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Your own message board - Why and how?

By Suzanne Roman
Posted Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Have you ever wished you could attract more people to your site, sell more products and make a better income?

With millions of web sites competing for people's attention it can be hard for potential customers to find you. Starting an online community may be just the answer you are looking for. There are many advantages to having your own forum including:

1) Repeat visitors.

Although it's great getting first time visitors, people who visit on a regular basis are more likely to buy from you because they know and trust you. A message board will bring people back to your site over and over. People come back to check for replies to their questions and to read new messages.

2) Selling advertising space.

A busy message board is a great place for advertisers to advertise. Most message boards are divided into specific topics which means targeted advertising. There are many ways you can use and sell advertising space. You can ask for bids at ebay, you can use an advertising agency to handle advertising for you, use Google Adsense, promote affiliate programs or your own products.

3) People will bring their friends.

There is nothing more effective then word of mouth advertising. If your online community is lively and interesting people will invite their friends along to join in the discussions too.

Tips on starting your message board:

- Your message board should focus on a specific topic (for example cats)
- If it's a part of your web site, it should relate to the content of the site.
- Divide your main forum into sub topics, for example "grooming your cat", "cat health" etc.
- Start conversations yourself. Newcomers are more likely to reply to a thread then to start one of their own. Pretend you are hosting a party and it is your job to make people feel welcome.
- In the beginning you may need to invite as many of your friends to post as you can to help you get things started.
- Hold contests for the most constructive posts every month to encourage posting.
- Allow people to have signatures with the URL of their web sites.
A lot of people join discussions for the sake of promoting their own sites. As long as the advertising is subtle, let them.

How to go about starting your own message board

There are lots of excellent free message board scripts, with the most popular ones being:

(http://www.invisionboard.com/)
(http://www.phpbb.com/)
(http://www.yabbse.org/)

They come with instruction on how to install them on your server, or you can pay someone a small fee and have it installed for you.

Try not to use remotely hosted free message boards as they can add their own advertising and you won't have complete control over your forum. It is well worth it to install one on your own server if you can.

Starting your own community can be a rewarding and profitable experience so get started today!

About the Author
Suzanne Roman runs (http://www.mom101.com) Offering resources for moms who work or want to work from home. Come and try the personality quiz to see what home business would suit you best or browse through the hundreds of articles about starting and running a home business.