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Build Your Blog With Forum Traffic

Keeping You Posted by Skellie.Skellie is a regular writer for ProBlogger. You can subscribe to her feed or visit her blog, Skelliewag.org, for more posts like this one.

One of the most satisfying aspects of blogging is finding uncommon and underrated ways to build your blog’s traffic.

One traffic building strategy I’ve always found to be underrated is using a niche forum profile to draw visitors back to your blog through a signature link.

One thing you might not know is that I built my blog, Skelliewag, from 0 to 100 subscribers almost exclusively using a forum profile. My forum posts would bring in dozens of visitors every day. Though my blog has over 2,000 subscribers as I write this, I still get comments and emails from loyal readers I first met through the Authority Blogger Forums.

If you’re skeptical…

There is a general consensus on the wisdom of using comments to get incoming traffic to your blog. In my experience, forums have been even more effective than a comments-for-traffic strategy, yet the two strategies aren’t often compared. Posting once or twice on a busy forum often brought dozens of visitors back to my blog. You’d need a much higher volume of comments to achieve the same results.

While I don’t claim that everyone will have the same experience, I found forums to yield more traffic for less work than a commenting-for-traffic strategy.

Is forum traffic part of your blog’s growth strategy? Perhaps it should be. Here are my suggestions for growing your readership through a solid forum profile.

1. Find your target audience

What kinds of people do you think would be most interested in your blog? If there are blogs in your niche, there are probably forums in it too.

If you can find a forum dedicated to your target audience, every forum user is a potential reader.

2. Create a compelling signature

Your forum signature will appear beneath every post you write. Unlike comments, where the only way to link back to your blog is via your name (or by linking in the comment), you have a lot more control over your signature.

You can link to your blog and include a tag line. You can format it with color and bolding to get more attention. You could also link to a featured post using one of your best headlines.

Your signature is the point of conversion where forum visitors become blog visitors. Take the time to make sure it’s as effective as possible.

City buildings.
Photo by extranoise

3. Make an impression

The quality of your forum posts will influence incoming traffic more than their volume. You need to make an impression on other forum users — something which makes them think: “I want to know more about this person.”

You can do this simply by being a friendly and helpful user. Go out of your way to do favors for others and become well-respected in the community.

You can also get more traffic back to your blog by writing interesting posts in high-visibility locations, for example:

  • Starting a popular thread.
  • Writing a FAQ or Guide which is stickied by a moderator, meaning it will stay on the front page of the forum permanently.
  • Becoming a moderator (people always pay attention to them!)
  • Becoming a forum power-user (people pay more attention to them, too).

4. Make connections

Aside from the traffic benefits, forums allow you to make connections with a diverse array of individuals with a variety of skills.

Making connections with people through forums is rewarding in its own right, but it can also present opportunities for mutual benefit. You might meet potential guest posters, other niche bloggers, experts or other people with skills you can use.

When I was trying to guest-post as much as possible, I made a forum thread offering to do a guest-post for anyone who asked. Quite a few bloggers accepted the offer. The resulting guest-posts helped take my blog to the next level.

The overall point I’m trying to make is that the rewards of an active forum profile go beyond traffic. Genuinely enjoying your participation in the forum (rather than viewing it only as a means to an end) will result in opportunities you would not have been able to orchestrate on your own.

Points to review

  • Find a forum (or more than one) popular with the people you want to reach.
  • Create a signature designed to convert forum users into blog readers.
  • Be a remarkable forum member.
  • Reach out and make connections with other forum users. They might have valuable lessons to teach you.

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Comments

  1. Hi – Skellie that is great advice!

    But, it wipes away my “trifecta of blogging” theory…or I could switch to “quad-fecta” :)

    Thanks for the always fantastic and valuable information!

  2. alexjc says:

    You have an almost spooky timing Skellie! I was just reading a big forum I’d signed up to a while back but never had the time or motivation to participate in…

    Of course, as soon as this post popped up in my feed reader, the penny dropped!

    alexjc
    AiGameDev.com

  3. Clement says:

    Very informative post.Thanks Skellie

  4. I don’t have an eye catching signature yet.
    I have been making comments to get traffic and referrals from comments amount to about 50% or more of my blog traffic.

    Thanks for the tips.

  5. BW says:

    As my blog is in the travel niche (Puerto Rico to be precise), I find I get a lot of traffic from answering questions on travel forums either through my signature or through direct links in posts.

    Just got to keep plugging away to get those subscriber numbers up.

  6. Mike Goad says:

    This should also work for web sites as well and I am currently trying to do just that. I think one important thing is to not overdo it and don’t be blatantly commercial. If you are, some folks may view it as a kind of spam and your posts may be deleted. In extreme cases, you might even be banned from the forum.

  7. Andy says:

    You have to put a lot of effort into forums to obtain trust, so pick your forum wisely.

    Also, many forums are intimidating places which can be off-putting.

    Also, be careful not to get addicted to the forum. Skim the posts and only read and interact with those posts that you feel that you need to read.

  8. Interesting idea. I can imagine that the right choice of niche could be crucial here.

  9. Debby says:

    Skellie,

    This is a great post. Adding to the community of a forum is a great way to bring traffic to your blog. Not only are you helping others with your knowledge you are being rewarded for it when they become a regular reader of your blog.

    ~Debby

  10. Jacob Cass says:

    Forums is where I get a great percentage of my traffic… I would recommend it to anyone. Thanks for the post.

  11. TzuVelli says:

    Take it slow in forums. Get an idea of the temperament of its members. I have seen new forum members, on their first day at the forum, market their blog or website. The reaction is not a pretty sight. Avoid being heavily flamed, add value to the forum first, before you do anything else. This is especially true at larger forums where personalities are more heavily entrenched.

  12. Nadia says:

    Very useful indeed – that is exactly what I have done for my blog – now I receive more than 70% of my visitors from only a couple of forums.

  13. John Hewitt says:

    I like the idea of posting to forums, but I sometimes feel as if the time can be better used working on articles for your own site. Keeping track of all the threads in a forum can take a lot of time. I think this is a great tip if you are genuinely interested in a forum, but otherwise it isn’t a good use of time.

  14. LC says:

    I cannot agree more with Skellie’s forum idea, as it has worked extremely well for me.

    I am a shopping center developer, and our “trust me” rank is somewhere between politicians and lawyers. About 4 years ago I joined a local community forum and disclosed who I was, where we were building, and asked for input. The forum helped us immensely with tenanting our centers and we delivered what the community wanted. My credibility became very high. We still hold fundraisers in that community as a thank you.

    My site is new, and although unrelated to most of the members of that forum, they still account for nearly 20% of my traffic; I have a link back to them too. Building credibility and authority through engagement is a wonderful way to drive traffic and keep it, too. Thanks, Skellie.

  15. CatherineL says:

    I love these tips – especially the one about offering to guest blog – it’s a brilliant idea.

  16. 993C4S says:

    Great Tip. I’ve only recently started to blog and I have 17 subscribers all from formums that I participate in.

    However, as others have mentioned you do have to move slowly. Many forums are very tight communities (much the same as a well read blog). Users can be very fickle and it is easy to get flamed or ignored if you are too blatant in your marketing.

  17. Paul Legan says:

    I agree completely – forums can be an incredible source of traffic when you’re just starting out as a blogger. If you are participating a great deal in a forum, chances are pretty good that you have a lot to write about, and others already look to you for some advice.

  18. Natalie says:

    Great article, this is the exact strategy that i use to bring readers to my songwriting and music recording blog! This is usually the advice given to musicians to promote their music, and i’ve merely applied it to my blog – and it works!

  19. sir jorge says:

    It depends on the forums.

    I’ve been huge in several forums and received no traffic.

  20. Sean Hodge says:

    I have had some succuess with this technique. I’ve also found that for tutorial sites that submitting your tutorials to the list forums is a good way to get traffic as well.

  21. Pedro says:

    good, i never think about that, lets try it, i need some traffic on my new blog…
    thank u :D

  22. I cannot emphasize this enough:

    Be Helpful On Blogging Forums.

    You help out another forum poster, I guarantee you will get more traffic, because people want to go check out the blog of a helpful poster.

    Thanks for keeping us posted, Skellie! :)

  23. Zach Smith says:

    Over 50% of my traffic comes from a forum (although I have to be a bit more creative because the forum doesn’t use signatures)

    I think particularly in the sports niche, and particularly an individual team like my own blog, such traffic can be crucial to the success of a blog.

  24. Skellie says:

    Hey everyone, thanks for the feedback! It’s great to read about the success some people are already having with forums. It’s also nice to see some people who hadn’t really considered forum traffic but are wanting to give it a try :-).

    @ sir jorge: I think it’s worth shopping around until you find a forum that you enjoy participating in and you receive traffic from. You might also find that following some of the other suggested steps will make users more interested in who you are (and therefore, more likely to investigate through your signature).

  25. Imelda says:

    Skellie,

    Thanks for the advise and I tried this when I started my niche site http://www.imelda.com.au using the vogue.com.au forum. I’ve had no love from the ‘fashion police’ / moderators. I signed up and started posting comments on relevant footwear threads but none of my comments were ‘allowed’. Finally one must of slipped through and I recorded my biggest day of traffic (that and a post on Jamie Lynn Spears – which came from a celeb blog). Ever since then no love…My account hasn’t been de-activated but they won’t post any of my comments.

    I don’t include any links back to my site unless it’s totally relevant so I’m left scratching my head.

  26. Thanks for the information, you’re a big help! I really appreciate all the bloggers here at ProBlogger, because I have really earned a lot from this blog. Thank you. :)

  27. Dana says:

    The thing that I have found interesting about forum traffic is how viral it can be.

    Some of my most trafficked posts have been because of links in forums. A good link on a “hot topic” will get passed around in several forums.

  28. 66tx says:

    Also, many forums are intimidating places which can be off-putting.

  29. Gil says:

    Great post, I’ve found that forums are a great resource for two reasons;

    1. You get traffic from it via your signature as you said

    2. You get ideas to write articles on your site.

    With my site, I visit several tech related web sites and I look for common issues/questions that come up and based on those i then write a how-to and normally I post it as a reply for those that need the help.

    My experience shows it works…thanks for the tips!

    http://www.gilsmethod.com

  30. MRDPE says:

    I agree that this can be a good strategy, but as alluded to in some of the posts above, the problem can be crossing the line of a forum’s policy in regard advertising or promoting sites similar to the forum’s site.

    The Professional Engineer .com

  31. Skellie says:

    @ Imelda: I’d suggest searching around for another forum in your niche. You’ll find most won’t be so tough!

    If a forum isn’t working for you, look for another one. You’d be surprised how many you can find out there.

  32. Michael says:

    This is a very interesting way to build traffic to your blog, I’ve been on the lookout for a forum in my niche (technology news). Hopefully I’ll find one soon because this looks to be a great way to build traffic.

  33. Thanks, that was useful; this is the first post I read about how to use forums efficiently!

  34. minde says:

    Good job! Very good article.
    My blog: http://www.techday.info

  35. Using forums seems like it would be a solid means of building long term trickle traffic. Have you ever considered an analysis comparing the effectiveness of forum posts vs craigslist forum signatures?

    The idea here is that craigslist is essentially a very authoritative and high volume forum. The issue is the flagging and spam that is already happening in the site. But if you do a high quality post with a simple tagline at the bottom you may be accepted into the community that exists in the craigslist area. Although there would be a disadvantage in the limited time that a post exists.

    Obviously certain bloggers have had extreme success in the craigslist world, and you have shared the success you have had in the forum world.

  36. Great Post!

    Very concise information and we can apply it now which is important.

    May i also add that if you are going to promote on a forum with strict guidelines on marketing i think we need to be smart. Choice of words is paramount but if say i was to promote a product i would end my post saying something like this….

    “here is the link to the product if you are interested in downloading.. i know its an affiliate link though i will provide the non affiliate link and u can decide whether i deserve it or not.. i truly want to serve by sharing information”

    regards

  37. Doug Barger says:

    Very interesting article and much appreciated. From the perspective of a forum owner it is nice to share the view of those who frequent them for high quality traffic back to their blogs.

    The same conversely is true as comments from a relevant blog which are on topic to the forum can result in a nice stream of targeted visitors as well.

    If you have any trouble promoting in forums that don’t allow certain promotional tactics in the signature, then there are plenty of others in the same niche which will be more lenient.

    Regardless of the strategies for promotion implemented though, there is no substitute for working a plan of joining the community and contributing quality, on topic comments which add value to the discussion.

  38. very informative. i should try joining forums in the coming days..thank you..

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  40. robbie120173 says:

    Very well written and very handy tips for someone like myself who has just started blogging please drop by and leave any comments/suggestions as all constructive critisism is welcome!, and all the best for the future of your blog
    http://robbie120173-cashmoneymakers.blogspot.com/

  41. What's Up! says:

    Very useful info, but just to add to that – it’s better if those kinds of forums are dofollow ones, because nofollow backlinks won’t help much for your blog’s pagerank

  42. useful .. even that forums are noffollow ones you will make a strong relationship with other then they may come and leave comments on your blog

  43. Blogger says:

    WOW .. i was totally ignoring forums. But i changed my mind

  44. I believe I have a fear of forums… I will have to think about this.

  45. I have only been in the blogging world for under two months and appreciate posts like these that help open new undiscovered terriority to a newcomer like me. Now the challenge is to find the forum.

  46. Gary Sanet says:

    Can anyone suggest me how to build a forum in my niche area???