5 Tips for Starting Your First Forum
After many weeks of thinking you have decided to add more interaction to your website via a forum. Well, even though setting up a forum is a pretty easy I do recommend for you to sit down and do some stuff before hand. Time after time, I run into very smart people who make the dumb decision of starting something they don’t know how to run. Sure they learn eventually, but by then the community has been destroyed. So, here are a few tips for the average person looking to start their first forum. Dive into the Internet and Do Some Research Yeah, Yeah....You’ve probably heard this tip a million times, but it truly is some of the best advice you can get. Nobody likes to be stuck in a niche that they know nothing about, so always research it! Make sure to look into competitors to see how they have structured their forums and how active they are. Don’t completely steal their ideas, but you can use a competitor to set yourself in the right direction. Also, while you are researching your topic make sure to look into different forum software's. Take Your Choice of Software Out For A Spin While you have probably set your mind on a forum software already, whether it be because your friend told you it was “cool” or because you found a blog post about it, you should probably install it before going any further with creating your forum. Make sure to dive into the admin panel so you can get a feel for its power and to see what is like to sit in the king's throne. The main purpose of this is to see if you are comfortable with the look and feel of the software. You don’t want to be stuck using a forum software you are not comfortable with, because it just turns everything into a bad experience. When I created my first community, I remember using a forum software called XMB. I'm not going to say that the forum software was bad, but it just didn't work for me. The plugin and theme installation was too much of a hefty process for my newly found Internet knowledge. Eventually I ended up converting the forum to MyBB but later closed the community. Build Interest Before Launching If you are going to create a community then I suggest that you build up some hype before launching. While most forums are created spontaneously, some of the best have been created through good planning and because they had a following before launching. You are going to need to fill up the empty forums and this hype will already have a crowd ready to join. This can be done with just a landing page that says “Come Back Soon” or even a simple newsletter! Don't Touch that Theme! Free themes are awesome, but never pick the one that is the most popular unless you are going to be customizing it. The reason I say this is because a free theme can just make you look cheap, so if you are going to choose a free theme then make sure that it is one that many people haven't seen. Plus, you don't want to use a theme that other forums are using because it will cause confusion among visitors and it may cause some to think that the forums are the same. If you have a unique, clean and easy to navigate theme then that is what will keep people coming back (the content will too). Don't Give Up But Also Accept Failure There will be times where your forum has been inactive, but never forget to keep advertising and push through, because you can always create a more active environment through some good promotion and some time investment. But also remember that you could experience a darker day where your community "goes under" and you just wont be able to get it active again. While I hope your community lives long and prosperous, a lot of you will likely see this day but just remember everyone has a project that failed at one point. Just learn from the experience and use the knowledge to your advantage when starting a new community! These are some of the tips that I would recommend to anyone who is just getting into community creation. While you may not agree with me, I'm interested in hearing some of your tips as well! So, feel free to leave a comment and share this post on your social networks!