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View Full Version : Okay, I'm swallowing my pride...


SmashinYoungMan
29 Apr 2007, 03:09
...how do you folks with big boards do it? I'm proud of the two sites I created in my sigóboth having won BOTM both here and at vbulletin.com despite having no active community to speak of. SpaceBuffs.com especially has some very nice backlinks pointing at it, hence the high PR. It has links in both the Yahoo and ODP directories, as well as some nice science sites and major university sites. I have a link to the site in my sig on various forums which have a topic similar to SpaceBuffs.

Still...nada. I can't convert visitors. I'm not sure what it is I'm doing wrong. The frustration has caused me to completely give up promoting the sites and adding any content, and I pretty much keep both up and running just so I can have them in my design portfolio.

I love working on forums, both my own and for clients. I'd love to one day have a successful forum of my own, instead of abandoned eye-candy. Any tips on how to drive traffic to the forums and convert said traffic would be GREATLY appreciated.

Coux
29 Apr 2007, 04:36
now that is a $1,000,000 question if only i could answer.

no mods
29 Apr 2007, 06:16
Well first off those are some beautyfull skins, some of the best ive seen. One reason your sites may not be to active is cause there not usuall topics, ive never seen a vbulletin about science. But that makes you unique, it also means you might not have as many members. The best thing to do it to not give up, just keep pushing your sites, and hopefully some day they will catch on and become active. Forums are all about luck basically, some people get all the members, some get sqaut,.

Adrian Schneider
29 Apr 2007, 07:29
Find a few other people passionate about the topics and get them to post actively on it with you. Even if it's just four of you, others will be far more likely to join and chat than if they only hear the crickets. Paid posting is another option, for the same reason.

Again, I agree that the topics aren't very common, so your chances are far lower than usual.

Just keep at it. Remember that starting up is the hardest part. From there, things get better exponentially. :)

no mods
29 Apr 2007, 07:58
I do paid posting (give me a certain amount of money, i make a certain amount of posts) and member getting, meaning I mkae good, legit posts in whatever section you want, and not the ones that are like "hi" or "thats pretty" and I can garuntee at least 5 members . Send me a pm if your interested *your more likely to get people to join if they see there are active members there, even if its just the two of us, haha.)

Hornstar
29 Apr 2007, 08:57
Well there is no secret. its all about content and then seo IMO

im using vbseo to do the seo side of things, www.gamerzneeds.net/forums you will see vbseo in action, the link is in the footer on my site, as im not sure if im allowed to post it here.

as for content, if your not passionate about posting, then it will be tough.

here are a few ideas. create several accounts, and on the other accounts, just post lots of stuff up. on your main account, be yourself and make good original content that people are likely to search for in the search engines.

just because your site is about xyz does not mean you cant talk about another topic that has nothing to do with your site.

good (active) communities have a main focus where people go to get the content, and a place to enjoy the community as well.

Hope that helps.

no mods
29 Apr 2007, 09:10
Hope I dont sound to noobish here, but what is SEO, ive heard the term a few times now, but have no idea what it means.

Coux
29 Apr 2007, 09:26
search engine optimization

SmashinYoungMan
30 Apr 2007, 18:31
Thanks for the support and suggestions, all. I believe I've been taking too much of a "if you build it, they will come" approach, and you obviously have to be a lot more proactive than that. I did take a lot of time acquiring good backlinks, as I said, but that isn't enough in and of itself.

I believe the biggest difficulty is getting those first dozen or so truly active members. I think a board needs at least that many to become "self sustaining" and attract and maintain new active members.

I've thought about doing the paid posting and creating multiple accounts myself thing, but that just feels too dishonest, in my opinion. I'm not knocking those who do, as I realize it is a rather innocuous means to an end, but I just can't bring myself to do it personally. lol

Regardless, I'm going to put a real and sustained effort into making it work. I have an Adwords account that I need to dust off and create a SpaceBuffs campaign for, and see how that goes.

Anyhoo, thanks again!

cheekymonk3y
01 May 2007, 01:32
Get yourself an anime or gaming addiction. Its easy to get 20 initial active members by just posting a few ad threads in other anime/gaming forums. and it just steamrolls from there. well, thats the case in my case. And with your brilliant designing capability, you could easily make one of those sites that get 1'000'000 posts in a year. If you ever make an anime or gaming site, though i doubt you will, contact me cause i'd love to help you. Your biggest problem is you choose arbitrary topic matter for your forum. soz, for bad spelling but 2.30 am

El Burro
01 May 2007, 02:25
Two brilliant skins. The best I've seen.

Perhaps you should concentrate on Graphic design.

I'd love you to make a skin for my forum !!!

sanjay369
02 May 2007, 05:13
Here are some suggestions that I have found to work:

Find every relevant link site like http://www.thespaceplace.com/links.html or http://www.assabfn.co.za/spacetides/links.htm and ask for a link, offering a backlink on a separate subdomain will greatly increase your chances

Search social networking sites for like minded people and invite them to your forum

Integrate a wordpress blog into your site using the vbulletin bridge and write articles with pictures and video embedded. Then go and comment on other spaceblogs with your blog URL displayed. Your blog entries will serve as the first-post of a separate article subforum, so if anyone wants to comment on your blog- they are automatically registered on your forum. If you need help with the writing solicit great posters from other forums- with your design skills, they will want to be involved.

good luck and feel free to PM me for community building help- I am sure the size of my community would qualify my advice as valid.

QsKGlobal.com
02 May 2007, 22:41
The only reason my community has been a success is because of our work. We make Halo videos which drive traffic to our sites, we also host videos, offer editing support, and have affiliates that are high trafficers. Halo3Forum.com announce many of our videos which increases our stats every time.

My advice is to advertise more, maybe start some contests, or offer moderator positions. Maybe talk to high traffic forums about getting sponsored links on their site. In my opinion, search engines don't do enough for a forums unless they are HUGE resource sites with over 50,000 pages indexed on each search engine.

Even though my forum isn't a 'big board' for 3 months and 934 members...we do pretty good.

SmashinYoungMan
03 May 2007, 03:21
I was actually contacted by the Science Channel tonight. They want me to help promote Space Week that is coming up via Space Buffs. They're giving me access to clips from the series to display on my site. SB, by virtue of having some very authoritative backlinks, draws some high profile attention, but I can't get the damn forum off the ground. Heh.

Again, thanks for the pointers, all. I'm definitely going to put some of the stuff suggested here into action.

axg
03 May 2007, 15:26
I agree with the others, it takes time to get noticed. It is definatly not over night. So be patient, and stick with it. They will come slowly.

On another note, the skins are by far the very best i have ever seen.
Hmm, if you do this on the site, contact me. I may want a skin made for my board.

trifive
04 May 2007, 09:21
I looked at your spacebuffs and here are some suggestions I have.

If I had your website here is some of the things i would do.

First deside who you are targeting for members, it looks like it targets kids, then it actually has content that may interest older members.

I would ad more content like a hack for space news etc, that is updated daily.

I would ad the games hack to give people something to do.

I would design interesting topics, such as word association questions.

Latest nasa headlines.

THe template looks great but it is wider than your brouser so you constantly have to chrol to the right .

Maybe a section for best telescope photos contest etc.

and the best thing to do is forget about search engines, just go to other websites with people of like interest and trade links


Hope this helps

Otis

soletrader
08 May 2007, 10:48
Definitely try paid posting to make your forum active and up.

bbcentral
17 Jun 2007, 17:13
The skins look amazing, so much so that I'm inspired to "borrow" some of the elements for my own forum's skin :)
(I'd like to go with a background image, but then I realise that I'll be adding a gradient on my new skin anyway, so it's a bit pointless).

As far as what trifive is saying above, he's completely right.
I've been struggling with a lack of posts for a while, and I've been working on rebuilding my site to better integrate with my forum.

Here's what I'm doing, not sure how many of these will help you:
1) In order to download any files on the main site (videos, mp3s, etc) you'll need to login first (not too applicable to your site)
2) Whenever I post a news item, there will be a link to "Discuss this in the forum". Some will have a dedicated thread, others will simply link to the most relevant forum category.
3) Don't worry about a chatroom, resist that temptation. I had people begging for one for 2 years, I finally caved in and now nobody uses it. I will be hosting some scheduled chats later on though, which may help.
4) Send a welcome PM and welcome email to every new member that registers. Mine basically says: "Welcome to the site, we're happy to have you here, please introduce yourself in the introductions forum, don't be afraid to ask any questions here, we look forward to having you around, if you need any help don't hesitate to ask. Sincerely, your new friends at Forum Name" :) I've automated this using the "User Registration Options" page in the AdminCP.
5) I can't do this for my own site because I have an "obscure" topic, but you'll probably be able to get some decent traffic by submitting to Digg.com whenever an interesting topic comes up. Those guys are all tech-heads, and many of them love space stuff. Here's a topic that was posted today: http://digg.com/space/M81_Galaxy_image . You can either manually submit the topics yourself, or install one of the many "Digg This" mods available here, then you can leave it up to your members to submit your stories. Just be warned, you'll need a good server if you're going to submit to Digg, or else you'll suffer the "Digg Effect" from all the heavy traffic :P
6) "Discussion" and "Astronomy and Space Travel Forum" might not be the best names for your forum. "Forum", "Message Board", "Discussion", they're all very generic names. I renamed mine "The Soul Food Cafe", and it gives it a bit of "oomph" :) What about something like "The Space Place", or "The Launchpad", I'm sure you can come up with something much cooler though. It's cool when my members receive emails from "The Soul Food Cafe", sounds like some exclusive club!
7) Make sure you enable the feature to send Happy Birthday emails, and even try customizing the email body. I get 3-4 emails a week from members I've never even heard of saying "Thanks for the Happy Birthday email!". I haven't got the heart to tell them that I didn't send it, it was automatic! I'm going to change the text to include some links back to the forum, hopefully to show that we'd like them to come back.
8) You're already doing this here, but make sure you keep your site in every forum signature you can.
9) Instead of linking to your home page on other sites, keep it relevant, so if you can link directly to a related topic on your own forum then do that instead.

And finally:
http://www.nasa.gov/rss/breaking_news.rss
You could set your forum to automatically create topics based on the items there (RSS Support is available in vB)

I hope this helps you or anyone else who is trying to boost their activity.

The only other thing I sometimes do, which may or may not help you, is I run a lot of links to Amazon.com products. I earn decent commission for sales generated through them, and a few times a year I have enough available in gift certificates to run a competition for my members. I send a mass email to every member letting them know, with a link to the competition page. The page itself is a list of prizes (all Amazon.com products), and a simple form that allows them to select the answer to a multiple choice question, and enter their username, real name, address, country, and select which prize they would like.
When the competition is over, I just select a random winner from the list (who has the right answer), and then send them an email to let them know. I confirm their details and choice of prize, login to Amazon.com and buy the prize using the gift certificate, and have it shipped directly to their address.
Whenever I do this my Adsense traffic shoots up, I get more traffic (people forward it to their friends and family), more new members, and ironically I end up earning more back from Amazon than I spent on the prize!
It's a neat little trick that makes everyone happy :)

SCRIPT3R
17 Jun 2007, 18:09
IMO, again (http://www.vbulletin.org/forum/showpost.php?p=1086326&postcount=7) - i would drop the ads. i WILL NOT visit a site with ads unless the content is a major interest. besides, what good are google ads if you have no visitors? again, wait til you get more traffic. only my opinion. :D

masons
23 Jun 2007, 11:37
All it takes is some zealots...
Get people involved.. make them mods ... its a sure way to see some increase right away.
Call some of the independent publishers on the topic... get them involved as they might like the platform to launch some new publications.

Visit every single science forum each and everyday... and simply tell them about your site... not to often, as your a guest... but make them aware of your site, not just in your signature.

Make flyers (at kinkos yourself) with some catchy UFO title and information.... and plant these at the UNIVERSITIES in your area... go to bookstores that sell your subject and ask if you can put some flyers there..

Print some posters and hang them in speciality shops...

Spot a UFO and post it on your site, then call all the newspapers and let them know.


Awesome sites, but it looks like the astron site is a GAMERS site on the first visit.

Ati2
23 Jun 2007, 15:56
Spot a UFO and post it on your site, then call all the newspapers and let them know.


LOL, this is the funniest advice I have read. :) Might be good though. :) Still funy. :)

Anyway, since the site is soooo nice, I went ahead and registered, made a few posts. We'll see what happens.

m_k
24 Jun 2007, 20:35
great skins!

definitely some of the best I have seen :-)

RedTyger
24 Jun 2007, 23:24
There is absolutely no justice in the world, that's a crazily nice forum you have there. I was looking to see what portfolio it was a part of and could find nothing, so that may be something to look at.

dastardly
25 Jun 2007, 22:01
I think the best way to get a lot of original members is to start posting at some big forums with the link in your sig. Another thing that definitely helps is getting zealots and people completely addicted, or once you get enough members you could even have a referral contest, where you give some sort of award or status to the person who recruits the most active new members :)

And as you said you had been doing, affiliate affiliate affiliate!

COBRAws
26 Jun 2007, 21:29
I did not get any BOTM award but I get a 70% conversion from new visitors into registered members.

key is: be the first to give your members the content.

delmarva
03 Jul 2007, 22:03
I can tell you one thing, this guy can design EXCELLENT templates! He turned mine from crap to gold: http://www.atlanticanglers.com

markp_2000
08 Jul 2007, 16:36
I agree about marketing. We have done all sorts of cross promotions: other sites (including craigslist); dropping business cards at stores; writing articles about the content with small local papers (they are always looking for well written content) as well as writing for popular blogs with similar content. Everyone we have contacted has been open to the idea of cross promoting.

We started with a small group of core users that posted great content and it grew from there.

Although we are not a big-board, I think we will be there quickly.

Mark
www.hotcouponworld.com

orban
08 Jul 2007, 18:53
markp_2000 (http://www.vbulletin.org/forum/member.php?u=151240): Sorry. The administrator has banned your IP address. To contact the administrator click here (http://hotcouponworld.com/forums/sendmessage.php)

Alright :p I wasn't even on your site, but I certainly won't go there again ;)

markp_2000
08 Jul 2007, 19:59
I have no idea why you would be banned, especially by ip. I have only banned one ip and it was due to multiple hack attempts. You could pm you id and I could look into it if you want.

Mark

hotcouponworld
08 Jul 2007, 23:30
markp_2000 (http://www.vbulletin.org/forum/member.php?u=151240): Sorry. The administrator has banned your IP address. To contact the administrator click here (http://hotcouponworld.com/forums/sendmessage.php)

Alright :p I wasn't even on your site, but I certainly won't go there again ;)

There are a few email addys that our other Admin has banned because that seems to be where spam coming to the site is highly concentrated.

If you want to PM me or mark, we can set you up manually on the site.

RetroDreams
09 Jul 2007, 00:11
It takes too long to get to any meat on SpaceBuffs between the header and then the welcome box. Have you thought about adding a CMS like vBAdvanced so that folks can see the site content quicker?

epoc fitness
14 Jul 2007, 21:45
I would suggest Vbseo it made a huge different on my forums

My newest forum is 2 weeks old, look at these stats
Threads: 851, Posts: 13,060, Members: 153

Nikke
18 Jul 2007, 10:54
Yeah, a month or two is nothing in this business. Just keep getting more and more content to your site, that will do it over time!

karlm
24 Jul 2007, 19:37
It's taken me two years (1yr phpbb & 1yr vbulletin) to get 600 members. In the beginning, I was trawling similar minded boards, with my site in my signature, posting a lot on those boards and then replying to almost every post made on my own board. I allowed guest posts for a while (to 'introduce' my forum to the world) and as time unfolded, repeat-guests became members. Then, I added a 'links hidden to guests' and at a different time a 'guests see only 1st page' hack to my vb powered forum.
That bumped up membership somewhat. I guess the best thing to do is entice guests by blocking a little content, give them something worthy to sign up for (extended capabilities), and just keep being pro-active on your own board AND on likeminded boards (to keep your signature popping up everywhere). :)

HTH

Foulish_Mitch
12 Sep 2007, 02:11
Dunno if this works, but alot of people advertise using Youtube nowadays... A couple of conspiracy theories and you'll get some attention.

gengar56
12 Sep 2007, 10:26
I'm thinking about writing an eBook about how to start and run a successful forum. I feel I'm qualified to do this because, among other things, I've built up a forum from zero to over 35,000 members. I believe you guys would be my target audience - would you be interested?

jawatkin
12 Sep 2007, 15:47
Depends on how long it took you to build that.....?

gengar56
12 Sep 2007, 22:05
Does it really depend on that? :)

I started my forum in 2004, so it's been about 3 years.

What do you think now?

Brandon Sheley
12 Sep 2007, 22:08
I would strongly suggest vbseo, and creating some good content for link bait. It will get you more visits and maybe some members.

Then ofcourse, give your users a reason to sign up ;)

Hornstar
13 Sep 2007, 11:37
I can tell you one thing, this guy can design EXCELLENT templates! He turned mine from crap to gold: http://www.atlanticanglers.com

That is a nice design! I like how the background image stays still, that is the first time I have seen that done on a forum. Something which I will try and do from now on as well.

I'm thinking about writing an eBook about how to start and run a successful forum. I feel I'm qualified to do this because, among other things, I've built up a forum from zero to over 35,000 members. I believe you guys would be my target audience - would you be interested?



Does it really depend on that? :)

I started my forum in 2004, so it's been about 3 years.

What do you think now?

I started in Aug 2005 and now have over 100 000 members. I still am not an expert, and am learning so much all the time by reading what is already out there on the web.

If you feel you are an expert, by all means, make an ebook, I may even read it, but I dont think stats really qualifies anyone as an expert.

gengar56
13 Sep 2007, 22:06
If you feel you are an expert, by all means, make an ebook, I may even read it, but I dont think stats really qualifies anyone as an expert.

I didn't say I was an expert :) Thanks for the feedback.

jawatkin
14 Sep 2007, 06:23
Does it really depend on that? :)

I started my forum in 2004, so it's been about 3 years.

What do you think now?

Well, I'm just speaking from my own perspective whether it would be worthwhile. I just crossed 25k today and started in March this year, so it wouldn't be for me, but I bet (assuming it is replicable) others would be interested. Good luck! :)

techartist1
21 Sep 2007, 07:40
When I first started my board, I was on there every day making up 4 or 5 questions and then I would answer them myself as other user(s). Is this cheating? Not really. You need good content - and if you ask good questions and provide good answers, believe me, people will be interested.

And if your site looks like a graveyard, no one is going to visit or post. Think of it this way, discussion boards are all about communication, and if you feel like you are talking to yourself, it is NOT motivational.

There's no secret. You need recent posts and good info and lots of users. If it takes a little acting to get it going, no one will be the wiser and your readers will get good info and mkae new friends!

If you'd like to see my board...http://www.debt-consolidation-credit-repair-service.com/forums/