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ZetaBoards Review

ZetaBoards Review

They say, the best of any product is yet to be made available’, but what constitutes the best is customized to every individual. What is acceptable to one person might not be acceptable to the other person. Unfortunately, this is the same case with forum software. The free ones available in the market are phpBB, myBB, ProBoards, ZetaBoards, SMF and on and on. This time, we will dissect ZetaBoards and see how well it is serving webmasters and administrators around the world.

Before we begin, we need to understand a little bit of history of ZetaBoards. This forum software began its footstep into the online world under the banner of Zathyus Networks 14 years before, allegedly before sitemaps for social media existed. Under their software engineers and staff, this community software had undergone a lot of changes and today, they continue to support around one hundred thousand online communities. The history is quite impressive, but we will see what they have achieved over this span of fourteen years.

Lets make a really quick note that the ‘About Us’ page informs us that ZetaBoards underwent 8 years’ worth development but the staff page says that the community began 2002. I really don’t understand the mathematics, but I am assuming that they simply forgot to update the ‘About Us’ page.

Hosting: Today, one crucial point about selecting a particular free host is the amount of uptime the host is able to provide. ZetaBoards is hosted on fifteen super strong servers, providing you with unlimited space to host any number of members and posts, and at the point of writing this review, all fifteen are online and working. Yet, in the support forum, we could find numerous topics relating to server downtime and most importantly, these are not regular server update notices. Compared to other forum hosts, we are forced to believe that the uptime is a little less. The live/realtime status of each of their servers could be found here: http://tachyondecay.net/php/bin/serverstatus.php (Link picked up from official support forum index, but not officially maintained by Zathyus Networks and pointing towards an external source. Cant make any sense out it!)

Domains: Unlike other free forum software, ZetaBoards re-affirms its commitment to the user experience by allowing you to purchase a domain from any domain registrars as long as they provide you with of the facility updating your server and CNames. ZetaBoards, however recommends that you buy your domains from Namecheap as the staff are fully accustomed to provide support with this system. This, in a nutshell, means that you have full authority of your domain name which is definitely a plus point to consider when you are looking forward to beginning a new community.

Styles and designs: ZetaBoards is notable for its hard curved forum index structure. Communities running other free forum software have been able to modify the themes and designs to such an extent that it would take even the most experienced hand to search in the footer to determine what software the board is running. But ZetaBoards will have a different story to tell. Even after all these years of surfing through ZetaBoards forums, we have never come across a community that has changed the forum index to such an extent so as to dismantle the default theme. In a real sense, the most important elements of the default theme has stood the test of time and is a testimony to how popular the original theme was. The Support forum has a very handy guide regarding creating new themes and installing them. By default, ZetaBoard is not adapted to mobile devices, so its always good to install a mobile friendly theme if you are looking out for that feature. In this department, the lack of a mobile friendly default theme is definitely something no webmasters or administrators could accept. Looking through the forum, it seems like a mobile app is in the consideration for a long a long time, but nothing has materialized. Hopefully, they will make it up fast.

Advertisements: Each free forum owned and hosted by ZetaBoards has a banner advertisement that keeps the project running – one placed at the top and the other at the bottom of the forum index. But for those users who would like to have these advertisement removed, the cost is calculated on a ‘per pageview’ criteria and is a very sensible criteria to use as far as the administrators are concerned. By purchasing ad removal, you can use your own content targeted advertising and pop up advertising on a forum (in other cases, you are not!). Additionally, you have the option of transferring add removal credits to other forums if you wish to do so. To shorten it, as far as the advertisement section is concerned, ZetaBoards do have a green signal.

Database:
Unlike other free forum software, ZetaBoards is perfectly fine with giving you your database should you choose to move from ZetaBoards to a new host or a new forum software. However, you will have to pay to receive the ‘copy’ of your database (which means that the original community will still exist). There are no clear pricing range for this, but the support request to the sales team will enlighten you. Nevertheless, we believe that this is another step that makes ZetaBoards very user friendly. However, do remember that the database is transferred in a pre-set format (IPB, for now) and that you will have to convert it to you preferred forum software – a process that is not officially supported by ZetaBoards support community.

Premium features: The following are the features that are offered in extra, to premium users:

    Administrator accessible private message logs
    Moderator accessible edited post log
    Unrestricted use of bulk email frequency
    Removal of advertisements placed in the bottom of the index
    Exclusive resource database
    Increased upload limit upto 7MB

To become a premium user, you need to pay around 80$ a year. Going by the list of features, I hardly think that anyone would really require to update their forum from a free to premium community. The fact that ZetaBoards has managed to keep a lot of original features for free are definitely a plus towards the user experience. So kudos to that!

Support system: One of the most beautiful part of a ZetaBoard support network is its dual support system. You can open a ticket that pertains to any of the four categories – Support, Theme, Sales and Personal request (related to lost administrator password, transfer of ownership etc) and a staff member will immediately get to resolve your issue. Additionally, you are also extended full support through the support forum staffed with really friendly people and some amazing members. Both these mechanisms ensure that you receive prompt support – another user friendly initiative by the Zathyus management. Despite these best efforts, if you are a mediocre ZetaBoards user, you will find it hard to locate help document because the documentation is neither complete nor professional. At many instances, you will have to use the ‘search’ function in the support forums to find what you are looking for – something that will turn away potential yet budding administrator and/or webmasters.

Finally, lets take a look at the pros and cons again.

Pros: Easy domain management, possibility of retrieving your forum database, dual support system.

Cons: Downtime in hosting, Exclusive resource database only open to premium members, unprofessional documentation.

Forumotion Review

Alas, I have decided to start my own forum. I started looking into the host of new free forum services that are up for the grab – Forumotion, ZetaBoards, ProBoards are just to name a few of them. I am still confused which service I will utilize, so I decided to review all the available forum platforms. I chose Forumotion first because it looked popular and promising in the first glance. Here are my findings:

Forumotion is a free forum software service that lets you build your community in four different software – which include phpBB2, phpBB3, punBB and Invision. Forumotion lets you switch the available forum platforms any time the webmaster wishes. The transition from one platform to the other is smooth and takes less than 5 minutes with no loss of posts, topics, members or their information.

Styles and designs: While using Forumotion, you have two ways to add styles to your forum. You can either style it yourselves from any of the base themes or the default ones or you can use a preset design that is available for free from hitskin.com. Many of the themes on hitskin are very poor but with certain modifications, it is good to go. The good thing about Forumotion ACP is that you can format the CSS sheets through the control panel and create an entirely new theme for your forum alone. Submitting them to hitskin is optional, but once you do, the theme becomes the property of Forumotion after one month.

Hosting and domains: Forumotion is hosted by a range of powerful servers that there is hardly any downtime. In the rare event that there is one, its will be notified earlier- with complete details including the time interval, the reason for downtime and any expected loss of data. In my 2.5 years with Forumotion, I didn’t experience any downtime. They also let you have personalized domain names (which has to be either purchased through Forumotion itself or has to be obtained through the giveaway) and personalized email addresses. Domains purchased through Forumotion cannot be transferred to a third party domain registrar. In case you want to do it, you will have to wait until the domain expires and you complete a 60 days waiting period for that domain to appear in the ‘available domain index’. Though prices are comparable to popular domain providers, not having complete control over it makes it very less worthwhile. In that case, my advice will be to purchase your domain from a third party registrar and redirect to your Forumotion domain.

Advertisements: The free forum service comes with advertisements. The advertisements are placed just under the main banner of the forum (one per page) with administrators being given the option of either forcing it on guests and members or paying Forumotion for the removal of advertisements. In addition to this, another optional section on ‘sponsored content’ (a sponsored advertisement appears in the topic body either just after the first post or before the last post that is displayed in that page) are also in the works. But thankfully, this can be disabled or enabled at the discretion of the webmaster. Similarly, the Forumotion ACP allows you to connect your community to Google Analytics that gives you detailed analytical reports regarding the traffic that comes into your community.

Database: You don’t have to worry about the database getting too big. Forumotion provides a maximum capacity of 4 billion posts and 4 billion topics per forum with virtually no restriction on the number of members. You don’t have to worry about backing up your data and other security issues because Forumotion handles all that. However, you are not permitted to keep the database of your community and under no circumstances will this be given to you – no matter how much you are willing to pay. So if you think that your community has grown big enough and Forumotion is ill-equipped to cater to the needs of your community and that you require to move to a different host – bad luck – You have to start from the scratch.

Forum and social media integration: Forumotion is another free host that understands the evolving needs of the people. In their quest to appear social media friendly, they have various social media integration tools that are linked with Facebook, Google+ and Twitter. You also have the option of enabling a ‘Like’ button or ‘Tweet’ button or ‘mobile sharing’ feature which lets your members share their favorite content to their social media handles without moving away from the forum. Along with this, Forumotion has an integrated chat and gallery function. The chat, more like a shout box, is neat and user friendly but cannot be customized.

Support: The support forums are the perfect stop for all the FAQs, queries and new tricks and tips to make your forum more suited to the expanding needs of your community. Their tips and tricks section is a galore of customization methods, most of which, webmasters will have to use on their forum. However, the support forum is severely understaffed resulting in delay in answering your queries. Added to this, like the staff on most of the free support forums, they are not very friendly and pleasing to actually involve in a conversation. The support forum also has a section for forum reviews and graphic requests. Most often, hardly 10% of the requests are completed effectively and the others are turned away with the age old excuse of the support team being a volunteer staff group.

Security: As far as the security of the database is concerned, if you, as a webmaster, can prevent suspicious entry through your administrator account, all your data is safe and fully backed up. In case something goes wrong, you will have to access the utilities section, log into your founder account and restore your community with a previous backup. As long as you are able to strengthen your administration password, security is pretty decent.

Additional features: At Forumotion, they provide you with a lot of additional features including the possibility of adding fully customizable HTML pages and JavaScript on to your forum. Though in the past, users have questioned the security vulnerabilities that come along with adding HTML pages on to your forum, it seems to be the most used feature in Forumotion forums. Other additional features include – a photo gallery, integrated classified ads section, mention and keywords notification center and newsletters. And for those roleplayers out there – a beautiful dice rolling module with a character sheet management center.

Conclusion

Pros

1. Feature packed administration control panel
2. Extremely user friendly

Cons

1. Database cannot be transferred to the webmaster under any circumstances
2. Poor support

phpBB review – Slowly Becoming One of the Best

phpBB review – Slowly Becoming One of the Best

Disclaimer: I haven’t used phpBB in a long while so I decided to use the phpBB demo offered on phpBB.com. This gave me access to my own forum and its ACP for a while.

There was always something about phpBB that I liked, I’m still not sure whether it was the way that it’s structured or simply the way it looks. It might just be something to do with it being the first forum software that I came across. I feel like phpBB has come a long way since I first used it. The admin control panel feels a lot easier to navigate and so far I’ve had no trouble installing a new theme. All seems to be going well for me so far. Now it’s time for me to give phpBB another go after spending so much time with MyBB.

My biggest pet peeve with phpBB was the difficulty of adding plugins (or extensions as they are called on phpBB). Back then I knew about another extension called autoMOD which was meant to make installing other extensions a lot easier and automated. No matter how many tutorials I read I could never get the autoMOD extension to work at all. And that of course meant that other extensions were also a difficulty for me to install onto my forum. Another issue I had with the old phpBB was that for some reason importing a style (theme) onto my forum always caused errors. I would love to be able to see these errors now as I’m a lot more knowledgeable about these types of things and could work out if it was something I was doing that was causing an error. These two problems were the main reason I ended up going to MyBB. In my opinion I think MyBB has always been more popular especially with users that have never hosted their own forums or users that have never administrated a forum before. MyBB is just so simple while phpBB was always considered as being a bit problematic and a lot more advanced.

The first thing I tried to do with my installation of phpBB was import a new theme. Easy. I’d even go as far as saying it’s easier than MyBB. All that is required is uploading a file containing everything for the theme to a “Styles” folder and then you import it from the phpBB admin control panel. That’s literally it. Of course I haven’t tried/have no clue about how I can edit templates as I couldn’t seem to find it anywhere in my admin control panel. MyBB has always had an extremely easy template editor so it would have been nice to compare the two and see which comes out on top.

Next I went ahead and read an installation guide on how to install an extension for a phpBB powered forum. Easy. From what I can remember in the older phpBB versions it was quite complicated and required some template edits as well but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. A simple upload of the files to the web directory and then activation of the extension is the only steps required. A quick browse through both the phpBB extensions directory and Google shows a wide choice of extensions available for almost everything that a basic forum would need such as a points system etc. Another great thing that stands out for me is the notifications feature that comes straight out of the box. I know it’s a basic and simple feature. But most forums tend to have a notifications feature but with MyBB that requires a separate plugin.

However there was one thing that disappointed me. There is a real lack of free themes for phpBB 3.1. Considering it came out around October 2014, the fact that there are only 31 free themes for this version of the software is extremely disappointing. And personally, out of those 31 themes only 1 comes even close to even being used. The rest were bland, old and just plain boring. Compare this to MyBB which has hundreds of themes both on the MyBB site and around the web and you realise that phpBB is quite far behind from ever catching up to MyBB. If you want a proper theme then you will have to dish out around $17 for a premium phpBB theme. I have seen some great modern looking themes available on ThemeForest although the fact that there are only around 10 premium themes mean that most likely most forums powered by phpBB will have similar themes that you’ve seen before. Another issue that I noticed with phpBB is a lack of support around the web. Apart from the phpBB community I haven’t really come across any places that have experienced users that are able to help other users with any phpBB problems that they may be having. I’m sure there are some forums out there that concentrate on phpBB support but personally I haven’t come across any that stand out. No matter where you look, you will always seem to find someone on any forum that has some sort of experience with MyBB and can help you out. The same cannot really be said for phpBB.

phpBB is a great forum software. It always has been behind MyBB in terms of ease of use, functions and extensibility. But it is growing and recent updates have brought some great functions and improved the software overall. This should hopefully make phpBB a more attractive software to beginners and experienced webmasters. Of course a few things still need to be improved, the lack of proper free themes for phpBB 3.1x is a real turnoff. However, I will definitely be trying out phpBB more thoroughly after this experience as I feel like it is much improved since I last used it as a forum administrator.

The Three Killers of Promotion Forums

I’m sure we’re all familiar with promotion forums, as we’ve seen hundreds of them pop up over the years. Unfortunately, out of the hundreds created, very few remain open or active after a few weeks. On a more positive note, we’ve seen several examples of promotion forums flourish and become very successful. Such examples are 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.

Continue reading

ProBoards Review – Best Free Forum Host

ProBoards – Best Free Forum Host

What is ProBoards? ProBoards is one of the leading free forum hosts on the Web; they have over 2 million customers. Of all of the free forum hosts on the Web, ProBoards is, by far, the best free forum host! ProBoards is the best free forum host because of their customer service, easily customizable forum software and easy administration.

Customer Service

When you try a new software for the first time, majority of the time you have absolutely no idea what you are doing. You have a lot of questions and you want answers quickly. ProBoards Support, ProBoards’ Support Forum, is an amazing resource to get help with your forums. The customer service provided by both the members and staff team of ProBoards Support is both fast and accurate.

ProBoards administrators/creators tend to the support forums seven days a week excluding major holidays. Aside from the administration team, a select few members that were hand-picked for global moderation and support also tend to the support forum. Between the various staff team members and regular members who are knowledgeable about ProBoards form software, all of your questions can and will be answered.

Aside from general Proboards software related issues, the staff and members of the support forum help users with customizing their own ProBoards forums. A lot of the staff and members have created a variety of quality plugins, template modifications and themes that are all free to use. They will even help you with graphic designs if you need it.

Easy Customization

ProBoards forum software is fairly easy to customize, as opposed to many other types of forum software. If you do not have experience with HTML and CSS, ProBoards offers a theme generator directly through the admin control panel. Another option, for those who are inexperienced, is to browse the theme library and install themes directly to your ProBoards forum with a simple click of a button. There are hundreds of quality themes available. For those that are knowledgeable of HTML and CSS, the UI for editing your codes is very user-friendly and easy to use. When modifying templates, there are tons of short codes to help you on your way.

Template modifications, which change the way certain parts of your forum look, can be found on the ProBoards Support Forum. There is a relatively large database of template mods that users can choose from. You can change the way your info center looks as well as the information that is displayed there. You can change the layout of how your different boards are displayed, user profiles and mini profiles, and so much more. All of the template modifications come with written instructions to make it easier for the inexperienced to be able to add them to their forums. Both members and staff members of ProBoards support create template modifications that are free for forum owners to use.

Aside from themes and template modifications, you can also customize your forum with plugins. There are over a hundred different plugins available to forum owners and the amount increases daily. There are plugins for forum currency and a shop to purchase items with that forum currency, google analytics, posting templates, and a whole lot more. As with themes, plugins can be installed directly from the plugin library to your forum with a simple click of a button.

With the built in theme generator and/or vast quantity of quality themes, plugins, and template modifications available, ProBoards is very easy to customize. Other forum software, such as myBB, does not offer the same type of support or theme customization options as ProBoards does. In my experience, ProBoards is the easiest forum software to customize as I’ve used other software such as myBB, phpBB, vBulletin, and others.

Easy Administration

The admin control panel for ProBoards software is user-friendly and exceptionally easy to use. See the image below:

Each menu item at the top of the ACP will grant a drop down menu for easy navigation to administrative settings. With ProBoards, there are many settings that you can change and customize. You can have unlimited user groups and user ranks, you can create custom pages to give your forum a website feel, and you can upgrade your forum to ad free for reasonable prices based on page views. All forum customization and administration can be done through the admin control panel.

Aside from the easy, user-friendly UI, a lot of the admin options that you edit automatically save for you. This is a great feature if you forget to save your work as you will not lose all the work you have done. The only exception to this is when you are editing code directly.

All in all, in my opinion, ProBoards is the best free forum host on the web. If you have never created a free forum with ProBoards, I highly recommend that you do so; this way you can try out the many different features on your own. If you are not a fan of ProBoards, I recommend that you give it another try. With the release of V5 Hydra, options are limitless and I’m certain you will find that you like it a lot more than you did before.

Newbie Guide To Promotion Forums

Newbie Guide To Promotion Forums

It’s all good and well for experienced forum users to join new forums and know exactly what they are about. What about newbies to promotion forums though? Below I have written a short guide for newbies about certain aspects of a promotion forum.


1) Introduce Yourself – this will allow the community to point out good things for you to check out before you get properly started. It also gives you a chance to gauge how friendly people are going to be. It is also a good idea to remember at this point, that first impressions are often the lasting impression.

2) Services – what are they? Promotion forums will often offer ‘services’ to help your forum grow and make improvements. 9 times out of 10 these services can be paid for with virtual forum cash( earned via posting and other methods). Lots of forums offer the same services, so its always a good idea to look around for a little bit first and see if you can find any feedback on the services that the forum is offering.

3) Packages – this is one service that a forum can offer. This is when a user from the promotion forum will come over to your forum/blog and post on it for you after you request a specific package. This is almost always paid for via forum cash. So it effectively costs you nothing and helps you out! You should always check out the feedback section before requesting, as you are more likely to find out the true quality of the service.

4) Reviews – this is another service that a forum can offer. This is when a user from the promotion forum will come over to your forum/blog and review it for you after you request a specific review type. They might be reviewing anything from content to design to grammar. It depends what you as for. This is almost always paid for via forum cash. So it effectively costs you nothing and helps you out!

5)Ads – this is a varied service across promotion forums. They can offer banner ads, table ads, signature ads, bubble ads etc. each type has it’s own benefits and pitfalls. Before you request one it is best to read up on where you can advertise/where it’s going to be displayed and pick whichever one suits your requirements best. Some options will be more expensive than others, however, it is more likely that the more expensive it is, the more exposure you will get.

6) Participate – try your best to participate in the forum. It let’s people see that you are going to be sticking around and want to be part of a community. This is also the best way to build up your forum cash. It can be spent on services to help your forum or website. The more you contribute, the more you are likely to get out of the forum.

7) Freebies – keep your eyes open on promotion forums. There is always some kind of giveaway going on usually, or a free service week. This is the best time to take advantage of all the services as it will cost you nothing but hopefully benefit you a lot.

This is just a simple newbie guide to a promotion forum – there is a lot more to know but those are some of the basics.

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

How To Turn Your Forum Into A Business!

This article was first posted on our blog on 11/03/2011. For this reason, the information may be outdated and no longer reliable/correct.


In this blog post, you’ll learn a few ways in which you can turn your forum into a fully functioning business, possibly without the need to manage it depending on the size of your forum and activity!


 

1. Advertisements

I see so many new forums listing advertisements from Adsense, Chitika, Adbuzz etc. I hate it when new sites, try and make money from the start. Focusing on making money from the start only depletes the chances of your success where other forums won’t have this issue by focusing on the community. However that’s a different blog post all together.

Your best bet at success is to start off without any advertisements, until you hit the 1000 post milestone. This means that you should have reasonable activity, a few active members and posts coming in every day without paying for them via FP or paid forum posts.

I would personally go with setting up private adverts on a click basis (as opposed to an impression basis, where the advertiser pays for the amount of times it’s displayed instead of visited.)

This will give your advertisers more freedom of advertising, and try to be more slack with the type of adverts you want when you’re small. Obviously try and keep the adverts suitable for the type of forum you run.

Once your growth begins to vastly increase, start to raise your advertising costs. This means you’ll get more premium members from your forum advertising,members from real sites which convert into cash in the end. You’ll be seen as a business partner, and you’ll begin to gain contacts which are always useful in a dry spell.*

* If you start to build business contacts, make sure that you ask their permission to keep their details. After doing so, only contact them if needs be. Don’t try and be a friend to them, from their perspective you’re another method of getting business and not looking for a 4 hour chat on Skype.


 

2. Exclusive unsaturated niche

A few members here may read that title and think “WHAT?!”, well I’ll explain.
Exclusive: Something other forums don’t offer. This is the hardest part of running a forum, as there are so many out there it’s hard to break into the field.

Unsaturated: This means (in the simplest form) not full of the same idea. Such as surveys > gifts sites such as Points2Shop. If your forum is completely unique and all aspects of it are only used by you, advertisers will come flocking in asking for advertising quotes. This is what I mean by autopilot business.

Niche: The area of the market you’re entering. If you’re in the gaming aspect of forums, only advertisers with adverts relating to gaming will approach you (normally). It’s a good idea to vaguely broaden your boards, opening opportunities to advertisers and people looking to join a board.

You’ll want to start a board that people will want to join. For example, the most recent one I’ve seen here would be phpBB Communities. They offer a completely new niche for people who own phpBB communities. They had instant success, and still do today. I personally recommend joining the board if you own a phpBB community, it’s extremely useful and helps a lot when creating and updating your board.

3. Making a return

This is the most important part of a business, is whether or not it will actually function as a profitable transaction. You need to focus on getting your name out there, which can take a lot of time and money. SEO is an extremely important method of gaining activity and thus money, because it can get tedious having to refer people through hundreds of different boards and mediums when you could be getting organic traffic from Google, Yahoo and Bing.

Once your site is listed, don’t give up! Keep on posting daily fresh content, fight spam and support your members with their problems. People love to get help when they need it, so try and be a loving admin and you’ll see the result of it!

Once you start to make cash from your site, don’t stop there. Reinvest it in methods that work. You need to spend money to make money, so why not use the cash you got from your site and use it for your site again?

$1 into your paypal isn’t much use to you, but it could buy you 100 visitors which could become registered users, a backlink on a premium web link directory or simply save it toward custom features!

I hope this guide has started to help you and that you have gained something of value from it.