There are many misconceptions that new admins make about starting forums. The two most common ones are; forums are easy money makers, and getting people to join is easy. The truth is starting a forum is just about as “easy” as learning to walk. Not to mention all the time that goes into creating and designing everything, building a forum is like building a Ranch House from scratch. If you want to see your forum on page one of Google, then you better be prepared to put continuous hours into your community. Precision and accuracy are key to building a success. How often do you see a football coach sit down and take a snooze during a practice session? Every minute, every practice, every day, is dedicated to building the best and being the best. Lacking those details is what will set you apart from other forums. Today, the Internet is full of competition and you’re competing against the absolute best and most experienced website owners on the Net!
So here’s the story on Outdoor-Fishing.com:
It was about mid March of 2010 when I got this fancy idea of starting my own forum. I had no experience in running online forums, and I also had no idea what I was getting myself into. Of course just like anyone else I was excited to put my time into building a forum. I mean, who wouldn’t like to have their very own forum community? Or so I thought…
If you’re familiar with forum software then you’d probably heard of Simple Machines Forum (SMF). With the help of an experienced technical admin (who later became a great supporter of the site), I decided to choose SMF. Prior to this, I’ve frequently visited many forums and have successfully established a solid understanding of how things work. With SMF being the one, the technical admin and I, put our thoughts and ideas together to build our small community. I was more focused on handling the visual aspect, while the technical admin was handling the “back-end” of things. A month or so later we were just about to officially announce the opening of our site. At this time I was already advertising my site, making promises, encouraging friends and family to join, and so forth. I scattered my site links in many different places like forum sites, Yahoo, Emailing, related fishing sites, etc. I was also successful in talking a “future” sponsor to join the site. He later become a strong supporter and is now a moderator (a very good one I might add).
With the forum now almost ninety-percent complete, we started experiencing some problems. I strive to recreate what most of the large forums had; blogs, good user profiles, image uploading software, spell check, just to mention a few. Unfortunately, SMF didn’t have the full “building blocks” that I was looking for. Yes, they had the basics, but I felt that this just wasn’t enough. This is when talks of upgrading to vBulletin (paid forum software), became more serious. At this point in time, I started to realize that if you wanted to be on page one of Google (or at least close), in a niche as broad as mine then there should be no reason why forum software should set your forum back from your competitors. About three weeks later I purchased a copy of vB and everything was transferred.
I’m not going to go into much detail of what was done for the next fourth months, but there was a lot of work put into everything. Posts are transferable, the rest is not. Everything was being re-designed, new theme, new plugins, new logo, etc. Prior to this we experienced a three week setback regarding hosting issues. Four months later everything was complete. By this time, and I mean it when I say this, I went through the vB archives. I spent four solid days just finding a theme I liked. Even the paid vB themes didn’t look appealing to me unless they were in the $500 range. And I’m not trying to say this to brag, I know that those minor details is what mattered and I wanted to make sure I had the absolute perfect theme for my site.
I opened the doors to the forum in the last week of August, 2010. With the help of a few family and friends we managed to successfully gain our first 100 members in just a few weeks. At this time, I also sponsored a contest, which turned out to be a huge success. The forum grew very quickly, thanks to social networking and a few other popular sites. With a good stream of members coming in, we’re currently sitting at 450 registered members. That’s a rapid growth rate in just seven weeks! And we still haven’t stopped! One thing that I’d like mention about recruiting members is that recruiting members is a never-ending process. When people see the dedication that you put into building your forum, they will start to take notice and that’s when the new registrants will increase.
A few quick pointers for “new” admins:
- Work on the details that includes visual, technical, verbal, etc. – this matters!
- Build a good staff team. Remember, a good staff team doesn’t have to be big in numbers. A good staff team understands individual duties and does what is required of them for the good of the site.
- Recruit, recruit, and when you have members coming in you should still continue to recruit!
- Strive for success and learn from your competition. Often times you will find that your competing sites are your best bet. It’s not very difficult to see what they don’t have that makes you stand out. Use this to your advantage!
To wrap it up, our forum is still growing strong. We have many unique individuals who are posting some great content and sharing their “fishing knowledge” with the rest of the crew. It’s great to see members participating together and discussing something that’s fun and physically healthy for you!
And my favorite Bible quotes:
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. John 21:6
God bless and I wish you all success in starting your forums!
Strive for success,
Founder of Outdoor-Fishing.com
Technical Admin: MordyT – A great guy that will help you with whatever he can!
To our staff team and recent admin. You know who you are!
Thanks to the support from our great members and sponsors!