this niche has visited the forum.

    However, these guys are not marketers, so nobody has set up a similar forum yet, although it has been over a year that the forum is dead. But it still gets over 100K unique monthly visits.

    What I plan to do is:
    - Post on that forum on popular posts and leave a link to my forum (I was already an established member there)
    - Check how many FB groups are there in the niche - maybe I'll create a new one and run ads for it.
    - I plan to publish how-to's and guides (I know the topics, but I'll hire writers on Upwork)
    - Collect email addresses from publishers and send them a friendly note, that there's a new and improved forum.

    I plan to invest 1K USD in this test and run it for a year. After that I'll decide if it's worth pursuing the idea or not. If it picks up, I'll hire my English speaking friend to do podcast with successful developers and more.

    Any more ideas what to do?

    Thanks!
     
  11. pirxus

    pirxus Newbie

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    What do you think about my plan? Could it work?

    I'm not sure yet which email provider to use to send 20-30 emails per day to invite the developers on my forum. After all, I get 10-12 emails per day constantly, but with offers from companies that offer services in my niche.

    About monetization - I plan to use AdSense and affiliate links to services like Upwork, Shutterstock etc.
     
  12. shy

    shy Newbie

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    Back in the day it was a lot easier to get people to use your forum
    Now a days reddit is putting a dent on forums, people use subreddits for communities.
    It's still possible you just need to spam your forum in other forums related to yours, subreddits, chatrooms, guest posts. social media (fb, instagram, pinterest, twitter)
     
  13. deal with it

    deal with it Power Member

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    doing contests will help it so much.
    i can't talk about the forum here that did get good attention due to this.
     
  14. pirxus

    pirxus Newbie

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    I know Reddit is super popular, but I know people that enjoy using both - including me. I even prefer forums.

    @satva nadella
    What kind of contest do you have in mind? A giveaway, Amazon gift card, something like that?

    Btw, like I said, I plan to hire someone that will collect email addresses from all the people who could find the forum interesting. Their email addresses are public. Other companies get my email address the same way and send me offers.

    Is that even legal? If yes, what would be best to use? MailChimp, for example? I guess I'd need some sort of a mailing service?
     
  15. Spintent

    Spintent Junior Member

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    Maybe you are trying to reinvent the wheel. Perhaps you can someone get in touch with the owner of that once popular forum and strike up some type of deal to buy it from him, manage it for him for a fair percent of the profits, or who knows....perhaps he'll see your passion and just let you take it over without a dime. These types of things do happen - especially if he now has a great job where he doesn't even really need the money. If you can do any of the above, then you will already have a huge prebuilt audience and can just pick up where he left off. I'm sure that former owner didn't want to just leave his forum that he worked hard to build just hanging and all of its members just blowing in the wind. But life happens and who knows maybe he was just in a tight situation where he was forced to move on and do what he had to do. who knows he might thank you for getting in contact with him and saving that forum. At least he'll know it's left in good hands, and sometimes that's payment enough. So maybe look through whois site contact or try contacting him some other way.
     
  16. gtull2

    gtull2 Power Member

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    At one time I had a pretty successful forum that made me some good money. A well known member here helped me set it up actually on an aged domain. I did ridiculously well with it until G f'ed with it (they always catch me), and I got bored with deleting all of the porn and viagra ads.

    So, here is how I got the thing going. I wrote my butt off for it. I also hired like 30 third worlders to post/comment/share pics on it every day. They cost me a few pennies, but it was the best pennies I ever spent.

    By the time the thing organically took off there were hundreds of very active posts on it. If you went to it you would think that there was an army of active users sharing ideas on how to change the world on it. Of course it was just me and my spam army for hire.

    I miss that site/forum. I really, really hate G.

    The member here that helped me set that forum up went on to create a new tech forum. It was made right at the launch of a piece of technology. It was kind of a tech fan club/help club forum. It exploded. In fact it's the authority in that field now.

    Good luck op!
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2016
  17. DJPaulyD

    DJPaulyD Power Member

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    First ask yourself why you come to BHW.

    Then, ask yourself, why would someone come to your forum.

    Content, content, & a good market place helps.
     
  18. pirxus

    pirxus Newbie

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    I thought about that, but the forum is tied to his blog, plus now it gets filled by 100's of bot posts (spam) each day. I can't spend my time cleaning those posts and I'd be reluctant to hire someone for that job. In my opinion, the forum is basically dead, and all the "senior" posters are gone. What still drivers the traffic is old, quality content. Nevertheless, I want to create a new one, from scratch. I have the funds for advertising, giveaways etc., I'm just trying to figure out the way how to attract new people as effectively as possible. And over time, I'd like to see a positive ROI as well.
     
  19. pirxus

    pirxus Newbie

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    That's inspiring! I too thought about hiring people on MicroWorkers, but since it's a tech/niche forum, I'm not sure if that would work. Maybe I could ask in the job description for devs only. Maybe it could work.

    Why did G penalize your site? Did you use any black hat type of back-links?
     
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  20. pirxus

    pirxus Newbie

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    Yep, content is what made the original forum an authority.