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Starting a Forum in 2016 Is A Real Grind....

Discussion in 'Forum Management' started by la2k16, Aug 30, 2016.

  1. la2k16

    la2k16 Member

    just hit the 7 month mark of www.theblack-board.com and man.....the biggest piece of advice that I read pre-launch that has held true is you have to have PATIENCE.

    I felt I was having good growth (signups) then I hit a plateau here recently. Activity wise I feel I'm okay now, traffic wise I think I'm on a higher curve just based on the niche I'm in and how updated I attempt to keep topics....and I also have a main-page (non-xenforo) that draws people into the forum

    For people who have started forums in the last 2 years or so I was wondering how long until you reached a point before yours was self-sustaining (able to keep discussions going and new posts without you actively posting) I hear around 25-50 active members, active being the key, this will start to happen on its own.

    Here are my forum stats....it launched on March 3rd


    Last edited: Aug 31, 2016
    Digital Doctor likes this.
  2. Anthony Parsons

    Anthony Parsons Well-Known Member

    What you have is a niche, and that is optimal. People with the biggest of forums have crashed and burned, all because they lose touch with the demographics, current trends and well... how to manage and run a forum. When you start out you have to be the one totally invested, because you are the driving force for the first few years. After that, you can step back, however, you can never just ditch and run, not once you did the work to build the loyalty membership you will attain. Presence is everything, always mingling with your membership, even ten years from now, is important.

    Keep going, as you seem to be going in the right direction. Well done.
    StarArmy, la2k16 and Snog like this.
  3. Snog

    Snog Well-Known Member

    At last someone that actually gets it. I've seen a few site owners start a forum, load it up with add-ons and then just sit and wait for results. When they don't see results quickly, they close the forum. Good forums take years to develop.

    I've been telling people for ages that you start the forum with minimal add-ons, get it going and then as time passes if a need is found add other add-ons. But they just don't listen.
  4. la2k16

    la2k16 Member

    very good points, thank you for the feedback! I think one of the things I had no idea about prior, but am slowly learning, is how to monitor trends and keywords and SEO stuff like that. Is there any tools that you would recommend to new admins that you wish you would have taken advantage of earlier yourself?

    I too am starting to learn this. I think early on I was too focused on getting add-ons and the layout perfect (which will never happen, there will always be room for improvement in my opinion) instead of cultivating the community. Now I'm focusing on more interaction and "family" feel. Not so much about drawing new members just to up the count, but getting existing ones engaged in daily conversations.
    Snog likes this.
  5. Anthony Parsons

    Anthony Parsons Well-Known Member

    My history is in SEO... so that was never an issue for me. Adwords keyword tool is your single best source for accurate information on what is being searched, and just how much competition there is for that word.

    People launch their own keyword tools, which is a traffic source for them, in essence, but idiots use them. Adwords is the only tool you need, and its completely free with no limitations. If a word is popular amongst free rankings, then it is popular amongst paid rankings also. People who can't get the rank due to the popularity, then duel it out in paid results for the front page listing.

    The main thing I will tell you about keywords, is don't start a new forum with any type of focus towards a popular keyword. Stick with longtail keywords by NOT falsely stacking your site with keywords, but each new thread that is created, either change the title or add a relevant longtail term to the title, IF that is what the page is about and even says as much in the page.

    Some threads you won't need to touch, some you will. Getting traffic from those drips and drabs for accuracy is where you pick up a user here, user there, when starting. Then it is up to you to connect with those drips and drabs of users to make them online friends, acquaintances, and regular members of your community.

    Like Snog said... don't add crap into a new startup, don't complicate the site with rubbish that makes it hard to navigate, and don't have a whole bunch of forums for the sake of it. Have no more than 5 forums when starting. You expand based on what is being posted, and will find patterns of content that will define your next forum / category opening.

    Less is more with a forum. People like simple. Most of our interaction nowadays with the web, is simple. Apps are often the simplest. A couple of touches and away you go to the focus of being in the App.

    Trends!!! Usually by the time you notice a trend, you missed the boat. You have to either be at the start of a trend and capitalise, OR you're just another wannabe who is trying to capitalise from a trend they missed. Finding trends, again, Google trend on keywords using historic data can help...

    My forum uses the Ui.X framework... what everyone see's first is a severely cut back, clean, to the point version, no bells or whistles, nothing can move or hide, na da. Less is more. Then... an alternative theme is there with all the bells and whistles, all options under the sun. This keeps your primary guest theme fast and clean, but you give those who like options, the option for more.

    It takes time... it takes patience, and you will always have to be around if you own the community, otherwise those who are there because of you will leave faster than they had thought about.
    RobinHood, Snog, la2k16 and 2 others like this.
  6. la2k16

    la2k16 Member

    sorry for my inexperience, but do you mean Google Keyword Planner? This prompts me to pay before i can use the tool
  7. tajhay

    tajhay Well-Known Member

    Its free.

    la2k16 likes this.
  8. la2k16

    la2k16 Member

    This is what I found, when I click the link it prompts me to sign in my google account. And when I do that is is prompting me to register my business and add a billing account before I can move forward

    EDIT: I found the "Adwords Express" button and this fixed it lol

    EDIT 2: Actually this did not fix it, still asking me to create ad and add billing
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2016
  9. eva2000

    eva2000 Well-Known Member

    Depends on type of forums. My Centmin Mod Community forums started end of May 2014 so ~27 months ago https://community.centminmod.com. But it's a community support forum around my Centmin Mod LEMP stack project so it really won't go far without my involvement right now LOL.


    Forums are very slowly growing - i rather quality than quantity members/activity. Main driver of traffic/members is my Centmin Mod LEMP stack itself which has around 2,000 to 3,000 new installations per month. So just a matter of driving those users to the forums :D
  10. Anthony Parsons

    Anthony Parsons Well-Known Member

    Yes, you need an account. Create an ad, just don't enable it. Add payment details, again, it does nothing other than sit there with Google. I have an account of paused ads. You aren't charged anything unless you run your ads.
  11. dvsDave

    dvsDave Well-Known Member

    A great resource for your line of questions is feverbee.com. Richard Millington wrote a great book about starting and sustaining online communities. A LOT of his suggestions you can implement in XenForo without any additional tools!
    Your Ski Advisor likes this.

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