How to Start and Run Your Own Forum Successfully

Online forums have helped many internet marketers to make real cool money with little effort on their part. Smart people all over the world make their money by providing solutions to other people’s problem, what one sees as a problem, another sees as opportunity and avenue to make money. When you make money in your venture and effort to help other people become better, I think that is a good move, it is not bad if you sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Online forums are a community of people who belong to the same discussion board to discourse common issue of mutual interest. It is a meeting place for open discussion, other names for forum include discussion group, discussion boards. You can make money from forums whether you are the one who owns it or not. A very smart member of a forum may be so good as to be able to rake in more money even than the Administrator or any of the Moderators.

Examples of forum:

Warriorforum – The greatest or largest internet business forum on planet earth. And so on, use Google search to find out more forums of your interest.

All you need to do is type your area of interest, e.g dog owners forum in the search area of Google, you will receive more result than you can handle. The first decision to make if you want to prosper through forum is to choose the forums you want to actively participate in. Register for free, most of the forums are free anyway, and start posting.

Benefits of joining a forum:
Interactivity
Establishing your expertise
Credibility
Social Community i.e becoming a member of a team
Get product ideas
Trade opportunities
Get traffic to your blog or website if you are a webmaster.

There is power in been part of a community. My best community on the internet is a forum that caters for my online business, takes care of my social interaction and so on, every member of the forum feels a sense of belonging, a spirit of oneness that is not in many other internet activities.

There are three basic internet marketing tips everyone who wants to profit from online forum must note.

1. Find a hungry market
2. Discover the major pain or interest
3. Deliver it to them

To find a hungry market, take your interest into consideration, ask yourself

What are you passionate about?
What are your area of interest?
What do you hate?

Consider your past experience, skills, job, or businesses.

Use this knowledge to help you build a solution to the hungry market, find out the solution to the market’s yearning, that’s how to make it in life.

When you join the forum the first thing is to introduce yourself, become a forum investigator immediately by watching out for what many people on the forum lack, what they need, find out what they are hungry for through questions. Use the response triggers to find out. What can I? How do I? Where can I? Are response triggers that when people answer the questions that follows, you will discover their lack, interest or pain.

Having discovered these things, find a good solution to the problem and deliver it to them, pure and simple.

Action plan:

Pick your area of interest today
Decide on the forums to join
Let the forums be in the area of your interest.

Establishing a forum:

I was highly honored when I was called upon by the Administrator of a forum to take up the responsibility of moderating one of the discussion boards. It was a responsibility that exposed me to study and find out the skills of running a forum, and administering it successfully. Thank God for the opportunity, I am able to share with you how to set up your own forum because I allowed the guru to teach me by experience.

Advantages of having your own forum:

You will be seen as an expert, and be consulted for advise, your products will be highly sought after, and that means more money for you.

You can easily build your own list of responsible people member will naturally come back to your forum giving you better chances of earning AdSense revenue. You get quality service from search engines.

What you need to start your own forum:

- Choose a niche for example, marriage, health, football, relationship, politics,…
- Register a domain name that reflect the niche e.g menshealthforum.com
- Buy a hosting package of at least 100MB
- Install your forum with fantastico

How to monetise your own forum:

- Sell your own products and services e.g e-books, audo/video files. It is pretty easy to make audio files, simply go over to Google.com, type audacity in the search box and click search, you will need a headset with a microphone to record your voice.
- Sell other people’s products relating to your niche by joining good affiliate program that gives you reasonable commission.
- Place Google AdSense on your forum to monetise better
- Put text link adverts, go to Google to find out more.

Steps To Installing Your Own Forum:

Type your registered domain name having hosted it with at least 100MB e.g menshealthforum.com/cpanel. In the browser, you will be required to type in your username and password. Your hosting company would have provided you with all these. When the username and password is correctly in place you will be connected instantly to your cpanel.

- Look out for fantastico, you need this to install your forum, and it comes with most of these hosting rights. – Click on the fantastico button
- Click on install discussion board, use simple machine form (smf) board, or any other one of your choice.
- Click on smf under discussion board
- Click on new installation
- Install in a directory called forum, do not install it on the main domain

Administrator name will be your name e.g Adenuga Sunday Joseph, and you choose a password. Click install smf, then click on finish installation.

To create Categories, just go to login, then put in your username and password

For communications category, go to news and newsletters from admin, then create categories from sub-menu boards, go to create new category – let it be closely related to your forum team e.g men’s diet, physical exercise, etc.

Lack of Sleep Can Hurt Health and Fitness

Many people are so busy that sleep is the last thing on their minds. Many people work long hours and cut out sleep time in order to have more time for fun activities. Getting enough sleep can greatly affect a person’s overall health and fitness. The body needs enough sleep to recuperate from stressful daily activities. Not getting enough sleep can be harmful both mentally and physically. Even if a person exercises regularly, not getting enough sleep can wipe out the benefits of exercising. Lack of sleep is also associated with numerous other health problems including weight gain, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

Many times when people do go to bed they can not relax enough to fall asleep. There are a few things people can do to help them sleep better and improve their health and fitness. If possible people, that have trouble resting, should avoid caffeine. Caffeine takes a long time to metabolize, therefore the affects of caffeine can last a long time. This means that if someone has caffeine in the early afternoon, it could still have an effect on their ability to fall asleep late at night. People, who are having trouble sleeping, should avoid drinking alcohol. Even Though alcohol can make you tired, many times people who drink it wake up a few hours later and can not fall back asleep.

There are a few other things people can do to get more sleep and improve their health and fitness. People, who are having trouble sleeping, should keep their room complete dark or as close to completely dark as possible. Not watching TV before bed will help keep the mind from becoming overstimulated. Not having a TV in the bedroom is the best way to resist the temptation to watch it before falling asleep. Many people find that listing to relaxation Cd’s, while they are in bed, helps them get a restful nights sleep. Keeping a journal and writing down thoughts before bedtime is another way to relax before falling asleep.

If people try these things and are still worried about their health and fitness due to lack of sleep they should make an appointment to see their doctor. Their doctor can double check to make sure they are not taking any medication that could be keeping them awake. A doctor might also make suggestions on some vitamins or supplements to take to help them relax and sleep peacefully.

Gathering a Critical Mass of Members to a Forum

To engineer a successful forum, there are three key questions an administrator needs to ask before building the forum.

Goal #1. How will you gather a critical mass of members
Goal #2. What will compel members to provide content
Goal #3. How will the forum survive pass the first year
In this article we cover goal #1 – how to gather a critical mass of members.
Be niche

Your forum has to build a name for itself as the authority on a subject. All successful forums have something that sets them apart from the rest. For example, it could be the unique content of the site, an under-served niche demographic they target, or the personality of the site administrator.

If you’re creating a forum, ask yourself, “What will people get out of my forum that they can’t already get somewhere else?”

All successful forums have a purpose. They exist for a specific reason, to accomplish something. To connect people with common interests, or to facilitate conversation on issues related to the site.

One major reason many new forums fail is because there are too many forums on the same topic! Forums will not be successful if their sole purpose is building traffic for the main website.

Choice of forum software

Getting this right is critical. There is a high probability the existing forum posts will be lost by switching to different software later.

Consider search engine optimisation first. Since 85%+ of new traffic to your website will come from the search engines, having your discussion forum posts found by the search engines is essential.

Before you choose a discussion forum software package, make sure that all the posts within the forum can be found and ranked by the search engines. Most discussion forum software hide messages posts in such a way that they simply cannot be crawled by the search engines.

One way to find out if message posts within a specific forum software package are search engine optimised, is to visit a site using that software, copy a recent forum headline and paste it into Google and do a search (surround the search headline with quotes so Google knows exactly what to look for).

If the message headline comes up within the first 50 pages found by Google, you know the forum has been optimally indexed. If the headline doesn’t show, you might want to look for a different forum software package.

Most of the major forum scripts are geared for SEO, but there are ways to improve results further by adding search engine friendly URLs, or in the case of vBulletin, adding vBSEO (a full suite of SEO enhancements).

Dynamic URLs, session ids, etc. used by most forum software can be very detrimental to the forum health from search engine point of view.

Take care when choosing the type of forum and forum script or software that will be used. The forum should be easy to find and easy to use. Some forum scripts and software come with compulsory ads served from the parent company, and lead to a poor user experience.

Focus content and discussion

Users will sign up and post on your board if they find the existing content interesting, and consider it worthwhile to participate. Establish several interesting categories within your forum, without going overboard.

When launching the site you will not have many members, so keep the content focused on a few discussions only to avoid empty rooms. It is far better to have 4 active sections than 15 empty ones.

Don’t be afraid to lump similar topics together. Once a forum grows to a size where threads are pushed to page 2 and 3, then consider splitting a forum into two smaller ones.

Do not have too many off-topic discussion areas. Instead create one or two introductory discussions, where new users can post about themselves and existing users can welcome them.

Know that before making the forum public, it is a good idea to create maybe two or three threads in each forum area, so visitors will have somewhere to post. Many new forum users are too shy to post new threads on their own.

Function over form

Users care more about the content and community than the design. Image heavy sites have a high first impression, but subsequent low usability. Image rich sites take longer for each member to read threads, make a new post, move between forums etc. If the page refresh is slow, users post less and are less inclined to return. Google and Yahoo are not particularly attractive, but very successful search engines which observed the law of efficient page refresh.

Design should not be the focus, instead improve the user experience with clear and easy to use navigation, few fancy buttons and images and making sure everyone understands the functions of the site. There is no substitute for good form design, consistent branding, clear and readable type and ample white space.

Use hacks, add-ons and features sparingly

Many forum scripts have hundreds of freely available add-ons, for example, vBulletin, including social networking add-ons, live chat, shops and arcades.

The trick here is to employ fewer features, but do them well. Avoid making the mistake of adding so many features they become a visual barrier to new users, or slow existing users’ posting. Add too many features too quickly and you do not allow enough time to measure them, or allow your users to adopt them.

A simple, clean layout with features that promote registration, referral and posting are all that is required.

Super easy registration

Almost all forums have some barrier to entry, to screen out trolling and spam. However, a common mistake among forum administrators is making registration complex.

For example, some forums make you agree to rules, answer security questions, validate your identity via email and await moderator approval. While these measures counter spam, if your signup process is long and tedious, many users will give up. Try to achieve a good balance between security and ease of use.

Apart from making registration hassle-free, offer registrants some kind of benefit to join other than permission to post. These could be freebies or downloads.

Set your barriers to entry to be either large or small. Large will net you fewer members, but quality; small will gain you more users but of mixed quality.

Member referral schemes

Many forums fail due to a lack of publicity. Tell your friends to join, and if they find it interesting, they will tell their friends, who will in turn tell their friends etc. This can tie in very well with a referral scheme, whereby users are rewarded for referring other users to the board. Word-of-mouth advertising, in tandem with other forms of advertising e.g. SEO optimization, Google Ads, link trading with other forums, can result in a powerful combination which will draw more and more users to your forums.

Seeding links in other forums

Get people aware about your forum/site for free, simply by joining other forums and having your link in your forum/profile signature. Emailing sites such requests can attract negative publicity, as recipients may perceive you to desperate spammer.

The best technique is to join another forum. Have a link to your site in your signature, and try to make 10 or so posts each week. If you get a great reputation on the forum, people will check out your link. If you are a credible, it is likely people in those forums will join yours.

Useful forum articles

Forum design
Building content
Long term survival
Anthony Coundouris is a director and digital consultant for the digital marketing agency Firestarter.