From what I’ve heard, it’s often hard to make money from a forum. Like other websites, the owner of a forum has two options to make money – find advertisers who want to reach out to the same group of people who visit the forum or sell the forum once it’s active and has a strong membership.
From my little experience running a niche forum on one of my sites and also from my participation in various forums, the owner needs to get people to contribute regularly, moderate inappropriate or threatening comments, stay on top of software updates, and prevent spammers from taking over. It’s a lot of work to manage a forum, and it seems that only the biggest and most successful can really earn a living from advertising.
The second best option is the sale of a forum, but that means the owner needs to find someone just as passionate about the topic to evenhandedly moderate and communicate, while not alienating the members who participate regularly. This person not only has to be passionate, but also has to have the capital to make the acquisition and keep it running smoothly.
It seems to be quite a job to manage and monetize a forum, and my gut says many of the small to medium sized forums, despite being active, aren’t monetized very well.
I just read a MarketWatch press release today put out by a company called Crowd Gather to announce its acquistion of Writers.net, “an Internet directory of writers, editors, publishers and literary agents“, which was supposedly founded way back in 1994 (despite its 1995 Whois creation date). It’s a very good domain name and the acquisition shows there is a market for forums.
CrowdGather owns and operates a network of forums, which may be of interest to those of you managing a forum. According to the release, “CrowdGather has created a centralized network to benefit forum members, forum owners and forum advertisers. CrowdGather provides a highly interactive and informational social network for members, a management and revenue-sharing resource for third-party forum owners, and a largely untapped advertising network for marketers worldwide.”
If you happen to want to sell an active forum, you may wish to get in touch with CrowdGather.