How do you make money off a forum - and how much can you make

Discussion in 'Generating Revenue' started by kejasa, Feb 16, 2006.

  1. kejasa

    kejasa Enthusiast

    Hi everyone,

    I've been thinking about starting a forum in an area I find lacking, however I don't want to do this if the forum won't pay for itself. For those of you who have advertisements on your forums, is this enough to cover the forum cost?(I would purchase the forum through IPB, which would cost a little over $100. a year). Also, does anyone make above and beyond their forum costs by allowing ads, paid subscriptions, etc. on their forums?

    Thanks for any and all input.

  2. derek

    derek Aspirant

    I don't recommend starting a forum solely for making money off of itself. You have to be interested and passionate about your forum and then when people see that enthusiasm behind it, they would be much more willing to join. There are a lot of ways to advertise the forum:
    1)Google adsense/Yahoo ads
    2)Text links
    3)Sponsor ads
    4)My space
    5)Affiliate networks
    6)Contests (example: the person with the most posts wins a prize, points, etc).
  3. petertdavis

    petertdavis Not a Beginner

    Don't even worry about anything other than Adsense until your membership is in the thousands, and you have tens of thousands of posts.
  4. kejasa

    kejasa Enthusiast

    I don't have visions of laughing all the way to the bank if I start this new forum. It's just that I already have one forum where I beg members to donate enough to keep it going every year. I don't want to get into that situation again. So if I start a new forum I would like to know for sure that there was a way it could pay for itself before I started it. My bleeding heart has already gotten me into paperwork and worries over my head and I don't wish to take on any more at the moment. real question there a way to make sure a forum will substain itself from the start (by ads, etc.)? I know if I made this forum it would take off quick...I have no doubts about that.

  5. Lordvader008

    Lordvader008 Aspirant

    I used to advertise in a gaming forum, and its more of a hastle than it is a benefit. I just had a simple google ad on a vbulletin forum, i would rather have it look professional than junked up with ads
  6. Julia

    Julia Fan

    I have Adsense on my entire site (including my forums), which more than cover my expenses.

    However, the revenue I collect from Adsense on my forums is only a small percentage. I'm not sure if it would even cover my costs. 98% of the revenue comes from the rest of the site.

    It's been a long, hard slog over 4 years to get my site to where it is.
  7. tintin

    tintin Participant

    +0 be short .. i guess it takes time.
  8. kilcher

    kilcher Devotee

    No one can tell you for sure whether or not your forum will be able to pay for itself. Hosting is relatively inexpensive so more than likely you won't have a problem.
  9. The Kingpin

    The Kingpin Devotee

    I think that it would be quite hard at the beginning for the forum to pay for itself, as it has been suggested add some adsense ads and then when you have a lot more activity introduce premium members.
  10. NICOCLUBcom

    NICOCLUBcom Nissan / Infiniti guru

    I agree that starting a forum with even the THOUGHT that you'll make money is dooming you to failure in most cases.

    We ran for 3 years IN THE RED (out of pocket)... We ran another 2 years on donations and a couple banner ads from sponsors... It's only been very recently (past 2 years) that we monetized.

    We've made back all our initial outlay, and the site now generates a very healthy income, but I guarantee it never would have succeeded if money had been part of the goal in the beginning.
  11. SoccerMan

    SoccerMan Soccer Member

    Not sure I completely agree with this. I think it really depends on your niche and how creative you can be. Even when my forum was very young I was able to get sponsors because I focused only on my topic. My sponsors get a very focused user group and I make a small profit.

    For an example of what I mean by creative, look at my homepage at The featured Article, "Playing Better Soccer is More Fun" is a paid ad that I wrote for the author of the book and DVD.

    Code Four Athletics, who's banner is at the bottom has been with me for about 5 years now and we barter for ad space. I get soccer equipment instead of cash and they get ad space.
  12. kilcher

    kilcher Devotee

    Good point. And even thought it's tempting it's usually a bad idea to rely on one source of income.
  13. dune

    dune Habitué

    I think you should look at why you have to beg on your other forum to keep it running before anything else.
  14. ipodman

    ipodman The Teacher


    For me on my forum profit comes in many ways:-

    Google Adsense
    Text links
    Banner space

    I also make some money of donations but that’s get put back into the forum. So far I have made quit a bit from my forum!
  15. dojo

    dojo Passionate admin

    Well, monetizing a forum can be a good idea and it can happen, but at first the community needs to be growing really nice. I don't think there are limits to the earnings in the end, but it needs a lot of development work. Would love knowing how much webhostingtalk, offtopic, or gaia make :D
  16. kejasa

    kejasa Enthusiast

    My current forum is part of a nonprofit organization that helps people with chronic illnesses. Begging is kind of synonymous with nonprofit. We rely on donations to keep us going, and we don't charge any member fees. We want the forum to look professional, so we don't include advertisements.

    This other forum I have in mind would be in a totally other niche and could include advertisements, etc. I don't have a lot of time right now, but maybe someday in the future....


    LACHESIS Participant

    You might consider providing a service and then charging a membership fee to your forum. It must be a GOOD benefit, a SMALL subscription fee, and something that quite a few people (with money) can benefit highly from. For example, The Admin Zone could easily charge a fee, from $1-$10/month for the information in here and maintain steady membership. The number one reason people use the internet is communication via e-mail. Number two, which is likely where you should concentrate your efforts, is information. What information can you provide people for a fee?

    If you want your forum available for free, you might consider have an "Upper Class" membership that is paid, and give those people extra benefits.
  18. Athorn4941

    Athorn4941 Enthusiast

    I be leary of starting a forum just for the sole benefit to make money off of.

    Starting a forum can be a very hard and will not pay off for itself right away. I have forums that took years to get established.

    If you pick a topic based on the one that looks most profitable it can be hard to do anything because of lack of knowledge or interest on that topic.

    Thats my 2 cents.
  19. 10smom

    10smom Enthusiast


    I just went to your site and saw you had a search engine and people could pay to have their site posted in search engine. Did you set that up or is that google run? If you set it up how did you do it? Are you making good income from that?

    Also on the google adds. How do you get paid if google puts an add on your website? Can you limit the # of adds that appear? How much do you get per add? Thanks you for you help. I am new to this and I am learing a lot on just the 1st day in this excelent forum.
  20. index7

    index7 Neophyte


    Allow me to add a few thoughts :)

    1. Don't view the forum as and end but the means. You goal is not to get money from the forum itself but use it as a stepping stone to acquire money. Example, if you want to sell sci-fi related products, use the forum to set up a sci fi community. However don't start selling your products straight way, show your genuine interest in the community and when you earn (notice the word earn) their respect, you can begin to sell stuff. This will take time and your interest must be genuine in the community - and not trying to make a quick buck off them. People will see right through that very easily.

    2. IF you want to make money out of the forum itself, that's ok also. Here goes the important question you got to figure out. "Why should the customer pay you money to join your forum when there are other free forums around?" In other words what can you offer that other forums cannot offer .... and people will be willing to pay for premium membership. However first and foremost, you normal membership must already be able to offer what other site can offer. Don't offer anything on the premium membership that can be found anywhere on the other forums - it's a sure way to go down under.

    3. Don't rely too much on ads in the first place. There a lots of ways to make money. The important thing is to get multiple streams of income. All the small streams will make a some form of profit - but don't expect a windfall or anything like that. That is why genuine passion is important - that will take you through hard times. When people catch on and believe in your idea and forum, then they will be more likely be willing to fork out their hard earned cash.

    Remember Passion & Commitment to genuinely help the members in the forum is the first step.

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