How I Make Money With Forums
Posted on August 03, 2007 by Tim Schroeder
In my previous post about How I Make Money Blogging, I wrote about what some of my existing blog projects are and about some possible future blogging projects. I’m hoping it may have helped sparked a few new ideas for yourself!
I’m continuing this series on different ways I’m currently making money online with:
HOW I MAKE MONEY WITH FORUMS:
While I mentioned in my last post that I consider blogging one of the quickest and easiest ways to make money online, I’d consider making money by creating forums one of the hardest.
If you are creating a forum as an “addition” to an already successful website it might be different, but making good money from a new stand-alone forum will be a difficult task.
One problem you may face if you are trying to start a new forum is entering an already saturated niche. For example, if you start a new broad topic webmaster forum you are going to be competing with Digital Point, Webmaster-Talk.com, SitePoint.com etc… Why is someone going to want to join your new forum when there are already dozens of similar forums with high traffic and a lot of activity? If you are entering a competitive forum market then you will have to offer some sort of competitive advantage. Speaking of activity, getting a new forum off the ground is by far the hardest part because people usually like to “go” where the others are. It’s kind of like a herding effect. It’s the same with blogs. Getting a blog from 100 to 500 RSS subscribers is more difficult than going from 2000 to 3000 subscribers (if you show your feed stats).
I’m by all means not saying that you should not start a forum because with some hard work, they can be very successful and rewarding. However, I’d strongly recommend doing a lot of research and shoot for finding a new niche. Think about what’s missing? An example of a couple successful niche forums could be www.vonage-forum.com (which happens to rank number 4 for “vonage”) or www.sprintusers.com/forum/.
Consider creating a forum based on a specific product, service or group of customers.
Once you have created the forum, you then have the daunting task of getting traffic and activity. For this, you might have to try and find some quality hired “ghost” posters to help kick things off. Here is a recap and some other recommendations:
1. Find a New Niche – If there are already 10 forums just like the one you are about to create then it’s probably going to be a very difficult market to crack. As you have heard a million times, “think outside the box!” Also be sure there is enough people searching for help or support on the topic.
2. Use vBulletin – The vbulletin software is by far the best forum software on the market.
3. Use vBSEO – This script will make you URLs search engine friendly and it also includes many advanced features.
4. Visit vBulletin.org – This is a great forum for vbulletin mods, plugins and hacks.
5. Hire Ghost Posters – While this is not something one would want to have to do, it might be necessary to help get topics going. Also consider registering yourself with a few different usernames and post using all of them to create the appearance of more activity. Remember quality is key so read some reviews and do your research when trying to find a good paid posting service.
6. Considering using Adwords – You might be surprised at the quality of traffic you can get at just 5 to 10 cents a click. For example, there are not a whole lot of people bidding on keywords such as “php forum” “asp forum”, or “link exchange forum” etc…
I’ve probably left out a few things, but let me move on with my personal experiences with making money with forum.
The first forum I ever created was the Webmaster-Talk.com Webmaster Forum and to this day it is by far my most successful forum. This forum was started in early 2004 and it has slowly grown to be one of the top general webmaster forums. Yes, I know that there a few bigger and more active forums out there but being a success does not always mean you have to be number one. While I don’t want to give specific numbers on Webmaster-Talk.com’s revenue, the forum makes a few thousands dollars a month through a mixtures of Google Adsense, Text Link Ads, Kontera and a SitePoint partnership. Revenue on this forum could be increased by selling premium memberships and possibly featured marketplace listings etc.
A couple others forums I still own included the Webmaster Ads forum and the Green Earners Forum. I plan to put both of those forums up for sale again shortly since I simply don’t have the time to manage them. Neither of the two make much money but I could probably squeeze a couple hundred dollars a month from them total by selling several cheap text link spots. I also co-own The New Tech forums.
Two forums I used to own include the www.seo-talk.com and www.devboxforums. Both these forums had PR7s at the time. It used to be fairly easy for me to get any website to a PR7 but now it’s become much more difficult. SEO Talk was started from scratch and DevBoxForums was purchased and then resold a couple years later.
Do I have any new forum projects in the works?
That’s doubtful. There are quicker and easier ways to make money online. Webmaster-Talk.com alone takes up a considerable amount of my time but I’ll be keeping this forum unless I get an offer I can’t refuse. I think we will hold on to TheNewTech forums and have that one slowly and organically grow for long term potential. The other two forums I will likely eventually sell.
Nevertheless, you can see that there is good long term potential to make a decent amount of money from forums and if you find the right niche you could create yourself a little goldmine.
Do You Make Money With Forums? Share your experience below.
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