How profitable are forums?

I’m currently looking into building a forum, as I believe I’ve found a niche that hasn’t yet been fully exploited. So I have a few questions:

In your experience,

  1. How profitable are forums?
  2. How time consuming?
  3. What tecniques have you used to get them up and running?

I ask the last question as I have read that it can take awhile to make a forum popular?

Running a forum is an excellent way of creating a community. It can be a place for people to discuss issues, share knowledge and, perhaps more importantly, to talk about you, your products and your services.

but, … how to earn an income from a forum ?
Firstly, you can create special member areas. These areas require people to pay for access and reveal special secrets or allow more personal / deeper discussions. Exactly how you will do this will depend on your target market, but remember, it needs to be something worth the money they are paying to enter.

Secondly, you can put some adverts on your forum and make sure they are discreet and do not interfere too much in the use of the forum and people will respond to the ads. You can use something like Google Adsense in this case to display the ads.

Thirdly,[/b][/b] recommended products. As the forum owner, you are a trusted expert in your field, so you can recommend products and services (as an affiliate) to your visitors. Obviously you need to make sure that these are suitable and of good enough quality to maintain your reputation as an expert.

Fourth, you can email the forum members with special offers, discounts and deals that are only available to them. Select suitable products that are of high quality and send the offer out. Again, obviously do not bombard them with emails every day otherwise they will leave your forum in droves. If you are sensible and send occasion carefully chosen offers you will get a response.

And fifth, you can sell advertising space. There are always people who are willing to buy advertising space. If you have a vibrant and lively forum then you may find that you can sell advertising space through private ads or through the bigger advertising companies.

hope i’ve helped , may u get lucky with these tips

Create forum for communication of web masters or other peoples it would be the best for good forums.

i haven’t handled forums before but i have a friend experienced optimizing forum site. at first, it is very difficult for him to invite people to join his forums especially if you have 0 members because there no topic to talk about. all he did is he created different multiple accounts and start posting interesting topics. he joined other forums too and using those forums, he announced that there’s a new forum launched. he also use social bookmarking to promote the forum and directory submission for additional backlinks.

Maintaining a forum is really a hard thing to do, and in my experience inviting a member is one thing and making a post relevant is another. I had a hard time promoting the site but there were members who still registered. Now to make money from it, its either you use ads or affiliates.

some admin actually hires forum posters to get thir forums jumping out but I wouldn’t really recommend it that much if you have a strict budget for it but I guess its a nice way to get it starting or something. anyways, if you have an interesting forum, you wouldn’t have to do this.

I believe setting up and running a forum is hard considering that, unlike any other regular type of website, you need people to regularly post in your forum to keep it alive and interesting.

Just promote it real hard (submit to search engines, social bookmarking sites, build inbound links, etc.) and you should get positive results.

As to generating revenue, I agree with the previous posts that you can choose from offering paid sections in the forum, running contextual ads (Adsense, for example) or selling ad space in your forum, or displaying affiliate products.

Forum is very profitable as long as you can jump start it and load it with tons of information that people will love! As you an see making one the best forum is to make lots of friends and enjoy casual talk together and when you have develop the right mix, you can now start to invite people and do the joyride of forum!

The forum should have a good number of interesting and focused topics. The content should reflect the interests of the target audience, and every care should be made to have well-written and informative content that is updated regularly. This not only helps attract new members, it keeps older members from losing interest and defecting to other forums.and one thing more …the forum shud be search engine’s ‘‘friend’’:rolleyes:

  1. How profitable are forums?

They can be very profitable or a complete failure. I’ve seen both (and experienced both)

  1. How time consuming?

VERY. It almost has to be a labor of love.

  1. What tecniques have you used to get them up and running?

It takes time. Just try to get people there, be active yourself, answer as many questions as possible, really show that you are dedicated to it.

To be honest, if I were looking to “make money” with a website, I wouldn’t start a forum. It can be very challenging to effectively monetize a forum.

If I would have started my forum with the goal/intent of monetizing it, I would have given up quickly out of frustration. It’s a pretty thankless job, it can take long hours, and even after a year, it can be hit or miss.

But it’s like the old saying goes, if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. So if you start a forum on a topic you really have a passion for, and you stick to it because you love contributing, answering questions, etc (even when nobody else is there answering questions and even when it seems like nobody is reading), then it’s possible (and a bit more likely) the rest will come in time.

Edit: just came across this thread here with some good tips:

I’ve found them to be more of a burden than profit as a standalone, but added to other good site content they form a sort of sticky that keeps your direct traffic up.

I don’t think regular forums are big earners unless its really big. People hardly click on ads. Plus it takes at least two years (unless unique idea) to get the forum to a good level which needs money, time to be put in by that time.

I agree with the answers that RodneyB added above.
Forums are definitely not an overnight money maker and its something that you will need to stick with for the long haul. Most forum owners seem to give up or lose that fire within which is necessary to keep on going!

Plan on building your forum for the first year, promoting it and keeping it as active as possible. The money starts rolling in after you have carved your space in the marketplace.

In other words he’s a spammer git who no doubt has been banned from a number of well run forum sites. I allow members to advertise their own forums in their sigs, as they need to post to keep their sigs in public display, anyone taking up room on the actual threads with self advertising gets banned without arguement.

Before trying to advertise yourself at other forum sites ensure you know the rules each site uses in regards to this. If in a very niche market you can get a bad name very quickly otherwise.

Forums are very usefull to share knowledge. You can learn so many thing through the fourms. If the forum is dofollow than you can also get a backlink.

I dont have any exact numbers but the CTR is very low on forums

Honestly, getting a forum POPULAR is the hardest part. They aren’t too profitable unless you can integrate a “VIP” / “Upgrade” function that your users will ACTUALLY pay for (you need to make it worth their hard earned $$)

  1. How time consuming?

They are extremely time-consuming. While other blog-type niche sites can be time consuming at the beginning, after awhile they tend to run themselves. Forums, on the other hand, need to be constantly monitored, even after years of use.

My forum is 1.5 years old with 750,000 pageviews a month and 300,000+ posts.

I made $5 to $8 a day with a single Adsense banner on top. That’s $150 to $240 a month; That’s abysmal.

I learned pretty quickly that forums aren’t money makers, but money making TOOLS. You have an ever-growing base of people interested in the forum’s niche. It’s up to you to leverage that into profits that exceed the peanuts the pathetic Adsense banner trickles in (at least it covers hosting).

The first thing I did was to remove the adsense banner completely. Yeah, you can be sneaky or blatantly annoying with your ads and either integrate them into the forum navigation/mechanics or have big 240x240 after the first post of each thread, but that really depends on the nature of your forum. For example, my community is very “in-for-the-long-run” as opposed to more compulsive come-and-go communities. I have a very high post/user ratio that exceeds most other forums.

The next thing I did was randomly throw up an affiliate link banner every once in a while rather than keep one there. That way, my users had less “banner blindness” and would pay attention to a banner that suddenly appeared there when it wasn’t there all week. I started out with a simply ringtones offer and would cycle it on and off with other products in my niche. I went from $5 - 8 a day to $15+ a day. Often I’d hit a good product at a good time and push even higher.

Then I added an opt-in box for my users to receive a direct newsletter about forum summaries (that community volunteers made for me) as well as general information in the niche. Before the opt-in box, I emailed a sample of 100 random users but I got a lot of “how did you get my email” responses and decided it wasn’t “right” to spontaneously email forum registrants just because you have their email.

Now that they’re opted in, I can create joint ventures with others in my niche and recommend them the products/services of others because I’m well-trusted.

I now make about three figures a month off of this 1.5 year old forum. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s still young and I’m still refining my monetization techniques. Would I make a forum purely for profits? No way. You need an interest to really engage yourself with a forum. I still have fun posting in my forum and updating it.

My forum is a growing community of people THAT TRUST ME. This alone is worth more than the three figures a month I make off of it. To maintain this trust is also the reason I don’t have annoying advertisements (I would never implement Kontera in one of my forums).

Of course, not all forums necessarily need such trust to make a lot of money. If you’re getting a lot of impulsive search engine traffic that are just here for a quick tidbit of information (e.g. “how to remove Taz.Black.W32 virus”) with users that aren’t in it for the long haul, you’re more likely to implement “nuisance monetization”.

I put a decent amount of work in to receive those three figures a month. More realistically you’ll receive a single digit income per day with even solid forum activity and a simple adsense banner. You can fiddle with affiliate commissions to increase that number slightly, but don’t expect high yields from a forum.

The two ways that I see of creating income with forums is to put some adsense on them, The other one is to create a list of members where you are going to send some emails once week regarding an affiliate program that you are in.