Posts Tagged: "building a forum"

Let This Year Be The Year You Build Your First Website

Let This Year Be The Year You Build Your First Website

Let This Year Be The Year You Build Your First Website

It’s Wednesday… but it’s a little bigger than that. It’s a brand new year. 2014.

We made it.

As is the habit around this time of year, it’s time to start talking about what plans we have for the year ahead. Why not make this year the year you finally do it?

You know, build that website you are always talking about.

Now, I won’t say it will be a walk in the park. There is certainly a learning curve to building a website, much like anything else. Building a website is a labor of love, and if you are finally ready to make it happen, I’ll gladly walk you through how to get started.

So, I guess the ball is in your court. Are you ready to go for it?

Step 1: Choose a domain name

Your domain name is the identity of your website, so you will want to think carefully about the name you choose. You can either choose a domain name that describes your product, or you can choose a domain that is brandable. Either way, the choice is yours. Here is the perfect guide to choosing which option is best for you:

How To Choose The Perfect Domain Name For Your Business

Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind when choosing a domain:

  • Make sure the domain you choose does not infringe on any trademarks.
  • Choose a domain that is also available on popular social networks.

Social media plays a big role for promoting your site, so you want to make sure that all of your usernames will be available. This is important as it will help you stand out and make you easier to find online. You can use services like Knowem or Namecheckr to check domains and multiple social media sites in one search.

Step 2: Get a hosting plan

If you are building a brand new site, chances are you won’t need a VPS or a dedicated server. Starting with a small shared hosting plan is the best choice. It’s more economical, and because your site won’t be seeing much traffic just yet, you won’t need a lot of bandwidth. Also, shared hosting plans typically come with a free cPanel license, which will make managing your new site even easier.

Get 30 Days Free WordPress Hosting — Use Ecode ‘30FREE’

Step 3: What type of website will you build?

This is where you have options. The decision you make will largely depend on the type of site you want to build, as well as, your skill level and budget. Fortunately, our shared hosting plans come with 200+ one-click installs that allow you to publish a forum or blog with a few clicks of your mouse. There are also plenty more options, from ecommerce sites to free message board software.

Here are some compelling reasons to choose a blog or a forum:

7 Reasons You Should Be Using WordPress For Your Small Business

The “I Want To Know Everything” Guide To Starting Your Own Forum

Step 4: Customize your new site

It’s easy to think that you need all the skills in the world to build a beautiful website, but the reality is there are a lot more options out there that are not only affordable, but highly professional. You can find a huge selection of themes for whatever type of site you are building, whether a forum or traditional website.

A good place to start looking for a fresh design is Themeforest. You can find WordPress themes and a nice collection of forum skins for vBulletin, SMF, and phpBB. There are plenty more theme shops and developers that offer professional themes, so do your research until you find something you want to settle on.

Start A Forum With A Small Budget (And Still Stand Out)

Step 5: Create content for your website

Now is where things get a little bit more complicated. You are going to have to figure out what type of content and information you should include on your website. This can be a difficult process if you are just getting started, so the best way to decide on what your site needs is to go look at other websites.

Keep in mind that duplicate content is a no-no. You don’t want to copy content from another website. This not only reflects poorly on your brand, but it can also get you in trouble with Google. You don’t want your new site blacklisted, so it is important to do this right.

First, what you are going to want to do is come up with a list of example websites, with features that you like. Next, create a list of at least 10 of the most popular competitors in your niche. You can uncover quite a bit and set your website off on the right path by making sure you understand your competition. This tutorial from Moz will get you started.

You will also want to make sure that you are structuring your pages and posts with SEO in mind.

Your Content Should Attract The Right People

Step 6: Add Google Analytics

You want to track your progress, right? The only way to judge if what you are doing is working is by tracking results. Before you begin promoting your site you will want to add Google Analytics. This is a free tool by Google that allows you to track visits to your site and see where your traffic is coming from.

Next, just to go the extra mile you should verify your site with Google Webmaster Tools and Bing. This will allow your website to begin getting indexed faster.

Step 7: Setup your social media accounts

Now that you have made it this far you are going to want to create social media accounts to promote your website. While there are a ton of options, the most important ones you can set up for your new website is Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Be sure to add links to your website and add a design that matches the look you are going for.

Step 8: Start promoting!

This is the step that never ends. Once you have your site ready to launch you will want to market your new website in a variety of ways.

In other words, the journey just started. = )

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Forum Hosting Requirements

Forum Hosting Requirements
Hosting a message board or forum may not be prohibitively expensive, but the tasks of setting it up and appointing competent webmasters and moderators to maintain it could be moderately costly if you don’t shop around for the best deals on the types of services and features you need. There is also a need to allow sufficient time to build up a strong and loyal value-driven community for your site in order to reap the long-term benefits in the future. Every forum and message board community will also have issues with negative posters and negative feedback from time to time. When dealing with these negative elements it is important to realize that while the feedback posted by some of your existing clients may turn off some potential customers and put a damper on your sales abilities in the beginning, instead of getting discouraged, every challenge is a new opportunity to learn from your mistakes and do things better in the future.

Aside from setting up your site, appointing webmasters and selecting the appropriate web host to run it, there are certain other requirements of forum hosting too. A good message board with a strong community of like-minded users will also be a place where the rules are always enforced evenly and predictably. Without a good set of strong rules to ensure the whole operation runs smoothly and a clear set of steps and penalties to handle any violations that everyone can understand, there’s really no need to set up any rules at all.

Board moderation is another area of hosting requirements that can make or break a site. As a site owner, you’ll need to make sure that your moderators are handling their roles clearly and judiciously. All disputes need to be supervised and handled in the same manner for all users and the moderators should not exhibit partiality to any of the members.
When some members feel that they are less important than other users on a board, it can be a constant source of problems that need special handling. It is far better when everyone plays by, and is subject to, the same rules.

It is important to remember that the main point of hosting a forum or message board is to form a healthy community of genuinely interested and committed users that can all be considered as existing customers and of course, potential customers. A good forum with genuine users who are authorities and experts in their fields are the real strength of your endeavor. Other users will recognize this and come back to read and learn more when they trust and value the information provided by your most committed users. This requires maintaining even-handed discipline and
clearly understood rules. Even though a poster may appear to be helping to promote your products or services, when their real intention is posting messages only for the sake of link building or for other financially motivated intentions that are not genuine interaction, it can seriously impair and reduce both the vale and impact of your efforts. If you handle violations in a clear and even-handed manner according to rules that apply the same way to all users, the chances are quite good that you will have mastered the basic requirements of
successful forum hosting.

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Learn How to Build A Great Forum

Hosting A Forum Is No Walk In The Park

Hosting a Forum is No Walk in the Park

Forum hosting requires more than a hosting plan and software. Any successful forum operates like a business. You’ll deal with: budgets, time constraints, management, scalability issues, advertising, networking… attracting new members… keeping old ones happy…

I’m sure my point has been duly noted. It’s not something you can simply set-up, put online, and bask in the limelight of success. It just doesn’t happen that way. Launching any website is a chore. There are countless details that are crucial to your success. You’ll have to develop an understanding of SEO. You’ll need to network and market your butt off. What makes growing a successful forum uniquely problematic is the fact that you need to have people on the discussion board. If you don’t, your forum is guaranteed to look like a ghost town.

Of course, I’m not trying to discourage you. I’m trying to make you aware of the job ahead. You want to be successful right? Well, you need to know this stuff. Now sit back and take some notes, while I tell this tale I tell so well:

What You Need to Know About Forum Hosting

The first step in your plan for world domination (or at least a good forum) is finding the right web hosting company. Quite simply, this is often the most overlooked component of launching any website, much less a forum. Every webmaster wants visitors. Every forum needs members. You won’t get neither without a reliable hosting plan that keeps your forum online. What’s more – you want a company that understands the specific requirements needed for hosting a forum, a company that understands the common problems and pitfalls that will inevitably occur when you’re trying to get your site off the ground.

Here are some web hosting fundamentals that you have to plan for from the very beginning:

  • Reliability. If your uptime is spotty, the reputation of your forum will be as well. You never want to cut costs and go for cheap hosting. You need reliable service and support.
  • Scalability. This is something you’ll want to keep in mind. Things usually start off slow, but you’ll want the ability to seamlessly upgrade your account to support an increase in traffic.
  • A Backup Plan. Active forums produce a ton of content and posts. Losing this data can be detrimental to your forum. Web hosting companies that specialize in forum hosting typically already have an hourly backup system in place. Bottom line: you’ll want to develop a backup routine – and stick to it relentlessly.
  • What Platform to Use?

    This is where personal preference comes into play. Ideally, you want to use a forum software that you are comfortable with. You want something you understand how to use, something you can customize, something you can tweak to your exact specifications. Here’s a tip: don’t just focus on what you think is cool. A forum owner is almost like a real estate developer – indirectly, of course. I say this because, like a real estate developer, you are building a community. You’ll want to take into consideration your target market – the type of people that will join your forum – and plan around their likes and dislikes.

    Here’s a look at some of the most popular forum options:

    You’ll want to explore all of the options and find what works best for you and your niche. There are open source and premium platforms available. You’ll likely want to consider mobile. A responsive forum can allow your members to easily interact on your site right from their phone.

    Laying Down the Law

    Creating Rules that Work
    So, at this point you should have a rock-solid hosting plan and a platform of choice. Hold your horses: you’re not quite ready to hit the launch button yet. In order to keep your forum on track and make sure your site doesn’t become as unruly as the Wild West, you need rules. You need to enforce them, too. Don’t do a ‘copy and paste’ job on this. Take a little time and put some thought into how to set up forum rules, terms and conditions, a privacy policy, and so forth.

    There are countless examples out there. If you are feeling a little lost in the dark on what you should include, hop over to other forums, or similar forums in your niche and take a look at how they’ve decided to set up their rules. Do some research, jot down a rough draft, and perfect it until you get it right. Forum rules are important. You need them in order to keep the conversation on track. Without rules (and moderation) you would be surprised how fast a forum can turn into chaos, which brings me to my next point: moderation.

    The Law Needs a Face
    You can have all the rules in the world, but they won’t do squat if you don’t have something in place to actually enforce them. When you first start out, chances are you’ll be able to monitor the threads and conversations going on yourself. Once things start cooking though, this can straight up turn into a full-time job. The good news is that if it gets to this point, chances are you’ve made your forum a pretty popular destination. You may even have some loyal members. You’ll want to reach out to die hard forum members and enlist them as moderators to help you maintain the integrity of the forum. Long story short – create some solid rules that will help keep your forum on topic. Then, enforce the rules and moderate where needed.

    And That’s Not All

    I could keep going. I really could. Building a forum is a never-ending job. The important thing is to separate the countless tasks into bite-size chunks. If you take it one step at a time you’ll be a step closer every day. We will continue this little discussion/lesson/rant/whatever-you-want-to-call-it next week. We’ll dig into some other things you’ll want to pay attention to. Until then – hasta la vista.

    Check out Part 2

    Got Tips? Share your knowledge in the comments!

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