Can't help but feel like I'm wasting my time at this point

Discussion in 'Finance and Traffic' started by Triangulum, Jun 28, 2019.

  1. Triangulum

    Triangulum Aspirant

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    Hey everybody...

    I started a forum about 2 years ago. The niche is fairly controversial these days. It's about UFOs, the paranormal, metaphysics and philosophy...and of course, (((conspiracy theories)))....which, as you might have heard, is being attacked literally everywhere across the internet nowadays.

    Ironically, in a very 1984-ish kind of way, wrongthink is certainly being silenced and punished across ALL social media platforms these days....something that was just a "conspiracy theory" just a few years ago.

    Actually, the fact that literally everyone is trying to shut this kind of discussion down is emboldening me to want to keep going. But that's besides the point.

    Having said that, I'm not getting any results at all. Not only am I getting zero sign-ups, I'm also getting absolutely no traffic except robots.

    At first, I probably spent close to $1000 on articles from textbroker to get some high-quality, premium content for the site. Along with that, I used Xenporta to kind of give visitors something cool to look at on the home page. And guess what? Absolutely nothing happened. Still no sign-ups and still no visitors.

    So after that, I've switched gears to something a little more simple, less time-consuming, and less expensive. What I do now is go out on places like YouTube and find videos that I find interesting. I then create a post, embed the video into it, create a small summary of the video in my own words (probably 100-200 words), attach a generic but related stock photo to the post and then finally feature the post it as a "featured article" so that it shows up on the Xenporta home page . I've been doing this since January and I've got to say...here it is, almost July and I can't help but feel like I'm wasting away countless hours of my life on a fool's errand.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Kevin

    Kevin Oooh, something shiny!

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    As somebody who runs a (small) sci-fi site that occasionally crosses into UFOs, conspiracy theories, and the weird & supernatural... I have never come across anybody now being "attacked" online for these types of topics. If anything, we're seeing more interest in the topic now that the last couple of US presidential elections have had the topic of UFOs come up and even recently the US military has released more information on the topic.

    What kind of promotions are you doing to get word out about your site? Even with no advertising I still get few members joining on a regular basis. What about making your site friendly as possible for the search engine bots, any work done for your meta tags & open graph values? Are you submitting a sitemap to Google?

    Is your site URL one you're willing to share? Feel free to PM me if you prefer keeping it quiet.
     
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  3. Triangulum

    Triangulum Aspirant

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    Yes, occasionally things turn a bit political. And by "attacked," I mean some main figures in the "conspiracy" department are being totally de-platformed, de-monetized....and I'm not sure if you're aware of this, but even payment systems are targeting conspiracy theorists....refusing to process subscription payments to those sites. I'm not making this stuff up....it's really going on.

    Anyway, that's all really besides the point.

    As far as promotions--heh that's actually pretty funny.

    I had a YouTube channel that featured the "top 10 most interesting threads posted during the week." Each Friday, I'd select 10 interesting posts and create a short 2 min video featuring those topics.

    I also created some night vision videos that I captured with a night vision lens on my camera. Acutally, I captured some incredible stuff flying across the sky that you can't see with the naked eye. And still no interest.

    Finally, I did Google and Facebook advertising, but that went nowhere. I actually liked Facebook ads better, because you could feature video ads....but still, I spent plenty of cash on that with absolutely nothing to show for it. I'm just not quite sure what I'm doing wrong.
     
  4. Kevin

    Kevin Oooh, something shiny!

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    All depends on your version of conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories about UFOs, aliens, black helicopters, etc... I'm not seeing any attack on them, conspiracy theories like Alex Jones trying to say that Sandy Hook massacre of kids was a government hoax.... yeah, that's a whole different ball park.

    If you want a few hits on your YouTube channel, post some your vids over here. If you come in and just go straight to posting "Hey, visit my forum at XYZ" then you'll be seen as a spammer, if you're posting some vids just to get some backlinks to your YouTube channel and maybe some people talking about it, then go for it. Just be warned though, the old time 'regulars crowd' are old & grumpy.

    I haven't done any Google ads in years but my recent Facebook experiments with promoting our photography forum have led nowhere. The sci-fi forum can be a bit too niche sometimes, and I try not to monetize it (if people find it, they're more than welcome to join in, no attempts at monetizing it) but I figured the photography site would at least be able to get a few hits from FB; I was, apparently, incorrect.

    In a recent thread here at TAZ fixer went into some detail about his recent efforts with FB advertising. Some of his content is a bit more dubious and may cross over into the conspiracy theorists area, and as I recall his FB efforts also came up empty. His efforts at FB content to get 'likes' & 'shares' seem to be hitting an audience but the efforts to turn those into clicks back to his actual site wasn't as effective.
     
  5. sbjsbj

    sbjsbj Fan

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    Which forum software do you use by the way?

    The problem here is, that in the age of today, it is very hard to get a forum going and rolling. Your niche is more the "chit-chat" type of niche, where people can do this already on Facebook or on Twitter or on Reddit. What value can your site offer what those sites cannot offer?

    Articles are great, if it is done by WordPress, as it outperforms forums. But that way you cannot create a community, but more like a revenue stream, if all goes well.

    So, the question is, why should I register on your forum? Give me one good reason to do that. If your answer is "bla bla you can freely discuss your views bla bla", then, sorry, but that is nowhere near a good reason in this day of age, even though big platforms censor people. People are zombies right now sitting behind a smartphone. So because of convenience, posting and creating takes too much time and effort. They are leechers. And if they do, they use social media.

    So, what you need to do is to create a reason why someone should register. It must give them a clear advantage to do so. From what I understand, I can read your articles as a visitor anyway. I am not saying you should hide those articles behind a pay-wall or a register-wall, because then for sure you would shoot at your own foot, but in this day of age you must provide a value, which they cannot get otherwise. Only then people will bother to register.

    Some sort of expertise is always most of the time the key reason. Like if your desktop/laptop has a virus, you need to register on a forum to get help. There is a clear incentive to register.

    It is the typical chicken and egg problem, we all are facing. You need an audience, so that your discussions can take off. But you cannot have an audience, when not in first place you have something going on in your forum which lures an audience such as discussions. It is like job offers for junior positions when people expect you to have 3 years of experience when you are fresh out of college.

    So, you have two options.
    1) You create an audience by using other methods. A good example is Youtube. You can use Youtube to create your audience. But not by posting a 2 mins video of your latest topics. You need engaging, good quality videos. Whatever they might be in your niche. Then you can channel that audience to your forum.
    Or a database of information which make users come back to your site again and again to use your database. Then you can channel those visitors to your forum.

    2) You have to offer a service where people need to register so that they can make a use of that service. Give them a reason. Again, what that service might be, that is exactly the problem you have to solve. Otherwise we all would be swimming in money, if there would be a plan we all can follow generically. You need to sell stuff (it doesn't need to be physical products). I don't know, like UFO replicas or a bottle of sand from Area 51 or whatever.

    To sum it up, being frank here, unless you really really enjoy your niche and it is part of your identity, I think you are wasting your time right now. If the goal is to make money, go Youtube. Youtube is the place to make money right now or Instagram, but Youtube is much much easier to get into.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
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  6. Anton Chigurh

    Anton Chigurh Ultimate Badass

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    :LOL:

    THAT got me rollin!
     
  7. Anton Chigurh

    Anton Chigurh Ultimate Badass

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    With disclaimer: "Not liable or responsible for radiation poisoning, extraterrestrial diseases, viruses, plagues or bacterium in this contaminated sand."
    :LOL::LOL:
     
  8. sbjsbj

    sbjsbj Fan

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    Well, I mean, anything really. If his target audience is into UFOs and that stuff, he must provide products targetted to those people. And I bet there are people out there who would buy a bottle of sand for 9.99 $. And then you can make them register to buy that stuff and make them choose the color of the bottle or whatever. As long as you lure them somehow, all options are viable. You can also offer user upgrades, shiny badges or colored usernames, but you need in first place an audience which he doesn't have (like most of us). That kind of revenue system can be used later on. In first place he needs to lure people to his forum. Creating an audience is the key here. And it is a long process.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2019
  9. Kevin

    Kevin Oooh, something shiny!

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    Have it come complete with a picture of parking by the 'unauthorized visitors will be shot signs' with the 'no military markings SUVs & pickups watching from the hill' while scooping up the sand in a bottle and I would bet almost anything that people would buy it. :LOL:
     
  10. Anton Chigurh

    Anton Chigurh Ultimate Badass

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    Don't get me wrong, you're giving sage advice that I agree with. Just couldn't get the vision out of my head of Billy Mays selling bottles of "Area 51 Sand! Call now and we'll DOUBLE your order! But wait, there's MORE! For a seperate fee we'll include UFO fragments!"
     
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  11. Anton Chigurh

    Anton Chigurh Ultimate Badass

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    You're not lying, that's one of the big reasons that cracked me up. Could include a certificate of authentication and serial-numbered bottles too!

    Hell, get William Shatner to do the TV spots!
     
  12. R0binHood

    R0binHood Habitué

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    I was going to suggest including some Alien Candy with every order.

    Then I googled it and realised that the most popular 'Alien Candy' out there probably wouldn't work.

    Then I thought about it a bit more, and if your users did get some of that Alien Candy you might get more UFO spottings reported on your site :D
     
  13. Kevin

    Kevin Oooh, something shiny!

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    I am so Googling "Alien Candy" when I get back home and am not on a work machine. :D
     
  14. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

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    Wise move :D
     
  15. Joel R

    Joel R Fan

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    There are two fundamental questions you should be asking:
    1. What are digital marketing strategies to promote my brand? This is a short-term play through marketing techniques, such as cross-promotions on other sites, paid promotions on industry sites or channels, social media, or other forms of outreach.

    I think you have a deeper problem though, which is ...

    2. What valuable, authoritative, or comprehensive information do you bring to your field? This is the long-term value of your community. Writing up summaries of YouTube videos isn't going to cut it. What is your community's unique value proposition to the world?

    I feel like a lot of new forum admins open up a forum, thinking that if they offer it, people will come. Sorry, it doesn't work like that any more for new or old forums. People don't need or want run-of-the-mill communities anymore when there are so many other ways to communicate. Search engines allow the best websites in the world to rise to the top, and the rest get left behind.

    I wrote a guest blog for Invision Community that probed these kinds of questions. I wish someone had asked me these hard questions when I first started, because it would have forced me to focus on how to deliver my community's singular value to the world.

    https://invisioncommunity.com/news/guest-blog/2019-year-of-community-r1122/
     
  16. MagicalAzareal

    MagicalAzareal Magical Developer

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    Yeah, social media is just getting retarded about this stuff, as is Twitter over ***ing "automated activity" which basically forces anyone who wants to use the platform to turn over their phone number and to think this was the big "freedom of speech" platform which was supposed to empower even people living in third world countries who surprise, surprise don't have phones.

    I just hope they go a step too far and everything comes crashing down on Twitter, Facebook, etc. and people flee to less asininely stupid platforms. I won't hold my breath on this however.
     
  17. ips_doug

    ips_doug Aspirant

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    @Triangulum, what is your forum url? You can pm it to me if you do not want to post it here.

    I used to run a similiar forum too last year and I went through pretty much what you are going through. On top of everything it got hacked a couple of times too. I closed it down as I did not have much free time back then, nor the energy to deal with it.

    Anyways, I think that I can help you out with getting traffic. Pm me if you would like to discuss this further.
     
  18. Ingenious

    Ingenious Fan

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    This is a classic case of "Forum Existential Anxiety" - I'm afraid there is no cure and all admins go through it at some point, usually in middle age :LOL:
     
  19. overcast

    overcast Adherent

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    I'd say reddit has pretty acitve community in UFO and the cryptozoological specific content. I think despite the facebook groups, the forums in this niche are doing good in terms of traffic. My suggestion would be find out the topics from the reddit and see if you can have detailed analysis type forum posts and get people to discuss it on your forum. Don't link to facebook group and reddit threads from your forum. You don't want to give traffic to those sites, you can link to other forums but not social media. As that would only drive your people away.
     
  20. Lukkassa

    Lukkassa Neophyte

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    People are divided into three types:
    1. People believe in UFOs;
    2. People do not believe in UFOs;
    3. People who don't care.
     
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