Things to Think About Before You Start Your Online Community (By Luthando)

When you start a forum, you can be rushed into doing everything and forget just to think about what it is you want to do, and how exactly. Here are some things to think about before you do it.

1. Thinking about your forum

Before you start to get your forum set up and hosted, you must first consider what the topic of your forum will be, and therefore who your target audience is. This information is vital if you are to promote your forum in the most effective way possible.

Also, when choosing a topic you must think about several things, these include:

– The competition. If there are hundreds of established forums that share the same topic as the forum you wish to create, then you aren’t going to stand much of a chance. When someone wants to join a forum about a specific topic, they will probably look on Google, or another search engine. So, unless your forum has a fairly unique topic, you probably wont have a decent ranking compared to popular forums.

– Your audience. As mentioned earlier, knowing your audience will mean that you know where to advertise, and you must also think about whether your target audience will be interested in a forum anyway. For example, making a forum for toddlers wont do you much good!

– Your knowledge of the topic. Don’t start a forum about something you don’t know about just because you see potential there. Instead, do some research on it and then start it. If you are to create appropriate categories for your forum then you will need to know more about it.

The next thing to consider, is what forum software you are going to use. If you’ve got the cash then I would certainly recommend vBulletin. It looks professional, it’s easy to use and has some advanced functions for administration. The only downside is that it isn’t free, it will set you back around $80.

If you aren’t wanting to part with the money, then that’s fine, but in my opinion you’ll be at a disadvantage. However, there is always the option to upgrade later, though it may be a little tricky. The best free forum software I would have to say is myBB. It is very similar to vBulletin, but vB just takes the edge for me.

Both of these softwares are available on the net, just Google their names and you’ll find a result.

After you have chosen your software then it’s time to choose a host. In this section I will not be mentioning any specific hosting companies, but I will tell you what to look out for. When hosting a forum, you have two main options. One is to find a standard host (free or paid) and install your forum by yourself. The other way is to find a host that is dedicated to hosting forums. These will automatically create the forum, and if they are free then they will most likely want you to post in their own forum to show your activity. Also with free hosts, you may not have your own domain, it may just be a subdomain.

Having your own domain really does put you apart from all the others that aren’t willing to spend a $ to get one.

When choosing a host where you set up your own forum, ask whether the packages are upgradable, and start with the smallest, then upgrade as you need. Most free forum softwares can be installed in cPanel through fantastico automatically. Otherwise you will need to visit their website and upload it.

And the final thing, before you start. If you want to jumpstart your forum, you may need some paid posters or a posting contest, and this does cost money. It may take $100 to get a good set of posts to begin. Don’t get the impression, however, that you MUST have money to start a forum. This is not the case whatsoever. It just helps.

Thanks for reading.


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