Join a Forum and Start Participating [Day 9 – 31DBBB]

Posted By Darren Rowse 14th of April 2009 Blog Promotion 0 Comments

Your task today in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog challenge is to join a forum that relates to the topic of your blog (or, if you’ve already joined one to spend 10-15 minutes participating in it).

One of the questions I always get new bloggers to ask when it comes to finding readers for their blog is ‘where are your potential readers already gathering online?‘ One of the places I encourage them to go looking for those potential readers is on forums on related topics to your blog.

Forums are fantastic places for bloggers to participate for a number of reasons:

1. Profile Building – put consistent time into a large forum on your topic and you can build a significant profile in your niche. I’ve seen it happen in my own photography forum numerous times where people have produced such value and shown off their expertise that they’ve actually developed fans among other forum users.

2. Driving Traffic – create value and become a useful resource in a forum and people will want to know more about who you are and what you do via your signature and or profile page. You’ll also sometimes have opportunity to share some relevant links to things you’ve written.

3. Understanding Your Niche – the hidden benefit of joining a forum that many don’t talk about is that for a new blogger a forum can actually be a fertile ground for gathering ideas and understanding the needs of potential blog readers. Go to any forum and you’ll begin to see the same questions being asked over and over again. The questions actually annoy some regular forum members but you as a blogger should be taking note of such questions and writing posts that answer them because they are usually signals of problems and needs that people have on those topics. I know if I’m ever in need of a topic to write about on my blogs that forums are one of the first places that I go looking for topics.

Spend some time today searching for forums in your niche. Once you find them, join up and start participating. The key is to spend time being as useful as possible to the forum. Your main activity should NOT be leaving links to your blog but answering questions, making connections and generally being as useful as you can to other members of the forum.

Here are two posts on building a blog with Forum Traffic that you Should Read:

I could say a lot more about building your blog up by participating in forums – but we’ve covered the topic a few times on ProBlogger previously. Check out these two posts:

Note: if you can’t find a forum on your exact topic look for them on related topics. If you can’t find any at all, perhaps it is a signal that you should start one at some point. Forums can actually be great additions to blogs.

Update: Day 9 – Promote Your Blog by Finding a Forum to Participate In – People are sharing and exploring this task together over at the forum… you could start there!

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. @Dee: I find the best forums are free. If it’s worth paying for, you should be able to donate.

    Also if anyone is new to forums, I just wrote up a quick list of some etiquette you could consider following.

    http://www.hazardouspaste.com/2009/04/7-principles-of-forum-etiquette/

  2. Thanks @HazardousPaste and @FupDuckTV (that is really hard not to misstype!)

  3. This is typical of Darren, throwing open a seemingly normal task which asks more questions than it answers :-)

    It would appear that fora in my field of interest are thin on the ground and the one I found isn’t exactly dynamic so it begs the questions – As well as the blog do I open a forum?

    This means upgrading my hosting package, working out how the heck you use MYSQL databasing, PHP – maybe I should have taken up wrestling alligators instead of blogging!

    http://kevincumbria.wordpress.com

  4. Forums are a great way to get traffic. Dofollow forums can get you backlinks.

  5. I’ve definitely been neglecting forums lately. This is a great reminder to pay them a visit every so often. One of the more popular dance forums practically hides your website link and on most forums no signatures are allowed. :(

    Anyway, my problem when I get onto forums is limiting myself on the time I’m spending. I want to be helpful and sometimes I just spend too much time responding when I could be writing on my blog. I know the time spent at the forum is worth it but any tips on limiting my responses (other than the obvious “just stop it”)? :D

  6. I joined the 31DBBB forum. I began my on-line journey 5 years ago by being a member of several forums for songwriters, and I participate on those forums regularly (and am moderator on a couple). As my knowledge grew I started to take some of the things I was posting on forums and copying them into a Q&A blog to do with music/the music industry. And then I started writing my main blog, about my struggle and successes as someone living a creative life.

    Just like having value in your blog keeps people coming back, participating in a forum & giving of your attention / expertise… invites people to try out your link and see what you are up to.

  7. I wanted to add something re etiquette – read the forum. There are usually FAQs and a place to introduce yourself.

  8. I would caution anyone using this strategy to PLEASE look for any forum guidelines, spend some time lurking, and in general, make sure your posts are about participating in the community and what you can do for the other members, not just a quick route to spam sig links.

    Most forums allow you to link in your profile. Many limit signatures and/or links until you have a specified number of posts. Forums have differeing policies on linking of any kind, and many ban commerical links to avoid spam,

    I run a forum about weight loss. Someone with a spammy link, who tries to avoid or get around our linking policies (none for new members), or in general is about promoting their own stuff gets permanently banned with no warning.

    Like everything else you’re doing to promote your blog, what you get out of it is directly proportional to the value you put in.

  9. Forums are a great way to build traffic to your site, but so many people screw it up by spamming right out of the gate. You have to introduce yourself, then become part of the community and build some credibility before you start including links to your articles, etc. Initially, the only reference to your blog should be in your signature line.

  10. I have joined a few blogs in my niche and two more before the 31DBBB chanllenge. The NING community network has a lot of groups that are broad but also many that have a specific niche like swimming or hiking or topics like that. The downside is that while there are groups with a lot of members, it takes some time to sort through the ones that are not updated frequently and ones that may have members that are not really there to help but are indeed just there to help themselves and spam or harass others.

    The RottenTomatoes forum was one that I joined a few years ago but did not post to that forum frequently. That is a huge blog in my niche in a general sense, as it does not cater specifically to independent films but all movies in general. However, I was a little put off one day when I came across a forum thread that had tons of racist remarks on there and it just got longer when I left and came back to visit that forum within the following hours and day.

    I thought that if RottenTomatoes would allow racist comments and remarks on their forums, maybe it’s not the type of forum that I want to be on, so I joined another one that was not about movies and more about culture and guess what?

    That forum had tons of racist remarks on there and it seemed like the racism. One forum had racist remarks about one ethnicity and then the other forum of the targeted ethnicity had racist remarks about another race.

    That is terrible.

    So, I’m trying to find a good middle to some of this and figure out if promoting by blog on some places is worthwhile even if some of the practices are not what I would agree to or participate in. I use the Myspace forums sometimes for topics that are immediate and might be dated like news or a recent TV program, but those Myspace forums get spammed so much or either the topic and thread gets moved out quickly by dozens of threads that are on ridiculous topics and not really benefiting the Myspace community.

  11. Funny, I actually found out about this challenge through the forum on Independent Fashion Bloggers.

  12. I joined a forum in my niche a few months ago and it has worked out very well. I’ve tried to stay focused on providing nothing but quality information. When I stray away from it, I get emails from forum members saying, “We miss you. Please come back!” Those emails get me motivated and remind me that, yes, there are people out there reading what I have to say.

    But I need to get better about not straying away when my days get too busy. I have built up a good relationship with many members there and I would hate to lose that.

  13. I have just spent 30mins posting on http://www.modelmayhem.com and http://www.independentfashionbloggers.org so lets see what happens now! :)

  14. I had already been participating in a forum of sorts (Jezebel, a Gawker Media blog) for over a year before starting my blog. I still get most of my traffic from that forum, even though I can no longer participate while at work.

  15. Thanks Darren. This has been very successful for me in the past. A single post on a forum in my niche (fly fishing) has generated 10% of the traffic to my blog over the past month.

    Next step – joining the ProBlogger forum!

    Andrew

  16. you MUST MUST MUST contribute to forums..make more than just posts about yourself…it will pay off if you adhere to the forum ethics!

  17. How fun! I joined a forum just last week when a member linked to my tutorial :) Now I need to go get to know them better! Thanks for the great info!

  18. Darren:

    Thanks for the great course. I have been trying to link to Lesson #8 but have not been getting a response. I hope that is because your site is overloaded!
    I write a few blogs, but this is my first attempt to join a forum:
    1. Modern Living – Cybercafé, Internet Café, Net Café eMagazine Life “Sometimes On The Edge”©: http://sometimesontheedge.blogspot.com/
    “Photograph(s) of the week – Sunday, April 12, 2009
    The photographs, video trailers and public television program of Art Wolfe – “Travels to the Edge” artwolfe.com” and,
    2. Web [Web 2.0+© (web2u©)] http://web2plus.blogspot.com/
    “Great Websites – 10 Newest Finds of the Week”

  19. I just posted this on Twitter but wanted to share here as well. Scott Stratten’s Un-Marketing web site has a huge list of forums and discussion boards on a variety of topics.

    http://www.un-marketing.com/index.php?p=u

    Amazing what one can find in one’s own Bookmarks, no?

    I guess my concern around this is what has been voiced by others: the incredible time-suck of lurking/learning, then posting and maintaining a presence. However, what I’m learning in this course is the importance of moving traffic one person at a time, considering the lifetime value of each blog reader.

    My advice would be to develop a forum participation strategy and implement it faithfully over few months to see if, in the long run, it’s profitable and sustainable.

    @samanthahartley

  20. I am very active in several forums, and so far I have only had a link to my blog in my signature. I guess I was afraid I would get flagged if I linked any posts directly. I have gotten subscribers from people finding me there, but like anything, I find it hard to divide my time between participating actively in forums and writing for my blog.

  21. In planning for another blog, I have often thought about the value that a forum would add. For the project I am working on now, I am looking to create a destination where my target audience will find useful information. The idea of a “destination” is that there will be more than one channel for communication. It won’t just be a blog, but will include a forum, possibly video, and other means of communication. I think it is important to offer your audience multiple ways to participate.

  22. A great advice. I joined two triathlon forums at once. This post came in exactly the right moment. I have been thinking about how to increase my traffic the last time. Had no good answer to the question…
    Yesterday, I had 5 unique visitors. I was one of them :)))))
    It’s very exciting!!!

  23. Ya its nice to be a part of Great Forum.

    Can anyone suggest me Excellent forum for the designer geeks like me???

    I will be very thankful.. :)

  24. @samanthahartley

    Thanks for that link Samantha (anything else in your bookmarks?? : ) ) Very helpful.

  25. Thanks for this, Darren. This has been an important source of visitors to my blog. The particular topics that I often respond to or discuss in these forums also continue to be my most highly viewed articles.

  26. Darren, do you ever get tired of reading “GREAT IDEA DARREN!” – probably not. :-)

    Great idea, Darren! This is something I’ve completey missed the boat on…until today. It makes sense on so many levels.

    I try to be very active visiting blogs/sites I like – certainly those on my blogroll, or what I call Sites Blog Harbor Recommends and making comments. Those comments have turned into return traffic on my blog but, more importantly to me: They’ve resulted in great relationships with wonderful people from all over the world.

    Joining a forum in my niche seems like the next logical step. I have to admit, however, finding the “right” forum might be a task because my blog doesn’t give advice…it’s not geared to social media…it doesn’t recommend restaurants, diets or how to live your life. And I’m not selling anything. It’s current events, sports and the quirky side of life offered through multimedia…and a splash of humor.

    Know any forums for that? :-)

    Christopher

  27. While looking for movie review forums, I stumbled upon one in which I noticed the members were using a lot of racial slurs. After doublechecking, I learned it was a white supremacist movie forum!

    Yikes!

    These dudes were talking about going to sites where you could vote on/rate movies. Their plan is to sabotage the ratings of movies that they deem threatening to their movement.

    Scary… and pretty pathetic at the same time (this is the best they can come up with?)

  28. @Vikkie Flawith

    I’m also a singer and am looking for singing Forums! Can you direct me to the ones that you mention in the comments here?

  29. @Vikki Flawith

    Spelled your name wrong in that last post – Can you tell me what singing forums you subscribe to?

  30. I’m a failure on today’s assignment! I doubt there is a forum which covers the broad areas I cover in my blog. Then again maybe the Sierra Club would cover most of what I write about – nature, science, sustainability, kids. I tend to avoid politics though – not probably a recipe for high readership – and since Sierra Club counts as a political action group I’m not sure I want to go there.

    I’ll give this some more thought. I’ve joined several permaculture forums because that’s something I’m very interested in, but none of them have been very active so far. I was one of the most frequent posters on them after I joined. I’ll go back and check back in with them later today. Don’t want to get behind with the homework!

  31. Thanks for the tip, Darren.

    I joined about eight blogging forums a while back. :)

  32. I love forums, but it’s so easy to spend too much time on them!

  33. Great post Darren and very timely for me. I’ve been on the hunt for some relevant forums (unsuccessfully so far). This has given me some good ideas and more direction. Thanks.

  34. Done but damn you for absorbing my evening. I should be writing a panto. Good tip though.

  35. ah, forums my first internet addiction. consider this done and done.

  36. Besides gaining more traffic to blog/website, forum is a big source for people to learn from…

  37. I have a couple of forums that send me automatic updates about new posts. It makes it easier for me to participate without getting too easily distracted. I need NO help in procrastinating from work!

  38. Not a big fan of forums, but they do serve a purpose. Did the assignment none-the-less! http://budurl.com/uqvg

  39. So I haven’t yet found a forum that I like or feel comfortable with… which might be a good thing. I’m not sure I’d want to join the form just to get more readers. Who knows? I may later change my mind,,, but right now I think I can survive with this being a low priority.

    Darren, do you plan to address blogrolls, or standard links to other sites in a sidebar? How many is too many? Etc.?

  40. Thought about it but don’t really see the value add.

  41. On board and rocking your ideas so far. Thanks Darren.

  42. I have posted in forums, but I should participate more consistently and within main main niche. It is very time consuming, when contributing quality content on a regular basis, but it is a good investment for future traffic. Thank you for the reminder!

  43. I really needed this lesson on forums! I visited one a few months back when I started my blog, read the TOS, got scared and didn’t go back! So I revisited this afternoon and am ready to do some lurking ….. next stop, the 31DBBB forum.

  44. I’m lucky. I belonged to an active travel forum before I started blogging. In the beginning, it drove a lot of traffic to my blog. Not as much so now. I should be looking for other forums but there’s only so much time in the day.

    Darren, maybe we need a wise post from you on how to budget blog time including posting/advertising/marketing/idea gathering and social networking.

  45. So I’ve joined a few forums/groups – 30something bloggers, female bloggers, San Diego Bloggers, and now Probloggers 31DBBB.

    What I want to know is, how does anyone find time to participate?

    I was on some forums (non-blogging related) years ago, and I would end up dropping out, because between working and just…LIFE, I would fall off the face of the earth and it would be hard to keep up with people and posts, etc.

    I’ve got a thousand profiles out there, for various groups, and barely get involved in any of them.

  46. This is great, Darren. Thanks for all your good work in this 31DBBB.

    – Jarlin Paul

    http://www.jarlinpaul.com/

  47. I am not a big joiner. I subscribe to DPS and have joined the forum with a few photo entries. I looked around today for some other photography forums and I guess I am not completely clear on how it works. I don’t want to give too much personal information and I guess I am a little uncomfortable with the concept. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thank you again, Darren, for all of the great information. I will continue every day to participate!

    Bridget

  48. Trust me forums are a great resource to get your blog started. My blog was found by some of the biggest sources in my industry and was syndicated because they found me on the forums. On top of that i am a Forum Mod on one of the largest forums in my niche. They DO bring in quite a bit of traffic and set you in the right direction. PLUS forums are inspiration for your blog posts, adds another dimension to your blogging when you actively discuss your topics on forums with other “experts”.

  49. Oh, this is sooo good, do-able and well, not taking too much time (I hope)… Thank you

  50. http://tinyurl.com/d2r2sd More #starwars stuff. I really hope I can get away from this niche when the 31 days are over. ;-)