There are so many forums online nowadays. You can pretty much find a forum about any topic you can only think of – business, animals, Internet marketing and much more ! Many of these forums are profitable, and generate thousends of dollars each month. But – the truth is that most of them – are not profitable, or just don’t make enough money. And that’s not surprising. There is a huge difference between maintaining a blog and a forum. When you visit your favorite forum – you want to see new threads and new comments. But that won’t happen if you don’t have an active community that visits and posts on your forum on daily basis.
Opening a forum is easy, It only takes few minutes, and in most cases – you won’t even need to spend any money. There are many open-source, free forum platforms out there. The real issue is – how you bring visitors to your website, make them register and stay active (that mainly means commenting and starting new threads). In this article I will give you some ideas and tips regarding that.
But, first thing first, let’s start :
Ways to Monetize a Forum
- Google Adsense – You can place Google Adsense ads on your forum and earn money each time visitors click on ads. There are some Adsense alternatives (like Chitika) out there, but in my opinion Adsense works better for forums.
- Pop-ups – Each time an ad “pops” on your visitor’s browser, you earn little amount of money. If your website gets a lot of visitors – it can add up quickly.
- Selling Ad Space – If your website receives thousends or tens of thousends of visitors a day, you can also sell ad space on your forum. This way, you earn money – and your CTR (Click-through rate) won’t effect your earnings. You can services like BuySellAds.com to easily sell ad space on your forum.
- Affiliate Programs – Your forum members sometimes will ask about different procucts and link to different online retailers (like Amazon). You can use services like VigLink , that will change all website links to affiliate links automatically. Each time someone clicks on that link and buys the item – you earn a commission. Most of the major online retailers have an affiliate program. For example: Amazon Assocites, Aliexpress, eBay, Walmart and many others.
- VIP Forums – On your website, you can open different forums and sub-forums. You can lock some of them, and sell VIP access for as much as you want to.
- Selling Products – You can sell related products (especially eBooks, online courses. etc..) on your forum, or allow others to so after paying you a fee. If your forum is about dogs, you can buy reselling rights for a dog training eBook, and then sell it on your forum.
How To Open A Forum
As I mentioned, creating and opening a new forum is fairly easy. Here are the steps :
- Choosing a name (“domain name) for your forum.
- Buying web hosting for your forum.
- Installing a forum platform and configuring everything. There are many free, open-source ones like phpBB and myBB. If your budget allows it, buya license for a premium and professional forum platform like vBulletin.
- Buying or finding a good design (“theme”) for your forum. Check this website for example.
This whole process should not take more than few hours. You can do this until tomorrow. But, as I mentioned – the most important thing is the traffic. How you will attract new visitors to your forum that will also register and be active for many month and years.
How Much Does It Cost To Open A Forum
- Domain name – About $10 a year.
- Web Hosting – As little as $5 a month. When you start, you should choose a shared hosting plan. In the future, if your forum, will receive a lot of traffic, you should consider renting a dedicated server. Don’t use free web hosting services.
- Forum Platform – There are few great open source forum platforms that you can download for completely free. A professional forum platform like Vbulletin can cost up to $400.
How To Get Traffic – Visitors
- Incentive Activities– You can determine that each time someone comments on your forum, he gets 1 point (or more if he starts a new thread, or referees a friend that registers). Then, this points can be redeemed for gift cards, or products related to your forum’s niche. There are some plugins that can do all this for you. Some of them are free to use. You will be surprised how good this actually works. Make people around the web know about the activity going on your forum. We all like receiving free stuff, right? You can of course use the other methods mentioned below to let others know about your Incentive activity.
- PPC advertising – You can advertise on Google, Bing and Facebook, without spending a dime! These websites many times offer free advertising credit if you open a new account. Use that money to get hundreds of visitors to your forum. If you see that your ads are effective and people register to your forum, you can continue with that. Even if you have a daily budget of few dollars. If your budget is bigger, you can send hundreds of visitors to your forum on daily basis !
- Buying Ad Space On Related Websites – Search for websites related to your forum’s niche on ad brokers. For example – try BuyAndSellAds.com. Advertising on small websites sometimes is very cheap.
- Organic Traffic – After some weeks, you can expect to get organic traffic from search engines. Big forums can get millions of visitors a day from search engines ! It’s very important to make sure your forum and website is SEO optimized.