I see a lot of posts from people asking, "can I make money on a forum" or "what topic should I start". I'm no expert but I thought I would share my experiences to date.
I have 3 forums, and I've learned a ton about what to and not to do.
My first forum started in Sept www.contractortalk.com . I currently make about $200/mo off of this site and that numbers seems to be rising monthly. I have a great intrest in the subject and love to focus on the business of contracting instead of the work/trade for contracting. The site is also very unique with little competition
My second forum was started at Christmas, www.diychatroom.com . This was a bad move and I make $0/mo off of it. The only reason I started the site was to have a place to send all the homeowners that kepts asking the contractors questions on the contractor board. I don't have a ton of interest in the topic and I've been thinking of trying to sell the board soon.
Last week I launched www.W3Talk.com . Yet another webmaster community.. While this seems totally foolish to most people it was a topic I had interest in and it was a test for me. My contractor board is about the best out there and one of the only ones that focuses on all the trades. But theres a problem, most contractors aren't online and there are very few advertisers for the subject. With www.W3Talk.com I decided to go to the other extreme. Start a board that has a huge amount of advertisers and surfers and see if I can compete.
From my experiences I can tell you that if your going to start a forum you MUST have a HUGE intrest in the subject and that it takes a lot of work. Don't do something stupid like me and start a forum on a topic you care little about.
Its not unrealistic to think that you can make money running a board, in fact I know several people who make a couple thousand a month off of their forums... but its the exception and not the rule. I know of no one who started a board with a topic they had no intrest in that was successful.
Well, thats my 2 cents... Good Luck!