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Forum Moderators: rogerd
In an attempt to take my site to the next level, I naturally began investigating the possible addition of a forum to the site. And here's what I *think* I've found...
1.) Forums don't do very well with contextual advertising as a revenue source.
2.) Forums require moderation to be successful.
3.) Forums take a considerable amount of effort to remain spam-free.
4.) Forums that generate the most amount of discussion (verbiage) are the ones that that give the *least* definitive answers to user questions.
5.) Forums generally don't seem to rank very well. ("rank" meaning positions 1-3)
6.) Forums can very easily hijack a webmaster's online goals as said webmaster becomes more and more engrossed in the discussions generated by the forum under their control, thereby consuming time that would have otherwise been directed elsewhere to more profitable endeavours.
There are certainly exceptions, but in general a successful forum is more likely to be a labor of love than a money-making proposition. It used to be the only way to create enough community stickiness to keep visitors coming back to a site, but there are many other ways to do that now, and I'd think a forum would be more labor intensive than other options (and, as you said, other options are easier to SEO). If you're thinking of a forum as simply part of your business, you might do better with a blog - and perhaps a way to let visitors have their own blogs, which would add stickiness without taking away the search potential. Unless the joy of bringing people together to learn and share is at least one of your goals in starting a forum, you're most likely going to be disappointed in the results.
In the future maybe I might be able to sell ad space to local shops for a good price. But I'm not really counting on it.
You can do that with email too though.
It's a gold mine of article topics.
Absolutely. I've been archiving some early evergreen topics from our forum to our website and to the joy of our members I've also topicised to the site old posts from our previous life as a mailing list - before forums came on the scene. These posts are recollections of what went before in the area where we grew up. For me it's a labour of love in retirement and a better way to recouperate hosting costs.
The value of a forum comes from the topics you choose to create your forum on.
I have two very successful forums that make good money - no where near 40K per month! but hopefully I will get there.
I believe that user generated content is very valuable and always will be as people like to read others opinions and banter especially at work ;)