How to Monetize a Forum with 53,000 members?

32 replies
Hello everyone-

My partner and I have a drug addiction forum that has over 53,000 members. I would like to start monetizing this site but I'm not sure where to begin. I was hoping you some fellow warriors could help me with the brainstorming process.

The only information for sale on the site right now is a book which is sold via amazon. There is also a 12 week addiction free course which we are about to launch so we could put a price tag on that I suppose although it is important we don't deter people from using these resources since our goal is number one; to help as many people as possible.

Any ideas or tips on how to monetize this forum/site would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!
#forum #members #monetize
  • Profile picture of the author RobinInTexas
    I would try Adsense, possible select Amazon, watch especially for any newly published books related to the field, either non-fiction or fiction that might appeal to your market.
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  • Profile picture of the author thisisraz65
    creating a course for drug addiction treatment, or selling anti product may be a good option.
    You can also add paid membership portion in your forum.
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  • Profile picture of the author cyberzolo
    Membership area on the forum could make you so much money. Say 10% of the 53,000 people join the members area for a fee of $9 a month, that is 5300 * 9, that is 45,000 bucks a month. Membership is extremely lucrative.
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  • Profile picture of the author tierney211
    Thanks for the response guys!

    We are about to launch a 12 week recovery program (nothing to do with the 12 steps from AA) so this could be offer as part of the paid membership site hhhmm.

    I was leaning away from adwords only because I feel like it would take away from the sincerity and mission of the site. These are people who need help which we can provide in this site. I don't know if I want them leaving to go visit other sites lol. Not too mention, I wouldn't be in control of the ads that are put up by google. For this reason I was considering banner ads so I could choose the content and then along this line of thinking I guess affiliate sales wouldn't be too bad either since we could choose what we recommend.

    oooo, I like the idea of the membership site! And 9 dollars is a good price point because I don't want it to be too much where they cannot afford it...but at the same time not too low to where they won't take it seriously.
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    • Profile picture of the author PinkStar
      Originally Posted by tierney211 View Post

      I was leaning away from adwords only because I feel like it would take away from the sincerity and mission of the site.
      If you think people don't understand that running a website takes time and money, then you can always add a small text like: 'Thanks to our sponsors who keep this site running' or something.
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      Move it along folks, nothing to see here
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  • Profile picture of the author dvduval
    Direct sales to advertisers can go very well too. A top banner is probably worth $500/month to somebody.

    If you don't make some money on the site, it is hard to keep making it better for your members.
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  • Profile picture of the author Danny Cutts
    I have a forum and I sell advertising space and also have adsense...

    This makes up 70% of my income now...

    I spend most of my time doing ad deals with big companies...

    Danny
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  • Profile picture of the author gjabiz
    Originally Posted by tierney211 View Post

    Hello everyone-

    My partner and I have a drug addiction forum that has over 53,000 members. I would like to start monetizing this site but I'm not sure where to begin. I was hoping you some fellow warriors could help me with the brainstorming process.

    The only information for sale on the site right now is a book which is sold via amazon. There is also a 12 week addiction free course which we are about to launch so we could put a price tag on that I suppose although it is important we don't deter people from using these resources since our goal is number one; to help as many people as possible.

    Any ideas or tips on how to monetize this forum/site would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!
    Where do they come from? How many contribute? How many are actual addicts? Or is it for support?

    Have you asked them what they want? Use surveys, they might just tell you what they would buy.

    gjabiz
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    • Profile picture of the author tierney211
      Originally Posted by gjabiz View Post

      Where do they come from? How many contribute? How many are actual addicts? Or is it for support?

      Have you asked them what they want? Use surveys, they might just tell you what they would buy.

      gjabiz
      Member engagement is terrible right now. Under .5 %. But we are getting hundreds of sign ups per week, had around 48,000 members two months ago, now at 53,400 roughly. And around 2% are reading the posts, just not commenting. They are all addicts, in different stages of wanting to quit.

      I am addressing this member engagement problem through adding an introduction category forum, giving posters the opportunity to earn badges of recognition. And of course an email campaign will help too which we are doing none of right now. I know I know, not smart but thats why I'm here : )

      We are getting our traffic from amazon via the book page and organic traffic via the search engines.

      A survey is a great idea! Thanks. Good way to get em involved too!
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  • Profile picture of the author a2hosting
    What about an affiliate program that sells drug testing kits? I bet there are a lot of parents and loved ones on your forum that are looking for ways to help!
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    • Profile picture of the author tierney211
      Originally Posted by a2hosting View Post

      What about an affiliate program that sells drug testing kits? I bet there are a lot of parents and loved ones on your forum that are looking for ways to help!
      uhh, great idea!

      We are actually planning on launching a sister program geared specifically towards the parents of addicts. Will definitely add a drug testing kit to the lists of products we will promote/recommend.
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  • Profile picture of the author WillR
    I was about to say that number of members means nothing. It's only how many active members you have that counts. This forum for example has 775,000+ members listed on the front page. Can you imagine how many of them are actually active members still using this forum on a frequent basis? My guess would be less than 50,000.

    So you need to focus on getting people active on the forum. No one will buy banner space if you are not getting a decent number of impressions. They certainly won't buy banner space based on how many members you have because it means nothing.

    So focus on that engagement and getting more of your members to be regular contributors.
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  • Profile picture of the author rlopez88
    Why don't you survey them and ask in the survey what they want and maybe setup up a fee membership.
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  • Profile picture of the author deekay
    You can start with adsense to know the ground reality. Once you know your numbers that is ad impressions, CTR, CPM, CPC, EPM etc than you have lot more choices to expand on...

    Start small as there are countless ways to monetize a site depending on traffic and demograhpics.

    Once you know your numbers then you will explore new avenues to increase your revenues.
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  • Profile picture of the author jgant
    Check out pay per call treatment center affiliate programs. You can find them on offervault. Some have high payouts if the calls last for a set duration.
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  • Profile picture of the author cheapprice175
    Why not have a rehab medicine doctor come over and answer questions to paid members? I'm sure thats going to sell like hot cakes.
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    • So, what do you have to offer that is proven? You said no 12 steps, and that is fine, if you have something else proven to work. If you do, create a pdf, site, something and charge for it. People who have the obsession and craving, when they get to that point, they will pay for help.
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  • Profile picture of the author vishwa
    Selling Direct ad space on your site is a great idea. You can also use PPC and Pay per sale programs like cj, shareasale, peerfly etc. I suggest you avoid Adsense, you will not get approved by them because your site is drug addicted.
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  • Profile picture of the author tierney211
    Thanks for all these replies guys, really really helpful!

    I am going to summarize my plan of action here based on everyone's input.

    Here is what I have so far;

    1) Membership site: This seems to be the most lucrative and most suggested option, and I think I agree. Asking forum members to pay a small monthly fee will also help us separate the addicts who are ready for change versus the one's who are not quite there yet.

    What value will be provided in the Members Area?

    1. Recovery Program: My partner, who is a doctor actually, is putting the finishing touches on his recovery program. So, first and foremost, entry into the paid membership area will give members access to this material. I'd like to set it up so the program is very structured, maybe even breaking it down into modules so that a new one isn't released to the member until the complete the first one.
    2. Mentorship Program: Each member would be assigned a mentor who would be there for support via email, chat, phone, whatever is needed. Basically an accountability partner as one warrior smartly put it..
    3. Coaching Sessions via Live Google Chats/Teleconferences: Weekly or bi-weekly live group sessions held by our inhouse drug counselor who we just recently added to the team.
    4. Members only Forum: Similar to how the warrior forum is set up, we could add a special section to the forum that is for members only.

    ----Am I missing anything guys, that you think should be added to a membership site area?

    2) Advertising: Banner Ads, PPC and Pay per sale programs like cj, shareasale, peerfly etc

    -Will remember to use this line so the message doesn't get lost in our quest to turn a profit; "Thanks to our sponsors who keep this site running"

    Question: How would you sell banner ads? I assume there is a service offered that acts as a broker for this sort of thing?

    3) Affiliate Earnings: Part of recovery is also changing other aspects of your life which opens the door up for a lot of self improvement products. Will put drug testing kits here too for the parents ; )

    4) Private Label Products: We also plan on branding our own line line of products. For example, creating a herbal blend for sleep and mood support. And maybe adding a physical journal with a targeted and guided focus on recovery wouldn't be a bad idea either.

    ---Anything else I am not thinking of, please let me know.

    Of course, these monetization methods would be all for nothing if we don't get our current free members more involved in the forum so I will also heed everyone's advice and focus on increasing member engagement as a top priority:

    How to Increase Member Engagement:

    1) Creating Leaders in the forum: There are a few posters in the forum who have really done well and stayed sober for a long time. I plan on giving these posters a special title, achievement badge, which would motivate them to remain active as well as motivate others to get involved as well so they could eventually step into a similar role.

    2) More instruction/guidance for when a new forum member signs up: When someone signs up for the forum, they aren't really given instructions on how to proceed. I want the program(i.e. paid membership site) to begin in the free forum, so giving the members specific steps to take could help here (i.e. step one: introduce yourself in the "for introductions" forum, then go to the "bold statements" forum and publicly announce your desire to quit, and give three top goals you'd like to achieve once you are sober, etc etc.

    3) Add new categories to the forum such as the one's I just mentioned above.

    4) Start emailing current and new members with relevant and valuable information, articles, tips, etc.

    5) Hold free webinars/google chats/teleconferences for everyone.

    ----Any other ways you guys can think of to increase member engagement?

    Thanks again for everyone's input on this! I will surely keep this thread updated with my progress and results as I implement these ideas.
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  • Profile picture of the author ATAC
    Hey tierney211,
    What you have is a good problem that most would love to have ..!
    I am sure because you are the forum owner that you have access to emailing your members so that is where I would start buy sending out a survey asking what they would like to see more of ...or what can you do to make the forum a better place..

    It is wide open meaning you have so many different choices to choose from and this is a very good thing ...
    I would start to work with a nationwide rehab if I was you along with selling advertisement space.
    The list goes on and on what you can do ...

    Just open your mind and get creative you know what they are coming to the forum looking for so match it with offers that fit ...
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  • Profile picture of the author themusiccoach
    I would ask them what they are willing to pay money for if you can get a good deal for them. Seems pretty simple but the trick is people will say stuff but not always buy it. Maybe take some pre-order committments if you find are going to create something.

    "The Money Is In The RELATIONSHIP"
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  • Profile picture of the author LegendaryGuy1
    Banned
    You could potentially do what WarriorForum does and that is to do roll over ads. You could charge a fixed amount per day and have a limit as to how many ads can be used per day.

    Another way could be to offer products found in the niche you are targeting.
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  • Profile picture of the author Geek3000
    CPA ads are great!
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  • Profile picture of the author hardworker2013
    There are ebooks, dvds and other products that you can promote using banner ads
    from networks like Clickbank and Amazon etc. You can also google "drug abuse affiliate programs"
    and check the results.
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  • Profile picture of the author joaquin112
    Use all the e-mails you have in your database to promote your new membership program. Do some good remarketing and place banners all over your forum.
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  • Profile picture of the author yll.me
    If you have USA traffic, CPA would be a great source of income.

    I recently saw an offer paying $70 per lead with an average EPC of $1.68... good luck getting that with Adsense or Amazon.

    Here's brief overview of how CPA works:


    Hope that helps!
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  • Profile picture of the author AffEngineer
    check shareasale for some drug addiction related products, ones that pay better commission rates then amazon.

    There's also a few drug addiction offers on CPA networks that pay real good money. Check maxbounty, peerfly, etc.

    ~ Mateen
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  • Profile picture of the author fvandy
    I would sell monthly ad space that you approve. This will give you a nice constant income flow.
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