Can forums still make money?

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It appears that larger advertisers (the ones that pay) are asking ad networks to block forums from showing their ads. The larger the advertiser is, the more controlled they want the content to be. Just a few days ago I received an email blast from Tribal Fusion:

I wanted to reach out to you because we have begun to see more frequent requests from advertisers to block forums from their campaigns. These are usually premium advertisers with large advertising budgets that need assurances that their ad will run only on appropriate content. Since even moderated forums are difficult to police, they will most likely ask us to block forums from their campaigns. In the past we could not offer this functionality, but due to popular demand, as of August 15 we will be able to offer this option by request.

So can you still make money off of forums? The answer is yes. Now, personally I would never start a forum simply to make money because it will quickly become obvious to the end users and they will not stick around long. But, if you would like to at least cover cost here are some things that can still help pay the bills:

1. Affiliate Programs
Commission Junction – Probably the most popular affiliate network, Commission Junction also has its share of critics. Finding and joining an appropriate affiliate program is easy. CJ also makes things easy for affiliates by consolidating all payouts into one check. CJ is owned by ValueClick

LinkShare – LinkShare has more than 600 merchants in its affiliate network. Choose from categories such as books, music, flowers, fashion, computers, etc. You’ll find some big name companies here, including Dell, Nordstrom, Target, Disney and American Express.

ClickBank – Offers a huge array of downloadable products, mainly ebooks. Because it is cheap and easy for merchants to join, the quality of the products provided varies enormously, from very good to downright awful. It’s a popular place to search for overlooked niches.

Performics – Highly professional site with some well known brands. Performics’ clients include: America Online, Blair Corp., Bose, CompUSA, Eddie Bauer, HP Shopping, Kohl’s, L.L.Bean, PC Connection, RedEnvelope, Verizon Wireless, and more than 200 others. Performics is owned by DoubleClick.

2. Seek Voluntary Donations From Members

Although this is not one of my favorite tips, others have used it and achieved some level of success. That said, I am not saying that you should expect something in return but this is one way to help you keep your forums running.

3. Sell Text Link Ads & Sponsorships

There is money to be made by selling text link ads. You can place them on your homepage or at suitable section in the forum. You can also find sponsors for the forum sub-section and place a sponsor ad there.

4. Optimize your Google AdSense placement.

You could probably improve your AdSense income by optimizing your AdSense placement in the forum. Check out the six AdSense optimization tips for forums. Click Here
5. Offer Paid Subscription

If you can come up with premium features, services and content for members you could offer a paid subscription model in return for an access to those premium content. You could charge them a one time fee or on a monthly basis.

This list is in no way definitive but it will point you to the right direction if you are willing to give them a try. Like everything else, making money from a community based forum is not easy. You need tons of traffic, good content and to use the correct monetizing methods to succeed.

One of the most successful forums is forum which is making $10,000 a month from Google AdSense alone.

So even with the top tier ad networks blocking ads from forums, you can still make money off of forums.

Steve ShicklesSteve Shickles
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