How did you get your forum off the ground

anhy123

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Feb 4, 2020
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1
Now most people have probably realized that a forum is very difficult to build up. Especially if you have under 100 members. Even if you have a 1,000 or more members it's probably difficult to get people to join. Especially if you're going against other already established forums that have tens of thousands of members. For all of you already have a successful forum or a forum that is "somewhat" successful: How did you get your forum from zero members to what it is now? Did you start off by creating tons of fake posts and accounts or did you hire forum posters? Maybe you exchanged posts with other forum owners or had your friends help you out. This is definitely a mystery to me that I haven't been able to figure out. So far every single forum I've tried starting up has been a complete failure.
 

l3ta

Participant
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Feb 14, 2020
Messages
64
It is indeed a mystery. I've seen forums take off like rockets in just a matter of days with hundreds of registrations per day. Maybe their owners have some type of kavorka :-0
 

sbjsbj

Fan
Joined
Feb 9, 2015
Messages
660
How did you get your forum from zero members to what it is now? Did you start off by creating tons of fake posts and accounts or did you hire forum posters? Maybe you exchanged posts with other forum owners or had your friends help you out.
No, just no.

This is definitely a mystery to me that I haven't been able to figure out. So far every single forum I've tried starting up has been a complete failure.
Look at my posts. I have written many times the same thing. For example read this thread.

It basically falls down to one thing. Content. You must understand that YOU ALONE have to provide content. You must grind it out. And then it will take off.

We are not in the 2000s anymore. Providing a platform for discussion is not enough. Anybody can launch a site these days, any kind of site has a comments section.

You must think like a "customer service". If I land on your site, what can you service me? Think about that.
 
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Splinter2

Participant
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Dec 9, 2017
Messages
53
I agree, content is king.
Our forum has 175 members, which is a very small amount, but we have a core of about fifteen members who post regularly every single day, more so now with the health crisis.
How do you get more members? The hard way, by inviting people you know that may have an interest in the subject of your forum. But the same old rule applies - you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. The ratio between sign-ups and postings from those sign-ups is, in my case anyway, pitifully low.
It's important to stay within the subject of the forum and create new and interesting posts that pertain to that subject and will grab people's interest. Be provocative and controversial if you like, but within reason of course.
I wouldn't recommend 'rent-a-crowd' because trolls and fakes can usually be spotted from a mile by the more savvy members and in the end will dent your reputation when it's found out. I've never done that and never will.
I'm not one for giving advice, but our members like the fact that we don't over-moderate, we don't censor and leave one heck of a lot of leeway. We're all adults after all.
keep it lively, active and interesting, bringing people on board who share your interest.
Finally, many consider forums to be a dead-end today due to social media, but I disagree. Most of our members post content on the forum in spite of social media because they know the audience is tailored to them. Facebook is not.
 

bomb

Aspirant
Joined
Mar 19, 2017
Messages
26
Am guilty of alot that you have mentioned. Like sock puppeting and such.

You are only doing one mistake; Starting a bunch of forums. Just start one and stick to it long enough to see it rocket like the rest.

Settle on one, keep the domain long enough to have a decent DA. I gave myself a target of 100,000 posts from myself, in the life of the forum. If you haven't hit 100K, keep posting. It's the only way you will stay at it.
 

Nev_Dull

Anachronism
Joined
Apr 27, 2010
Messages
2,048
This is definitely a mystery to me that I haven't been able to figure out. So far every single forum I've tried starting up has been a complete failure.
Have they really failed? Or is it that you gave up because your expectations were unrealistic. Most forums fail because they were either started for the wrong reasons, or the owner/admin gave up.

If you are looking to start a forum with tens of thousands of members, you are doomed before you start. The same goes if you want to start a forum to make money. The only reason to start a forum today is if you have something you are really passionate about and want to create a space for others who share your passion to meet and discuss it. And even then you should only consider it if there are no other forums on the same topic, or if those forums aren't meeting your needs in some way.

Will it be successful? That depends on how you define success. If your forum is really about creating a platform for others to share your passion, then it will be successful if some people like that join and you can exchange ideas. It really shouldn't matter if it's six, sixty, or six thousand. That's how nearly all big boards started. Over time, if you've created a site that is inviting, friendly, and interesting (to those interested in the subject), more will find you and join the discussions.

Time is the other important factor. To paraphrase Mr. Adams, the internet is big, really big. You just can't comprehend how vastly, hugely, mindboggling big it is. You should expect it to take a year or even two before you see any significant growth in the number of people who find your site among all the others. In the meantime, as others have said, you will need to rely on your own passion for the topic to provide interesting content. With some luck, you'll find a small group of members early on to sustain the discussion.
 

Splinter2

Participant
Joined
Dec 9, 2017
Messages
53
Am guilty of alot that you have mentioned. Like sock puppeting and such.

You are only doing one mistake; Starting a bunch of forums. Just start one and stick to it long enough to see it rocket like the rest.

Settle on one, keep the domain long enough to have a decent DA. I gave myself a target of 100,000 posts from myself, in the life of the forum. If you haven't hit 100K, keep posting. It's the only way you will stay at it.
Could you please clarify 'life of the forum'?
100k posts is really motoring and an unrealistic figure in the very short term. In two years of posting on my forum, I'm at 5000 posts and that's posting every single day.
Posting has to be balanced, if not, it ends up looking like a one man show.
 

bomb

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Mar 19, 2017
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26
Domain authority maybe?
Sure. Domain Authority.
Could you please clarify 'life of the forum'?
100k posts is really motoring and an unrealistic figure in the very short term. In two years of posting on my forum, I'm at 5000 posts and that's posting every single day.
Posting has to be balanced, if not, it ends up looking like a one man show.
100k post is a cumulative figure for the lifetime of my board. I normally do atleast 12 post per day (posts + threads). Roughly 5000 per year, so to reach 100K, I need 20 years. So, what I mean, if in 20 years my board will still not be making sense or cents, I will give up then. Not any earlier.
 

Splinter2

Participant
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Dec 9, 2017
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53
Added to which, running a forum should be fun and not a chore.
To the OP - make it fun and enjoy yourself. That way, your enthusiasm will shine through.
 

DigNap15

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Sep 14, 2019
Messages
230
A great topic, that comes up again and again.
I started my topic as a passion, I was prepared to fund it for a year myself (on a shared plan)
Then my major oppsition decided to longer offer Opion and Politics, so I posted over there (he he) and got hundreds of new members in a few days.
I'm in a small country New Zealand.

I think one reason forum owners may give up is the sheer complexity of running one, domain names, emails bouncing, hosting plans, spammers, trolls, crashes, etc etc it can give you nightmares when you have 1000 members depending on you.

Now the problem is how to find new members, I have got plenty of good content But people just don't go on the internet and think I'll see if there is a forum I can join tonight. (most of them don't know what forum is)

There is no way to cost-effectievly advertise (inho)
 

evcom

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Apr 27, 2018
Messages
21
Always an interesting topic for sure. Most have been said by previous posters already and I agree with most of it. anhy123 I am in the same boat as I am working on a forum that hopefully will take-off one fine day. I've been administrating different forums since 2005. Many of them with a mixed success. What I've learned from it is, that if you want to be successful today, all factors that may lead to success, must be met. In the early days, this was not the case and even when things were less 'optimal', sites quickly gained traction.

My situation is pretty similar to yours, as there is already another forum which focuses on the same subject. I find it one of the biggest challenges on the way to grow your forum. Even though my forum is superior when it comes to tech. functionalities and design, people won't join from the other forum. I've learned also, that the folks from e.g. FB Groups won't join. So what can be done about it? I'm trying to make my community different from the competition (find your niche). E.g. different advertising and monetization strategy, different forum categories, different content, different profiles, etc..And of course all other factors must be observed as well. To name a few: Top Content, SEO, Newsletter, Design, Functionality & Usability, Atmosphere, and, and, and...Good luck! And don't give up too quickly.
 

DaveL

HabituƩ
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Feb 4, 2007
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1,376
Timing and Niche I believe are the key factors. Worked for me.
 

evcom

Aspirant
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Apr 27, 2018
Messages
21
One additional thing that helps a lot when a topic gets attention and comments: Set "notify me of answers to this topic" by default to ON.
If it's not ON or not set to ON, the chance that members posting to it will abandon the topic is quite high. I find that leaving it by default to ON helps to get returning visitors to engage again. Most members will not switch it manually to OFF as they are generally interested in the subject.

And also interesting: Leaving this setting to ON is GDPR compliant. Just make sure you do not add ads to the notification mails.
 

TLChris

Administrator
Joined
Jan 2, 2020
Messages
158
Writing interesting content, implementing a modal to capture email addresses, and then sharing said content all over Facebook. Email the list weekly. Rinse and repeat.

Started the forum 2 years ago, has 2k users now, and 19k posts. I would suspect by year 4 for it to be a success it would need 50k posts...but it already more than pays for it self. However I believe if I actually dedicated more time focused on it, it would grow even faster.

Forums need content and fanning the flame šŸ”„ on an audience.
 

jair101

Participant
Joined
Nov 17, 2012
Messages
64
A blog.

Seriously. To be able to successfully start a forum, first you need to be an authority on the subject. And blog is a much better medium(pun intended) for a one-to-many conversation than forum. Or if you prefer to go with the flow, instead of blog you can use instagram account, podcast or youtube channel. The entire point is to establish yourself as a person who know what he is talking about, person who others are willing to follow.

After a few years (if you are persistent enough) you will have a steady audience to your blog/podcast/youtube, which will be very easy to be transferred to a newly created forum. Most people won't make such long term plans, hence they skip the step of building authority and their forum fails.
 

DigNap15

Enthusiast
Joined
Sep 14, 2019
Messages
230
A blog.

Seriously. To be able to successfully start a forum, first you need to be an authority on the subject. And blog is a much better medium(pun intended) for a one-to-many conversation than forum. Or if you prefer to go with the flow, instead of blog you can use instagram account, podcast or youtube channel. The entire point is to establish yourself as a person who know what he is talking about, person who others are willing to follow.

After a few years (if you are persistent enough) you will have a steady audience to your blog/podcast/youtube, which will be very easy to be transferred to a newly created forum. Most people won't make such long term plans, hence they skip the step of building authority and their forum fails.
So you are basically saying Forums have no chance.
Yes I think you do need to be an expert to start a blog.
But a fourm - no. It is your members content.
If everyone followed your advice there would be no new forums ever
There are millions of blogs and Facebook pages out there.
But I do admit that starting a forum is hard as you have lots of technical problems to contend with.
 

jair101

Participant
Joined
Nov 17, 2012
Messages
64
So you are basically saying Forums have no chance.
Yes I think you do need to be an expert to start a blog.
But a fourm - no. It is your members content.
If everyone followed your advice there would be no new forums ever
There are millions of blogs and Facebook pages out there.
But I do admit that starting a forum is hard as you have lots of technical problems to contend with.
No, I am definitely not saying that. I am saying that a blog can be a stepping stone and more appropriate platform for the first few years of building authority in the chosen subject. After that - the regulars of the blog become the first members of the forum and it launches seamlessly.

The issue is that many people give up long before they have established themselves as an authority in the niche they have selected - they either lack the patience or they simply don't have the knowledge to get people to follow them.
 

Nev_Dull

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Apr 27, 2010
Messages
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I am saying that a blog can be a stepping stone and more appropriate platform for the first few years of building authority in the chosen subject. After that - the regulars of the blog become the first members of the forum and it launches seamlessly.
That's an interesting way to look at starting a forum. I think it would work fine too, assuming that your goal is to be an authority in the subject area. However, I think it's also valid to start a forum as someone who wants to learn more about the subject. To me, anyway, it's much more appealing to learn along side your members rather than dispense knowledge to them.
 
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