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  #21 (permalink)  
Old 12-14-2005, 06:14 AM
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Aww hell. I'm going to add a second post. I guess I'm partly writing this for Leela, but also partly I'm just trying to hash out what I need to do with my new forum.

So. I ran contests on my successful site. I haven't had to do one in months. However, back in March through July, as the forum was getting started, I held monthly contests. I kept the prize money low, and distributed the wealth. Instead of 1 $200 prize, I would do 1 $100 prize, 2 $25 second-place prizes, and 5 $10 third place prizes. Same cost, but more people came away happy. And the first place prize was still OK.

With my Narnia forums, I want to get dossiers of each actor in the movie. I may offer a $10 bounty for each dossier-like post that I can use. I may also just have a post-count battle. Those can go sour, as people are encouraged to write 1-word puff posts. But there might be ways to make it work.

Also, if you have merchandise with your logo & URL on it, give some of it away. It's free advertising.

Back when I started my forum, I pushed my family & friends to create accounts & post. That was helpful. It's important at the beginning.

I agree with those who say you should only have a few forum areas to start with. On my good site, I had about 20 sections at first. But they were eeeeeeeemmmpty. I started consolidating. I got down to 9, so that each had some reasonable traffic. Now I think I'm up to 11 or 12, driven by demand. It would have been wiser to just start with 7 or 8 sections and grow.

You need to contact other sites. I was very afraid of this, because I didn't want to come off as a spammer. I thought that writing "hey, please link to me" would be in poor form. So I started adding reasons to email people. Here's an example that I'm working on right now. Although my site (the successful one) is called "Publisher Database," most publishers don't know about it. The site is community-driven, I don't need the publishers to be present. However, I could use their good word-of-mouth. So I'm building a news section where they can post calls-for-entries and announce reading periods and so on. I will then email them to tell them about the site and the feature they might want to use. I haven't figured out how to email people about my Narnia site yet, but I'm working on it. I do have the "email me if someone replies to my post" option enabled by default, so members do get email. It's a start.

I did do PR Web for press releases. Didn't get me much publicity, but at the $80 level, it did generate some traffic for my site.

Similar to posting in forums, I added comments to blogs that were related to my area of expertise. Depending upon the blog and how good your comment is, that can gain you nothing to hundreds of visitors.

OK. My brain is winding down. Last tip. Consider seriously the usability of your forum. I went a bit farther than most do. Over at my personal site, I created and gave away a handful of phpBB mods that helped fix usability problems. Here are the places people trip-up. First, they balk at a too-big membership form. Try to keep it short at first, with options to expand it later. In the case of VBulletin, I think it's OK out of the box. With phpBB, you can install a "simple registration" mod to shorten the registration form down to bare essentials (I have done this). Second, people constantly need to be reminded of their activiation keys & passwords. You must have links for this ("forgot my password," "resend activation email"), right by the login area. Mine didn't. I lost about 350 members thanks to that. I didn't realize it was an issue until I had about 1500 members. My database was packed with accounts that had been abandoned mid-registration, and most accounts had been that way for months. I emailed them all friendly reminders, but for most, it was too late. Their email accounts were dead, or they had found another forum, or they just didn't care anymore. Make sure people can fix their own login issues right away, if at all possible. You'll retain more of them that way.

OK, that's my brain dump. Those are all the things I did to get or retain members.

-Tony
 
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  #22 (permalink)  
Old 12-14-2005, 08:14 AM
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Tony,

Thoses were very informative posts. Thanks for the pointers.

-Michael
 
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  #23 (permalink)  
Old 12-16-2005, 04:43 PM
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Let me add one resource to this:

Giveaways

Participating on these events has driven my traffic through the roof and has build my opt-in list to the thousands.

Kind regards,

Juan Pablo Cangas
 
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  #24 (permalink)  
Old 12-17-2005, 11:41 PM
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aboyd has given a very elaborate answer.....i agree to most of that. But I have not done Google Adwords....how does it work....has anybody here got revenue out of that....one of my friend told me that his a/c in google was closed all of a sudden when his traffic increase dramatically in a few days. has anybody experienced that?
 
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  #25 (permalink)  
Old 12-18-2005, 04:16 AM
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I think you mean Adsense? That's the one where you run ads on your site, and Google pays you for clicks. Google will indeed close accounts due to click fraud. Basically, if the ads that are running get clicked waaaaayyy too much, Google freaks out. It appears to not have hard limits, but rather to be relative.

So it's not like once click-throughs hit 5% you're banned. It's more like this: if your site traditionally averages 2% click-throughs, but over the course of a few days it rises dramatically, Google will (automatically?) flag that as out of the ordinary, and probably close the account. The thinking is that established patterns shouldn't spike too hard. So if they do, odds are that someone is manipulating something.

Google doesn't really blame the site owner. Often, it isn't the owner who is at fault. It's often friends & enemies. For example, if you compete with another site, the owner of that site might come to yours and click on a ton of your ads just to spike it, get your account closed, and starve you of revenue. Or in my case, my MOM thought that coming to my site each morning and clicking on a handful of ads was a good, loving thing to do. Of course, I freaked out. "Please don't get my account shut down, mom!"

But I love her for trying, of course.

-Tony
 
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  #26 (permalink)  
Old 12-18-2005, 05:12 AM
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i just posted this in another thread could also help you

get a PR done i had one done from a guy that said he would get me in google news, i thought to my self when he said this that it was a con so he said he would do it for FREE for me but i would have to pay for the submission which was only $30 the guy normly charges $30 for writting the PR but cos i didnt trust him he did my first for FREE

and yes it when in Google and yahoo news in the same day and its still there now i have been getting some good traffic and also its not like buying traffic as a PR will brand your domain more i was well chuffed so now he is my full time PR writter people charge up to $100 for a PR being written and they dont get them in google
 
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  #27 (permalink)  
Old 12-18-2005, 06:40 AM
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Madcad, give your PR guy some business. What's his name/URL?

-T
 
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  #28 (permalink)  
Old 12-18-2005, 07:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aboyd
Madcad, give your PR guy some business. What's his name/URL?

-T

PM sent to you tell me what happens as i will be writing a report on him soon on my website telling others how good he is
 
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  #29 (permalink)  
Old 12-18-2005, 11:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aboyd
It's funny. Back in March I went through all of this worry about how to grow my Web site. Getting people to post was like pulling teeth. People would see that I didn't have a lot of members, and they would flee. Bad cycle.

Now, I have almost 1800 members, and when a new member doesn't get his activation email within minutes, he or she will send me a handful of panicked emails. If I go away for a few days, there will be 100 new members when I get back. Frankly, I'd gotten used to this.

Now I'm launching a new Web forum, and I have 12 members, and getting new members is like pulling teeth! Again! So I'm thinking about what I did with my previous site. I have a few thoughts.

First, people are attracted to a crowd. So the more members you have, the more members you'll get. It's partly from activity -- lots of posts -- but also partly psychological. Seeing a forum with 25 members is kind of sad, it makes people want to go elsewhere. I just removed the member count on my new site for that reason. On my other, older/successful site, I think by the time I hit 1000 members, the momentum was in my favor. I'll get my second 1000 members in half the time it took to get the first 1000.

Second, your members are your advertisers. They're going to tell their friends about your site. Again, this is sort of a momentum thing -- once you have a lot of members talking about your site, you'll get a lot of new members. In the beginning, you have to artifically stimulate this activity with things like "email this topic" links. V7 has this under the "thread tools" link. phpBB can do it with an optional add-on. My new site currently doesn't have this option, so I know I need to add it soon.

Third, a good design really does help. Once I fully customized my home page (and later themed the forum itself), it was a little easier to sell people on the concept. My new site could take some lessons from my old site, in that regard.

Fourth, yes, you actually have to go through the grind of submitting your site to search engines, directories, and so on. I used to use automated tools, but they were worthless. With my successful site, I spent a 3-day weekend visiting directory after directory, adding my URL to any that were free. Now for my new site, I have to do this all over again. This is partly important to give you page rank, although to be honest, Google is wise to this stuff now, and doesn't really count directories much. But also, some of the directories will actually drive a few visitors your way. My logs show that I get about 1 to 5 visitors/day from all those directories combined. That may seem to be not at all worth the effort, but consider this: I worked my butt off for 3 days straight 9 months ago, and every day since, those directories have sent me a few visitors without any extra effort on my part.

Fifth, signatures cannot be underestimated. You must must must find a dozen forums that are close to yours (maybe not direct competitors, but complementary in some way), set up an account and a good linky signature, and start posting. What's important to note is that it doesn't work to post in unrelated places. For example, here on V7, my signature has links to non-Webmaster stuff like Narnia & writing. I won't get much mileage out of this post, as I can't expect Webmasters to be obsessively attracted to things outside their interests. However, I also post at some writer's forums, and after each post there -- assuming it's good -- I can expect to see 5 to 20 visitors to my site.

As a side note, you have to be careful about the forums, size-wise. In my bookmarks, next to each forum I've added a ranking. The ranking is a rough mashup of both how many members the forum has, and how many visitors they send my way when I post something good. I direct my time to the ones with the biggest bang for the buck. That's a little harsh, because discriminating against small sites is EXACTLY the problem your small site is experiencing, but you need to concentrate your efforts on the places that have interested people.

Some smaller sites will do trades -- you post 50 times to theirs, they'll post 50 times to yours. I consider that an excellent deal.

Also, there is one guy on one of these Webmaster sites that does forum posting for a living. You buy 100 posts from him at a time. He's willing to give himself multiple-personality-disorder for a day, and post from 3 or 4 different accounts. I also consider his service to be worth it. It can help you to get over the initial hump (I think until you get about 250 members, you're humped), and it can bulk up your forum. I've never used him, but if I track him down again, I just might.

Hmm. What else did I do? I did Google Adwords. Still do. But Google is starting to charge more, so I use them less. I use the Yahoo/Overture ads more now. There, I can still get decent placement for 10 or 20 cents in most cases. Search engine ads are very important for a new forum, especially if you're sandboxxed by Google for a few months.

Lastly, you HAVE to have a value proposition. I forgot about this. With my new Narnia site, I wanted to get people talking about the actors of the new Narnia movie. So I used their names as keywords to trigger my ads. I got 200 visitors in the first weekend from that. 200. Guess how many signed up? 2. I wasted tons of money. Here's what I did wrong: I offered nothing of value for them. I wanted them to come to my site and start conversations. But there were none that already existed. So they saw me advertising "discuss actresses Georgie & Tilda" but when they got to my site, there was no Georgie or Tilda discussion happening. They would have to start it. And apparently, they all bailed instead.

My fault.

So I killed those ads. Now I'm getting more clear on what I do offer already, and I'm only advertising that.

Anyway, there's more, but this is far too long already. I hope you can learn from my mistakes. Basically, know your target audience, talk to your target audience, and give something worthwhile to them. Good luck. To both of us.

-Tony

Awesome post, Tony.
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  #30 (permalink)  
Old 12-19-2005, 02:46 AM
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Thanks. As a follow-up, I believe I found the guy who will post in your forums for $$$, and "he" has apparently become "they." It's a company now.

http://www.forumelves.com/

Personally, I'm going to do it, although I'm going to use their lowest offering. I want to see how lengthy and topical their posts are.

-Tony
 
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  #31 (permalink)  
Old 12-19-2005, 02:50 AM
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Let us know how it turns out.
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  #32 (permalink)  
Old 12-19-2005, 02:56 AM
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http://www.forumlaunch.com/

I guess there are a lot of those places - wonder how topical their posts are.
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  #33 (permalink)  
Old 12-20-2005, 08:00 AM
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Forum posting

That's an interesting business concept - posting for pay.
I guess whenever there's demand there's supply.
 
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  #34 (permalink)  
Old 12-20-2005, 11:16 AM
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Honestly, I hate the whole idea. I'm just a purist, I guess, though.

I don't like auto-surf crap or paying for worthless traffic or buying posts to artificially inflate a forum. It's all bogus and, to me, rather less than honest.

-Michael
 
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  #35 (permalink)  
Old 12-20-2005, 11:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Allison
Honestly, I hate the whole idea. I'm just a purist, I guess, though.

I don't like auto-surf crap or paying for worthless traffic or buying posts to artificially inflate a forum. It's all bogus and, to me, rather less than honest.

-Michael
Same here.
 
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  #36 (permalink)  
Old 12-20-2005, 08:08 PM
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lol I agree completely. I'm surprised to read these opinions on an internet marketing forum, since normally they are being praised I think that some of the posts you will get for pay are actually going to alienate the potential good members who will look at them and say "nevermind". So my recommendation would be to just start a forum and start a bunch of threads on stuff that you consider interesting. And then do whatever you can do get others to see them and hopefully start responding. How do they say? "Natural is better!"
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  #37 (permalink)  
Old 12-21-2005, 06:34 AM
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My opinion on forums is that there are tons of forums on any thinkable subject and it makes no sense at all to start any forum, unless you start a forum for a community/niche that is in need of one.

When you start a fishing forum, for example, you're in competition with tons of popular fishing forums and will have a hard time getting any conversation going, but when you are a member of a fishing club that has no forum yet, it would be a good idea to start one for the club because the potential members are already there, from there this fisher's club forum will expand naturally.
 
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  #38 (permalink)  
Old 12-21-2005, 07:39 AM
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Forums are not about posts. Forums are about the people, and more about the chemistry of the people than most people would guess.

You can start two forums, identical in every way, and the one with inter-member chemistry will survive while the other won't.
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  #39 (permalink)  
Old 12-21-2005, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by JohnScott
You can start two forums, identical in every way, and the one with inter-member chemistry will survive while the other won't.
Yep. Absolutely true.

-Michael
 
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  #40 (permalink)  
Old 12-23-2005, 06:45 PM
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Arrow NeedRealTraffic To Your WebSite

Ok took the other msg down but if you need real traffic to your site have a look at a traffic broker we can send real traffic

Thanks mike

Last edited by itsmcfly32; 12-23-2005 at 07:09 PM.
 
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