10 Ways to Monetize Your Forum in 2023
Are you looking for ways to monetize your forum?
There are many great ways to start making money with an online community.
Some methods have been used for decades, while others are relatively new to the online community industry. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that your forum needs to have activity and valuable content to monetize your forum successfully.
Before we dig into these ten ways to start making money with an online community, you need to know that.
If you’re satisfied with your forum’s activity and content usefulness, let’s jump into the ten ways to monetize your forum today.
1. Monetize Your Forum with an Ad NetworkThe most common way to monetize your forum is by using an ad network.
The most common ad network is Google AdSense.
Ad Networks make it easy to monetize because they’re doing the work of getting the advertiser. All you need to do is apply code to your forum, and ads will appear. Of course, you won’t earn the total amount, but the ad network usually gives you a percentage of earnings.
Some forum owners make a substantial amount with ad networks, while some don’t even make $100 a year.
There are drawbacks to using an ad network. It is usually more challenging to get approved to use them now than years ago. And a large majority of the internet is using ad-blocking technology, which can harm your profit earnings.
2. Sell Ad Space Directory to CompaniesThis is like using an ad network, except your forum is the ad network.
In this method, you can monetize your forum by cutting out the middleman.
If you sell ads directly to a company, you don’t have to go through a network like Google or others. Instead, you contact the companies directly and pitch ad sales to them. If they approve of your pitch, you get to make the total amount of the sale. If you go through an ad network, it takes significantly more than it gives you.
It takes a while to master the art of pitching a sale, but if you can accomplish this, you can make much money with your forum using this method.
There are drawbacks. It’s harder to do because you must do all the work. And not every company is going to agree with your pitch happily. You might get rejected more times than accepted. Consider it a learning experience and get better at it.
3. Monetize Your Forum with Affiliate LinksLike an ad network, this method allows you to earn a cut of what the main network is earning.
However, it’s different from Google AdSense and others like that. The difference is what earns you money. With AdSense, you typically get paid when people click ads. With affiliate links, you get paid when people click on the link and then make a purchase.
You’d use a service like Amazon Affiliates or something like that. You’d use links with affiliate codes integrated into them. You’d apply those links to your content in hopes that people click them and make a purchase. You’d then earn some of the money made to make the purchase. The affiliate network will get more than what you earn, however.
There are drawbacks. The main disadvantage is that Google and other search engines require you to show that the link is an affiliate link and that you’ll earn money from purchases. It doesn’t stop with Google, however. Many countries have laws that require you to explain that affiliate links are being used.
But you can easily monetize your forum with affiliate links and earn substantially if you use them strategically.
4. Advertising BoardsAn advertising board is a sub-board created on your forum in which advertisement posts are purchased and published.
You sell advertising posts on your forum. But you keep them in a specific board, so it doesn’t annoy your membership base.
If you wish to use this strategy to monetize your forum, focus on advertising related to your niche and industry. These advertisements will have a better chance of getting seen. In addition, you want ad posts to be successful so that companies continue to purchase them.
You can sell standard posts for one amount and sticky posts for a higher amount. You could also use different colors, CAP LOCKS, and prefixes as add-ons advertisers could purchase to make their posts more visible.
This is a great way to make money on your forum without annoying your members since all the ads will be in one section that they can choose to look at or not to look at.
5. Convert Words into Links (Automatically)There are add-ons for most forum platforms that allow you to turn words into specific links.
You could sell words to advertisers. Then, when members post something with those words included, you could make money by selling those word ads.
This method could be challenging because you never know when a member will post something with those words in them. However, if you research before doing it, you might find common words associated with the niche often used by members. So those would be the words you’d target to monetize your forum with.
This method could be annoying to some members. It would not be a good idea to use it for affiliate links because there would be no way of indicating that the link is an affiliate link in most circumstances. Instead, you could make a general disclaimer for affiliate links on your forum.
6. Monetize Your Forum with Product ReviewsYou could create a sub-forum for product reviews.
There are a few ways to earn revenue using this method. First, you could add affiliate links to product reviews made by you and members. You could put a sticky topic up explaining to members that you add affiliate links to member posts. It could be tricky to do that because the member might feel they did all the work so that you can earn money for it.
Because of that, I recommend doing it a different way.
Instead, I would attempt to get companies to send you products to test and review. Then, create a deal where you get the product for free and a commission every time someone buys the product using a unique affiliate link they make for you.
You would not only get free products, but you could earn a profit, too.
Just note that in most circumstances, you’ll need to ensure everyone understands what kind of deal is happening. You have to be transparent because it’s the law in most cases.
7. Create Industry Conventions on Your ForumThis is a new one brought to you by the global pandemic.
Everything is digital. Remote. Hybrid. Teams. Zoom. Slack. You name it – you no longer have to do it in person.
Take advantage of this opportunity by creating an in-forum convention around your niche or industry. You can monetize your forum using several different tactics with this method.
You can charge a fee for members to attend the convention. You could also give a free ticket or a discount to premium members. You can also charge people you want to have a program at the convention. You can change companies that want to advertise at the convention. There are endless ways to monetize your forum using this method.
The main drawback will be the work you must put into creating an online event and setting everything up. Therefore, it might be a good idea to do a smaller event first and advance it as you continue each year.
This might get really popular in your community, thus resulting in more profit.
8. Sponsored Sticky PostsLike the advertising board idea, you could also sell sticky posts on other boards across the forum.
If you run a niche forum, you have a few niche-based sections. You could sell sticky posts within those niche-based sections. In addition, advertisers who wish to advertise products and services related to those discussions would likely want to advertise where those discussions are.
Unlike a board dedicated to ad posts, you want to be careful about this method.
Too many sticky topic advertisements can annoy your members. The last thing you want to do is annoy your members with ads. It’s an excellent way to lose members.
If you sell sticky topics, limit them to one or two at the most that can be displayed for the amount of time you wish to sell them.
9. Advertise for PromotionIf you don’t mind putting profit aside, you could exchange favors with forum advertising.
Instead of selling advertisements to monetize your forum, you could offer ads for promotional services in return.
Let’s say a company wants to advertise its services on your forum. That company has a really active blog that gets many views and engagement. You could offer a great advertising package in return for the company creating a blog post promoting your forum.
This would be an excellent opportunity to get more traffic and potential members to your online community.
You’re not earning a profit, but you can still earn new members, leading to a more profitable forum.
10. Monetize Your Forum with Premium MembershipPremium Membership is one the oldest ways to monetize your forum.
In the old days, all you had to offer was a custom user title, extra PM space, and a special premium member badge under their username.
Those days are gone.
You might still get members who donate because they’re loyal to your forum and they don’t care about what premium features they get. But many potential premium members will come for the benefits, not because they want to be loyal.
If you want to increase your premium membership rate, you need to offer benefits that members have to have access to.
I suggest you go to Patreon and find a page that resembles your niche or industry in some way. Become a Patreon member for their page. And then start writing down what they’re doing. Choose a page with a lot of Patreons for the best results. If you can figure out what benefits they’ve added that drive people to pay for them, you can get many of those benefits on your forum to enhance your premium membership offerings.
A custom user title isn’t going to be enough these days.
These ten ways to monetize your forum have been helpful for you and your forum. If they have, consider helping me out and sharing this article with your forum owner friends. If you could add an eleventh method to monetize a forum, what would you add?