Seems to me that you first need to get the forum going, and attracting meaningful traffic. THEN worry about sponsors.
ok ya, I understand that before I can actually get sponsors, I need to have a forum with constant members, but I am just asking this question for future reference.
Either grab banners from the DIY networks, or else you gotta put your sales hat on and go knocking on advertiser doors. If you cant generate a lot of traffic though, they wont consider it worth their time. You should be prepared with traffic number and target user demographics.
Ok thank you so much. So once I get a good amount of traffic, it is more of me being the salesman rather than them coming to me. How would I determine rates for sponsorship when I am generating traffic later on?
Depends on many things, such as the topic, reputation, target audience, history and traffic of your forum.
Forums are not known for their high earnings per X pageviews.
I've seen success with offering sponsors their own forum for promoting sales, Q&A, etc...but like everyone else has pretty much said, it's going to take some traffic to do that. It's sometimes easier if the forum is very focused, especially if many of the users are in the same geographic location and you can approach local sponsors or even break the forum into location related forums for that purpose.
In most cases you have to work yourself to get sponsors.
Only very few people come to you to bring you their money.
And forums aren't the easiest trade. You might want to have a very specific niche to attract sponsors. Many advertisers are not so much interested in forums or sites with very general topics. The combinaton of the two is hard to monetize.
You can definitely get sponsors to pay on a monthly basis to run ads on your site but you have to have a decent amount of traffic to make it worthwhile. If you have a webmaster forum you can get affiliate companies to advertise on it..