Successfully Creating an Authority Forum

Starting an authority forum can be a difficult achievement.  The goal is to get your forum to that critical mass point where you AND other members are answering questions.  The reason for this is because you are only human and if your site blows up, you can’t possibly answer thousands of questions a day by yourself.

In the beginning, when your site is small, you must be on standby throughout the day to answer questions from your members.  Oh, and your answers… they better be worth their weight in gold!  The only thing worse than no answers to questions are bad answers to questions!

Achieving critical mass takes a lot of hard work and dedication.  You must be on top of your forum at all times, not only answering questions, but also filtering out non-relavant threads and spam.  An authority forum should be laser targeted to the topic, especially if your site is a paid membership site.

Once you start to see your forum taking shape, you will undoubtedly recognize top contributors.  I like to reward these top contributors with bonuses.  These bonuses could be in the form of free membership, a free ebook, or even cash.  People like to be recognized for their efforts and if their efforts make your life easier, then you should reward them.

But rewarding your top contributors can also lead to problems.  Some want more and more and get irate when you don’t offer them enough.  On two occasions I had top contributors decide that they were going to start their own sites and use my site as a recruitment center.  They emailed and private messaged everybody in the forums telling them that they are the brains of the site and that their forum will be soooo much better.

The first time that this happened, the person’s site took off fast, which is understandable since he had a targeted crowd to pluck from.  But shortly after he either got tired or realized that he wasn’t making the money that he anticipated and the forum went permanently to sleep.

The second instance happened just this week, but this ego-maniac was also a fruit cake.  After starting his forum and trying to recruit my members, he sent me an email telling me that my forum was a violation of his copyright.  Apparently, he wants his posts removed, so he can post them on his new forum.  Sorry, but the law just doesn’t work that way.

So, what do you do when one of your forum members goes rogue on you?  Nothing.  You smile and move on with your life.  If his or her actions caused a dent in your membership, then spend a few extra hours in your forum that week and make up for it with good content.

An authority site in any niche can be a priceless tool to have in your arsenal.  Once you have loyal followers, they will take your suggestions seriously.  But, as Spidey’s uncle said, “With great power comes great responsibility”, so be sure that your suggestions and recommendations are not designed to make you the most money, but rather designed to be useful tools or services for your readers.  Obey that rule and the money will follow.

To sum it up, if you want to be successful with an authority forum, you should:

* Work hard producing good content to create critical mass
* Reward your top contributors
* Ignore nutjobs and take their actions as a grain of salt
* Be responsible in your marketing

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