Private Forum: Should You Add One To Your Site?

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You’ve probably visited a few forums in your time online and wondered if they’re a good idea. Some of them look like they might be pretty good money-makers, and at the very least, they look like they bring in a lot of traffic and help strengthen the community surrounding your blog. Let’s take a look at what it takes to add a forum to your blog.

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You need lots of traffic

I don’t know about you but I’ve visited my fair share of dead forums and it’s not a pretty sight. It takes a lot more traffic than you think to kick-start a new forum simply because nobody likes to join a forum that isn’t already a bustling hive of activity.

An all seriousness, if you don’t have at least 50,000 monthly visitors to your blog then it’s not worth it to set up a forum. At the most you’ll get maybe 300 or 400 people to register but even that’s not enough. Consider that everybody’s in a different time zone, some people only like to lurk, some people can only come online one or two days a week – so you never actually have 300 people in your forum all at the same time. You’re lucky if half show up once a week.

You need good security

Forums are prime targets for spammers, just take a look at some of the forums you visit. And nothing looks worse to new visitors than to sign into a forum and see pornography and Viagra ads. If you’re plan is to use the phpBB plugin for WordPress – Don’t. You’ll be visited by spammers in a matter of hours.

If you want to put a forum on your blog, do it right. There are some very good forum software packages out there that have good security and a tight registration process that cost less than a couple of hundred bucks. They’re customizable, too, so your forum doesn’t look like every other forum on the Web.

You need community moderators

You might think all those rules and guidelines you see are childish but they actually make your forum visitors feel safe. If they know there are rules in place to prevent flaming and trolling then more people will register.

However, even those posting guidelines aren’t enough to stop everyone. The best forums have community moderators who have authority to delete abusive posts and even ban users when necessary. This means you’ll have to have a few members you can trust. They’ll not only have to help control abusive activity in the forum but they’ll have to do so without getting a big head and stepping over the line themselves.

You’ll need to participate – a lot

As the forum owner you’ll need to be on hand to answer questions and join in conversations. After all, you’d be a pretty poor host if you invited everyone to your party and then turned it over to the moderators to entertain everyone. Your forum members will understand that you have other commitments but they’ll still demand a good portion of your time.

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  1. Jason Shapiro

    I think it is unrealistic that the average small business owner that has a website with a blog can afford to or is willing to take the time to maintain a forum. Thanks for the article.

    1. It really depends on the size and activity of the forum… If you don’t have too many boards, it can be a good way to interact with your readers and it won’t take too much time to moderate.

  2. Dave Lucas

    I think I have just added a forum to my blog!

    1. Congratulations!

  3. Andrea Naomi

    I remember a few years back I created a membership site with forum integration. I was a huge headache trying to manage it on my own – I felt like I was on there all day…The biggest challenge is that most of the members would rather hold conversations on Facebook or Twitter. A few friends have said they had to build huge niche lists to occupy forums before they ever considered starting one on their own. Great point on the minimum traffic requirements ;)

    1. A forum doesn’t necessary need to have a huge member’s count… as long as you have active users, it’s fine.

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