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Incorporate What You Know Into Your Business

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As the saying goes, “the shoemaker’s son has no shoes,” similar can be said about the development of some of my websites. I am a trained Direct Marketer, but I sometimes forget even the most basic direct marketing principles when building my websites and my blog’s brand. If I was looking at some of my websites from a marketing point of view instead of a domain owner, there would probably be significant changes.

Through my involvement in the domain industry, I have learned quite a bit about forums.  I am a member of several public and private domain and Internet discussion forums, and there are things about each forum that are cool, and things I find annoying. However, on most of my sites (with the exception of TropicalBirds.com), I have no forums at all.  I know that forums are a great way to interact, and they can also drive traffic (and repeat traffic) to a website, helping to gain trust and build a community.

With all that said, I decided to launch a Burbank, California forum yesterday on Burbank.com – with help from Kevin @ BigTicketDomains.com.  Using a customized Simple Machines forum, Kevin was able to set up a forum for me that can be used by Burbank residents and visitors.  There are still a few tweaks I need to make, but I think this is going to be a smart move in the long run.

The point of this is that you should think about your own background when building your websites.  If there are certain things you’ve learned in business or from your hobbies, you should consider incorporating them on your website.  Think about think things you would want to see if you were a user of your website, and make it happen.  If you enjoy using a particular feature, chances are good that others will as well.

Tap into your own background and knowledge when developing.  Sometimes lessons you’ve learned can be adapted and adopted by your websites.


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.


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Comments (15)

    Morgan Linton

    Great post Elliot! User forums are a key feature in development. Any way that you can allow users to interact on your site will help create repeat monthly traffic rather than a one-time visitor.

    March 10th, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    Leonard Britt

    Yes, development of useful sites is the way to go and no doubt a forum will drive additional traffic. However, forum moderation is likely very time consuming. What is the payback on that investment?

    March 10th, 2009 at 4:08 pm

      Elliot Silver

      @Leonard

      In the forum rules, I specify that there will be limited moderation. I suppose if it gets popular and busy enough to be problematic, I can always hire someone inexpensively to do it.

      March 10th, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Steve M

    Elliot (or Kevin):

    Any forum software/product that allows for the auto-blocking of posts containing words and/or phrases that the site owner doesn’t want to see on their site/s?

    Only way I’d even consider using forums.

    March 10th, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    H H

    write about what you know
    :)

    March 10th, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    unlocked iphones

    i have been involved in marketing for a while and let me warn you about this waaaaaaaaaaay long before you get hit by russian hackers, delete simple machine forums and install http://www.vbulletin.com/.

    Trust me, you will thank me later.

    Simple machine forums is nice for some hoity toity site to test how to build forums but you will be 10 times better installing vb bulletin.
    S.e.o (excuse my language is a bitch) with simple machines but with vb bulletin .. i could go on and on but trust me on that. Its only 100 bucks for a full license and i am sure you have 100 bucks lying around.
    Cheers Elliot.

    March 11th, 2009 at 5:41 am

    Kevin

    @Steve

    Yes, SMF has a built-in word censoring feature.

    The most popular forum apps are vBulletin, phpBB, and SMF.

    Personally, I really love SMF the most now and phpBB, as my next favorite. vB is considered the top dog for boards but there is a license fee, and it’s got a more robust admin panel, so if you’re doing lots of forums then you have to factor that in on your site costs plus the deeper learning curve on the admin stuff. phpBB and SMF are Free and easier control panels.

    Kevin

    March 11th, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Tia Wood

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you have it backwards like most domainers do. You don’t establish a forum to get traffic. You establish a forum AFTER traffic. Meaning, you need a method of establishing targeted visitors before they will commit to the site.

    March 11th, 2009 at 10:26 am

      Elliot Silver

      @ Tia

      I am getting over 500 visitors per day to the site, so it’s not really about bringing traffic. I am doing my best to increase stickiness so they continue to return, and the forum will drive added traffic.

      You are right though. Just because you have a forum, doesn’t mean people will come all of a sudden because of it.

      March 11th, 2009 at 11:22 am

    Tia Wood

    People aren’t going to “stick” if the forums are dead. 😀 Think about it. How many domain forums or general forums for that matter that made the site appear boring and slow? You might portray that on your site if you’re not careful.

    ( I’m not calling your site boring nor slow btw 😉 )

    March 11th, 2009 at 11:28 am

      Elliot Silver

      @ Tia

      That’s true, but that’s why I need to help it start out and I have a couple others who will be helping with this, too.

      March 11th, 2009 at 11:32 am

    Tia Wood

    I see you don’t have any way of collecting data on Burbank. There are plenty of people who are willing to come by and sign up for a newsletter or free site membership before they would be willing to participate in a forum. Collect the data first, then launch the forum and it should turn out just fine for you.

    [edit]
    In your email, you mentioned their was a newsletter but I didn’t notice it offhand (which means your site visitors probably don’t either). Maybe a form for that at the top? :)
    [/edit]

    March 11th, 2009 at 11:44 am

    DnDot.com

    I think we can all relate to this. I have noticed that I am not using what I know when I am doing business in general but that’s starting to change now. This can be applied to any situations.

    The forum was a good idea, as you said long term it will work out well. Just make sure it does not consume too much of your time.

    March 12th, 2009 at 8:44 am

    Ray

    I really went through the same decision process when I established a forum on a site for the city of Manchester, England.

    After running it for a while I have decided to drop it. The reason is a simple one. I just think a forum damages my brand. Reputation management is everything!

    I want to demonstrate Manchester and my site in a positive way. From looking at other “geo/ city forums” I realised that people prefer talking about local issues – crime, politics, relationships and are frequently critical of the conduct of the municipal / state government. Frequently discussion is negative, or controversial. Forum members frequently fall out with one another, form cliques and indulge in a range of activities that you would not wish to associate yourself.

    As has been said before, the role of forum moderator is time consuming. The success or failure of your forum will depend on the skills and enthusiasm of the person who is moderating. I believe only a fraction of forum members post with any frequency and even fewer would venture beyond the forum itself.

    Of course, the worst thing is a forum that looks inactive – thats a reputation killer because it gives the totally wrong impression to visitors and potential advertisers.

    I suggest a Burbank blog instead – you are in control and you can build a community of sorts, just like you have here.

    Good luck

    March 13th, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    Rosco

    Elliot, have you thought about radio sponsorship in burbank. E.g “the weather was brought to you by burbank.com” Is a cheap entry into radio advertising. Could give it a trial for a month?

    March 25th, 2009 at 12:18 am

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