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Can you make money off a forum?

Do you make profit on your forum?

  • No

    Votes: 64 47.1%
  • Yes, $100 +/Month

    Votes: 27 19.9%
  • Yes, $500 +/Month

    Votes: 12 8.8%
  • Yes, $1,200 +/Month

    Votes: 6 4.4%
  • Yes, $1,800 +/Month

    Votes: 3 2.2%
  • Yes, $2,500 +/Month

    Votes: 1 0.7%
  • Yes, $3,200 +/Month

    Votes: 7 5.1%
  • Yes, $4,500 +/Month

    Votes: 2 1.5%
  • Yes, $8,000 +/Month

    Votes: 1 0.7%
  • Yes, $12,000 +/Month

    Votes: 13 9.6%

  • Total voters
    136

Sim

Well-known member
#21
Back pre-GFC I was making over US$6K per month from just one of my sites (finance niche forum in Australia), with quite low traffic - and only from banner ads and sponsored content.

This was not Adsense, this was advertising from big financial institutions sold by a broker who took 35% of the gross ... so that $6K per month I was getting was only the net income!

We were getting CPMs of over $50 ... some premium CPMs were approaching $100, but we were too small to attract that level of advertising.

Unfortunately, post-GFC the traffic dried up, as did the advertising revenue. It's only just starting to pick up again now, 5 years later.

Banner advert CPMs are almost non-existent these days, large advertisers in the finance sector in Australia are looking for something unique ... tailored advertising, sponsored content, anything other than banners to get engagement - most people are either banner-blind or use blockers. You have to work hard to get good money from advertising these days (or just have a massive amount of traffic and accept lower CPMs).

I've just started talking with a new advertising broker who says advertisers are far more interested in unique visitors than pageviews now ... which tells me that they have matured and are looking for eyeballs and engagement rather than simply throwing banners out there blindly.

Of course, advertising is only one of many ways to monetise a site.
 

craigiri

Well-known member
#22
It's a really rough guess, but unless your site makes it into the top 100,000 or 50,000, it's unlikely to have enough traffic to reap rewards.....

As some examples:
http://www.quantcast.com/stripers247.com?country=US
A fishing site with 2500 unique visitors per day. I'd guess a decent living could be made from such as site.

That site is about 30,000 (in US) according to quantcast.

A good study of quantcast might help some determine the type of traffic that is needed to make something from a forum.

For my new hobby site, it seems to be starting to make a little sideline money at about 500 visitors per day. So there is at least a hint on what may be needed to start paying off server costs, software costs and have some beer or coffee money.
 

Adam Howard

Well-known member
#23
Unique visitors doesn't always translate into dollars. Our numbers have gone up, down, and so forth. At our height when we were hosting ads, we had very good numbers. I'd call them outstanding.

Our numbers currently are a little lower than usual. It's not my policy to release current numbers (I have my reasons). But here is an example of 5 months back on a Monday (Monday and Sundays our are slow days).

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Keep in mind we made in 1 year only 1 cent. And yet as shown above average more than the fishing site you gave as an example.

So having visitors does not translate into dollars. Although I'm sure it helps.
 

craigiri

Well-known member
#25
Unique visitors doesn't always translate into dollars.

So having visitors does not translate into dollars. Although I'm sure it helps.
All bets are off in "general purpose" forums and such....and, of course, you need more than unique visits. If those visitors are not reading a couple pages each and spending minutes on each, they are "fly bys".

Of course, targeting matters - as above, the financial sites and private jet rentals and ANY niche site (fishing, fireplaces, etc.) will naturally have more value to advertisers - hence a higher income.

A warez site, on the other hand, could have 10,000 visitors a day and not make much on ads....

So your are 100% right. No hard and fast rules...except common sense...apply.

I often explain this to advertisers who wonder why they have only seem "X" visitors due to their banner. If they put "free ipads" or something like that on the banner, they'd get a LOT more clicks.
 

Adam Howard

Well-known member
#26
All bets are off in "general purpose" forums and such....and, of course, you need more than unique visits. If those visitors are not reading a couple pages each and spending minutes on each, they are "fly bys".

Of course, targeting matters - as above, the financial sites and private jet rentals and ANY niche site (fishing, fireplaces, etc.) will naturally have more value to advertisers - hence a higher income.

A warez site, on the other hand, could have 10,000 visitors a day and not make much on ads....

So your are 100% right. No hard and fast rules...except common sense...apply.

I often explain this to advertisers who wonder why they have only seem "X" visitors due to their banner. If they put "free ipads" or something like that on the banner, they'd get a LOT more clicks.
If you believe Google, the average visitor spends about 00:14:37 on our site (this week). With an average page view of 17.12

So maybe those numbers don't make for good advertizement. Oh well... It's a hobby site anyways.
 

Sim

Well-known member
#27
you need more than unique visits. If those visitors are not reading a couple pages each and spending minutes on each, they are "fly bys".
Actually, if you are relying on banner ad revenue, eg Adsense - you'll find that length of visit and number of pages visited generally irrelevant.

Indeed, I've found on several of my sites that my members almost never click on the adverts - but 80% of my site traffic is from search engines rather than members, and these people quite often DO click on the adverts.

Think about it - if someone comes to your site from a search engine, they are probably looking for something. No matter whether they find the answer on your site or not, if you have relevant advertising on the page - they are more likely to click on an advert that helps them with what they are looking for.

This is where content-specific/relevant advertising works really well. If I search on Google for information on fish and click on a link to a site, only to see an advert for a car, I'm not likely to engage with that advert. However, if I saw an advert for aquariums or such - it's probably much more likely to get my attention.

This is also where niche sites work better than general sites - Google is much more likely to direct me to a niche site with relevant content than they are to a general site which just happens to have a discussion thread or article about a particular topic (unless my search happens to be extremely niche!).
 

Sim

Well-known member
#28
If you believe Google, the average visitor spends about 00:14:37 on our site (this week). With an average page view of 17.12

So maybe those numbers don't make for good advertizement. Oh well... It's a hobby site anyways.
You need to separate out your analytics for members vs visitors. You'll get vastly different results.

You can segment your analytics data with a little bit of programming - it's worth doing to get better insights into your site traffic.
 

craigiri

Well-known member
#29
If you believe Google, the average visitor spends about 00:14:37 on our site (this week). With an average page view of 17.12

So maybe those numbers don't make for good advertizement. Oh well... It's a hobby site anyways.
Those numbers are suspect...not saying you are reporting wrong, but that is not the activities of any normal internet user(s).
 

craigiri

Well-known member
#36
I am working on www.ukeconomy.tv and will launch it soon. How many members and/or daily traffic I should first achieve before I place ads on it? What ad network would you suggest to start off with?

Thank you
You probably should not even think of it that way.
Build the community until it is on an upward slope and can't be stopped....that is, traffic should constantly be increasing.

In that case, it won't matter much when you decide to put ads on.

If I had to give a number for a forum like yours, it would be to make start thinking about it when you are well over 500 visitors per days. But that's just a guideline. Content is King.
 

IcEWoLF

Well-known member
#37
The main income for my forums are VigLink+AdSense.

The rest are membership and donations which exclusively go towards the game servers we host.
 

OverHere

Active member
#40
You probably should not even think of it that way.
Build the community until it is on an upward slope and can't be stopped....that is, traffic should constantly be increasing.

In that case, it won't matter much when you decide to put ads on.

If I had to give a number for a forum like yours, it would be to make start thinking about it when you are well over 500 visitors per days. But that's just a guideline. Content is King.
Thanks - what you say seems logical. So, assuming I have 500 - 1000 unique visitors a day, what ad network, or a combination of ad networks, would you recommend I start off with?

And what kind of monthly income can one expect from 500 - 1000 unique visitors daily?

Thanks