Some points from a discussion on setting up a new forum.
The steps to take to get started and make it successful:
- Identify the niche you want to target and look at your competitors to work out what they’re doing well, doing badly and not doing at all. Decide what your point of difference is going to be
- Select the forum software you want to run (free (check www.opensourcecms.com for options) or paid like vBulletin
- Register the domain and sign up for hosting
- Create a test subdomain and lock it down using .htaccess or similar
- Install your forum on the www domain
- Add a template or skin so that your forum looks different from the competitors identified above
- Add the subforums that you’ll need (start with a few and add them as you go)
- Create the usergroups that you’ll need – registered – mods – banned etc
- Add some test users and test the posting, that the joinup email gives the right information, that the “thread reply” emails give the right info – all should contain a link back to the site, you’d be surprised how many don’t.
- Promote the forum at sites like this
- Build links
- Actively participate in the forum itself
- Take a copy of the forum onto the test subdomain and install hacks and upgrades to that before messing with the live version.
- Backup the forum daily