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How long did it take you to make a successful forum?

Discussion in 'Forum Management' started by =MGN=RedEagle, Jan 13, 2015.

  1. =MGN=RedEagle

    =MGN=RedEagle Well-Known Member

    How long did it take you to make a successful forum? What's one tip you learned on the way?

    Today I am defining successful as:
    It pays for itself
    It gets 100 plus posts a day
    It party fulfills the goal for which you made it.

    My answer:
    I got very lucky as I landed an ad deal which made me more money for every visitor it sent me than it cost me for the ad. The ad sent over millions of people which means I was able to do well in just a couple of months.

    Starting my fifth forum ever this month.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2015
    jauburn and tajhay like this.
  2. cdub

    cdub Well-Known Member

    Wow. 200 posts per day? I hope. I've been running my older forum for probably almost 9 years and haven't seen more than 20-30 at a day at it's peak.

    My new site's just starting out and has traffic. More lurkers than posters right now.

    The site's paid for itself though that's for sure. So that checkmark is checked on my older forum. It'll take a while for the newer forum to get there based on the large startup costs.
  3. =MGN=RedEagle

    =MGN=RedEagle Well-Known Member

    I'll lower it to 100 posts a day. I guess my perspective is a little skewed as I am mostly in niche is where the traffic is driven socially and so you get a 90% sign up rate and very few visitors.
  4. cdub

    cdub Well-Known Member

    My forum is also very seasonal. I get a ton of posts around college application time. Not as much the rest of the year.
  5. ForestForTrees

    ForestForTrees Well-Known Member

    Success for me looks like:
    • The discussion is interesting and lively enough that if I leave, it will continue to grow without me until it has reached its natural saturation point.
    • I've found a couple of mods who care about the community enough to help out, and they are well trained and helpful enough so that the net effect of bringing them on is less work rather than more.
    • Raise enough revenue to cover server costs.

    The idea of "natural saturation point" seems key to me. I'd like a forum to continue to grow, but I realize that some audiences are only so big. On the other hand, from tough experience, I don't want to be "the smaller forum," with our best members being hoovered away by the larger one. That felt like pushing a boulder up a hill.

    I'm very happy to say that the Sisyphean days of our forum are over, which is a huge relief. We're still much smaller than many of the forums here, but it is finally starting to feel like there is a terrific discussion that doesn't need my participation any more (though I hope they appreciate it). We are in our sixth year and are currently the largest and most active forum in our tiny niche.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2015
    =MGN=RedEagle, Divvens and wedgar like this.
  6. Jeffin

    Jeffin Well-Known Member

    Wow. What forums do you own? Do you mind sharing the urls?

    I am happy with my forum progress. It took about 3-4 years to get to a satisfactory level. It generates about half the hosting expenses and I somehow compensate the rest half by sharing my server with some business clients. It does partly fulfill my goals.
    cdub, ForestForTrees and wedgar like this.
  7. =MGN=RedEagle

    =MGN=RedEagle Well-Known Member

    I started running forums at 11. It's what I love to do. My first was a gaming forum, which did well but the games were violent so I stopped. Next was a religious one which is my fav and goes on today. Did one on tech which I did not complete and finally another on gaming.

    My current gaming one does 500 posts a day but requires a lot of input. It's one year old.

    My final vision is a huge one, I will pm you some info on it.
    Jeffin likes this.
  8. tajhay

    tajhay Well-Known Member

    Tell us more info on that ad deal. Sounds like a great break. Who was it with?
  9. =MGN=RedEagle

    =MGN=RedEagle Well-Known Member

    It really was. It was basically a lone developer getting a lot of traffic to a site where he sold servers for a certain type of game. He did not feel good about putting up ads unless they were highly relevant. My ads were really relevant to his website and so he put them up for a discount price. In my opinion he did not put a high enough value of his time and effort.
  10. keith.arvixe

    keith.arvixe Active Member

    Way back when I was admin on a advertising forum (when they were popular) we saw 200 unique visitors a day and had over 5000 members. It was very nice to see it this way. It died 6 months later. Still nice to see it though :)
  11. cdub

    cdub Well-Known Member

    Why did it die?

    My site's (I have 2) get 300-500 users per day according to Google Analytics. Actual member activity is a low percentage of that.
  12. keith.arvixe

    keith.arvixe Active Member

    During that time advertising forums were very very popular. For some reason (i'm not sure what it is) they kinda fell away and a new world of advertising came to light. I think people got sick of using forums for a while. That's my own opinion. Plus new forum software came out (IPB, Xenforo, phpBB, myBB etc) We were using Invision Free which was amazing until it moved to Zeta. We refused to move to Zeta boards and I think that is what killed us to be honest.
  13. 51463

    51463 Well-Known Member

    It's been 7 years and none of my forums are successfull yet. But i've had fun!! So it took me 7 years to be sucessful in my forum being fun for me. :D

    I've learned html, how to make simple websites and semi-run my own server.

    It is still worth it even if i haven't made any money. It's just a hobby for me.
    ForestForTrees likes this.
  14. Robby

    Robby Well-Known Member

    I love working with forums but it is so desapointing to see how many forums struggle to get some descent cash.
  15. jauburn

    jauburn Well-Known Member

    Well, do tell us about that "ad deal."

    The one forum that I started which grew very large was successful almost from the first month. And my definition of success was similar to yours: it had to pay for itself (otherwise the investment of time required was just stupid). Mine always did and eventually ended up paying me a decent amount each month--not anything for which I would quit a job, mind you. And it grew large enough to sell, thankfully.

    The forum I run now is completely for pleasure--a public service, if you will. It actually comes close to paying for itself through donations, but I don't really care.

    I would never recommend to anyone today to start a forum, however. It's just too much work. But I'm getting old...
  16. dutchbb

    dutchbb Well-Known Member

    6-12 months.
  17. Robby

    Robby Well-Known Member

    Explain... Curious;)
  18. CyclingTribe

    CyclingTribe Well-Known Member

    10 years. (y)
    ForestForTrees and Divvens like this.
  19. dutchbb

    dutchbb Well-Known Member

    To be honest, before the start, I had been already very active on similar forums. After a few years I had build a name for myself by giving out advice on other forums. When I decided to start my own, a lot of people followed me and abandoned the other forums. The admin of one of them even asked me to come back. At that time you just hope to get moderate activity, never thought it would turn into a big board. :)

    Another thing we did in the first 6 months is write a lot of stickies and just talk to each other with a group of about 20 members about whatever. Google did the rest.
    Fred. likes this.
  20. Wallydog

    Wallydog New Member

    I see that the last post was Jan 17, but wanted to response anyway, I did buy xenforo forum software to try it out, and created a brand new forum with it. (lookingforforum.com because it seems that I am always looking for someone or something) and nice to use. I used the software in the past as well. But still need to get used to it. But getting back to the subject, I created many forums before where some where really successful (So successful I had to take them down because the hosting was getting to expensive, but that is a other story)

    I think that it is more important that you have fun doing it. I have build a lot of forums with free software like smf, mybb, phpbb etc. And then it was working, and then it crashed again, or got hacked. So, lets hope this will get better.

    If you have tips for my forum, let me know. Always like to hear others people idea. Simple register, and tell me !

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