View Full Version : How to make money from forum based site?

12-07-2001, 10:15 AM
I launched a website catering to the webmaster community. (first site in sig) about 10 days back. The site is completely forum based and is getting pretty good traffic (12,000 page views a day and rising). Now my problem is that since it is completely forum based almost all CPM based networks have rejected me. Also the profile of my users is such that they won't buy anything since they are looking for a free forum software and related resources. I have run some free CPA related banner and text links improvisations but the CTR is very dismal - around 0.06-0.10%

Any suggestions on what I can do?

12-07-2001, 11:10 AM
Speaking from experience, forums have very low click through rates normally. Most visitors are there for information, they are not visiting a forum in order to make purchases. You may want to try companies such as targetwords where you can pick search terms which are relevant to your audience.

12-07-2001, 12:32 PM
Best of luck :)

Your Forums/Site are focused on a single free product as you mentioned. Not the support of the product but the modification ("Hack") of the product. This is a great service and I applaud your efforts. Your very narrow focus requires some changes and a year or two of hard work: consider adding content and services to your site that will attract the full spectrum of the Webmaster space. You could also add addtional Forums on other subjects of interest to Webmasters so your visitor profile changes. Use the content as a draw to your Forums. Study sitepoint.com for the best example on planet earth.

Making money from a Forum is very very difficult. Even in the best of times. Regardless of the focus. You also face huge competition from sites like the outstanding sitepoint.com which have been around for years. The best ones were started by folks who enjoyed helping others and money was a secondary and or no consideration in the equation.

They take years to develop and are very labor intensive. With the right mix of "Webmasters" and different Forums on other subjects your best bet is to sell adverts yourself.

HTH and good luck.

12-07-2001, 05:23 PM

.06% seems to be the going rate for forums.

Steve has pretty much laid it out all the other gory details. The fact of the matter is that most forums end up costing the site owner money, particularly when they get popular and start sucking in the bandwidth. Direct sale of ad space to very focused sponsors is perhaps the best way to get income 'on the surface.' Many forums, such as those for scripts and SEO, really generate income in secondary ways, i.e., through the profile. Community members recognize those that have expertise in the subject and contact them directly regarding custom jobs or projects.

12-07-2001, 05:42 PM
I found a very good article at Webtechniques (http://www.webtechniques.com/archives/2001/12/fruhlinger/) that really gives some great tips for sites of any type.

Given that users of your site are looking for information, they are in the "Researching" mode mentioned in the article. The article gives some options of how to make money off that traffic.

One idea would be to sell coding books related to the things that would interest those webmasters. Since your CTR is low, might as well get an Amazon.com affiliate membership and sell books that will interest them. Also, if you plan to prune old information over time, maybe you could charge for access to the archives.

There is also the Anadtech Forums option where you give free access to a slow server or paid access to a faster server that runs the same forums.

I think you have options, but some methods that work for other content sites are not for you. Good luck.

12-08-2001, 05:02 AM
Thank You everyone for your suggestions :)
I'm experimenting with targetwords and amazon. Thanks for the sugestion of adding more webmaster related forums Steve. I Will add them very shortly.

For now I think I'll concentrate on making the site more navigable and easier to use and then after a couple of months think about more ways to generate revenue from the site maybe when my members are more loyal than now.

12-08-2001, 12:56 PM
popups/popunders work for forum sites.

i'm not sure who allows forum sites but i know some do.

12-08-2001, 08:20 PM
I brought up something like this a few weeks ago. ValueClick said it is not against the terms to place ads on forums but they don't reccommend it because it often results in account termination due to poor quality traffic.

12-09-2001, 01:04 AM
Yes I remember reading that. But the problem is with such a low CTR, it is not worth placing regular cpc banners in forum pages.

12-09-2001, 02:29 AM
Not sure if this will help but I run a successful forum/community site at http://www.efgforum.com and we get about 100,000 page views a day and have about 23,000 members and been pretty successful with running CPM banner ads on my forums. Last month, I also launched a premium membership service for people willing to pay $3 a month for extra features in our forums (not a huge hit but I say, give it a shot!). I also started running some DHTML ads (thanks to GT) to help promote the membership.

12-09-2001, 02:48 AM
Which CPM network accepted you? Almost all CPM networks rejected me citing they don't think their ads will do well on a forum based site.

How is the dhtml ad doing? Are visitors annoyed by the ad? Any complaints?