My Xenforo / Forum Success Story

Anomandaris

Well-known member
If you are just starting a forum or maybe have been for years, it can be a daunting task. It can also be really frustrating when you work so hard and don't seem to get anywhere. My forum recently reached a new milestone and I wanted to share with you my success. It's a bit of showoff but I really just want to inspire people to keep working hard and doing their best. It can be a very bumpy road but if you stick with it you can make it happen.

So here is my story:

I joined a very niche forum 5 years ago and the owner had disappeared and it was kind of falling apart. I bought the forum for $2,500 which was way too much but I wanted to make an offer he couldn't refuse.

It had 30,000 users at the time, only 30 active. It was not monetized and like I said it was falling apart, tons of spam, toxic people etc...The site was costing me ~$400 a year the first year.

I was super focused on fixing and growing the forum. I worked practically full time on it for the first 2 years.

When Xenforo 2.0 came out 1.5 years ago it was officially time to ditch vBulletin. I can't tell you what a huge difference it made. Upgrading to Xenforo 2 was best thing to happen to the forum besides me :p

When I first joined the site, the Alexa rank was something like 8,000,000...but we grew, every year we made decent progress










Last month we broke into the top 180,000 websites for the first time, we have 112,000 members and net revenue is $7,000/year. For all the little guys who are still trying to make it, keep your head up and keep on trucking. It's not about the money for me, but every $ I receive I can reinvest. I would do this for free regardless, it's fun.

Some things that made a huge difference for me:

Monetize your board with either https://xenforo.com/community/threads/addonflare-paid-registrations.142050/ or https://xenforo.com/community/threads/th-monetize-paid.162453/ . People are willing to donate 5-10$ just to support you, people want you to be successful and are willing to drop a couple bucks. A couple bucks are really motivating in the early days.

Go to google webmaster tools or google analytics, get a list of your top 50 landing pages. Whatever content you have on those pages, pimp it out. If someone asked a question and someone posted an answer. Take that answer and turn it into a guide, a FAQ or a tutorial, add pictures & formatting. Don't try to blackhat SEO it, just find your good content and make it 10x better.

Make your best content easy to find.

SEO plugins are worthless.

Support your core group of posters, inspire people to share content and get involved.

I wish you all the same success that I have had, or better
 

wedgar

Well-known member
If you are just starting a forum or maybe have been for years, it can be a daunting task. It can also be really frustrating when you work so hard and don't seem to get anywhere. My forum recently reached a new milestone and I wanted to share with you my success. It's a bit of showoff but I really just want to inspire people to keep working hard and doing their best. It can be a very bumpy road but if you stick with it you can make it happen.

So here is my story:

I joined a very niche forum 5 years ago and the owner had disappeared and it was kind of falling apart. I bought the forum for $2,500 which was way too much but I wanted to make an offer he couldn't refuse.

It had 30,000 users at the time, only 30 active. It was not monetized and like I said it was falling apart, tons of spam, toxic people etc...The site was costing me ~$400 a year the first year.

I was super focused on fixing and growing the forum. I worked practically full time on it for the first 2 years.

When Xenforo 2.0 came out 1.5 years ago it was officially time to ditch vBulletin. I can't tell you what a huge difference it made. Upgrading to Xenforo 2 was best thing to happen to the forum besides me :p

When I first joined the site, the Alexa rank was something like 8,000,000...but we grew, every year we made decent progress










Last month we broke into the top 180,000 websites for the first time, we have 112,000 members and net revenue is $7,000/year. For all the little guys who are still trying to make it, keep your head up and keep on trucking. It's not about the money for me, but every $ I receive I can reinvest. I would do this for free regardless, it's fun.

Some things that made a huge difference for me:

Monetize your board with either https://xenforo.com/community/threads/addonflare-paid-registrations.142050/ or https://xenforo.com/community/threads/th-monetize-paid.162453/ . People are willing to donate 5-10$ just to support you, people want you to be successful and are willing to drop a couple bucks. A couple bucks are really motivating in the early days.

Go to google webmaster tools or google analytics, get a list of your top 50 landing pages. Whatever content you have on those pages, pimp it out. If someone asked a question and someone posted an answer. Take that answer and turn it into a guide, a FAQ or a tutorial, add pictures & formatting. Don't try to blackhat SEO it, just find your good content and make it 10x better.

Make your best content easy to find.

SEO plugins are worthless.

Support your core group of posters, inspire people to share content and get involved.

I wish you all the same success that I have had, or better
Thanks for sharing your story.
 

dvduval

Active member
Thanks for sharing. I believe that websites are coming back, and apps are losing some market share. This is a good time to prepare for a new wave of technology. Surely, we will be using voice, video, notifications, and virtually everything else apps do in the browser in the years ahead. There will be less to set apps apart. Good work on building up your forum! Anything that you did that you felt especially helped build the traffic?
 

sixlxvi

Active member
This is a good read but looking at the forum, it appears to be for sale again? So this is a bittersweet story I suppose.
 

sbj

Well-known member
Hmm, then this "success" story leaves a sour taste in the mouth as it looks like a part of a marketing campaign to get a buyer.

And 20k$ investement? Holy ****, I am doubting that but in case it is true, that is enough investment to launch a Alexa top 1000 site probably or top 100 in developing countries. Ah well, good luck I guess?
 

frm

Well-known member
SEO plugins are worthless
Great story, but I don't want this line to make people dismiss plugins totally. Rather, research SEO and see all ranking factors that can be implemented. Then, see what's offered in the core. If there are factors left out of the core and a plugin to fill that gap, then decide if X more factors right now to help you in a competitive niche is worth $X more now (as you say you were in noncompetitive, this isn't true to all). There are mods that I wished that had the ability to change the h1 and title and maybe add h2s as well, but I learned the xf syntax and did it myself.
 

Anomandaris

Well-known member
The inspiration for this thread was:
  • Me trying to think positive and start a positive feedback loop
  • To help anyone that was thinking about giving up on their forum and inspire them to keep moving
Anything that you did that you felt especially helped build the traffic?
We have a very niche topic, there are only maybe 4 big websites that focus on "game hacking" as a topic. I have competitors in the "game hacking" category, so I chose the "newbie game hacking" as a niche that I could specialize in so as not to compete with the larger category. I think that had a big impact. Plus a big Youtube channel. My basic tip in the OP about basic on page SEO got my site from average google page rank 28 down to between 10-13.

This is a good read but looking at the forum, it appears to be for sale again? So this is a bittersweet story I suppose.

Like I said, it's been a bumpy road. I have dedicated years of my life into this and began thinking very negative about it, due to frustration not just with the forum but with life in general. I figured if I sold it, it would force me to start focusing on my career, which I have been neglecting since I bought the website. But I snapped out of it and am forcing myself to think positive and work on it again.

Hmm, then this "success" story leaves a sour taste in the mouth as it looks like a part of a marketing campaign to get a buyer.

And 20k$ investement? Holy ****, I am doubting that but in case it is true, that is enough investment to launch a Alexa top 1000 site probably or top 100 in developing countries. Ah well, good luck I guess?

It's not a marketing campaign, that thread just hasn't been deleted. I should do that.

Yes, I have invested at least 20k, it is true. Every $ I have ever made on the site I have re-invested.

When I bought the site I knew almost nothing about running a website. That's 20k invested by an amateur, and I'm just one person. I don't have a team. If you're an expert at websites then yeah, 20k would do alot. I just figured everything out as needed and blew alot of money on advertising
 
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dvduval

Active member
The inspiration for this thread was:
  • Me trying to think positive and start a positive feedback loop
  • To help anyone that was thinking about giving up on their forum and inspire them to keep moving

We have a very niche topic, there are only maybe 4 big websites that focus on "game hacking" as a topic. I have competitors in the "game hacking" category, so I chose the "newbie game hacking" as a niche that I could specialize in so as not to compete with the larger category. I think that had a big impact. Plus a big Youtube channel. My basic tip in the OP about basic on page SEO got my site from average google page rank 28 down to between 10-13.



Like I said, it's been a bumpy road. I have dedicated years of my life into this and began thinking very negative about it, due to frustration not just with the forum but with life in general. I figured if I sold it, it would force me to start focusing on my career, which I have been neglecting since I bought the website. But I snapped out of it and am forcing myself to think positive and work on it again.



It's not a marketing campaign, that thread just hasn't been deleted. I should do that.

Yes, I have invested at least 20k, it is true. Every $ I have ever made on the site I have re-invested.

When I bought the site I knew almost nothing about running a website. That's 20k invested by an amateur, and I'm just one person. I don't have a team. If you're an expert at websites then yeah, 20k would do alot. I just figured everything out as needed and blew alot of money on advertising
The thread where you were announcing that you were selling the Forum was quite recent, correct? based on what we know, it would be only natural to have some suspicions here. That doesn't mean our suspicions are correct. And of course you should persevere and do your best to do something that is worthwhile for yourself and others.
 

Anomandaris

Well-known member
An exciting update:

I got laid off 6 months ago and decided screw it, let's go hard on my website and see if I can turn it into a full time job.

We've had huge success over the past year in terms of traffic and I've opened up several new avenues of monetization.

1582142147809.png

Financially I'm making enough where I can pay all my bills so I'm not planning to get a real job unless **** hits the fan. I just need to keep working hard and find some side gigs to supplement/diversify my income with.

I am super pumped and excited so I wanted to share with you :)
 

DigNap15

Active member
I liked the OP's story.
But then I saw he was only making $7,000 a year with all those members.

I've just got my site on the top of the first Google page.
Its only been going 6 weeks.
And until now its was nowhere to be seen in search
And then Bang.
SEO companies do not seem to be needed.
 

Anomandaris

Well-known member
My story and my site have some interesting qualities

I get rejected by all advertising companies because my site is https://guidedhacking.com. Just because of "hacking" in the URL I am automatically rejected by almost every service even tho we don't do anything illegal. Monetization options are very limited because of that. All the affiliate programs have also banned me. I just got signed up for an affiliation with some antivirus companies and some VPN companies and they all banned me within a couple days.

I can't do amazon links or any other referral URLs type things, also banned from all of them because we're a "hacking" website.

All my users are hackers (or wannabe hackers) so 100% of users are using adblockers. Monetizing the site with ads has been super painful all these years.

I am now making $24k/year and 95% of that is from donations, more than triple what I was making last year. I started doing paid consulting / mentoring, I already have had 6 customers and I just started this week

@DigNap15 I'm curious if there was anything specific you have done that has been the most helpful?
 

DigNap15

Active member
No, i set my site up as a general comments and politcial website with a forum attached, in a small contry.
Going very slowly as with all start ups.
I am in a small county and 3 weeks later our equivalent of Ebay said they would close most of their fourms.
So I just posted that you can come over to me, and 500 did in 3 days.
So it would not be possible for anyone else to have such good luck.
Now I am fighting all of the trolls!
 

Joe Kuhn

Well-known member
I liked the OP's story.
But then I saw he was only making $7,000 a year with all those members.

I've just got my site on the top of the first Google page.
Its only been going 6 weeks.
And until now its was nowhere to be seen in search
And then Bang.
SEO companies do not seem to be needed.
I'd be interested in a thread about what you did to get so high in Google search results.
 

DigNap15

Active member
yes, and soon after I started people asked me who was funding my site.
I said I was, and they said they'd like to help financially
It took me a while to set up a normal bank account (money laudering dur)
But on the first day I got abut $150 US from about 8 people.
One has set up a month automatic payment,.
And now some older people want me to set up one of those donate from you mobile phone apps. $3.00 etc.
It remains to be seen how many more donations I will get.
 

dvduval

Active member
I have a lot higher traffic than that during the same period of time but I don't make nearly that amount of money. I don't really try too hard either. I'd be curious what motivates people to want to give you money because right now I don't see why.
 
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DigNap15

Active member
Just looked at your Salsa forum, you have got a lot of members.
In my case I thin the motivation is to help a little guy povide a forum for them to enjoy when one of the big corporates with 1 billion worth of sales did nto wnat to do it anymore.
Also our MSM sucks and is very biased and tends to stiffle good debate.
A lot f pelp just wan to do smalltalk.
But I have told them, I wil need to make money in the furter to cover my time adn web costs.

How many other Salsa sites are there out there?
Can they get information from your forum that they can't on Youtube?
I'm no expert.
But I think either go full on adverts or say you need donations to keep going.

How much do you make from that advert on the top right a month?
 
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