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Starting a community today is a lot harder than it used to be. There used to be only a select few of forums/communities on the internet, but now everywhere you look there is a forum for every niche. Since there is a huge amount of communities online, there are many challenges an admin has to face if he expects to “capture” members for his community. Here is a list of challenges I feel every admin will encounter, as well as some tips to help get past them.
There are many choices when it comes to forum software. Sometimes picking one can be an overwhelming experience, and many new admins often feel like they are choosing the “wrong” one. The best thing to do is download each one you have interest in and just test them. If you find one that is comfortable, then that is probably the “right” forum software for you. Also, be wary of people recommending forum software because it is what works with them.
A good admin will never say another forum software is better than another, rather they will tell you which ones worked for them and will tell you to TRY it.
If there is one thing that I hate, then it’s admins passing on useless advice like “Just be unique”. Being unique is very hard to do online just for the simple fact that most ideas have been done, spun, re-done, and then spun again. While it is important that you add your own little twist to your community, don’t worry about being too unique. Many admins stress over coming up with new “unique” features, and it’s just a waste of energy.
If you like an idea, then don’t worry if it is unique…just implement it.
Money is an important factor when it comes to running a forum. There is no question that you need money for hosting, domains, etc but far too often I see admins risking it all just for a few dollars. Premium groups are a great way to bring in income, but you might find yourself struggling to get people to purchase a subscription. There could be many reasons why people aren’t purchasing it such as it being overpriced, over-hyped or just plain worthless to the user. If you want people to be interested in the premium group, then actually offer something worth using and not features that should be given in the first place. We posted an article a while back, about things you can offer premium users, and it’s worth the read.
I also feel its fair to have a donation page, where if members want to then they can send you a few dollars, but don’t get carried away by plastering this donation link all over the place. It might just be me, but I don’t like it very much when the owner of the forum has a big bold link in their signature that says “Please Donate”. To be honest, it seems like begging and if I did decide to donate, then it wouldn’t be because a signature asked me to.
Every admin regrets a decision at some point, but there is no reason to worry yourself. You may feel bad or regret banning someone, adding a mod, messing up the forum, etc but you need to understand that you’re going to have to make decisions from time to time and it may not have the outcome you expected. These feelings are normal, and I’m sure if you did something then it was the better of the community and thus…there is no reason to regret your decision.
Mistakes happen, but leave them in the past and work towards the future.
Everyday you will have people calling your forum crap, and just trying to get under your skin in general. While you will grow tough skin eventually, these comments can hurt in the beginning and can definitely influence your decisions. People have their opinions, and they aren’t always nice. So, the most important thing to do when you encounter these people is just accept their opinion, but don’t take it to heart.
You should aim to please your members and not them.
So, there is five challenges that I feel most new admins, or even experienced admins will face when starting a forum. So, what challenges have you faced and how did you get past them?