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How do you monetize your forum without ads?

hqarrse

Active member
#2
- Donations (additional ranks given in return has been effective)
- associated whitelabel dating sites
- Ad-free theme subscription
- Previously (on VBulletin, not yet done on XF) we rewrote all ebay and amazon links to include our own tracking code. I'll publish that as a mod at some point, once I have it cracked.
- Amazon and eBay menu tabs, and occasionally remind users to please use them
- used to sell ties, t-shirts etc, but a lot of hassle. The book I link to below suggests using cafe-press for this. We never finished setting it up so I can;t comment on the success of that.

We found an interesting eBook on this topic a few years ago, which gave us some ideas (BuySellAds.com and different ad networks). I think it's this one, but am not sure: <link removed>

Moderator note: Please do not link to warez sites.
 
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wedgar

Well-known member
#4
- Donations (additional ranks given in return has been effective)
- associated whitelabel dating sites
- Ad-free theme subscription
- Previously (on VBulletin, not yet done on XF) we rewrote all ebay and amazon links to include our own tracking code. I'll publish that as a mod at some point, once I have it cracked.
- Amazon and eBay menu tabs, and occasionally remind users to please use them
- used to sell ties, t-shirts etc, but a lot of hassle. The book I link to below suggests using cafe-press for this. We never finished setting it up so I can;t comment on the success of that.

We found an interesting eBook on this topic a few years ago, which gave us some ideas (BuySellAds.com and different ad networks). I think it's this one, but am not sure:
Good info. Thanks for sharing!
 
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Daniel-SP

Active member
#5
- Previously (on VBulletin, not yet done on XF) we rewrote all ebay and amazon links to include our own tracking code. I'll publish that as a mod at some point, once I have it cracked.
At least amazon links, @AndyB already created some addons for this.

(for existing links) http://xenforo.com/community/resources/amazon-parser-all.2911/
(for new links) http://xenforo.com/community/resources/amazon-parser.2894/

Talking about the affiliate point, I think that our community need some addons like that with some specific customizations options, like:

  • Option to create "rules" to associate with URLs
  • A rule would recieve:
    • Parameter ( if the posted URL has this parameter, replace. If don't have, add)
  • A URL can be associed with many rules
  • All other parameters different from the associated Rules to change would be kept as they are
  • If the parameter has +2 times on the same URL, remove the extras, keeping only one or replace them all.
This would be an generic addon like this amazon parser.
 
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hqarrse

Active member
#7
Moderator note: Please do not link to warez sites.
I didn't - it was a link to a really useful and free e-book about how to monetize forums. I have no personal connection to the site or book, and from memory the author was absolutely open about any links he had.

In 10 years of running a forum it gave the best guidance we've had on how to monetize a site, and you are doing your users a disservice by removing my entirely genuine attempt to help.

It's a pig of a job to make money from a forum, and any help along the way is good. I can't contribute that much to development yet, but can help with this sort of thing, as someone who has taken a hobby to a business that pays a wage.

I know moderating is a thankless task, and you don't have time to check every link for validity, but I can't help being irritated by the edit.

I would recommend that you put the link back up, and support your users who ultimately will support Xenforo as they earn more.
 
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hqarrse

Active member
#8
OK, another try as I've been PMd asking for this. Here is the non-warez (whatever they are) site for an absolutely free ebook, with which I have no connection whatsoever except that I read it and found it very useful. Please leave it up mods:

http://monetizingonlineforums.com/

It is sponsored by Skimlinks, but the author is open about that and it does not dwell on Skimlinks

Oh, and I think the ad network advice was (may have been updated) out of date. Some were no longer working for example, and some more recent had not been included. This is in danger of going way off topic, and treading on the toes of other discussion, but we have had most success with:

Adsense
eBuzzing
Rubicon
Criteo

Some of the others suggested in the book caused problems, for example pop-ups and auto-play ads despite settings to not show these. Others just produced no money.

Skimlinks we removed as their script download was hanging and causing page delays (probably temporary and I should try again)

Direct ad sales: We had some success with BuyAds, but for some reason none since we moved to BuySellAds (both ideas came from the ebook)

Using Goodle Doubleclick as an adserver was a very positive move for us. Both BuyAds and BuySellAds integrate with it too.

While I'm on a roll I mentioned ranks for donations - not revolutionary but worked well for years for us, particularly as we got the match to our target audience perfectly, and we have a great bunch of generous users. The image attached shows how we used to do things, and it worked well for us for years. Since XF we have moved to the usergroups labels and the jury is out about that.
 

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Alfa1

Well-known member
#12
Companies can buy listings.
Companies can buy featured listings (similar to how featured resources are placed in the resource manager)
Companies can buy an editors review
Companies can buy upgrades for their listings, for example show their logo, website, more pictures, whatever you like.

This way of monetizing is non-intrusive to the community, ads relevant content and allows the website to make money without plastering the website with ads.

XenReviews also has a Q&A function, which allows members to ask questions about the product/company/service/etc
 

hqarrse

Active member
#13
Interesting. We sell reviews/advertorials as well as offering free reviews by users in return for the item concerned (particularly books) - popular with our users and publishers alike. However we do it in a more manual way and outside XF; Wordpress (replaced VBCMS on the move to XF) with a simple ratings mod, but with a less than perfect integration. We normally sell advertorials / reviews as part of a wider banner and newsletter campaign.

I am certainly interested in XenReviews and will read more about it. Thanks for the link and explanation.
 

Alfa1

Well-known member
#14
Having a fully integrated solution means that new items, new reviews, new product questions will come up in the new-posts function and alerts notify of replies, etc.
XenReviews will offer widgets that companies can place on their websites, so that they can advertise your reviews and send their customers to post new reviews.
It will also be possible for vendors to batch create items (so that your community can start reviewing them and to buy multiple items with quantity discounts.
XenReviews is currently in Alpha stage and approaching the first beta release. (ETA a week or so)
@Jeff Berry
 
#17
That's actually great! And the addon looks pretty good too!
The only question for me is how we drive traffic from the forum to the reviews in a non invasive way but still effective?
I mean, not many people will just click the Reviews tab.
 

hqarrse

Active member
#18
Comments are our largest source of traffic in to the reviews area. They are auto-posted in the forums. We also have a right column widget (feed widget) of recent comments and reviews on some pages.
 
#19
That's simply great as well! I love it!
few more questions if you don't mind

1. how are the comments auto posted, new thread for every review or every post? If you can show us an example would be great.
2. Didn't manage to find a page with that feed widget, link?
3. When you will have it available to download/buy?
 

hqarrse

Active member
#20
Sorry, we're talking at crossed purposes - I'm talking in general about how to get traffic to the reviews, which was probably unwanted as looking back you're obviously asking specifically about xXenreviews, which I don't use and am only interested in.

(my Wordpress based review system uses the Xenword integration, plus a basic post rating Wordpress plugin to turn a 'post' into a 'review', and Xenword auto-posts comments and/or posts(reviews) in to the XF forum. Wordpress has RSS feeds of posts and comments, so these can be used with Widget Framework's RSS feed widget to show latest content without using the integration functionality. This is something I have previously done for a separate Joomla based reviews system. Xenreviews sounds like it would be far preferable to this sort of 'bodge' integration of reviews. Just something as simple as making a Wordpress and XF menu behave the same is a pain for example, and changes in one have to be manually made in the other).