I currenty run Mississippi Sports Talk, a forum site I began last May, that primarily covers high school sports in north Mississippi. I started it because I'd been visiting a forum on a newspaper's site that I felt was running sub-par software and there were too many immature people on it. I went with phpBB as my software because it was free (it was a hobby/project and didn't have the $$ to throw @ vBull) and got decent reviews here at SPF. I chose phpBB over Snitz, iKon, and the remotely hosted ones.
The forums were begun at a time when school was getting out for the summer and there wasn't any activity at all in the way of high school sports. So it was pretty slow until fall got here. But with some word of mouth and a little pimping of myself on some Mississippi State and U. of Miss websites the membership grew and posting activity expanded. After a big hosting disaster that wiped out everything the day before the first weekend of football games, it recovered and did pretty well. A community was born.
It was clear that football is KING and the other sports didn't get as much activity. We got a decent amount of posts on College Sports too from the regulars on the forums. Now it's summer again, and posting activity has understandably decreased.
So, in the down time of the summer (the nature of the subject matter) I'd like to make some changes to give the site more punch. That's where I'm asking if you have any advice.
1. Right now the site has been focused on North Mississippi because that's where I am and that was the focus of the board I was fed up with. How can I effectively expand the scope/vision of the board to encompass the entire state of Mississippi, not just the north half?
2. Do I need a portal/entry page? I have the forums at a subdomain right now. But I'm wondering if I should just make them the home domain. What benefit would a portal have for me? A few things I've thought of is weekly rankings of statewide sports, polls, weekly game schedules, chat options, a listing of links to all knows high school sites in the state. But I don't know that I'm able to have many news stories from around the state. I'd feel they'd be too infrequent and far between to warrent any now and then. So not a lot of updated articles.
3. I'm considering changing to IPB. They're about to release 1.2 later this month. But phpBB2.2 is out later next fall/winter. But if I know I don't wan to use php/post-nuke, then it's not an issue. But I think I'd like IPB a little beter.
4. vBull....it costs $$ and I'm not making any $$ off of the site. Is there any way you'd see a site such as this being able to turn a profit? Or is it just good for community right now? I don't mind paying the nominal hosting fee I've been paying to host free software. But would vBull's options give me enough punch to at least break even?
5. Anything else you might think of that could make this be more of a successful site? What tools could I employ to create something "special"?