How to start a Forum?

by Elevoution 15 replies
I'm not sure whether this is a crazy idea or not, but I think I want to start a Forum, so please guide me on the best application to use.

I'm based in the UK and I recently made a few posts on a reasonably well known UK Business forum suggesting possible JV's with people (offline business included) with a few ideas I had. Unbelieveably there was no response. In fact, watching some of the threads over the last few days I notice that they haven't moved, nobody is posting!

In my opinion the Forum is cr*p. Full of posts relating to Property and Real Estate courses (Yawn don't we have enough of them in the UK and they all say the same thing).

I want to start a Forum that deals with REAL business, with the intention of hooking people up who are looking for potential partners who could work with them on their proposals.

I would break it down into specific regions, as well as having a main discussion. Maybe it could develop into network events but who knows.

Does anybody (especially in the UK) think this is a good idea or is it just me?

Matt
#main internet marketing discussion forum #forum #start
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  • Profile picture of the author Robert Plank
    What's your Unique Selling Proposition with this forum, why should people to go it? What's to stop someone else from starting a forum with the exact same setup?
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    • Profile picture of the author Elevoution
      Absolutely nothing is stopping someone else from doing it. However, it is less of a commercial venture and more of me wanting to start a forum because i'm dissapointed with the way many of them are run.
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      • Profile picture of the author Elevoution
        I guess my USP is the fact that you can potentially find and meet like minded business individuals, but I don't know if it is a viable USP
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      • Profile picture of the author Robert Plank
        Originally Posted by Elevoution View Post

        Absolutely nothing is stopping someone else from doing it. However, it is less of a commercial venture and more of me wanting to start a forum because i'm dissapointed with the way many of them are run.
        Why not use it to make money?

        If no one read your original post on that forum, why not contact those people directly and setup deals between them? Don't let them talk to each other directly and take a percentage as a middleman.
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        • Profile picture of the author Dan C. Rinnert
          Starting a forum isn't easy. Finding the software and getting it setup isn't the hard part; getting the community built is.

          At first, you're going to need to provide the content to fill the boards. You may even need to recruit people to participate in discussions to get things moving.

          It can be done, of course, with a lot of work. But, since you're going to have to be the one providing the initial content, have you considered starting out with a blog?

          Building a blog doesn't depend on user interaction to the extent that a forum does. A blog with few comments but with continually added content does not look nearly as bad as a forum with only one person posting!

          As your blog grows, and people start participating in the comments, then you can look at adding on a forum, and encouraging your visitors to move there. There are plugins, I think, that better enable users to have discussions on WordPress, and, who knows, maybe there is forum software that can behave in a blog-like manner too. In either case, if you plan a transition ahead of time, you can start as a blog and later transform into a forum. Alternatively, you could continue to run them separately too.

          In any case, if you start as a blog, that would also provide you the opportunity to promote yourself as well, perhaps as a deal-broker or whatever your plan is. Plus, that gives you the opportunity to build an audience for your forum before you have the forum started!
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  • Profile picture of the author Harvey Segal
    Originally Posted by Elevoution View Post

    I think I want to start a Forum, so please guide me on the best application to use.
    Matt

    Here is a free book:

    Forum Owner SuperTips
    How to start up and profit from your OWN forum

    ~Harvey
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason K. Thomas
    As far as software, vBulletin is the only way to go, IMHO. It's what this new Warrior Forum uses. Great community support and a massive number of plugins.
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    • Profile picture of the author ConversionTime
      vBulletin is a good option. Just to throw it in there phpbb is another very popular forum system.

      But just make sure you find enough people who post often enough
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    • Profile picture of the author Elevoution
      Guys, the response has been great and some good ideas have come through. Thanks for posting.

      Matt
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      • Profile picture of the author Keith Boisvert
        I am a big fan of forums when appropriate. Sounds like you have found a niche that is being underserved.

        Forums are a lot of work though,and require a big commitment from you. Regardless of how many people are there, you need to continually post and ask questions to prod along conversations.

        Heck, put your forum in your sig at the other forum that is not busy if you have to.

        Driving traffic is hard, but it will come. The biggest obstacle I see with business owners is getting them to take the time to participate. They are very busy, and that may be the reason that the other forum is dead.

        Not 100% sure what this forum is about, but if you can generate and post some valuable content they can use, then you will have a great start. Getting them engaged is vital to the success of your forum. Take a look at your local chamber of commerce or similar institutions, and see what they are doing.

        As for forum software, I have been using SMF and really like it. After seeing the new digs here at the WF, I thought about switching to vbulletin and posed the question to my members, and everyone is perfectly happy with the forum as is. Start with the free stuff, you can always change later. vbulletin allows you to import your existing forum into theirs.

        So in my book, if your willing to put in the work, I say go for it!

        The one thing that I do recommend is keeping in mind a "premium" area where people can pay a monthly fee. This alows you to monetize your forum once it gets hopping. Or do it upfront, your call on that one.


        Keith
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        • Profile picture of the author KimW
          I run a gaming forum. I use phpbbs. I've also been a mod on a gaming forum that used VBulletin ( what this forum is currently running on ).
          Running a forum sounds like fun, but as anyone else here who has actually done it, and as a couple who have replied to this thread has stated, it is a LOT of hard work.
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          • Profile picture of the author Kim Standerline
            its dammned hard work, and as someone who owns and moderates several forums, I'd suggest you invest in a paid script (like vBulletin)

            I recently deleted one of my thriving PHBB forums because I was so sick of the constant spam posts, (some of them were pretty graphic)

            I'm going to start it up again shortly (when I get round to it) and I'll definitely be investing in vBulletin (you get what you pay for)

            Cheers
            Kim
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            • Profile picture of the author blabber
              It's exciting to see new post when you have started a forum. You have to do a lot of posting yourself using "Guest" posting and several aliases (if you want to build the comments up in the forum the free way). Be prepared for a year to go by, this is just an average, depending on your topic, before it really starts to pick-up. At least that's been my experience. Advertise it as much as possible, even putting it in your email sig. Make a few "controversial" postings to get peoples "dander up", this will attract attention. That will get a debate going with your new visitors. Speaking of visitors, you may want to allow "Guest" posting until you build up some regular members. Just make sure your using a "captcha" program to cut out the spam. As far as forum scripts, I have used at least half a dozen or so of the free forum scripts and settled on SMF. I currently use it on 3 of my forums. I am using bbPress on another of my forums, but would suggest waiting for v1.0 to come out. It will be a big improvement I've read. I really like bbPress so far though.
              I just tried out phpBB3 last night in another forum of mine, just out of curiosity and was disappointed on how "over complicated" it made it to assign permissions. It's ashame because I liked the fact it is XHTML Strict. You also want to combine good SEO tactics with your forum to make it easy for the search engine spiders to visit. That and a good amount of postings, which adds content, will bring them around on a regular basis.
              Hope this helps...

              I forgot to add, there is a website that will let you try out the various free forum scripts, along with CMS scripts, eCommerce and other types of scripts at: http://opensourcecms.com/
              This would be a big help in helping you decide the forum script anyway, IF you wanted to go with a free forum script.
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