When you think about making money online, forums are very rarely mentioned due to the idea that forums aren’t always the easiest platform to monetize. But this shouldn’t push you away from potentially creating a forum to make a profit from, so here are five ways to monetize a forum.

1Google AdSense – This method of monetization is quite simple to understand. With Google AdSense, you can add a variety of advertising to your forum in different locations including the header, posts or even the sidebar. A large number of forum software also have plugins that make adding and managing advertisements on your forum extremely easy.

However, remember that there are limits to the number of advertisements you can place per page. Furthermore, the rates for AdSense and the benefits of using it aren’t great unless you are getting a large number of visitors and clicks for your advertisements.

2Affiliate Marketing – The main idea behind affiliate marketing is to get people to visit sites through your forum and then make purchases thus earning you a small commission. By placing banners or text links on your site, you may be able to convert some of your visitors into customers. Furthermore, you could try and improve your conversion rate by writing reviews for products that are related to your forum niche. For example, if you’re a gaming forum, why not apply for a gaming shop affiliate program and then direct your users to that gaming shop.

There are several affiliate networks that you can take advantage of including Commission Junction and Impact (reviews for which are coming very soon on Admin Loop).

3Group Upgrades – Group upgrades are a sort of membership system for your forum where you offer certain incentives (like a coloured username a private forum, ability to use certain features etc.) for a price. Now, group upgrades are not the easiest method of monetization for a forum. If done wrong, they could be a massive flop and cause some issues amongst your users. But if done right, they can be a massive revenue stream for you.

The ideal time to introduce to bring in Group Upgrades for your forum is when it has been open for a while and has constant activity. Moreover, you should avoid adding it right away when you open a forum as it may put off users who believe you are only running the forum for a profit.

4On-Site Advertisements – This is where you cut out the middleman (Google in most cases with AdSense) and sell advertising space on your forum directly to interested parties. Of course, this will be a much harder task since you will need to convince users that your forum is worth the advertising investment. However, managing to do so will allow you to generate more money as you can pick your rates and you get 100% of the generated income.

Furthermore, you can increase revenue by selling sticky threads, text links and in post advertisements on your forum.

5Premium Content – This is where you either write ebooks or tutorials for your users and charge them to read it. However, this monetization method does not work for all niches and will most likely only work for certain specialised niches. One good example of this is an internet marketing forum. There will be several users that need assistance with online marketing and thus will be happy to pay to read high-quality content that assists them with it.

If you do go with this method, it’s important to remember that you are still a forum. Putting everything and all high-quality content behind a paywall can easily backfire and should be avoided at all costs.

+Other worthy monetization methods – Whilst these methods of monetizing a forum may not always work, there is no harm in attempting them. A lot of forums have a donation section where users can help contribute to costs. Additionally, you may also attempt to sell your forum when you believe you have done almost everything you can and want to make a huge profit from your project.

I hope that the methods can help you monetize a forum. And as always, if you have any questions or issues, feel free to leave a comment below or send us an email.