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Forum Moderators: rogerd
What has been your experience at other forums, either as an owner or as a member? Are there successful paid member models out there? Do all members pay, or just a select group who gets more benefits? And what kind of benefits appeal to members?
I've heard of other schemes, like more private message storage, bigger avatars, etc.
One offers 3 levels of membership, ranging from $25.00 to $100.00. Members get special tags on their posts and some other goodies.
The other allows paid members to make commercial posts in the forums.
I didn't investigate either of them very much. I don't even recall the name of the second forum, but I did notice the option.
No idea how well it works in either case.
I wouldn't look to monetise a forum only site in any other way, unless you're large enough (like WW) to run Pubcons and request member support etc.
If the forum is just part of a larger community site, there are plenty of options.
Forums on their own are very tricky.
There are a couple of things to remember though:
1. Your forum must provide information they can't easily find on another forum/website for free
2. The price should be low enough so it doesn't require much thought about whether it will be worth it (I think $5 to $10 per year is reasonable)
3. Potential subscribers need to have a way of seeing what they will be getting before they will be willing to pay for it. I've seen a few forums that allow you to read threads, but charge you to make posts. On others, you must pay to do a search.
Was a member of a very active CRPG-oriented forum, hosted free on Delphi. It had a few unobtrusive ads, and we all (appx 100 regular posting members, probably over 200 members including inactives) "lived" there for about 3 years, had fun, no problems.
Then Delphi "offered" to give us "more" stuff if we "subscribed" for $4 US/month or thereabouts. Since none of the "more stuff" was anything any of us wanted, we "opted out". Until the "offer" became the "stick" - you WILL pay us, or your basic functionality will be GREATLY reduced....
We left. EOS.
I'd be careful about offering limited options to non-subscribers. WW is successful because it has a huge member base, which builds up tons of valuable content. If you stop some members from posting or fully enjoying your site you will be limiting the value of your forum.