Add a Forum or Community to Your Mom Blog

If you have a blog with a very connected community of readers, you may want to consider adding a forum or member community. Any section of a blog that has conversation threads and requires membership is a forum.

Done right, forums are an extremely valuable addition to a blog, because they attract large volumes of repeat visitors who spend a significant amount of time on your site. This can greatly increase your traffic and page views, which translates to more advertising revenue. Forums also create a significant amount of user-generated content, which means your site visitors are creating content for you.

Ree Drummond has a large member community called Tasty Kitchen; Heather Armstrong also has a member community on her blog Dooce.

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Keep in mind, however, that forums require a lot of work to maintain — and they are not the best feature for everyone. You’ll need to set up software such as phpBB or vBulletin forums or a more recent option such as the BuddyPress add-on for WordPress.

Getting a forum set up is fairly easy — it’s similar to setting up a self-hosted WordPress blog. But customizing a forum is a little trickier; either you’ll need to hire a developer or learn how to do it yourself — fast — to get your community to look and function the way you want it to.

Just because you have an active community doesn’t mean that a forum will be successful automatically. You’ll still have to promote it, participate, actively work on adding members, and foster conversations to get it established. Additionally, forums need to be constantly and actively monitored with moderators.

This is to ensure that conversations remain on topic, spammers don’t post unwelcome messages, that inappropriate content doesn’t appear, and that disagreements between members don’t erupt into senseless arguments (known as flame wars on the Internet).

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