Before I start talking about how to get traffic from online forums I think it’s important to tell you that I’ve never joined a forum for the sole purpose of attracting traffic. Don’t let that cloud your decision, though. You’ll understand what I’m talking about as you read these tips.
These first two tips are probably the most important tip of all. You can find dozens of forums in just about any niche and you can eventually get traffic from most of them. However… (and you knew that was coming) you can waste a ton of time, too. Here’s what I look for when I choose forums:
Will the members be interested in what I’m promoting? If your blog is about “How To Make Money Blogging” and all the other members also have blogs about how to make money blogging, most of those members won’t be interested in what you’re promoting – because they’re promoting the same things. You want to look for a forum where people are sharing ideas about how they’re making money online.
Here’s another example: If you’re promoting Vampire literature you wouldn’t want to join a forum of poetry authors. While some of them might be interested in vampires, most of them are going to be looking for tips and ideas on writing poetry and getting their own books published. The small amount of traffic you might attract won’t be worth your time and effort.
Can you learn something from the forum members? To be effective you’re going to have to visit and interact in that forum on a regular basis. Since you have to be there anyway, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day, look for a forum where you can learn something.
Now, “Learn something” can cover a lot of territory. One thing you can learn from any forum is: What are people worried about or talking about right this minute? That’s always great fodder for a blog post.
But you can also learn about new ideas in your niche. What new products are people talking about, what new technology is on the horizon?
In other words – Don’t waste your time joining a forum that doesn’t have a lot of activity and don’t waste your time joining one where all the members do is fight and whine.
Create your profile: Choose a username and avatar that’s appropriate for the forum and craft an informative profile. Again, if it’s allowed then it’s fine to link to your blog. But stay away from the sales hype. If people want to visit your blog, they will, and no amount of sales hype is going to lure them to your blog. It’s your interaction with the community that matters most.
Put your link in your signature: Be sure to follow the rules here. Most forums are just like social networks. People are there to socialize – not buy stuff. A link to you blog in your signature is fine, leave out the sales hype.
Introduce yourself: Almost every forum has a thread at the top where new members can introduce themselves to the community. Do it. That’s your first post and a lot of existing members will go looking for it so they can find out more about you. A simple introduction – minus the sales hype – is all that’s necessary so you don’t look rude.
Ask and answer questions: Don’t dive right in and act like a know-it-all. Wade in slowly and start asking and answering questions so you can get to know the members of the forum and they can get to know you.
Post appropriately: Some forums have designated threads where you can ask questions about specific topics or post promotional content. Some forums even have very strict rules about what types of links you can post. Be sure to follow all the rules. And keep in mind – each forum has its own set of rules.
Visit and engage frequently: Nobody expects you to spend 8 hours a day chatting. Everybody in that forum has other commitments and they understand that you do, too. But forums move quickly. Your comment may be at the top of the thread right now but in a day it could scroll off the page. Get in there and engage frequently and on a regular basis.
Your forum traffic probably won’t ever be huge but if you’ve joined the right forum the traffic you do get will be targeted. Knowing that, be sure to use your time wisely. Join one forum at a time and if it’s not the right fit, move on to another. Limit the amount of time you spend each day otherwise they can be a huge time suck.