Category Archives: Advertising

Tips to Increase Your Traffic (for Free!)

This is something nearly everyone wants to do, whether you have a website, blog, or forum. Increased traffic leads generally to more revenue from your advertisements, increased community engagement, and, if you have something interesting on your site, more people who will return for information in the future. Once you get the traffic flowing, it tends to grow off of itself as long as you continue to provide good content and/or services. But the problem most of us face is how to get that initial traffic going. Continue reading

Google AdSense – What NOT to do!

Google AdSense is a mythical creature. Their policies are so long and technical, that it seems almost impossible to know for certain what you can and cannot do whilst using the service. This article will enable you to know some of the main reasons why AdSense accounts may get disabled, and help you prevent yourself from falling victim to an AdSense Employee that is having a bad day. Continue reading

How to Revitalize an Established Forum

Any type of forum, no matter how large will eventually come across a period of slowness in terms of users checking out the forums and posting. All forums will come across this at some point in its lifespan and the actions taken by the owner of the community can be a matter of life or death, sit idle for too long and the forum will possibly become beyond repair. There are multiple actions which can be taken to ensure that your forum has the best possible chance of revival, providing you already had a decent member base within the first place. I will share these with you in this article and would like to note that they are the same actions which I have personally used myself to revitalize a community I own. Continue reading

Three Tips That Will Change the Way You Promote Your Site

Promotion is something that every single website needs. Even the largest of corporations need to advertise to retain their positions as market leaders. On this website we typically all have small websites in the grand scheme of things, so the need for cheap and effective promotion tactics to help build Continue reading

Tips and Tricks for Promoting a Forum

So, let’s say you’ve just started a new forum. You’ve sorted out the theme, rules, sections and all that lovely stuff needed to kick start off the community. What is left to make it’s presence known? The members are yet to make their debut! The members are the very heart of any online forum, they keep it alive and running. You won’t get very far unless Continue reading

Maximizing your Adsense revenue (for forum owners)

Google Adsense – Probably the first way many people try to monetize their content. I don’t blame them, Adsense has the highest earning rates of all. It can be argued that no other ad companies can beat them. Many guides and tips you see online now are for maximizing Adsense on your blog, website, etcetera. So, I thought I’d write up a some tips for all of you forum owners out there.

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Selling Advertisements on a Forum

To a forum administrator, advertising is the single most vital aspect of a community. Not advertisements which spread the word about the community, but advertisements which bring revenue into the community. Revenue is like oxygen for a forum. It allows the forum to keep alive by paying the bills. It allows the administrator to do new and unique things with the forum, which often cost money to do. It allows the administrator to purchase advertisements, services, good software, conduct contests, and allows the forum to survive the increasing bills which come with growth. Every new forum which plans to become successful must identify a means of earning revenue through advertisements.


Sponsor Ads: How to earn Revenue Through Sponsors & Marketplaces

For a forum to be appealing to advertisers, it needs several things.

An identifiable, valuable niche. Every forum has a user base. In advertising, this is called an audience. What kind of people use your forum? What types of products do they all want to buy? For example, if you have a forum about cars, you will appeal to advertisers who sell car related products. Webmaster forums will appeal to hosting providers, template designers, and other webmaster forums. A general chat forum is less valuable in this regard, because it appeals to a very broad, difficult to identify audience.

Monthly pageviews and clicks. Advertisers are interested in two statistics. Impressions and clicks. Impressions are important because impressions are the metric which advertisers use when deciding whether to advertise on your forum. Clicks are important because that is the metric which advertisers use when deciding whether or not to continue advertising with your forum.

Good Ad Placement Options. Advertisers are interested in ad clicks, and the better the ad’s placement, the more ad clicks they will receive. Header ads are more valuable than footer ads and sidebar ads, and global header ads are more valuable than those. Ads which display below the first post of a forum’s topics are perhaps the very most valuable ad, because it is hard for users to ignore these ads. The better the placement options and larger the banner sizes, the more likely people are to purchase your ads.

Promote Your Advertiser: Your advertiser will know how successful their ad is by looking at the number of clicks they receive through google analytics, or a similar service. That means that if you link to your sponsor through a forum post, and a user clicks on that link, then your sponsor won’t know the difference between that click and a click on their banner ad. For that reason, take any opportunity to mention your advertiser in discussion, particularly if you own a small forum.

Once your forum has been optimized to make the most of the above suggestions, you can see sponsor ads either to your existing forum user base (useful for webmaster forums), through an informal online marketplace such as ForumPromotion.net’s marketplace forum, or through a larger marketplace such as BuySellAds. Note that the larger marketplaces will not be useful for new or small forums. A new forum will need to sell ads through its own site or an informal marketplace, and more successful forums will find the most success by advertising through something like BuySellAds.

Keyword Ads: How to earn Revenue Through Adsense and Similar Products

Keyword-based ads can be a very high quality source of revenue. Using a service like Adsense, websites are paid through two means. Per click and per thousand views. There are two terms which you will need to learn. CPC means Cost-per-Click, and is how much you get paid per click by the ad provider. Your CPC is a function of how valuable your forum’s keywords are. If you have a forum which is all about auto-insurance, your keywords will be very, very valuable. If you have a forum which is about medieval history, then your keywords will be less valuable. Another term which you will need to learn is CPM, which means cost per 1,000 impressions. Do not be deceived by the “M,” which is not short for “Million,” but short for “Mille” as in Millimeter (a thousandth of a meter).

To make a profit using services such as Adsense, you will need to optimize the following.

Ad placement: Every time a user clicks an ad, you get paid. Therefore, ads must be visible. Header ads, and ads below the first post of a forum topic, are the most valuable.

Subject matter: Your forum’s subject matter should concern material which will involve a lot of valuable keywords. This will increase your forum’s cost-per-click and cost-per-impression values, and also the sell value of your forum.

Impressions: “Impression” is a fancy word for “Pageview.” The more page views your forum has, the most a website gets paid by the CPM rate, and the more clicks the website’s ads will (theoretically) get.

To start advertising using keywords, simply create an account with Adsense and copy their code to your forum’s template.

Which should my forum use?

Small forums should find sponsors, because they will have a small number of impressions, and sponsors will be willing to pay more for ads with small impressions than Adsense will. Larger forums will generally gain more revenue from BuySellAds or Adsense, although BuySellAds appears to be the most common of the two options for large forums.

Freely hosted forums will usually be required to go with sponsored ads rather than adsense.


Conclusion

Advertising is vital to the successful continuation of a forum. To advertise successfully, a forum must place ads well, have a targetable demographic, and gain as many pageviews per month as possible.

Promoting your forum can be a difficult task, far more difficult than one might anticipate. Here are some tips that I believe will help you in creating a buzzing, lively and happy community.


The Right Forum

Choosing the right forum software is vital, in order to help make your user experience simple, easy, and clean. For example, for my forum, we chose to use MyBB (which, at the time, had just updated to the new MyBB 1.8), since it had very positive reviews, and many features that were ideal for our forum. These included a flexible permissions system, a clear, easy to use layout, powerful moderation tools and low server load. In addition, we also had previous experience using MyBB, so that was taken into account, since it’s important that you don’t have to spend too much time learning new forum software, which would make you appear inexperienced to your users.

The right forum software for you will vary based on several factors, including the ones mentioned above. However, it is critically important that you select forum software that works for you, rather than against you.

The Right Server

Your users will quickly get annoyed and leave if they find that your server is slow, unreliable, laggy, or has excessive downtime. Depending on how many users you expect to receive, the right choice for you may be good quality shared hosting, a VPS or even dedicated hosting. Free hosting is to be avoided where possible, since often they have bandwidth caps and the response time is often into the thousands of milliseconds rather than the hundreds.

The Right Purpose

Your forum is doomed to fail should you select a poor purpose from the outset. Try and hit the sweet spot between too wide, which will fail to attract users from larger forums, and too small, which would mean appealing to too few people to succeed. An example of a poor purpose is a ‘general discussion’ forum, since social media sites already fill that purpose more effectively. Another poor choice could be stamp collectors in a particular city collecting 1980s US stamps only, since it’s going to be unlikely that many people would be interested in such a small topic. Therefore, before publishing your site, consider whether your purpose is excessively small or large, and adjust to avoid catastrophe later on.

The Right Staff

It’s key that you select trustworthy staff that you know will enforce the rules correctly, and people who you are sure won’t destroy the forum while you’re gone. It’s key that you don’t just pick a random member who joined three days ago to become moderator or administrator, because they could be irresponsible, hostile or just not up to the job. This also extends to “moderator recruitment” forums, from my experience you’ll get someone who stops visiting after a couple of days, and you’ll be left to start the process all over again. Instead, pick active, trustworthy people from the forums, and if you like, have a vote on who the community likes, and go from there. Be wary though, since if you don’t like the candidate the community has chosen, you may be left in a sticky situation!

The Right Structure

Make sure that your forum structure is clear, understandable and not too large. No-one wants to look through 40 forums to find the one they want, so just have the ones that are vital, and expand as you go along and as the community needs it. A 10 person forum doesn’t need 50 subforums, so try and strip it down to the basics. If you see any empty subforums, merge them into a different subforum when you can, to prevent your forum from looking too barren.

The Right Rules

It is of utmost importance that you select fair, effective rules that promote discussion while avoiding arguments. A forum I visited a few weeks ago had very poorly written rules, and poor moderation to accompany it, and many legitimate discussions were stopped due to these rules. If users feel that they’re being censored or edited unfairly by moderators, they will leave. Therefore, if you have to perform any moderation actions, it’s a good idea to give the user a brief PM telling them what’s happened and why – this will hopefully help you to establish a more friendly relationship with users as a helper, rather than a dictator. Remember though, if a user is bullying another or being offensive, do not stand for it, or other users who are being offended by that member may leave instead.

Conclusion

Promoting a forum is an extremely difficult balancing act, though it is achievable, and sites like ForumPromotion.net are extremely helpful in getting traffic to your site, since even if all of the above are perfect, in the end, you to reach out to people who are interested in your type of forum.


Note about the author

The author of this article was Aurora from int 0x10, a developer community with IRC and a forum, as well as a projects hosting site. If you have any further comments, please leave a reply to this blog post.

Taking Advantage of Promotion Forums

Hey there, I’m going to tell you some useful tips for taking maximum advantage of promotion forums, as a lot of people only get a small percentage of what they could get from forums like this. I’ll tell you all the methods I use!

Promotion Topic

Okay the obvious one, make a promotion topic but just making a promotion topic isn’t good enough. You need to make a topic that really draws people in, a topic that makes potential users, users! Having a logo at the top is always good. Then give a general description of the site. Some statistics, staff team details, site announcements, stuff like that. Also play around with the colours, boldness,underline,centering and things like that to make it presentable. Also make sure you have decent spelling and grammar in your promotion topic, if English isn’t your first then ask someone else to have a look through it.

Bumping

Okay there’s no point leaving your thread to die, you’ve get to update as much as you can within the rules, now I will admit sometimes I go bump, please join and I really shouldn’t do that. Include some new statistics, any new announcements, maybe a few of the latest threads, things like that to make your bump more interesting.

Exchanges

Sometimes it’s good to exchange with other users. Do things like 10 posts for 10 posts. It’s a great way to make your forum larger and if your lucky you might get a few people you exchanged with deciding they liked the forum so they carry on posting also for a potential member, the more quality content there is on the site the better.

Signature

Post your website link in your signature and maybe a logo in there, this gets you backlinks and gets you more publicity. If you don’t know how to add things to your signature then here’s a few things you can do.

Code:
[url=http://yoursitelink.com]YOURSITENAME[/url]

Also why not add some bold or underline to it.

Code:
[b]BOLD[/b][u]UNDERLINE[/u]

Maybe even some colour.

Posting Around & Getting a Good Reputation

This is a massive one that a lot of people miss. If you get a decent amount of posts and trust among the members then people are likely to want to do deals and exchanges with you and they are more likely to join your site. So make high quality posts, maybe ways to promote. Engage with members in threads like Hello/Goodbye Thread and most of all don’t get into arguments with other members.

Requesting Services

To make full advantage of a promotion forum you need to request services. Save up your forum credits. I think the two crucial services are the posting package service because it gives your a forum a boost in bad times and also the review service because it highlights problems with your websites and helps you improve it which leads to more members.

Be Helpful

I’ve already touched on this subject previously but been helpful really does help. People love to join a forum if they know the owner is a kind and helpful person. Reply to people’s promotion threads giving them constructive feedback and help people when they ask questions in sections like this one.

Affiliations

If a forum has an affiliation exchange section then use it! I know not everyone wants affiliation images plastered on their homepage but why not make a affiliations page? Your members won’t be bothered if there’s a little text link somewhere saying affiliations. So set up your affiliation page, make an affiliation image and head over to section’s like this. What you do then is up to you. What I would do is make a post saying something like ‘Hey, would you like to affiliate with {YOUR FORUM NAME HERE}. My affiliation page is here (HYPERLINK THE WORD HERE) This is my affiliation image code:

Code:
[url=YOURSITELINK][img]AFFILIATIONIMAGE[/img][/url]

If you accept this affiliation I’ll add yours soon as’. You don’t have to say that but it’s a good guideline. I’d post that on as many affiliation topics as I could that’s starter has logged on recently and their websites still open. Then I’d make a thread asking other people if they want to affiliate. You do this list as it makes yours at the top of the list.

Monthly Contests

Many forums run forum and site of the month contests. I would suggest entering them. There’s no harm in it. It doesn’t matter if you lose. Even if you lose people may still have found your site from it and signed up. However if you do win it can gain you a lot of exposure and a lot of new members. If you do win then I’d suggest mentioning it when you bump your thread.

One off Contests

Your good ol’ regular contests. On promotion forums the prizes of contests are often website related so I’d suggest having a look at the prizes to see if it’s something you would want for your site. If so, there is no harm in joining in with the contest. Even if you don’t win it may still benefit you in other ways. If it’s a posting contest then you’ve got more posts which means you’ll be known more around the community which can lead to people viewing your advertisements and joining your site. If it’s a referral contest you’ll get respect from the community if you refer some members. If it’s a graphic related contest then people might ask for graphics from you and you could say; ‘Yeah I will do. Would you please make 5 posts at my forum as a thanks?’ So there’s more than meets the eye to contests.

Forum Battles

Some forums have fun little forum battles. They’re quite fun to do and have benefits. First of all, what are they? Normally it is where two forums go head to head in a poll where the members of the forum were the battle is hosted vote on which forum is best. There aren’t usually prizes for this except for special occasions. However some forums have a leaderboard and people looking for good communities to join or to partner with may use these leaderboards to decide as they give a general idea of popular or quality communities. Now there are other benefits. It gives you a backlink and voters may have never heard of your site before and when they check to see if they want to vote for your forum they might decide they want to sign up and post. Another benefit is sometimes you and the other contestant can decide to have prize money. This could be in the form of real money or forum credits so that will help you if you win.

Interview Threads

You may think, how does this help my website? Well it doesn’t directly help but it does help in another way. An interview thread is somewhere were people can ask you questions and get to know you. Now when you first join the forum your a bit of a stranger so sometimes people don’t pay much attention to you but if you start an interview thread people will get to know you better and they then might decide to go and sign up to your website. Also if your the one asking the questions you might find someone is a big fan of Call of Duty. Now if your forum is about Call of Duty you could ask them if they would be interested in joining your Call of Duty community or you could even ask them if they are interested in working for your Call of Duty forum so I hope I’ve convinced you that interview threads are worth it.

Premium Membership

For those of you with spare cash hangin’ around then premium membership is a good way to take advantage of a promotion forum. You may think it’s money wasted. Premium Membership is a group which you have to pay to get in that have special benefits and usually a coloured username. This forum has a premium membership. Now on to the advantages. The special benefits of premium memberships at promotion forums are often website related. For example this forum has ‘A Sticky Sponsor ad for one week – normally sold for $5.00 on it’s own.’ as one of the benefits. This will give you a massive boost for one week, way more people will see your advertisement and hopefully way more people will sign up. ‘Your Username in Black recognising you as a proud supporter of FP’. Having a coloured username helps more than you think. It makes you stand out. If someone is looking at a list of promotion threads they’ll often go for the one’s that are started by someone in a coloured username. It’s just a psychological thing. Other promotion forums may have other handy benefits like a free service every month. That kind of thing.

Technical Support

Often you have a problem with your website and you rush of to your forum software support forum. However sometimes it can take a long time to get a reply so to help you with this. Some promotion/webmaster forums include a technical support section. This decreases your wait time and means you can get problems solved on your forum quicker which keeps members happy. Also answering question there can help improve your reputation and I’ve explained the importance of that previously.

Other Promotion Forums

Who needs Google when you’ve got a promotion forum? Stop searching ‘promotion forums’ and finding dead websites! Start using forums to find more forums. Many promotion forums have a list of advertising/promotion forums where you can find more forums to promote on. This of course leads to more members and you can use that forum to find forums that weren’t listed on the first one. Another great place to look is the promotion directory where you can search through for promotion forums. Some websites help us further by sorting their promotion threads into sections so all you have to do is look through the Advertising/Services section and the Webmaster/Graphics section. You can also take a look through people’s signatures as they often have promotion threads listed there.

Guides/Tutorials

You might think you know all that there is to know about websites but you don’t! No one does! So it is important they look through guides/tutorials wrote by members of the community. This will help you improve your forum and learn new ways of promoting it. It also stops you making mistakes. Now if you do know a lot about forums then write your own guides. This gains you reputation on the forum and if your clever it can gain you a backlink and some members. So do this clever trick first you post your guide on your own forum then at the bottom of your post on the promotion forum you put; ‘originally posted at [url=LINKTOTHREAD]SITENAME[/url]’ so members will hopefully click on that link and sign up. It will give you a backlink when the search engines browse your post as well.

Completing Your Profile

I’ve already mentioned about signatures but you should fully complete your profile. For one, it helps people get to know you when you fill in things like occupation,hobbies,interests but it gives you a bit of free advertising because usually you can put your website link in a website link field. Some forums have fields for youtube, twitter, wordpress, etc which also gives you free advertising. Also don’t forget to add an avatar because it looks more friendly and sociable to have an avatar. If you want an avatar like mine, if I’ve changed it then it’s basically a manga face, then go to Face Your Manga.

Status Updates

Unfortunately this forum does not have a status system. However some do and I’m going to tell you why to use them. Writing status updates helps people get to know you better and makes you more part of the community. You can also secretly advertise your website in a status. Now most sites will disallow putting a link to your website in your status but you can still say things like ‘{FORUMNAME} it 10,000 posts today :)‘ , ‘{WEBSITENAME} got 25 new clients today’ or ‘{USERNAME} made an interesting post on {FORUMNAME} today’. People may see one of these statuses and hunt for the link of your website then they might decide to sign up.

Introduce Yourself

I forget to mention this before but remember to introduce yourself when you join a forum. Most forums have an introduction section. This is the first step towards people getting to know you and building a reputation on the forum. Make sure to include a bit of information about you. Also you could include a bit of information about your site to gain user interest but do not post a link to your site in your introduction as it is against the rules of most forums.

Selling your services

Some forums have a place for real money exchanges. You can sell advertisements on your forum here. It helps generate money for you and your website and some people who purchase advertising may decide to sign up to your website as well. Now something you can do on all deals which helps you get a backlink and hopefully some members is for example your selling twitter followers at the bottom of your post you could put something like ‘Supplied by [url=SITELINK]SITENAME[/url]’. People who have bought your service and like it may sign up as a thanks and anyway it gets a free backlink which is always welcome.

Signing up to referral links

You may think how does this help in anyway whatsoever? Well wait a minute and I’ll tell you. Many forums have a place advertise referral/affiliate links. Now when you sign up to these referral links the person who owns the referral link will be happy about this so why not comment saying something along the lines of ‘I’ve signed up to your referral link, could you please sign up to my site in return?’. Now make sure to not include a link as it will probably be against forum rules. The person can easily find it in your signature. Now a lot of times they will say yes and sign up so you’ve got yourself a member there.

Get friends to post referral links

Ask your friends to sign up to your website and then use these referral link sections to promote your website for you within the rules. Make sure your website has a referral system first. Your friend just has to sign up to your website, copy their referral link then say something like ‘I signed up to {FORUMNAME} and really enjoyed it so I’ve decided to recommend it but please use my referral link(hyperlink that with their referral link). Make sure your friends do this, don’t make new accounts to do it yourself. It will most probably be against forum rules.

Keeping members up to date

You need to make sure members are up to date with your forums happenings. Conveniently most promotion forums have a section dedicated to your forums happenings. First make sure to read the guidelines as you don’t want to be posting news that is disallowed. Then you make your topic. Give it a catchy title and in the thread make sure there’s bold bits, colourful bits and pictures. Now post your news there and add a link to your website at the bottom so members can see it then sign up.

Hiring for your website

Ever waited months to find no one wanted to be a moderator for your site? Wished there was an easier way? Well there is! A lot of promotion forums have a job centre section where you can make a topic declaring that you are hiring and how to apply. Now a lot of people looking to work at websites will constantly scout this section and hopefully will decide to apply for your forum.

Completing graphic requests

If your a designer with a website then your in luck! A lot of promotion/webmaster and graphic forums have a place where users can request graphics. Now a lot of them are willing to pay a fee of either forum credits or real money but you could tell them all they have to do to get graphics from you is to sign up to your website or if your a forum, make a few posts. Many people will do this and will significantly help your website if you actively complete requests.

Selling graphics

Related to the previous section you can also sell graphics. To help your website from this what you do is for example make website design then say you’ll give it to members if they make 50 posts at your forum. Now, if your design is of a good standard and would be worth real money people will often do this instead of splashing out there cash on a new design.

Requesting graphics

If your website is looking a bit tatty then save up some forum credits and request some graphics. A lot of people will make graphics for forum credits as long as you give them a reasonable amount. Over a period of time you can request a fair amount of graphics and it will improve your websites appearance greatly and will lead to new people signing up.

Using free graphics

Some forums have a section of free graphics. Often they can be found among requests and paid graphics like here at Forum Promotion. Now if you find some you like it can be really helpful because it improves your site’s appearance which of course leads to, lets say it all together, new members! I bet your tired of hearing that, eh?

View new topics

If you watch new topics you can often find new sites to promote at, good deals, contests that could benefit you, interesting discussions and more so I suggest to keep looking at the new topics for anything interesting. It’s just a little tip, not very important.

View active topics

If you’ve got your site’s link in your signature and you want some quick backlinks then you should try the view active topics feature. These topics are popular and more likely to be indexed by a search engine and they are the backlinks that really count. Of course most topics should hopefully be indexed eventually but they’ll be the first to be indexed and I believe the more views a topic gets the more that backlink is worth.

Signature advertising

Advertising through signatures is a fantastic way of getting backlinks and sometimes members. Even if the backlink is only up for a month or so you can only hope that google indexes some of them during that time. It’s worth to pay some forum credits or even real money for this. Also if you get your site’s link in a trusted member or staff member people will often click on the link and sign up as well. Forum Promotion’s very own Signature Advertising is a great service because it gets your link displayed in the signatures of staff. So you get people clicking on it but staff are generally active and if Google indexes the forum at that point your going to get a lot of backlinks. You can also buy signature advertising through exchanges and the marketplace.

Profile comments

Forum Promotion like many other forums has profile comments. If there’s an event, and I’ll use an example of an event happening at the time of writing, Halloween, then you can say for example ‘Happy Halloween!’. This helps you get to know members of the forum and remember how important getting to know members of the forum is. As a side note, in MyBB 1.8 profile comments will be inbuilt instead of a plugin.

Purchasing advertisements

If you spare cash lying around then many forums sell advertisement space. It’s a fantastic way to gain massive amounts of exposure for your website. Epically if you buy advertisements on big forums like this one.

I hope I’ve helped you with this, it sure took a long time to write and I hope to update it in the future so please give me suggestions to write about. By the way, a lot of these things, I and others don’t do to help our websites. We just do it because we like to do it. We like to get to know people, we like to get involved in the community, we like to help others. Finally, the best way to thank me for this if you liked it would be to give me a +rep, it would be greatly appreciated

Promoting a Forum For Dummies

This article was first posted on our blog on 02/04/2009. For this reason, the information may be outdated and no longer reliable/correct.


Introduction

Well, by reading the title, you can pretty much assume what this article is about: Me teaching you how to promote a forum. (The blind leading the blind, right?) :D I can tell you that every forum owner wants more members and posts, but barely any of them are trying! If you are interested in starting a forum, you have to look at where you want to be, find another forum owner that has met this goal, and ask yourself, “Can I do what this person has done to make their forum ‘great’?” If your answer is “no”, you should definitely reconsider opening your own forum.

Building the Castle

So, you decided that you wanted to start your forum, eh? Well, to start off, don’t ever make the forum in two-and-a-half minutes, go and advertise it, and then say you’ll do all the “minor stuff” later. I’m very sorrry to say that it just doesn’t work like that, because, the minor stuff matters more than a lot of new forum administrators think it does. Here are some things you may want to look over before getting your forum out to the public;

A Good Logo/Banner – Nobody likes to click on a link to a forum and see a banner made in MS Paint with Times New Roman as the font. >_> If you get to the point where you think you should open MS Paint to make your logo, you might as well not make one at all. There are many forums where you can request a good logo for your forum, and it normally just takes 2-3 days to get a result in.

A Decent Style – Nobody wants to visit a forum and see a style they have seen a million times in other places. First, never use the default style, as it makes you look really lazy if you can’t even change the style. Second, choose a unique style. My suggestion is to go to some less-known styling sites and choose a nice style that barely anyone uses! And if you still can’t find a good-looking unique style, it’d probably be worth the money to get a custom one made.

Awesome Grammar – Whether you like it or not, some people get really mad when they see a simple grammar mistake. If a member spots one, they will instantly dash to the Feedback forum and write an 8,000-word essay on why that mistake shouldn’t be there. (I hate it when they point out the problem in the middle of their post, so you have to read through the 4,000 unnecessary words to find out what the problem was.) So, why not get a spell check (*pokes Firefox*), or maybe even take the time to copy what you write into Microsoft Word? If that isn’t available, why not pull out some of your kids’ ol’ “School House Rock” videos and watch those?

The Layout of Greatness – Build a nice attractive layout where guests and new members can easily find what they are looking for, and navigate around the forum. Also, when starting off, remember to keep the amount of discussion forums to a minimum, probably ten forums at most. This makes navigation easier, and it makes your post count look bigger since a lot of topics belong in one area. If you start to see some type of topic become popular, you should then create another board for it.

Uniqueness – You don’t know how many times I have visited two forums that look exactly alike, and their forums are exactly alike. I’d suggest not looking at your competition until after you have made the layout of your forum, and you have applied your ideas. After you’ve done this, you can look at your competition, see what they have, and try to improve upon your own forum to make it better. Also, be creative, and create some unique titles and descriptions that users haven’t seen before. If another forum already has it, guests will most likely choose to join the one that has more posts and isn’t just starting off.

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After you have looked over these and made sure everything is in tip-top shape, you should invite some of your friends in to post a little bit on your forum, and give it a little boost before it opens up. You can also choose one or two of these users to be your starting Moderators, which will also keep them active to show you have some activity.
Open The Gates…Loudly

There are a lot of ways to start advertising, and when you start, I’d suggest getting your forum known everywhere, by registering to a bunch of forums, adding the link in your signature, and making a bunch of posts. This is probably the best way to start promoting a forum, as it shows you are willing to be apart of the community, which makes people more comfortable with joining your site.

Some of the other ways that you can promote your site when you are first starting:

Advertising Forums – This is probably one of the most-known ways to advertise. Go to a resource forum, order a couple of services, and it is really a great way to get a boost for your forum. Also, advertising forums are probably some of the best places to become active and get members through your sig. Becoming a staff member at one of these places can get you a lot of attention.

Make Friends – A lot of people that are going to join your forum are the people that already know you, just because they are more comfortable with it. You should bring your site up in normal conversation, without directly telling them to join. Maybe share one of the experiences you have had while building the site, and what has been fun about it. You never know, they may become interested.

Post Exchanges – When I say Post Exchanges, a lot of people think of a 5 for 5 post deal, which is what most Post Exchanges are. But what I am suggesting is long-term post-exchanges. This is a way to get you a guaranteed post increase, even if it is just 20 posts each week for each other. Something like this could lead to 1000 posts a year if you exchange a decent amount, and if you don’t like it, you can always stop it any time you want.

Any of the ideas above could help you start out your forum, and I highly suggest that you use all of them to start off.
Don’t Let Them Escape!

Once you’ve gotten a couple of members, you will then realize it is very difficult to get a lot of them to stay. A good way to keep new members active is to send them a PM asking a little bit about them, and maybe referring to a couple of the posts they have made. Ask for their IM address, E-Mail Address, and try to start a discussion about something. If you keep the discussion going, they will come back to continue to respond.

Another great way to keep members active is to start a non-promotional contest (which means referral contests or posting contests should not be made at this time), something like a “Most Creative Contest” or “Wallpaper Contest”, it really all depends on what the topic of your forum is. If they have an area for it, always remember to go and post about this contest on a couple of ad/promotion forums. Members will always read and reply to these to get their post count up, and they can actually get you more attention than a general advertisement topic would.
Keeping Things Awesome

Once you are getting a decent amount of posts per day, it’s time to continue to keep your forum going by doing everything you can to increase your member count, using some of the following suggestions:

Continue Advertising – Continue to put your link in as many places as possible. The more places you put your links, the easier it is for a search engine to find you, and your link is still being displayed for someone to click it!

Get Your Forum Reviewed – Get a Review to tell you how your forum is doing every once in a while. This can be a great way to get some good advice on your forum, and what you are doing wrong. When you do decide to reveiw, you should get a review from three to four different places rather than one, that way you are getting lots of feedback from different users, who have different views on your forum. If two or more of the reviewers all point out a problem, it definitely needs to be fixed.

Submit to Topsites – Submit your site to a topsite, and encourage your members to vote for it every day. If you can get enough votes to put you on the top, you can get a lot of incoming traffic. ;)

Hire Some Staff – You shouldn’t hire staff members too often, but once you get some need for it, you should open an announcement stating that you will be selecting some new staff members, and will be accepting applications. Have the application process last for about two weeks and you’d be amazed at how much the user’s activity will increase.

Affiliates
– You should affiliate with as many sites as possible that fit the same style as you, and if you get the chance, why not affiliate with some larger forums? Becoming an affiliate with someone is completely free, and it only takes a little bit of time to set up an affiliate with someone.
Closing Notes

Well, that is pretty much all I have to write for this article. If you think this article should be improved, please send me a PM on the forums and I may edit in your idea, along with leaving you credit in the article! Thanks for reading!

~ Carsonk, Ex-Packages Team Leader