One of the biggest questions I get is how to start a forum. I also get asked how to run a forum, best ways to manage your community, what to do when this or that happens...
Every single time, I recommend the exact same thing: a book by Patrick O'Keefe- Managing Online Forums.
It is THE book on starting & managing a successful online community.
I first read MOF more than 2 years ago (closer to 3, I believe) and have since had the opportunity to meet Patrick O'Keefe in person. He's not just an author, but the owner of several large (and very successful) niche discussion forums.
I was in the process of a complete overhaul with my 5-year-old discussion forum when I first picked it up. I thought I might get some good ideas to use, and learn ways to manage the incredible growth spurt it was experiencing.
I did not expect it to be a fun read. Or very engaging at all, for that matter. I simply expected it to be a dry learning experience, and hopefully pick up a few things I could implement to improve my already successful forum.
I was dead wrong...
I took FIVE full pages of notes in Chapter ONE alone!
Yes, it's that good. It's the one book that I recommend to everyone interested in learning how to start a forum for traffic or profit, or how to start & manage an online community of any kind.
Obviously I'm not alone in absolutely loving this book. On Amazon, 47 out of 50 readers gave it a FIVE star review:
That link will take you to the paperwork version, which is what I have. They now also offer the Kindle version. MOF is a must-have whether you already run a thriving online community, or you're interested in learning how to create a successful forum or community. While it is specifically about "managing online forums", much of the information can be applied to running any type of community.
It contains 10 specific sections outlined in the table of contents, with detailed subtitles for the things covered in each section, making it useful as a resource guide you can refer back to over and over.
Need to keep members engaged?
Study Chapter 8.
Need to develop communication guidelines? Flip to Page 62 in Chapter 3.
Looking for advice on banning users?
Flip to Page 207 in Chapter 6.
Want to make money with your forum?
Chapter 9 details a variety of options.
I LOVE the way this book is laid out!
My opinion? Managing Online Forums is required reading for anyone managing or starting an online community. You can get it on Amazon for just $24.00 (and is worth 100x time for anyone applying the goods). Or the Kindle version is only $4.49.
Honestly, you couldn't ask for better training - and for under 25 bucks even. Like I said, I got TONS out of this book and I had been successfully running a discussion forum for more than five years when I first read it. I've referred to it constantly over the last couple of years, and highly recommend it to everyone I run into.
p.s. A good read is Michel Fortin's post titled How I Used My Forum As A Marketing Tool. There are many ways that forums and communities can be incredibly beneficial to your online business - and Michel does a good job of outlining how he has used his.