What is a Forum Website?
On a blogging website, there generally is only one person in control of the discussion, allowing limited questions and feedback from the audience.
A Forum allows thousands of members to discuss various topics of their own choice. A Forum is like a meeting place, where people meet and talk to each other, a discussion board where someone poses a question and others reply. It basically functions like a selfhelp community.
A Forum allows you to capitalize on various income streams and can generate a sizeable monthly income.
What niche should I choose?
Some niches offer little or no money making potential and should be avoided. Read the Finding a Profitable Niche article carefully to understand how you should go about choosing the perfect niche for your Forum.
Am I interested in the niche?
If you want to grow a popular and well respected Forum, it will take considerable time and effort and you'll definitely have to take a long term approach to building it up. If you do not have a high level of interest in your chosen niche, you will find it difficult to update the site on a regular basis and soon enough your rankings on Google will drop and eventually your Forum will die a slow death. I've seen it happen many times, so beware...
Is the niche popular?
While your interest in the niche is important it is not enough for it to be a success. You might be interested in your topic but unless others are also interested in it, you'll always have an uphill battle, trying building a successful Forum website.
Will I have enough Content?
While Forums allow other members to post their own topics, sometimes people run out of things to say. You will sometimes have to start discussions on certain topics to keep the website alive with fresh and new content. Having an extended knowledge about the subject will help you with this.
A word of caution
Running a Forum can be good fun most of the time, but it is important to keep the following in mind:
- Keep on posting
Make sure there are fresh posts on a daily basis.
- Appoint as many moderators as you possibly can
Moderators can help you keep an eye on member posts.
If a member causes problems for others, suspend his/her account immediately. While it doesn't seem like it in the beginning, negative incidents and issues build up and eventually can cause other valuable members to leave the forum.
I am ready, where do I start?
Choosing the right Forum Software for your website is very important. Fortunately their are a few Free Forum solutions availabe for you to consider. These include:
Since its creation in 2000, phpBB™ has become the most widely used Open Source forum solution. Like its predecessors, phpBB™ 3.0 “Olympus” has an easy to use administration panel and a user friendly installation process, which allows you to have a forum set up in minutes.
YetAnotherForum.NET (YAF) is the Oldest, Most Mature, and Feature Rich Open Source (FREE) Discussion Forum for sites running ASP.NET.
phpBB and YetAnotherForum are both available for Free and come standard with some hosting packages. Hosting Packages by Gridhost and WebAfrica offer one click installs, which makes it fairly easy for the beginner to setup his / her own Forum website in a matter of minutes.