Over the past 2 or 3 years I’ve had the pleasure of watching Chase Speers excel with his state specific forums. He’s won a number of awards for his flagship forum (TalkDelaware.com) including BOTM on my old forum “vBSetup” as well as on vBulletin.com & vBulletin.org. TalkDelaware also won best website in Delaware for 2007 beating out the local newspaper! Chase has a state forum for Pennsylvania called TalkPA.net which has also won a few awards and honorable mentions.
Chase started chatting on forums about 5 years ago on a cell phone forum. He enjoyed it so much; he soon offered his help moderating the forums and became good friends with the owner Steve. That forum eventually was sold. Chase & Steve started up a few more forums, but Chase wanted full ownership of a forum, just had to think of a good topic. That’s where TalkDelaware comes into play, there is an “official” Delaware website that Chase was part of, but it didn’t seem like management had a full understanding of what could be done with their forums. Chase was determined to make a better forum for the state of Delaware, and that’s exactly what he did.
The official Delaware site was full of spam, trolls and just about every nightmare we as forum owners can think of. It was full of rude people who didn’t care who they pissed off and weren’t afraid to let their voice be heard. Chase was optimistic about the good people on this forum, and that’s who he would target when setting up his own forum. Chase became a very active user on that forum helping out everyone he could, all the time having his new Delaware forum linked to from his signature and maybe in some of the post as well. This can be a long process, but will get you quality users over time and in some cases; they will add your forum link in their sigs, thus recruiting more users. The only thing I would caution you about using this method, if you don’t want to get labeled as a spammer or possibly kicked of the forum you’re recruiting from, so test the waters and see what you can get away with.
If you look at the TalkDelaware forum, you’ll notice a custom style that matches icons seen throughout the state. This is the same on TalkPA as well, and I think it was a vital decision in his forum being successful. You want to let your members feel comfortable, and what’s a better way than tying in some of the great historical points of your state, into your forums.
To quickly summarize what I’m trying to get across in this article; don’t ever give up, be passionate about your topics and give your members what they want. Having a unique skin will help if it’s tied to the subject matter like TalkDelaware is. Provide help across all forums will help your membership grow, just like Chase did on the old Delaware forum, he offered his help and the members followed him over to his new and better forum. Chase also provides help on webmaster forums, including graphics help and suggestions to managing your community, which I feel he knows a great deal on both topics. Provide help to your members, and offer them incentives to stay on your site, and they will help advertise your site without you even knowing about it.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the first article in my series on being a successful forum owner, please comment and let me know what you would like to know about in my next article.