This article focuses on starting and profiting from your own online forum. An online forum is profitable to the owner because they start out with a targeted audience.
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Profit From an Online Community

What if you could setup a website, then lay back and collect money while web users build your website for you? Surprisingly, there are many ways to do just that. Examples are websites that let users post classified ads, articles, links to ebooks, and message forums. This article focuses on starting and profiting from your own online community.

You could start a general topic online community, but it's better to focus on a specific topic. Some popular forum topics are: celebrity gossip, child rearing, relationships, free lancing, and home businesses. Having a specific topic gives website purpose, and attracts people interested in that topic.

Users like an online community because they can communicate even though they may be geographically separated, and they don't have to be online at the same time. Newcomers can read past messages to catch up on the conversation, and join in when they're ready.

Message board topics

An online forum is profitable to the owner because they start out with a targeted audience and by monitoring message threads, the owner can fine tune the website's advertising to the very specific interests of the Community.

The most challenging part of starting an online forum is to attract people to the community. you'll need to set up some threads and have some friends start discussions. People are attracted to a community that has a large number of active discussion threads.

After joining and participating for a while, members will tend to stay because they make acquaintances with other members. After the community reaches a certain number of members, it will become self-sustaining without much effort on your part.

One decision you need to make is whether to provide synchronous or asynchronous communication. Synchronous communications, for example a "chat room", allows members to communicate in real-time. Of course, the members have to be online simultaneously, and users with slow dial-up Internet connections will not be able to keep up with the conversation.

Asynchronous communications, for example a "message board", means members leave messages that others can respond to later. With asynchronous communications, users will be able to put more thought into their messages before responding.

Some online communities provide both message boards and chat rooms. This allows individuals to break away from a message board thread and engage in their own real-time conversation.

Your online community can be moderated or unmoderated. In a moderated forum, before messages are posted they must be approved by a moderator to make sure that they conform with the community's rules and policies. In an unmoderated forum, messages are posted directly by the users without filtering.

There are several options between fully moderated and free-for-all totally unmoderated. For example, a new member's messages could be moderated for a short trial period, after which they would be allowed to post directly to the forum.

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