How To Turn Your Forum Into A Profit Center

How To Turn Your Forum Into A Profit Center
We all want a profitable forum. Reeling in the dough is definitely a good thing, but a forum has to be a community. I don’t want to burst your bubble, but it’s not “all about the Benjamins”. If you think starting a forum will be the easy road to riches – think again. It takes a bit of elbow grease. By “a bit” I mean a lot and by “a lot” I mean it’s time to roll up those sleeves.

Monetizing a forum is no easy task, but if you have read our tips on starting a forum you should be well on your way to accomplishing your goals. Here’s a breakdown on turning that forum into a profit center:

#1 Kick It Off With Adsense

Honestly, Google Adsense will not make you much at first. It all depends on the amount of visitors that are hitting your site. If you have traffic, it can pay off. Look at Google Adsense as getting your feet wet in the marketing game and learning about ad networks and generating ad revenue from your forum. If you have less than a thousand visitors stopping by your site don’t get too caught up with ad placement. Instead, concentrate on adding valuable content and building a strong community. Focusing on ways to encourage and grow your userbase will be what pays off in the end.

#2 Banner Ads, Direct Advertisers, and CPM Advertising

If you’ve experimented with adding Adsense to your site, you now have an idea of ad placement for your forum. You now have some more options, too. Banner ads can be a great source of monthly revenue to your site. The key is attracting those advertisers. There are many ways to do it – you can display links on your forum advertising banner ad placement, you can approach other webmasters as well. You can also leverage social media to connect with influencers and drive traffic to your forum.

When it comes to CPM advertising as a revenue model for your forum, don’t waste your time if you are not receiving at least 75,000 – 100,000 visitors per month. Most CPM advertisers require you to meet certain criteria before you can even enter the program. If your traffic isn’t quite there, stop focusing on how to make the money and keep building a great forum. The money will come.

#3 Find A Sponsor For Your Forum

One way to make more money is to keep more of the money you already make. If your forum is popular and has a great community consider approaching other businesses to sponsor your forum. In turn, give them prominent ad placement. You can find key players in your industry, local businesses, or a web hosting company to foot the bill for your forum. Saving some out of pocket expenses can give you more money to promote your forum and attract new members. If your forum is popular you can approach a forum hosting company to sponsor you. In return, show them a return on their investment by becoming a good source of leads.

#4 Email Can Be Your Friend

See how everything centers around content? People go online for one of two things: they are looking for answers, or they want entertainment. Either way, it’s great content that drives business. If you own a mailing list you can use this to offer insider deals to your members and promote affiliate offers. There are two ways you can approach this:

  • Find a company that wants to sponsor an email campaign to your forum members.
  • Offer related affiliate products in your newsletter.

Either one of these will work. Remember that content is still king. A flimsy newsletter will not generate income. It will end up in the deleted folder, ignored, or spammed. You need to find a clever way to reach out to your forum members. The content part shouldn’t be too difficult – you have an entire forum full of content to draw on.

#5 Offer Premium Memberships

There are a number of forums that offer “premium” memberships. Upgraded forum memberships often get added benefits regular forum members don’t receive. You can give out extra PM allowances, access to special forum features, or allow them to create their own blog or special thread.

Some Other Ideas To Consider

There are always other ways to monetize a forum. Have you ever heard of Flippa? It’s an online marketplace that allows people to buy and sell websites. Selling your forum is always an option. In fact, if you are particularly well adapted at launching successful forums you can always follow the blueprint outlined above, with the aim of selling your forum for a sizeable return in the future. Whatever you decide, the goal is to build a strong community that will attract forum members and build forum loyalty.

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