Using ProBoards, a Free Hosted Forum for Podcasting - dummies

Using ProBoards, a Free Hosted Forum for Podcasting

By Tee Morris, Chuck Tomasi

Using a hosted forum for podcasting, like a hosted blog, takes away much of the burden of downloading, installing, and configuring the software. On the other hand, you don’t have quite the flexibility with a hosted solution as you would with a package you host yourself. One of the easier hosted forums to use is ProBoards. To get started, just follow these steps:

  1. Go to ProBoards.
    • If you have a ProBoards account, enter your username and password.
    • If you don’t have an account, click the Sign Up link.
  2. Create a username.

    Choose carefully. Your username becomes part of the URL that followers will navigate to. It’s a good idea to use your show name as the username.

  3. Enter the remaining information in the form.
    Provide a password, your name, email address, and category for your topic.
  4. Click Sign Up.

    Information regarding your newly created forum will be displayed including the URL to publish, your administrator account, and password. That’s it! You’ve created a new forum.

    ProBoards
    ProBoards offers free forum hosting that you can use for your podcasts.
  5. Customize the forum.

    Click the Admin link at the top of the screen, and you can create new boards, categories, and other customizations to create a framework around which discussions can happen. For example, visitors will find it easier to find information about where to get car parts if that discussion is kept separate from auction values for classic vehicles.

  6. Send invitations.
    Using the same etiquette as a distribution list, let the world know your forums are available. You can send an email or announce it on your podcast.

    Keep in mind the issue of how some people might see invitations as spam.

That’s it! You can now customize your forum, start new posts, and spread the word of your newly created forum. Much like discussion groups, you can promote your forum by

  • Posting the address on your website
  • Adding the address to your email signature line
  • Mentioning the forum on each of your podcast episodes

Other hosted forums are available. You can find plenty of options by entering hosted forums into a Google search. Most are supported by web ads or voluntary donations.

Forums take some time to build steam. Be persistent, post every day, and constantly encourage your listeners to interact with you and your podcast in this manner. But above all, be patient!

Now, although your forum performs admirably — for free — it most likely doesn’t have The Look of other online forums. Popular podcasts also host forums that sport a spit-polished look, interfaces that make posting and replying easy-peasy, and little details peppered throughout that make you think “Wow, I’d love to have a forum that does that!”

You can … but a bit more effort (and investment) is needed.

Podcasting has an element of marketing with it. Here’s another opportunity to take your name to the people. Developing a public forum means your information becomes available to a lot of potential listeners. They may find your discussion list and become interested in your podcast, rather than the other way around.