Although online forums may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the Internet, they play a very significant role in both the Web as a whole and the social side of the Web. According to Patrick O’Keefe, the owner of the iFroggy Network and also the author of Managing Online Forums, online forums are the “backbone of the social Web.” No matter what the topic may be, he told us that there are forums with information for them.
What people also don’t always realize is that online forums take a lot of time and effort, just as a business would, since they require management and revenue streams. However, the question then becomes – how do you make money with them?
O’Keefe actually answers this question and others in a new free ebook called Monetizing Online Forums that he just released in partnership with Skimlinks. As he explained to us, monetization is just as tricky with online forums as it is with other areas of the Web. Let’s face it, popular websites such as Twitter still struggle with the money-making concept.
He told us that people can make money through display advertising, in-text monetization, sponsored brand placements, affiliate and CPA networks, product sales, premium memberships, and a number of other ways, but he quickly pointed out that forum owners must be careful to find a balance between making money and giving the forum’s members a positive experience. If forum owners aren’t careful, “overmonetization can kill a forum,” he said.
O’Keefe goes into much more detail about the various revenue models and the challenges with them in his new book. Still, if done right, he said that forums can be profitable.