Forums are extremely delicate things that must be taken care of because if not, it could end horribly. In this current age, with the declining popularity of forums, it’s extremely important that you get everything right because there is nothing worse than having to give up on a forum. So here are the 5 mistakes that I made when running a forum that you should avoid at all costs.
1Going for a general discussion niche
Before I go further, I want to reiterate that this doesn’t mean you should avoid making a general discussion forum. There are a few that pop up, create a small community and do well. But make sure that you have realistic expectations because it will be extremely hard to grow it rapidly.
A less saturated niche will always be much easier to enter into as a discussion board. By choosing a general discussion forum, not only are you going up against other general forums but also forums with a certain niche that has general discussion areas. No one wants to register multiple forums to discuss similar topics.
2Focusing too much on the appearance
The appearance and design of a forum are extremely important to me. And it should be for you too, however, it’s important to remember that there are other aspects of a forum that matter to your users. In one case, I focused too much of my time on customising a MyBB theme to look great and didn’t focus on why users should register on my forum. And it’s easy to work out how that turned out…not well!
3Lack of promotion & advertising
I have encountered this mistake being made by several new forum owners and that is the lack of promotion and advertising. Owners expect users to magically come across their forum, register and make hundreds of posts. Unfortunately, the internet doesn’t work like that. The largest forums have gone through years of promotion and it won’t be different for you.
Make sure to advertise your forum on promotion forums, other websites and social media. Otherwise, how are users going to know about your forum?
4Changing things too soon
It’s easy to think that nothing is working for your forum because you’ve done something wrong. But that may not be the case all the time. A big mistake made by users is changing things too soon which can vary from completely changing the niche to going through a large number of themes. By trying to change things quickly to attract new users, you may end up putting off some of your current users.
That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t change things at all. There comes a point in the lifetime of your forum where it’s essential to adapt and change to ensure survival. Just ensure that you take your time when deciding what these changes are going to be and if possible, take the opinion of your users and staff into account.
I’ve been guilty of this multiple times, not only with forums but with previous projects. A short period of inactivity and you get fed up. I’m not going to say that this feeling is wrong, you could be doing everything right but the forum still may not be doing so well. But the biggest mistake you can make is getting frustrated and giving up on your project.
“There is no failure except in no longer trying.”
~ Elbert Hubbard
Stick with it. One thing you can do is to get some feedback from users both on your site and promotion forums who may be able to direct you to some mistakes you may be making or how you can make your forum more attractive to potential sites.
I hope that this article has given a good indication of some of the mistakes that I made whilst running a forum that you should avoid. Forums can be a great project to run and I wish you the best of luck with your community. If you have any questions or issues with your forum, feel free to leave a comment below or send us an email so that we can assist you.