Forum’s often struggle to make money and sometimes have to resort to begging for donations in order to keep running. If you have the members you have the seed for an online business, but after extensive searching I have been unable to find any guides. If you want to learn how to make money from your forum read on.
Community is everything – that’s what sets a forum apart from a chat-room. These methods all focus on ways which you can build your community while making money rather than getting greedy and destroying your community spirit.
Most importantly these methods complement each other – generate cash to throw contests which increases your activity and as a result your revenue. More revenue means you can invest in giving better content to members of your forums.
Everybody shops from Amazon, and you can get a slice of that pie. Set up with Amazon Affiliates and ask your members to shop through your affiliate link. It is no extra cost or effort on their part and depending the size of your forum can be a huge money-maker.
The more sales you make, the greater % of each sale you make. Not many forums use this technique and you should find your users are happy to help. Depending on the theme of your forum there may be other affiliate programs you can find, or even special offers you can give your users by partnering up with a certain product.
Install Google Adsense
Users expect to see adverts on a forum, even so a lot of don’t like advertising. Forums tend to be high traffic with members viewing a lot of pages per session. This is perfect for CPM(cost per 1000 view) adverts through the Google Adsense network. Users = Views = Revenue. Adsense is a good steady way of making money from your forum.
Create Premium Content
Premium content is what makes you stand out from other similar forums. You could interview somebody famous, or write an in depth tutorial. This is the sort of content that is likely to rank on search engines, well written and long posts.
If you can’t make the content yourself, throw a competition for the best post. It probably is worth giving a small cash prize here to really get your users to go the extra mile, if you get ten people submitting quality posts which get shared on social media and rank on search engines the knock on effect for members, activity and revenue can be huge.
The more premium content you give away for free, the greater your user satisfaction and the more open they will be to using your affiliate links or join in with competitions.
Throw Referral Competitions
Encourage new members by giving a reward for referrals. If the accounts are active, you could make a user group for top referrers but even if you offer small cash incentives this will pay off. Activity = Adsense money and sometimes people need a little incentive to bring their friends along.
The reward you offer should match the theme of your forum, you know your user base best and what you can get away with giving to gain your forum new members.
Keep Your Forum Clean
If your forum is a mess of threads with no replies, members with no posts and spam you won’t get much search traffic. That might not be a major issue – Forums aren’t particularly search engine friendly (usually) – but a messy forum makes picking up new members harder.
It is a lot of work deleting spam after it has built up so ensure you have a great team of moderators who will help you remove spam as and when it appears.
Even post count can cause people to become big headed online – people can really elitist on their Forums. This is to be discouraged. Reputation is a terrible system which causes far more problems than it solves.
A senior member may think they are helping you by giving negative reputation to a new member who is unaware of your forum rules, but if that scares the new member off you have been done a massive disservice.
If you want to encourage members to post great content create thanks system. Positive reinforcement works far better than negative so don’t give your members the option. You can also have contests for who can get the most thanks in a month to encourage your users to create extra good content.
Create a Community YouTube Channel
If your forum is at all popular you should be able to launch a YouTube channel. Offer to show users videos on your channel in return for promoting them, upload the video to your channel and post it on your community and you will get a lot of views and subscribers.
You can also create premium content yourself which will encourage people to visit your forum. Becoming a YouTube Partner is a great source of revenue.
The closer knit your community is, the more they will be willing to give back to you for your work. It is well worth showing that the money you generate is being spent on improving the community, so if you find yourself making a lot of money start throwing regular competitions for cash rewards.
The happier your users the bigger you will grow and the bigger you grow the more cash you will make. That means the final link is turning the cash you make back into making your community happier through competitions and premium content.
If you run a large forum you know what your users want already, spend a bit of cash on giving them that and you will knock any competitors out of the water. Just avoid anything which will encourage spam or scare away new members.
Please help improve this guide by with methods you have used to make money from forums.
Patreon is another platform you can use to make passive income from your forum – read my guide for more info.