Want to start a forum - Need help/ tips pls

Discussion in 'Starting a Business' started by simplyjo, Mar 25, 2013.

  1. simplyjo

    simplyjo
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    Hi All,

    I want to start a travel forum and need some advice .

    1. Is it important to have the word "Forum" or "forums" in domain name ?
    2. Which is the best script to use - PhpBB?
    3. Which are the best free promotion methods to get a new forum off the ground ?
    4. Is it ok to use a brand new domain or is it advisable to use an aged domain ?

    Any other tips/suggestions are very welcome too.
    I have never created a forum before and I want to do it right.

    Jo
     
  2. sheepishwolf

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    2 - There is no "best" forum software. It's all opinions. Personally, from a forum user and administrators point of view I like Xenforo - it's a very fast software, and the designs for it are very great. If you're looking for a free software, I would recommend PhpBB.

    3 - Promotion forums, buy advertising on travel websites that are already established, word-of-mouth promotion, SEO, and utilizing social media are all great methods.
     
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  3. Jay.

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    1. It's not vital, especially if you have a short domain name. However, having some kind of forum term in the name is always a positive (by that I mean it doesn't necessarily have to be the word forum - having travelchat, traveldiscussions or travelmessageboard would be examples of acceptable alternatives if you're not having travelforum.

    2. In my opinion, the best software is vBulletin and the best free software is Phpbb. Whilst most people would agree that vBulletin is the most superior paid software, there is a large amount of debate about the best free forum script. Popular alternatives include MyBB and SMF. I've always preferred Phpbb and think you will be perfectly fine going for this option to begin with.

    3. Free promotion methods? Well, promoting a forum the free way is going to be tricky, but it definitely can be done. However I wouldn't rule out paid advertising. As mentioned above: SEO, social media sites and promotion/directory websites are all good methods. Any website you're a part of, promote your site. Do blog comments, forum posts with the link in your signature - anything to get the word out about your site. The hope is that once you can get an active community established, more members will come with less work on your part. Contests may bring members in early on.

    4. A brand new domain is perfectly fine, but if you had an aged domain that's relevant and available to use, obviously that would have advantages.

    It's good that you're saying you want to do it right. I've seen so many people rush into creating forums and they fail miserably. The reality is most forums do and with so many well established forums already out there, you're going to struggle. You somehow need to offer something that other, larger travel forums don't. Dedication is required, don't give up when things have a slow start, the effort will be worth it in the end.

    Best of luck.
     
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  4. simplyjo

    simplyjo
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    Thanks for the info guys.

    Jay - Useful stuff man, thanks! I am gonna get at it and promote the heck out of it :) I do have an year old domain which is short + niche specific , so will give it a whirl.

    Will post here once its up and running - Would need feedback for sure.
     
  5. daytrader

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    I do have a travel forum myself and my suggestion is to make a blog.com and your forum would be a subdomain like forum.travelblog.com this way you can promote your blog at the same time your forum. Any software will do as long as you write contents of it. Your audience like pictures of places so better upload some photos that they'd like.
     
  6. Fergal

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    I would say not. Use a domain that can easily be branded, that is easy to remember, that is easy to tell others about and is preferably a dot com.

    There really is no best script, all of them have different strengths and weaknesses. Use the script that you feel most comfortable with and that you feel would best meet the needs of your users. What I'd suggest is writing out a list of all the features you require from your forum script, then have a look at the various options and see which one delivers best on those.

    We use vBulletin here on BAF and Jay has recommended it to you. Personally I wouldn't be in a hurry to recommend them, they have had hugely negative feedback from their users on the latest release of their script, vBulletin 5.

    That's a big question and books could be written on the subject. One thing you could start with is the Forum Promotion community in my signature.

    Personally I would go with the best domain available to me, regardless of how old it is.

    Good luck with it, starting a forum is not easy and it requires a lot of work.
     
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  7. simplyjo

    simplyjo
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    Thanks Fergal - I was "Waiting" for your reply , actually. I see you have done so well with BAF , if I can do even 1/10th with my forum, I would be thrilled to bits. =D
    Kudos on your efforts.
     
  8. simplyjo

    simplyjo
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    Hi All - Is customizing phpBB easy ?
     
  9. TimeRider

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    I have done phpBB forum before and Yes it is easy. But I think it has problems with spammers. So you need to keep your security settings tight for it.
     
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  10. Fergal

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    There are lots of quality free themes available for phpBB and they are not that difficult to customise.

    Unfortunately that is true of all forums. Stop Forum Spam can be used for many forum types, including phpBB and when it is set correctly it is an excellent tool for keeping out the spammers.
     
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  11. Scarface_007

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    Smf is very easy to use with lots of mods to help you along the way, ive used phpbb and smf if i have to choose between the two i would go for smf because of the simplicity of use.
     
  12. LordRoco

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    1. Is it important to have the word "Forum" or "forums" in domain name ?
    Not really. try this site: www.unexplained-mysteries.com ! its one of the largest websites in the world and you see, they have got no 'forums' in the domain, yet they are so big that even that hyphen in the domain donot deter them from anything! I am a very expereinced member in their forum, though I dont visit them often as I used to back in my younger days.

    2. Which is the best script to use - PhpBB?
    Yeah. if you are a beginner and dont have enough funds to get the high end softwares, phpBB is the best option! You can even learn coding and their support is quite good for a free software! Lots of modifications and designs that surely, youll get what you want :D

    3. Which are the best free promotion methods to get a new forum off the ground ?
    Word of mouth and promotion forums!

    4. Is it ok to use a brand new domain or is it advisable to use an aged domain ?
    I think using a brand new domain should work better. When you use aged domain, people expect a lot and eventually, you'll have a unsatisfied member base

    Here is a article I wrote: http://webmastersescape.com/popularizing-a-common-niche/
     
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  13. Ted

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    Jo,

    I think one of the hardest parts of building a successful forum is somehow attracting high quality forum members who are honestly trying to contribute.

    That is why I would never try to start a forum on my own without first enlisting a team of core participants to at least get things off the ground. You need a team in place. Otherwise, it is certainly going to be a major struggle to get things going and to maintain your personal motivation long enough to where things start to take off on their own. Think about it.

    It is going to take months before people really start finding out about your forum. When you first launch it you will have next to zero visitors and participants. Forums are basically public chatrooms. You need participants to chat with.

    And once people find the forum, they are only likely to participate if the forum is already active. So it is a catch 22 situation (or chicken and egg scenario). You need to have participants and an active forum in order to attract participants to make the forum active.

    If you don’t have them from the start, then you will be waiting and struggling a long, long time until you get there.

    So, I would recommend you form a core team of people who are going to help you get the forum off the ground. You want people who will contribute high quality information and advice. They need to remain active until the forum achieves a certain amount of momentum. From then on, you will have new members joining that can help things keep going.

    Another thing to think about – What are the reasons that people visit forums anyway?

    1) To socialize with their peers
    2) To find answers and information about something
    3) To promote themselves, their products, their businesses or their websites
    4) To spam the forum

    You don’t want spammers. So you can disregard number four.

    But, how can you make your forum more attractive to those other people.

    If you can find ways to give those other three groups more of what they are seeking and give it to them better than they can get elsewhere, then your forum is going to be successful.

    Think about that.
     
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  14. patrick0001

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    1. no necessary, because partial match domain no longer help on SEO. Example: v7n.com is forum, the forum is easy to remember because of short character.
    2. coffee or tea, which is best for you? You have test run on every forum platform, and choose the one you prefer.
    3. You forum need to have solid content first, then only proceed for external promotion. If you have high reputation in other forum, it is more easy for you to pursue other to join your forum.
    4. If aged domain work, then everyone will rush to get it. As long as a domain drop, the page rank, SERP and link will reset to 0.
     
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  15. simplyjo

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    Hi , can you guide me on how to do that ? my forum is up and running now (in my sig). I have no clue about security - they do have a captcha at signup. is that sufficient ?
     
  16. Fergal

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