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Thread: Starting your own forum. Good idea?

  1. #11

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    Just a simple opinion about facebook groups --- they suck. At least for me. I agree with Harold that the format is very limiting. I hate the singular, linear layout and tons of ads that facebook has. Spamming is even more prevalent there than a forum. I also prefer a layout where posts aren't as likely to get buried and topics can be organized.

    Quote Originally Posted by vangogh View Post
    I'm guessing people are waiting on me to chime in.

    First thing you want to ask yourself is why do you want a forum? Growing a community is difficult. Even 8 years ago when we started this one it was already difficult. Most people will sooner go to Facebook or Twitter or whatever social community before a forum.

    It's challenging to start a forum. You need a core group of people who will visit the forum daily or close to daily to keep it going. This forum started from the remnants of another small business forum and we were able to launch with about 20-25 people who we could count on to be that core group. Even then I was posting a lot more than anyone would expect someone to post. In the first week, I think I was averaging about 60 posts a day. Yes, 60 a day. After a month or so that was down to 30 a day.

    If I remember the first week this forum was open I spent the entire week here posting just to fill up all the forums and make the place look more active than it was. It was several years before I really pulled back from posting though.

    The cost of forum software is minimal. I wouldn't go with vBulletin anymore. I'd go with Xenforo. The developers of vBulletin sold it years ago to a company that doesn't seem to care much. Some of those developers are behind Xenforo. There's a good chance this forum will move to Xenforo in time. I think the price is about the same for both. $150 or so and then $40 annually for upgrades. You can probably start with inexpensive hosting ($10/month), but once you build any community, you'll probably want to upgrade your hosting. It's not expensive to run a forum, but be prepared to spend a few hundred a year for the software and hosting.

    Many forums make money plastering ads everywhere. This forum doesn't. There are a couple of ads and the revenue they bring in pays for the hosting. While I like making money, that wasn't my goal when I started this forum. It was more to keep a good community together.

    Spam is definitely an issue. I have some automated things set up to catch most of it and I easily spend an hour a day clearing out spammers. Without going into too much detail, I check the profile of everyone who registers in an effort to try to catch spam before it happens. I'm not the only one here catching spam, of course, but I think it's fair to say I catch most of it.

    Again I'd ask why you want a forum? What do you think it will add to your business? I think building a community is a great thing and it can help some businesses, but it's a lot more work than you probably think, assuming you want to keep a spam free forum.

    I don't want to discourage you from starting a forum. Just be aware it's going to require a lot of your time, especially in the beginning. You really have to be there posting every day even if you don't have anything to say. Even now, if I see a thread go unanswered for a day or two, I'll jump in to say anything to keep the thread going and make sure people get some kind of reply.

    Having said that, it's not that hard to set up a forum and give it a go. You can find free forum software and in the beginning you probably won't need anything other than inexpensive shared hosting. Just know it's a lot of work, especially in the beginning.
    Thank you for the reply vangogh. I didn't realize you were one of the major players to have created this forum...I knew you had to have had that massive post count for a reason Now I understand why everyone wanted to hear from you. You put the work that goes into creating a forum more in perspective for me. Honestly I'm not sure I have that much time to commit, nor do I know a large of enough group of people in the biz to want to help start it up. Perhaps I should stick with just trying to expand a small local networking group.
    Last edited by Amber; 02-25-2016 at 08:57 PM.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amber View Post
    Thank you for the reply vangogh. I didn't realize you were one of the major players to have created this forum...I knew you had to have had that massive post count for a reason Now I understand why everyone wanted to hear from you. You put the work that goes into creating a forum more in perspective for me. Honestly I'm not sure I have that much time to commit, nor do I know a large of enough group of people in the biz to want to help start it up. Perhaps I should stick with just trying to expand a small local networking group.
    Try gauging what kind of support there is for it. Maybe run a few polls. Try and build up a newsletter list of industry people, start blogging on the subject and see what kind of readership and response there is to industry specific articles. Grow your following from the ground up.

    If you have to spend the time to promote, grow and create content anyway, those would be good ways to do it without the huge commitment of launching and then hoping. And you'll be creating content that will serve you well whether you do that or something else with the niche.

  3. #13

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    ^ Thanks Harold. Those are excellent ideas! I already enjoy keeping up with a blog so creating additional content on the subject shouldn't be too far of a stretch.

  4. #14

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    One of the keys to a successful forum is finding a niche. If your particular niche already has a national go-to forum, one thing to consider would be setting up a forum in that niche for your region. One of the forums that I operate actually started that way in 2005.

    That said, if you're wanting it to be a revenue stream rather than a simple community that may or may not pay for itself, you need to make it a destination for those in that niche.
    || VMdoh - Drupal development, consulting, and support

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