Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 14

Thread: The Small Business Forum needs your help!

  1. #1
    Web Consultant
    Array
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    @HaroldMansfield
    Posts
    9,771
    Thanks (Given)
    12
    Thanks (Received)
    2
    Likes (Given)
    1073
    Likes (Received)
    980

    Exclamation The Small Business Forum needs your help!

    As many of you have probably noticed, upgrades to the forum have been slow moving. Although I have the will and time to contribute, some upgrades cost money and at the moment I just don't have the personal budget to finance it.

    What I need to do is upgrade the forum to the latest version which I was unable to do on my own. Too many technical challenges. For best results I really need to hire the techs at V-Bulletin to do it for us.

    Hosting and other expenses have also been out of pocket, and not much is made from ads to cover it.

    I feel like much needed upgrades will help the forum be more self sustaining, help with content creation and attract partnerships, and help us to grow membership. We don't need much. Any contribution is welcomed.

    I've thought long and hard about doing a fundraiser, and decided that it was time I asked for help.

    I've set up a Go Fund Me page on behalf of the forum to try and raise a few bucks to get as much of these things done as possible.
    https://www.gofundme.com/support-the...business-forum




    This forum has been a great resource for me before and after I started my own business and I hope it has been for many of you too over the years. But it's time to improve it and make it even better and I need some help.


    If you're interested in supporting the forum through advertising, reach out to me and purchase a 480X60 ad spot to promote your business on the forum.


    To help promote our fundraiser, here are some links to our Go Fund Me page.


    Link to Go Fund Me:
    Code:
    gf.me/u/mtpi32
    Embeddable Widget:
    Code:
    <iframe class='gfm-media-widget' image='1' coinfo='1' width='100%' height='100%' frameborder='0' id='support-the-small-business-forum'></iframe><script src='//funds.gofundme.com/js/5.0/media-widget.js'></script>

    Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
    Attached Images

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Array
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Beaver Falls, PA
    Posts
    885
    Thanks (Given)
    0
    Thanks (Received)
    5
    Likes (Given)
    17
    Likes (Received)
    107

    Default

    Something else you could consider would be finding people on Fiverr to do the things you need. You could probably get everything you want for $ 50.00 and of course the fee to vBulletin which I have not followed for a long time but it didn't use to be that much.

    Just as one example the one website that I am involved in but didn't create was done with Joomla. The guy we had do it was supposedly one of the main guys who did the Chicago Tribune web site and is now working for one of my competitors who is also involved with the association that owns the site. Joomla made a major upgrade and the guy who created the site wasn't comfortable doing the upgrade so he went to the company he had bought the theme from. They offered to do the upgrade for $ 750.00. The association paid them and for weeks nothing happened. We cancelled them and I suggested to the guy who did our site that he try Fiverr. We got it done perfectly in 48 hours for $ 40.00

    I have used Fiverr a number of times when I encountered something that was over my head and have always had great results dirt cheap. I think you could get what you want done for a fraction of the cost.
    Ray Badger, Turbo Technologies, Inc.
    www.TurboTurf.com www.IceControlSprayers.com

  3. #3
    Web Consultant
    Array
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    @HaroldMansfield
    Posts
    9,771
    Thanks (Given)
    12
    Thanks (Received)
    2
    Likes (Given)
    1073
    Likes (Received)
    980

    Default

    Thanks for the tips. Yes I know Fiverr well. However for some of the specific technical things that we need I've already exhausted all other, cheaper options. Many things I can and am willing to do myself, but for some things I need to just go to the source and insure that it's done right.

  4. #4
    Web Consultant
    Array
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    @HaroldMansfield
    Posts
    9,771
    Thanks (Given)
    12
    Thanks (Received)
    2
    Likes (Given)
    1073
    Likes (Received)
    980

    Default

    Update: The fundraiser is not going good guys. That's not a good sign. Am I wasting my time trying to keep the forum alive and improve it?

    All of the things people have suggested like being able to post articles, fixing how the forum displays on mobile, connecting social media profiles and on and on? Those modules or that upgrade costs money and this forum doesn't make any money. It's always been an out of pocket expense. I'm hoping to change that, but I can't change it as is and I'm not in position to finance it all by myself.

    I hope at least some of you will consider pitching in so that we can do some of those things you want to happen.

    Not asking for much. A few people tossing $10 or more at it would go a long way. If you've gotten $10 worth of value out of the forum over the last 10 years, please consider paying it forward and helping out so that we can make some improvements.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Array
    Chimpie's Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Sarasota, Florida
    Posts
    39
    Thanks (Given)
    0
    Thanks (Received)
    0
    Likes (Given)
    0
    Likes (Received)
    0

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold Mansfield View Post
    Am I wasting my time trying to keep the forum alive and improve it? .
    There's a Google Analytics code in the base code of the forum. Do you have access to that data? Can you see how much traffic the site is getting daily/monthly?

    When I click New Posts it only goes back one week. In that one week you have about 20 posts. Not bad for a forum I thought no longer existed.

    I think maybe two emails a month to the membership might get people posting again (like me!).

    As a forum owner, I've seen my traffic drop to less than half over the past few years. Even with a great mobile them, people just don't go to forums anymore. There's just too much distracting people.

  6. #6
    Web Consultant
    Array
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    @HaroldMansfield
    Posts
    9,771
    Thanks (Given)
    12
    Thanks (Received)
    2
    Likes (Given)
    1073
    Likes (Received)
    980

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Chimpie View Post
    There's a Google Analytics code in the base code of the forum. Do you have access to that data? Can you see how much traffic the site is getting daily/monthly?

    When I click New Posts it only goes back one week. In that one week you have about 20 posts. Not bad for a forum I thought no longer existed.

    I think maybe two emails a month to the membership might get people posting again (like me!).

    As a forum owner, I've seen my traffic drop to less than half over the past few years. Even with a great mobile them, people just don't go to forums anymore. There's just too much distracting people.
    Of course I have access to the GA. Monthly traffic is in the tens of thousands every month. More readers than members logging in montly, but verified membership is 20k.

    I've reached out to everyone. Some members directly. Verified delivery of every email.
    So you're saying I'm wasting my time trying to keep this one alive?

    I honestly think this can be so much more than JUST a forum. That it can be a resource of information and services that help small business owners. Even as a place to just drop by and talk shop every now and then, that's useful. Can't really do that anywhere online without dealing with constant solicitation, spam and trolls.

    But I can't finance it alone, and without a very small amount of financial help from the community not only can't we get there, but this forum will be closed in less than a week. That's where we are right now if I can't make the improvements it needs to catch up and become self sustaining. I'm really hoping this place is worth a few bucks to enough people. I'll do the work, I just need some help.

  7. #7
    Registered User
    Array
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Beaver Falls, PA
    Posts
    885
    Thanks (Given)
    0
    Thanks (Received)
    5
    Likes (Given)
    17
    Likes (Received)
    107

    Default

    I don't think I agree that forums are dead. I do think that forums that are filled with spam are dead but if a forum serves a purpose then I think they are doing fine. I participate in a number of forums and have one of my own which is about the same level of activity as this one, perhaps a little less. We get 16-20K visitors but only a handful of posts but I to get a lot of people who think my forum is an excellent resource. The other forums I participate in seem to be doing fine and I don't know of any other good forums devoted to small business so I think this one fills a niche.

    I am not so sure that upgrading it will help much but I also don't know exactly what Harold has in mind and could change my mind when I know what his plans are. Another option might be taking some costs out.
    Ray Badger, Turbo Technologies, Inc.
    www.TurboTurf.com www.IceControlSprayers.com

  8. Likes Harold Mansfield liked this post
  9. #8
    Registered User
    Array
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    9
    Thanks (Given)
    0
    Thanks (Received)
    0
    Likes (Given)
    0
    Likes (Received)
    1

    Default

    Harold I sent you a pm.

  10. Likes Harold Mansfield liked this post
  11. #9
    Web Consultant
    Array
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    @HaroldMansfield
    Posts
    9,771
    Thanks (Given)
    12
    Thanks (Received)
    2
    Likes (Given)
    1073
    Likes (Received)
    980

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by turboguy View Post
    I am not so sure that upgrading it will help much but I also don't know exactly what Harold has in mind and could change my mind when I know what his plans are. Another option might be taking some costs out.
    So here's a quick run down on where I am, and what I'd like to do and why.

    1. First and foremost I need to catch up on hosting fees. I expected that the ads would be enough to pay for hosting and they are not. For me personally, it's the worst time to have an additional expense. I 100% wanted to take over the forum because the alternative was that it was going to shut down and I knew it could be more and grow, but I also knew I didn't have a lot of money at the time. I figured first step was to save it. see what it actually makes in ad rev, and worry about the next step later. Well, this is the next step.

    Many have suggested cheaper hosting to save $20 mo on it. However, I know what it looks like when a busy site uses cheap hosting. Outages, resource and uptime issues, security issues and so on. I know this host. I can depend on this host. I get good service with this host, and for the last 10 years their service and uptime has been almost impeccable. When I need something, they are there. If I need something fixed, they fix it. Fast. I don't want to risk that to save $20 with someone new. To me the hosting isn't broke.

    2. We're running an older version of V-Bulletin. I would like to upgrade to the newer version that has newer user and admin features, more security settings and control, easier to admin, updated member and profile areas, content management areas so that we can start publishing articles and build additional pages for tools and resources, better ad management, some social tools, it takes fewer resources, runs on updated version of PHP, and above all else is responsive.

    At the moment this site scans ( from Google) as not mobile friendly and it says that right in the search results. That is not good and it's hindering the forum's accessibility, traffic, ad revenue...everything.




    3. If at all possible I'd like to upgrade even further to the mobile suite which provides an optimized smartphone experience. More than half the visitors are mobile and the forum is not. The bounce rate is very high, and I think this will help alleviate that because it is a pain in the ass to try and use on mobile.

    4. Besides the licenses for the upgrades, I need to hire V-Bulletin to do them. Over the past few months VG, Myself, and I've even had the techs at my hosting try and do the upgrades and it's harder than it looks, I think there are other issues related to the age of the installation and trying to jump versions. I think once we get over that hump and get current it will be easier going forward. Letting V-Bulletin do the upgrade is only $149 per and I know it'll be done correctly and the work guaranteed.

    I'm not a big fan of trusting anyone from Fiver or where ever to dig into the server to do this just because they say they can. Besides the security of our members, things can go wrong. Not saying me VG and the techs at WebAir know every possible thing, but why not just let the people I KNOW can do it properly do it?

    And yes, I do like V-Bulletin and want to stay with it. I think it provides the best, most reliable, and most familiar experience to users. I think moving to a new platform would just throw more monkey wrenches and cause more problems, and be confuse existing members and hinder us even more.

    I've seen other platforms and quite frankly the good ones are expensive and the cheap ones suck. None of you will be happy with less features. Even though I know WordPress, I'm not interested in the WordPress forum option. That's not the best tool for this job. I would like to provide more for the community, not take things away just to make it easier on me. That won't help anything, nor allow this community to grow to it's full potential.


    5. There are also some technical issues in the dashboard that are due to the older nature of the software. Modules are beginning to not work, some functions are no longer working, and we're out of date on the security updates. Many of those things cannot be "fixed", they need to be updated. For instance, the Captcha issue at registration? That's an example of something that is outdated and I can't just plop a new version of it on old software.

    It's difficult to attract advertisers, partners, and traffic with all those issues. It's also hard to grow membership with all those issues.


    If we actually hit the goal my additional wishlist would be


    • Pay some hosting in advanced and give ad revenue a chance to grow.
    • The higher level SSL/TLS so that we can have a signed certificate instead of just the free version. It's been requested that maybe we think about a marketplace or services area. I'm still against it but if I did do it, it needs to be controlled so that it's not a spam fest. That may include charging a few bucks for a monthly listing. If so, we need that to work seamlessly and be secure.
    • Maybe go over to Fiver and have someone create a logo for us.
    • A year of V-Bulletin support


    As you all know, I'm willing to do the work of improving the content, organizing it, building the resources, running the place and keeping spam out and so on and so on. But I would really like to make some real improvements and bring the place up to date. Honestly it was only going to last so much longer in this state any way.

    So the usual urge is for people to run down a list of "have you tried..?" suggestions that I've of course already done, investigated, or are considerations for the future and take time to implement but don't solve the immediate issues. Trust me, I would have rather done anything than to be here asking the community for help. But I need to set that pride aside if I'm going to save this forum and make the improvements that it needs to be able to run it like a business and keep it online for everyone.

    Also want to note that these are all one time expenses to upgrade. They are not adding to the monthly expense nor are they perpetual license fees that have to be paid monthly or yearly or anything like that. Nothing above (with the exception of the better SSL) is a recurring expense, and current expenses would not be increasing because of them.
    Attached Images

  12. #10
    Web Consultant
    Array
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    @HaroldMansfield
    Posts
    9,771
    Thanks (Given)
    12
    Thanks (Received)
    2
    Likes (Given)
    1073
    Likes (Received)
    980

    Default

    One of the things that was suggested was offering donors of a certain amount free banner advertising on the upgraded forum for a certain period of time.
    I like that.

    How do you feel about say...for the first 5 $100 donations, I can place your 480x60 or 728x90 banner at the top of the forum in rotation for say..the first month? Maybe with a "Thanks for supporting the forum" message or something like that.

    I'm also willing to offer 1 hour of any services that I can provide ( see below) for every $50 donor.

Tags for this Thread

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •