Owning an internet forum can not only bring you a consistent stream of income, it can also really boost your reputation and visibility in an industry. How do you create an internet forum and make money from it? There are three main steps: setting up the forum, getting traffic to the forum and monetizing the forum.
Setting Up An Internet Forum
The forum set-up process will have a big impact on your long-term success.
The first choice you'll have to make is what software you'll want to use to run your forum. There are many forum packages out there - most of them free, each with different features. Spend some time learning about them and comparing software before you start.
Whatever software you choose, make sure you update it whenever security updates come out. One of the biggest mistakes forum owners make is being lazy about updating, which often results in getting spammed or even hacked as exploits are discovered for older versions of the software.
Select a great starter skin for your forum as well. The color scheme and graphical skin you choose will be an important part of the first impression of your forum.
Choose a great domain, preferably one with your main keywords in it. This will help with your SEO rankings and memorability.
Seeding the Forum and Getting Traffic
When you're just starting your forum, have as few sections as possible. It's much better to have three sections with 100 posts each than ten sections with 30 posts each. As you get more members, then and only then add more sections.
In the beginning, be very active on the forum. Get your friends on it and be as active as possible. Some webmasters even go as far as to create multiple accounts for themselves to post from. This process is called "seeding" - getting the initial posts on the forum up there are quickly as possible.
It may take a few weeks or even a couple months but if you're consistently seeding your forum, new people will eventually join your forum. The flow will increase over time.
Then the question of how to drive more traffic to your site comes up. As usual, SEO can play a big role. If you can get your forum ranked for a main keyword term, that can drive a lot of traffic.
If you can't, however, becoming part of the community, showing up at industry events and being a member of other websites in your industry can all drive a lot of traffic.
Making Money from Your Forum
There are many ways to make money from a forum once it has traffic.
The most basic way is to just put AdSense on it. While this method will definitely make you some money, it's not the best way to monetize a forum. Forums tend to have a lot of the same people returning again and again and they quickly learn where the ads are and stop clicking.
Instead, some of the most effective ways to monetize a forum include subscription programs, premium areas and paid services.
For example, the Warrior Forum, a prominent internet marketing forum, charges members to post classifieds. SitePoint charges members to list websites for sale.
Other forums do it on a monthly or biannual basis. Whatever the case is for your forum, you'll usually make more money by creating a premium service than by serving ads.
These are the three basic steps of creating a profitable forum: set up, driving traffic and monetization. If this is a web business you feel inspired to run, then get started on it today. It'll take some time to get up and running, but once it does it'll be incredibly rewarding, both personally and financially.