How to Run a Successful Forum

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In the world of Internet Marketing (IM), running a forum is not considered a good investment of time and money. This is because most online marketers think that a forum is not a very profitable niche. And they are right to a certain extant. Running a forum from a purely monetary perspective is harder than running product sites or other usual Internet Marketing websites.

It is also more technical in nature and requires the owner to put in more time to run it because of the usual forum guidelines to be followed. But a financially successful forum is possible if some of these strategies are followed. To make a forum popular requires most of the usual cross-promotion and social network advertising that IMers are familiar with and already use in their other ventures. But a forum in a niche market is more profitable once it gets a steady stream of visitors and members.

Once your forum gets members who contribute regularly then they can be offered paid membership to access certain sections of the forum. These sections will have additional content and more user privileges. But this can work only if your free sections are really good and your niche has enough people interested in it.

Another strategy to use is to ask for donations using the easy to use PayPal button. You can ask for donations to cover the costs of running the forum and list those costs. The donors can also be offered some special privileges in the forum.

Advertising is another lucrative opportunity for a forum owner. You can sell banners and slots by directly approaching the companies who are doing business in your niche market. You can also sign up with advertising networks such as Google's Adsense, Yahoo's Publisher Network and Clicksor. Link sales and classified advertisements are also included in this option.

A more long-term partnership can be formed with convincing the companies in your niche market to become your sponsors. One of the best sources of revenues is affiliate marketing. IMers will recognize the long term potential this represents. Once the affiliate starts getting sales through your website, the affiliate will be more likely to invest in the other methods such as sponsorship and other partnership opportunities.

Selling merchandise on your own is another option. This is easier when the merchandise in question is of a virtual nature such as ebooks, podcasts, videos and images, and services. But with physical goods, you will have to handle not just billing but also shipping and packing plus carry inventory.

Do not just be dependent on Google to get all your traffic. Facebook is fast becoming one of the biggest sources of referring sites for all sorts of websites. Catching up fast is Twitter. So setting up a presence in all the major social networking sites along with the micro-blogging sites is pretty much a necessity today. You can setup up Facebook fan pages and Facebook groups around your niche.

One of the best ways of learning how to run a successful forum is to first run it on a free forum site. There are several websites, which will allow you to create your own forum as a subdomain on their site. Your forum's URL for example will be The downside to this is that once your forum becomes successful you will not be able to monetize it or be able to transfer it your own domain. But it is an excellent way to learn more about the admin side of running a forum.
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