When starting a Forum, how do you get more members to join?

46 replies
I am always curious because I had started a forum 4 years ago and put it up and nobody joined, just spam bots posting x rated sites from russia, and other bots spamming.

I have a niche forum but have trouble, I even tried to post the site inviting people to join so they can win prizes, nobody joined only 5 people.

I see other forums that have so many members, how did they do it?
#forum #join #members #starting
  • Profile picture of the author goguy
    Is it the Chicken that came first or the Egg? It's a Chicken & Egg problem.

    Starting a forum's is a wonderful thing, but it also requires a lot of work build it up, but I know you can do it.

    You will have to come up with clever techniques for inviting people and continue to build backlinks to the forum.

    If you also like writing, you can attach a blog to your forum and use the blog to encourage your blog subscriber's to join your forum.

    I wish you all the best.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7079483].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Vorsiedious
    You get friends and people you know to join, or you pay people to fill it. It won't promote itself either. I've been down this road before and can tell you it's all about content: no good content= no new members.
    Signature

    My blogs: Funny Jokes • Blogger Guide • Video Game Blog

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7079506].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author whland
    It's definitely hard to get a forum active. I have two forums and they aren't active either. Though they haven't been online quite a year yet.

    I registered some users myself and use them to post in topics and start topics.
    I know it feels weird talking to yourself. But I guess it's a start.

    I got the idea from lisa on her forum websitebabble. She registered some fake users and talked to herself on her forum until it got active.

    Chad
    Signature
    WebMasterBabble.com Webmaster Forum
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7079510].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author seobro
    I currently have 88,000 people in my forum, but that forum has been up over nine years. Getting the first 100 members was hard work and I suggest calling people up. Also, put in some moderators to help you clean up spam. It is a lot of work for just one person. I also have many spammers join me. It is easy to spot em.

    x6347z n27yn35v is a spammer
    Fred Thompson is a person

    zoer57743@hotmail.com is a spammer
    John_Berry@willowgreengrass.com is a person

    Look for lots of grammar errors. That is typical of a spammer. Often they will write a few posts that are inane. Then later on, after you turn moderation off, they turn on a spam cannon.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7079563].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author MisterMister
      Originally Posted by seobro View Post

      I currently have 88,000 people in my forum, but that forum has been up over nine years. Getting the first 100 members was hard work and I suggest calling people up. Also, put in some moderators to help you clean up spam. It is a lot of work for just one person. I also have many spammers join me. It is easy to spot em.

      x6347z n27yn35v is a spammer
      Fred Thompson is a person

      is a spammer
      is a person

      Look for lots of grammar errors. That is typical of a spammer. Often they will write a few posts that are inane. Then later on, after you turn moderation off, they turn on a spam cannon.
      wow amazing 88k, I have a vbulletin and I put the spam guard on, but sometimes these bots know how to still pass the spam check.

      Also what If I don't know that many people? Could I advertise on Adwords or online or is that a waste of money>

      Another thing is do you have to put a sitemap on google webmaster tools when you have a forum so it gets indexed in google? what about yahoo does your forum need a sitemap too or no>

      thanks
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7079612].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author asepkomara
    Bribe visitors to be the members.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7079615].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author shane_k
    Are there already forums in your niche?

    if there aren't have you considered that your target audience might not want to communicate through a forum?

    If you have a list send them a survey to find out.

    Also, you can ask your list (if they do like forums) what would get them to join.

    Another thing that I would do is sit down and brainstorm some really hot topics or questions in your niche and post those.

    A topic that would get visitors to want to join in on the conversation when they see it.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7079784].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author MisterMister
      I read other articles and messages and people say that when a forum is up and new, that people don't want to bother joining an empty forum, also a lot of people are too lazy to sign up because its a hassle. I tried to offer prizes and bought some good prizes like ipads, and other things, and even gift certificates but only a few people joined than they stopped posting.

      I guess its just luck, you can do everything and promote it but you cannot force a person to join, if they join they join, and just let it be I guess.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7079800].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author easternodyssey
    Personally forums like much of the rest of the internet is a little like some fictional fantasy world. The only way to get people to use and interact on a forum is through creating lots of fake users and then interacting with those users. Personally i have tried this myself on my forum, but after a couple of months of having the forum on line, i keep putting the forum of line because i never have the time or energy to start faking the forum in order to make it look good and real. Were i am at not, is i am thinking of hiding it from google and web users and then re-activating it when it is populated. The problem is most CPM networks do not allow you to use advertising in the forum and CPC is probably better focused in a content site. So to cut a long story short you have to balance whether it is worth while spending countless hours attempting to get a forum operational, which may never gain a user base and may never earn a profit.
    Signature
    Eastern Odyssey | The Definitive Guide to Asia
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7079975].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Ben Gordon
    I started off a forum that currently has 5K members and over 50K posts by paying users per post.

    I went on tons of money forums where people will do labour for cheap and paid out people about $0.1 per post. I also had contests where people would enter a raffle to win $100 if they made just 10 posts. I did all kinds of stuff really... I also bought forum content imports related to my niche to make it look filled up and have discussions.

    There are a lot of creative ways to get a forum 'filled' up first, then buying paid traffic and getting genuine members.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7080001].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author WeavingThoughts
    You bought iPads beforehand? Then it isn't luck, you don't know marketing.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7080011].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author MisterMister
      Originally Posted by WeavingThoughts View Post

      You bought iPads beforehand? Then it isn't luck, you don't know marketing.
      You are right I don't, that is why I am here I am willing to learn, or are you just going to criticize me?:rolleyes:
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7080999].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author gpwilson
    It is not too hard. You need to make up to date your site as well as your forum. Offer some attractive offers and see the results. Give responsibility to someone experience to moderate your forum and don't allow spammer. They would just bring harm to your site.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7080054].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author flx89
    Starting a forum it's very hard if you don't have visitators yet. If you manage to start one thread that will catch interest, and rank it in google, you might have some real users.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7080069].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Microsys
    I found it was pretty easy growing my forum. But I also had a wide network of sites that pointed to it incase people wanted to ask questions to articles etc. If you run multiple sites related to the niche your forum will be, you can link to your forum in all your articles. (Be sure to also post interesting things in your forum as well.)
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7080492].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Sheila Ross
    Adwords can be a better option. You can get some real members through it. It is very important to keep a forum well moderated to get the maximum benefit out of it. If there are a lot of spam in a forum, google will not love to visit that forum often and your forum will never get the maximum exposure.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7080637].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author kstavert
    I'd think that it would be almost a full time
    job running a successful forum...

    how the heck do you moderate all of it...
    keep out the spam?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7080715].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Ben Gordon
      Originally Posted by kstavert View Post

      I'd think that it would be almost a full time
      job running a successful forum...

      how the heck do you moderate all of it...
      keep out the spam?
      You'd be surprised at how many people would be moderators for such cheap prices, even free!

      I just asked a few of my most active members whether they wanted to be moderators and they were thrilled with the opportunity.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7080782].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    It takes time. Make sure all of your traffic is going to your forum page (should be home page if this is the main objective of your site), and entice them to return with a freebie of some sort that you can offer assist of. You will want to generate a lead with the freebie so that you can email them and bring them back to your forum to interact on the board.
    Signature

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7080864].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Danny Cutts
    Originally Posted by kstavert

    I'd think that it would be almost a full time
    job running a successful forum...

    how the heck do you moderate all of it...
    keep out the spam?
    you are not wrong there....

    forums are hard work but when they gather pace they are exciting and you can make some good money.

    you need to be determined and have a vision on what you would like to achieve and stick to it....

    good luck

    Danny


    Posted from Warriorforum.com App for Android
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7081106].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author goindeep
    Depends what niche you are in. Some niches have a real small following online and you may even have to bait them offline and get them to swim online for the goodies on your forum.

    Just depends...
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7081355].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Horny Devil
      Banned
      Plenty of advice given but hardly any constructive.

      Of course being constructive is going to be difficult, firstly because no matter what methods you utilise for drawing visitors to your forum, if it's not got enough mass market appeal via it's theme and subject matter then it will remain (at best) a small and quiet niche forum.

      Secondly, how can you possibly expect feasible suggestions when we know neither the forum web address or it's topic? I suggest you post a link in your user profile settings and you'll not only get visitors from WF, but more importantly some honest appraisals and suggestions regarding not only it's viability, but attracting the RIGHT traffic from the RIGHT sources.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7081476].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author glowworm
        Banned
        So, OP, what's your forum niche?
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7083825].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author MrJackBauer
    Perfect thread for me. Forum in the Sig. Struggling to get people to the site, despite hours and hours of work. I have an SEO guy and so on.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7083880].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Danny Cutts
      Originally Posted by MrJackBauer View Post

      Perfect thread for me. Forum in the Sig. Struggling to get people to the site, despite hours and hours of work. I have an SEO guy and so on.
      Too many forum sections!!

      I would shrink them down and when the forum starts getting busy then expand it out :-)

      I started off with 2 sections in my forum

      "Place to meet and say" = for introductions and what not

      and

      "General Discussions" = as it states...

      This way it keeps people in the same place and the forum will get busy and when you get busier you can then expand them out with demand :-)

      Danny
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7084020].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Danny Cutts
    Personally I wouldn't give out the niche......

    A forum is a forum... the fundamentals are the same no matter what the niche and for those of you who think a forum will fail because of a small following that is absolute BS....

    A forum will fail if you give up!!!

    The forum needs to be busy and you need to look and see what your competitors are doing (if there are any) and see how they screw up and offer a better experience....

    Danny
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7083895].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author camuk
    People don't join an empty forum! Here are a few tips that I learned when I had a forum a few years back.

    Keep the categories at the beginning small so they look fuller! After some time you can add more categories and start to fill them up.

    I set up 200 accounts (my own) and had conversations with myself! After a few weeks and a few new sign ups I stopped using them and had conversations with real people. After the first 100 signed up, I spend most of my time moderating and adding in a comment here and there.

    Always answer questions, if people are getting answers to their questions they are more likely to come back (and tell their friends).

    Offer some kind of affiliate service for your members. If they get 5 people to sign up and post 20 posts, you'll pay $5 or whatever. Be careful with this, it's open to abuse. Have clear guidelines about ip addresses, etc. etc.

    But this worked for me before the forum was sold.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7084060].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Horny Devil
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Danny Cutts View Post

      . . . for those of you who think a forum will fail because of a small following that is absolute BS....
      Originally Posted by Danny Cutts View Post

      The forum needs to be busy . . .
      Nothing like a good contradiction.


      Originally Posted by Danny Cutts View Post

      Too many forum sections.
      I would shrink them down and when the forum starts getting busy then expand it out :-)

      I started off with 2 sections in my forum

      This way it keeps people in the same place and the forum will get busy . . .
      Danny
      So there you have it. Just 2 sections in your forum and it will get busy. :rolleyes:


      Originally Posted by Danny Cutts View Post

      A forum is a forum... the fundamentals are the same no matter what the niche . . .
      You may have operated a forum or two yourself but that by no means elevates you to the rank of expert. The fundamentals are absolutely NOT the same for every niche. Whist some niches (WF, for example) can attract massive membership because of the IM interest level, another forum on an obscure topic or theme would struggle to create traffic no matter what marketing methods they employed.

      Forums are hard work and need a good following to thrive. A small following doesn't make them viable from either monetary, work, or time perspectives - particularly for micro niches.

      And it's all about members because without them you have no-one to market to, and won't attract advertising revenue.

      I wouldn't even hazard a guess as to the ratio of successful versus unsuccessful forums over the years. But I do know that it's overwhelmingly in favour of the latter.


      Originally Posted by camuk View Post


      People don't join an empty forum!
      This.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7085884].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Danny Cutts
        Originally Posted by Horny Devil View Post

        Nothing like a good contradiction.




        So there you have it. Just 2 sections in your forum and it will get busy. :rolleyes:




        You may have operated a forum or two yourself but that by no means elevates you to the rank of expert. The fundamentals are absolutely NOT the same for every niche. Whist some niches (WF, for example) can attract massive membership because of the IM interest level, another forum on an obscure topic or theme would struggle to create traffic no matter what marketing methods they employed.

        Forums are hard work and need a good following to thrive. A small following doesn't make them viable from either monetary, work, or time perspectives - particularly for micro niches.

        And it's all about members because without them you have no-one to market to, and won't attract advertising revenue.

        I wouldn't even hazard a guess as to the ratio of successful versus unsuccessful forums over the years. But I do know that it's overwhelmingly in favour of the latter.




        This.
        Well that makes you an expert then!!

        Nobody post another response as Horny Devil has all the answers.....

        Take any advice you like it doesnt effect me or my business... I make a lot of money from my forums so do what you like....

        see you next tuesday

        Danny
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7086174].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author Horny Devil
          Banned
          Originally Posted by Danny Cutts View Post

          Well that makes you an expert then!!

          Nobody post another response as Horny Devil has all the answers.....

          Take any advice you like it doesnt effect me or my business... I make a lot of money from my forums so do what you like....

          see you next tuesday

          Danny
          I never said I had the answers, but there again neither do you.

          Without knowing the topic or URL of the OP's forum, no-one has the answers.

          I merely pointed out where you were wrong.

          I hear 'anger management' is now a popular forum theme.
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7086251].message }}
        • Profile picture of the author madelyndon
          Originally Posted by Danny Cutts View Post

          Well that makes you an expert then!!

          Nobody post another response as Horny Devil has all the answers.....

          Take any advice you like it doesnt effect me or my business... I make a lot of money from my forums so do what you like....

          see you next tuesday

          Danny

          Sorry if it is a stupid question, but how do you make a lot of money through a forum? Just Adsense? Or do you build your list through the members and market to them by email? Thanks!
          Signature
          "The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."

          A man asked Buddha "I want happiness" Buddha said " First remove "I" that's ego, then remove "want" that's desire. See now you are left with only happiness "
          {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7087064].message }}
          • Profile picture of the author Danny Cutts
            Originally Posted by madelyndon View Post

            Sorry if it is a stupid question, but how do you make a lot of money through a forum? Just Adsense? Or do you build your list through the members and market to them by email? Thanks!
            Not a stupid question at all....

            I sell ad space I then also charge companies to have their products launched on our forum.

            Adsense is one way to make money but if you are willing to put the leg work in then contacting companies directly is a better way.

            Not a week goes by where I am not in a meeting with a company to discuss how we can help them.

            I have also sold web design services and other services that they may use along with basic affiliate marketing.

            Danny
            {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7087115].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author TheFox
    I agree with the others, you have to take whatever steps necessary to "simulate" an active forum in the beginning in order generate enough content to snowball into a genuinely active forum. I have no interest in participating in any forum that isn't pretty damn active, unless the topic is so incredibly niche that there's really no where else to go.

    One thing that might help is to plug into social networks so people don't have to register on your forum. I think it's a huge pain in the ass to register anywhere for anything, especially knowing that I'm just signing myself up for more spam. If you do require a signup, keep it as minimal and quick as possible. Although I'm not personally too keen on using Facebook/Twitter as a login in every situation, plenty of people are. What saves them time makes them more likely to engage. Keep it clean, active, quick, and easy, and you're off to a great start.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7084925].message }}
  • Post a contest thread in the contest sub forum. First person to reach 1000 useful informative posts gets $500 dollars paypal

    Or something similar
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7084937].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author MyNiches
    Start by posting a bunch of content yourself. Treat it like a blog and answer questions that people in your niche might be looking for, then they'll start to find you. Also, invite people! If you come across somebody you think would be an asset to your forum, send them a personal message asking them to join. The ball really starts to roll once you have some good people offering real value to one another.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7084945].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Bernd Sauereisen
    Hi:

    Getting traffic to a forum means you need to have some content that people are searching for. It does take a lot of effort to get members, and you can attempt to get some by posting in other forums that have a related topic to yours, thus creating a backlink. Be careful though, you want to be genuine because if this is done incorrectly, it looks like you're spamming other forums.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7085202].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author murphyslaw
    How about funneling people from your facebook fan pages to the forum? It is easier to get people to join a fan page than a forum. Just offer incentives to the fans so they move to the forum.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7085919].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author JuliusT
    Forum is like FB fanpage, you need real people inside. find right audience on your specific niche. If you have hundreds of spammers try cleaning it, you will determine who are the spammers and the real audience
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7086158].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Danny Cutts
    I actually own a huge forum that is very busy and makes me a very nice income

    But i suppose I know nothing about forums.... In fact I don't know anything about making money online and driving traffic to sites.... so ignore me completely
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7086298].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Horny Devil
      Banned
      Originally Posted by Danny Cutts View Post

      I actually own a huge forum that is very busy and makes me a very nice income

      But i suppose I know nothing about forums.... In fact I don't know anything about making money online and driving traffic to sites.... so ignore me completely
      I'm trying to but you won't go away.

      If you're in retail and own a butcher's shop, does that also make you an expert on confectionery stores, furniture, newsagents, bakers, clothes . . . .

      EVERY forum is different. Huge one's, medium one's, small one's, and micro one's. Every subject and theme is different, and therefore every visitor is different. Add to that the mindset and expectations of the owner, so there is no way you could blindly state, "A forum is a forum... the fundamentals are the same no matter what the niche and for those of you who think a forum will fail because of a small following that is absolute BS....", without any knowledge whatsoever of the OP's forum.

      I offered the OP to come out with his forum so it could be appraised and thereafter, hopefully, some realistic suggestions made by forum members to help him find the answers he's looking for.

      You, on the other hand breeze in here, contradict yourself, then offer the 3 greatest pieces of forum marketing advice in history; "a forum needs to be busy, keep it to 2 sections", and "see what your competitors are doing".

      Just to clarify matters, maybe you'd care to point out exactly where someone said you "know nothing about forums, making money online, and driving traffic to sites". Perhaps you've got your threads mixed up.

      And if you're such a know-it-all, why not let the OP (and others) hear all the great methods you utilise to make your forum (and you) so successful. Otherwise, if you can't contribute anything of value to the thread then stick to what you said earlier on in the thread and come back next Tuesday.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7086742].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author johnben1444
    Here is one great advice for you.

    1. Find a handful list of tops sites related to your area of specialization and see if they allow ads. Place advert with them for a month and track where your traffic comes most from and repeat the process. It is important to have a good banner/content ads solving your target market needs.

    2. You can get in touch with sites related to your area of specialization that do not have forums and see if you can create a sub domain for them on your forum. This way they will be referring visitors to your site at no cost to you.

    3. There to include some kind of incentive, however, do not run this from your advertising budget but rather from the profit you make from your forum

    4. Build a site in your forum niche, add your forum as sub page and rank your website for your keywords. Making your site interactive with social media will greatly help many of your facebook, twitter, myspace friends to join your forum.

    5. Try to create activity, people love active forums.. Aim to maintain and sustain the traffic that comes to your site.

    6. Collect their names through list building and blast new, important/controversial threads to them occasionally.

    7. Do not give up, slow and steady wins the game..
    Signature
    Grow your social media account, Spotify Streams, YT Views & IG Followers & More
    Software & Mobile APP Developer
    Buy Spotify, Facebook Bot & IG M/S Method
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7086497].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Danny Cutts
    Typical warrior response that :-)

    Well done :-)

    Danny
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7086970].message }}
  • Forums get off the ground if there's an expert (usually the forum owner) in the niche posting frequently and helping people on a full-time basis until the forum gains traction on its own.

    Expect a lot of work. Running a forum is A LOT OF WORK at the beginning until you gain trusty moderators, plenty of active members, etc.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7087170].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Tayman
    First: Make sure there is a market large enough for your forum. Don't build the product first..
    Second: Make it easy as hell to register. I don't want to double opt-in just to make a damn post on an empty forum.
    Third: Take it back to common sense. Ask yourself, "What benefit does the user gain from joining my forum? Am I offering something so irresistible that they are compelled to join?
    Fourth: Do I have enough content? Is my forum a ghost town?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[7087223].message }}

Trending Topics