Forums are one of the best ways to engage with customers or make engaging audiences on any subject. And that's why it's extremely important to start with solid knowledge. This ultimate tutorial will help you learn how to create a forum website, make it a successful online business and earn money from it.
I can help you learn what it takes to create a forum and make it a success because I've already done it. Yes, I have made H-Educate Forums a successful platform for members to learn about digital marketing.
And since its inception,
- It has helped hundreds of thousands of people across the globe
- Attracted over 20,400 members at the time of writing this post
- They've discussed over 1879 topics on H-Educate Forums
- And they've created over 19,500 posts on the forum
Do you want to attract that much or even more engagements online? Read on to create a forum and make it a business success online. But before that, you may wonder if it's worth it. Let me reveal a few benefits of creating a forum first.
Benefits of Creating Forum Website
Just like any other website, a forum website has tons of benefits. Plus, it takes advantage of user-generated content (UGC). Let's have a look at a few pros of launching a forum as a business.
Readers Keep Coming Back
A forum is like a social media platform, and it's just based on a particular niche. So the forum readers keep coming back to engage, benefit, and participate. Many website owners struggle with retaining their visitors. But with a forum, you enjoy the power of UGC.
Forum Can Be a Learning Center for Readers
In forums, readers connect. They learn from you and each other as well. A forum can become a full-fledged learning center for readers. For example, over 20,300 readers learn about digital marketing on H-Educate Forums.
And that causes increased loyalty among readers. I don't answer all the questions, yet readers take time to do so. And you could charge them per month for being a member of your forum. That's why I believe a forum is extremely important for any SaaS business.
Enjoy the Power of UGC (User Generated Content)
Every digital marketer in the world wants to attract the maximum attention from people. A lot of companies spend a lot of money to create content for social media and websites.
But with a forum, your readers create content for your forum.
And that's phenomenal. User-generated content creates loyalty among readers and boosts the brand's image. It also increases your site's ranking on search engines—the more content you have on your site, the higher your site's visibility.
Get Product or Service Ideas
With a forum, you get exposure to a like-minded audience in your niche. And there's a brilliant opportunity for you to get product or service ideas. And you never know; you get to build the next big thing in the world.
A discussion forum can help generate ideas and drive innovation by crowdsourcing. Do you need to get feedback about your product or service, you get an entire audience for that.
You've already built a product or service; you can get valuable customer feedback with forums.
Offer the Best Customer Support
One of the benefits of creating a forum on your business website is that it improves customer support. If you have a business that people want to know about, you must create a forum so that your users get the ample support they need.
For example, Apple's official support community is based on forums. Users come to their forums, ask questions, and get official replies and community responses as well.` And then there's WordPress Forums, HubSpot Community, and more.
Now that you know the power of forums let's get to know how to create forum websites in minutes.
How to Create Forum Website in 2021
There are a lot of things you need to consider before creating a forum business for you. For example, you need to research the right web hosting, theme, and plugins if you may choose to use them. I'll discuss them in the actionable steps given below.
I have also made an entire mini course on creating forums and making money from it:
Buy the Domain Name for Forum Website
Skip this step if you already have a domain name for your forum website. This step is for you if you're starting from scratch. Picking the perfect domain name takes a lot of research and time. It can take a few seconds to tons of days to decide on your forum's domain name.
Have a look at things to look for in a domain name:
- Use a .com domain always
- Go for a brandable domain
- Hunt the shortest domain possible
- Avoid numbers and hyphens
- Consider using a keyword
- Try adding the word ‘forums' somewhere.
Steps you need to take to buy a domain for your forum website:
- Go to the right domain registrar like NameCheap
- Search for a domain name in the search box
- Click on ‘Add to Cart if it's available
- And hit the ‘Checkout' button
- Enter all the payment details
And you're good to go. Now is the time for you to go for the right hosting service for your forum.
Pick the Right Hosting: How to Create Forum Website
You don't need to follow this step if you want to create a forum for your existing site. But if you want to launch a standalone forum, you need to pick the right hosting service for your forum. Go for Bluehost if you don't want to spend a lot of time thinking about your host. Why?
Because Bluehost is the most popular hosting in the world and WordPress officially recommends it. And it has everything you need to start your forum at reasonable pricing. Let me put forward a few more options for you to choose from.
- DigitalOcean (VPS hosting with easy set-up and reasonable pricing)
- Hostinger (Most budget-friendly hosting option)
- Contabo (Best and cheapest VPS hosting provider without a doubt)
I'll go with Bluehost for this example because it's extremely easy to set up, fast, and affordable hosting service. So the first step is to go to bluehost.com and choose to ‘Get Started' there. It will take you to the shared hosting plans.
Go for 36 months plans because then you get the best price for your hosting. For example, when writing this post, Bluehost offers to host for as low as $2.95/month. Isn't it awesome? And you can always upgrade as you go.
After choosing a plan, Bluehost sets up your domain. You can either create a new domain or use the one you already own. Create your Bluehost account now and fill in the required information. Pay with your credit card or choose other available payment options.
Here's the summary of steps you need to take for registering with Bluehost:
- Go to bluehost.com
- Click on ‘Get Started' and choose a plan
- Get your domain or enter the existing one
- Create your Bluehost account
- Pay for your hosting
- Install the WordPress
And you're ready to launch your forum website. But first, you may want to choose software for that. Let me walk you through how you can do it.
Choose a Software to Create Forum Website
Now you need software to create forum functionalities on your site. For that, you have four options to choose from. One is to go for a top-notch developer to set up a forum for you from scratch. But that may be extremely expensive.
And you may end up paying for the support. Other three options include:
- WordPress Forum Theme
- Forum Script on CodeCanyon
- WordPress Plugins for Forums
Let's get to know how you can create a forum website using any of the options.
Choose a WordPress Forum Theme
WordPress is an ideal CRM for creating a forum website without a doubt. You can boost its functionalities with a few plugins as well. There are tons of WordPress themes specially geared towards forum business.
One fine example is ‘Disputo – WordPress bbPress Forum Theme' available on ThemeForest. It's a brilliant WordPress theme for those who want to run their forums using the bbPress forum plugin.
Other WordPress themes for forums include:
And the list continues. I have chosen Neve for creating a forum in my mini-course on YouTube.
Go for Forum Script on CodeCanyon
If you aren't new, you may already know that I'm a big fan of CodeCanyon. There are tons of scripts for almost anything in the world right now. Forums scripts aren't an exception here. For example, Simple Forum is a wonderful script for creating a standalone forum website.
Have a look at the top features of Simple Forums right now.
Steps you need to take to buy forum script on CodeCanyon:
- Go to CodeCanyon
- Search for ‘forum script.'
- Open the page of your choice
- Click on ‘Buy Now' or ‘Add to Cart
- After the purchase, install it on your host.
Here's how you can install any PHP script online in minutes:
And if you don't want to spend your time installing the PHP script yourself, consider buying our services here.
Opt for a Forum WordPress Plugin (like bbPress, wpForo Forum)
If you already have a website you manage on WordPress, consider searching for forum plugins. They will add forum functionality to your existing site.
Or else, you can also run a standalone forum website using plugins like bbPress or wpForo Forum.
Steps you need to take:
- Go to your WordPress dashboard
- Hover over to the plugins section
- Search for ‘forum' plugin
- Choose a forum plugin of your choice
- Install it to your host
- Customize its settings
And you're good to go.
I've chosen wpForo for creating H-educate Forums because it offers you a full-fledged yet easy forum solution for your WP site. You'll get everything you need to start and scale your forum business.
Protect Your Forum with Akismet: How to Create Forum Website
Every website in the world has threats from spammers and hackers. Forum sites are even more prone to such attacks than traditional sites. Why? It's because the forums are geared towards user-generated content.
After you have bought the domain, hosting, and software to create your forum, you need to protect it. I recommend going for a plugin like Akismet to stop spam.
Steps you need to take:
- Go to akistmet.com or find ‘Akismet' in WordPress plugins
- Download, install and activate it
- Set its settings to your choice
And that's just it! Your forum is protected by Akismet now. I also use this plugin to save H-Educate Forums from spammers. Let's move on to the last step of creating a forum now.
Add Categories & Content to Your Forum
The last step of creating a forum is to add categories and content to it. With fierce competition in the world, you must create a forum based on a particular niche. You are more likely to succeed if you target a specific audience.
I've made a video on my YouTube channel to help you find the money-making niches:
After you select your niche, you need to do proper keyword research. Add categories and related questions. How can you do it? The answer is AnswerThePublic. But it may be a little expensive for you. What to do then?
- Go to H-Supertools' Questions Explorer
- Enter 1-2 words related to your niche
- Find tons of questions for those keywords
And that's how easy it is. You don't even need to pay a single penny for that. Add those questions and answer them with the utmost value.
Here are a few ways to get content ideas for your forum website:
- Get ideas from Quora's questions, topics, and spaces
- Search the subreddits on Reddit forums
- Find other forums from findaforum.com and get content ideas
- Repurpose your existing content for the forum
You'll start getting traction after some time. But will you just wait? Well, no. Let me tell you how you can succeed in your forum now.
How to Make Your Forum Successful
Now that you've created a forum website, you cannot just sit and wait for it to succeed. Be proactive in promoting and making it as successful as you can. Only then can you make substantial money from it.
Promote Forum on Quora, Pinterest, Reddit, and More
Spread the word about your forum after creating it. You can promote it using a lot of methods like:
- SEO (Optimize your content for search engines like Google)
- Social Media Marketing (Hone the power of social media)
- Paid Advertising (Put your money where the mouth is)
Sites like Quora, Pinterest, and Reddit have tons of traffic. I suggest you create boards for Pinterest and keep sharing the Pins with links back to your forum. And for Reddit, create a subreddit about your niche and include your forum's links.
Also you might want to create an awesome landing page to convert your visitors into members. And you can always benefit from their traffic by adding value to the audience.
Run Giveaways & Contests: How to Create Forum Website
Everyone loves gifts and winning something. And that's where giveaways and contests pop in. They add terrific feelings to your readers and drive traffic to your forum as well. And that's why I have a special page for giveaways.
With giveaways on H-Educate, I drive traffic to my site and increase social media engagements. And you can also take advantage of running giveaways and contests.
Make a Video Course on How to Benefit from Your Forum
Once visitors are on your forum, they must see some call to action. One awesome way is to drive them to a video course on how they can benefit from your forum. It increases awareness among your readers and loyalty for your forum as well.
Create Good Discussion Topics
You must have read thousands of times that content is king. And it is. But it's not just about any content; rather, it should be helpful for your readers. Create open-ended discussions on your forums so that you create a long thread.
It will help you drive traffic to your forum without a doubt.
Promote Members with Special Positions
Promote members, and members will promote your forum in return. It's a win-win situation for you and your readers as well. In this video, I've encouraged my readers to engage in H-Educate Forums so that they may earn special positions.
But how can you do it? For forums, I use the wpForo plugin. And it offers you the ‘Member Reputation' feature, which is a powerful user reputation system. It's based on active engagements. There are 10 levels members can pass.
And in return, you can offer them something. For example, I have offered my readers to promote H-Educate and enjoy $1000 as well.
Make Sure Push & Email Notification Are Enabled
Make sure push and email notifications are enabled. Why? Because your forum will keep updating your readers about new content added to your forum. And it's helpful for your readers as well. How?
For example, Mr. A should receive notification on his email for all the replies to his question. Isn't it an obvious thing to do for your forum? But how to do it? Go for OneSignal for push and MailChimp for email notification.
How to Make Money With Your Forum Website
Now that you've created your forum and made it successful let's make money from it. There are several ways you can do it; let me share a few with you.
Refer Your Visitors & Earn Affiliate Commissions
You earn a commission when you refer your visitors to a product they end up buying. It's the affiliate commission. There are many affiliate programs from Amazon Associates to Bluehost Affiliates to CJ.
Here are a few steps you need to take:
- Choose an affiliate program related to your niche
- Apply for it and start promoting it
- Incorporate your affiliate links using Pretty Links (Just as I do on H-Educate)
Furthermore, you can create guides, tutorials, and reviews around the products or services you want to promote. For example, I've made a tutorial titled “How to Install WordPress on Contabo VPS” to make affiliate commissions from Contabo.
Make Money with Ad Networks
Making money with ad networks like AdSense, Ezoic, or MediaVine is also practical for forum websites. Visitors come to your forum, view the ads from the networks, and some of them click on them as well. Here's how you do it:
- Go to an ad network like AdSense
- Click on ‘Get Started'
- Enter information about you and your forum
- Wait for the approval
- And follow the guidelines given by the networks
Your site may need to incorporate some code so that the network can display ads. A higher engagement rate on your ads means more money for you.
Offer Related Services
It's my favorite way of making money. Readers visiting your forum website learn a lot of things from you. And sometimes, they need to get things done. You may offer services related to your niche and make a substantial income. For example, I offer a lot of digital marketing services like:
Create & Sell Info products like eBooks or Courses
Selling information products is one of the fastest-growing online businesses in the world. You can make money by creating and selling info products like books, webinars, or courses. For example, you have created a forum about affiliate marketing.
Informational products are easy to create and sell. You can sell ebooks, webinars, courses, and more based on your affiliate marketing strategies. And they're virtually free to store them. Marketing them is a little challenging, but not that much if you have a relevant forum.
Steps you should take:
- Ask for idea validation in your forum
- Research well for the kind of product you'll make
- Create the most valuable content
- Start marketing the product in your forum
And you need to do everything in between, of course. You might want to hire a team or benefit from some of the most loyal forum members.
Sell Monthly Memberships
I don't have any plan to sell monthly memberships for H-Educate Forums. But you can do it if you have succeeded in making a paid forum. People will surely offer their money if you've created something valuable. There are a lot of forums that offer paid memberships.
For example, AffLift is one of the fastest-growing forums for affiliate marketing. There are over 50,000 members on the forum with a monthly subscription of $20 and an annual subscription of $200. Imagine the money you can make with paid memberships.
Conclusion: How to Create Forum Website and Make Money
A forum has become a standalone business in the online industry. And you may benefit from it. Just like the traditional world, the internet world is all about adding value to users. So if you offer value in your forum, it will take off.
Here's the summary of steps you need to take to create a forum:
- Buy the perfect domain name (from NameCheap)
- Pick the right hosting for your forum (from Bluehost or Contabo)
- Choose software to build a forum (bbPress or foroForum)
- Protect your forum from spammers (Akismet)
- Add categories and content to your forum
And this is how you make your forum business successful:
- Promote the content of your forum on Quora, Reddit, Pinterest, and more
- Run giveaways and contests
- Make a video course explaining how your readers can benefit
- Create helpful discussion topics
- Promote members with special positions and badges
- Make sure push, and email notifications are enabled
And do whatever it takes to make your forum successful. Now you got to make money from it.
Here's how you make money from forums
- Make money with affiliate commissions (here are a few tips to get started)
- Earn your income with ad networks (AdSense or MediaVine)
- Offer services related to your forum niche
- Create and sell info-products
- Sell paid memberships of your forum
Now is the time for you to share your favorite method to create, promote, and make money with forums. Did you find this tutorial on how to create a forum website and make money from it? Let me know in the comments below.