Now that you have a niche for your forum, it’s important to plan other aspects of your forum so that everything is prepared for once you install and go on to setting up your forum.

Picking a name

Your forum name is vital to your brand. It can help bring in new users and give potential visitors a good idea about what your forum might be about. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t always include some indication of what your forum is about. A unique and creative name can sometimes work better for certain niches and create a better brand image.

Don’t fret if you are struggling to come up with a name. There are many sites that can help you, most of which can be found right here on Admin Loop with our Resources list.

Defining a purpose and goals for your forum

Users create forums for different reasons and it’s important that you know exactly what the purpose and goals are for your forum.

Did you create it to make some spare cash?

Did you create it to fill a hole in a specific niche?

Moreover, define some goals for your forum so that you can track how well your forum is doing. For example, set a post count target for the first few months of your forum. If you miss your goal, you will know that you should be working towards advertising and marketing your forum much more to get more users and content on your forum.

Setting a budget

A budget is an important aspect to consider for any project. Although it may seem like there isn’t as much to spend on in terms of a forum, there are still some important costs that it would be wise to budget for.

Costs can include your domain, hosting, forum software, forum theme, advertising and contest/content costs.

The most important costs to budget for, will, of course, be for your domain and hosting. Whilst there are free domains available, a serious forum project will require a TLD that looks great and is easy to remember for your users. Additionally, paid hosting can make a huge difference to your project including ensuring your users are not bogged down with slow loading speeds or poor reliability.

Costs regarding forum software and a theme will always be optional as this will be down to your personal preferences. There are some great free choices for such so depending on how much you can set aside for your budget, it may be better to stick to a free forum software and theme for the moment.

Planning Your Forum - Picking a budget

Furthermore, a little bit of your budget should be put aside for contest and content costs. This can be enormously important for the first few months of your forum where you attempt to convince users to join your forum and stay. Contests can help bring in new users, some of whom may decide to stay on. And paid content on your forum will make your new community look active which will help bring in users and encourage them to stay on and discuss various things.

Hiring staff for various roles

Whilst it may seem that with a new forum you won’t require any assistance, it may be sensible to hire at least one member of staff who can help you with moderating duties, help create some new content for your forum and generally keep an eye on things whilst you may not be on the forum.

However, ensure that you hire someone that is trustworthy and understands your goals for the forum as the wrong hire may not end well. They may have moderating powers that they may take advantage of to cause damage to your forum or create rifts with users that ends up with your forum losing loyal and potentially active users.

Coming up with a structure for your forum

The structure of your forum is the many categories and sub-sections you will have for users to discuss various topics. It can be a good idea to come up with the structure for your forum at this point, however, it can also be done later when you finish installing your forum and begin setting it up.

It is not unusual to have some trouble coming up with what the exact structure for your forum should be. A good move is to visit similar forums that can help you to gain some ideas about what you can do.

With a plan for your forum created, it’s time to pick a software that will allow you to start on your plan. Picking the right forum software is extremely important as it can make a huge difference when setting up your forum and managing it. To ensure you pick the right one, read our Forum How-To Guide: Choosing A Software.

As ever, if you have any issues or have a question, feel free to leave a comment below, send us an email or post in the Admin Loop Community Forums.