Forums & Networks: An Alternative Traffic Source?

Image by Tricky

 

Last week I opened up for suggestions on this week's post (and if there's ever something you'd like to see, please let me know!).  Mafalda at Sailorettes on Facebook said, “I think blogger/fashion networks as media to draw traffic may be interesting?”

 

It was great that Sailorette brought up this alternative traffic source– in Problogger's 31 Days to Build a Better Blog, Day 9 is “Join a Forum & Start Participating.”  The purpose of this is to find where your potential readers are already gathering online— all while allowing you to build your profile online, drive traffic to your site, and learn more about your niche.

 

I started using forums after a post of mine went viral in the community, and I noticed a decent amount of traffic trickling in from certain forums.  I originally set up accounts to see what post they were talking about (many forums have locked threads to non-members).

 

Types of Forums & Networks to Use:

  • Blogging Communities. Sites like the Independent Fashion Bloggers or Problogger forums can connect you will like-minded individuals that you can not only build up blogging buddy relationships with, but find potential readers.
  • Wardrobe-Site Forums. Places like Wardrobe Remix, Chictopia, and Lookbook, often haveforums– so when you're updating your Wardrobe Remix with your latest outfit, pop in to the forums and start joining in on the conversation!
  • Fashion & Fashion-Niche Forums. You can google Fashion Forum, Beauty Forum, Vintage Clothing forum and find–what else, nothing but individually run forums where they're friendly, engaged, and want to talk about nothing more than fashion, beauty, & style.  (And there's often a thread for good gossip, snark, and real life.)

 

Tips for Using Forums:

  • Using forums is a bit like blogging itself.  It takes time to build up your credibility in a forum.  Many forum members are super welcoming and nice, but it doesn't mean you're going to have a huge surge of traffic unless your traffic is on the really low side.
  • It can be time consuming to build up your participation in forums.  Darren says that he spends 15-30 minutes a day reading all of his forums, scanning them for areas he can be useful and provide tips or answers.  For some bloggers, 15-30 minutes a day could be better spent writing posts or leaving comments on blogs!  Whether you use forums will depend on your own schedule.
  • Leave your blog post in your signature; you can usually set this up as an option in your profile.  If you can't (IFB doesn't have this option) then just leave a link to your blog once you've left a comment.
  • BE USEFUL! Don't just go around spamming threads with links to your blog.  Make your reputation in the forums match your reputation at your blog.  Give people a reason to want to read your site.
  • If you're feeling lost and uncertain, make friends with a seasoned forum goer.  Write them a note, tell them you love the site but are feeling overwhelmed.  See if they have any tips for getting engaged more quickly!

 

Early this year, when I began removing the unnecessary parts of blogging from my routine, forums were one of the first areas I cut (with the exception of IFB).  For me, the time and energy put in to them each day wasn't worth the output as a blogging goal.  (As a social site, they were wonderful and very addictive once I got in to them!)

 

Do you use forums as part of your blogging and networking routine? Do you find that they drive a little or a lot of traffic to your site? What tips or suggestions do you have for someone looking to venture out in to forums as a place to network and drive traffic to your site?

 


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17 Responses

  1. SJP

    While I peruse several forums I find IFB the most accessible and the one that I try to comment on and engage with when I have time.

    As I don’t post many outfit posts I find Lookbook etc a bit too intimidating and irrelevant for me (though great for outfit inspiration!) whereas IFB has plenty of different groups all under one roof.

    I agree that it can take a lot of time to maintain a presence in forums so at the moment I’d rather put that time and energy into the blog itself.

    Forums can be great for specific conversations/interests etc and can result in a little extra traffic but, as you say, only if you’re not spamming with links and obeying forum rules.

    Great post : )

    SJP
    http://shipshapeandbristolfashion.wordpress.com/

    Reply
    • Briana

      I totally agree. I love the fact IFB brings together so many people with such a vast variety of interests all within one common interest.

      I’m new myself, and spend a lot of time creating things for my blog opposed to taking time to participate in forums and things of that nature. However, it does prove to be helpful once you utilize it.

      Reply
  2. Christy

    I’ve tried using forums (at your suggestion before!) and also found them to be too time consuming. I’d start reading them and get sucked into just searching and searching for topics that I could leave useful comments on vs. the annoying drive by “hey visit my blog”. I semi regularly use the IFB discussions and find I get a fair amount of useful info and I can also contribute what I’ve picked up about blogging do & don’ts from the short time I’ve been doing it.

    Reply
  3. Madeleine Gallay

    I think that when you find the niches you love it’s all good and authentic.

    I’m having a bit of an issue with the transparent comments with the tag of “follow me, great blog, follow me back.”

    It’s becoming rampant, along with spam to be completely accurate, on many forums.

    Blogging takes a ton of time to do passionately and I love Bloglovin’ so much for letting me keep track of the blogs I love. There’s so much immediacy that it’s hard to maintain relationships with all the possible places to grow your blog in that mutual way where you find genuine interest.

    To share something that I just learned, the most traffic I ever received and attention, and emails (why more than comments I’ll never know … except for the privacy, some people are shy about revealing themselves on the ‘net) was simply being mentioned by someone who has a column at MSN. Serendipity and I’m not sure that there’s anything one can do to get retweeted by Charlie Sheen (lol) or mentioned in the NYTimes.

    The comment thing has to be considered. I follow about 30 blogs that I look forward to on a daily basis and I’m so busy right now that I let each of them know how much I adore them but I can’t always leave a comment. Most laughed and said “me too.”

    Ooh. Longwinded, sorry. These are wonderful ideas, really.

    Reply
  4. HauteWorld

    I regularly contribute to a large fashion forum for the sole reason of communicating with others and sharing info or advice. I never joined it to promote my blog, but have a blog banner in the signature of all my forum posts. I find the traffic I get from that particular forum to be negligable at best. I do get nice private messages now and again from other members telling me how much they love my blog and I know I’ve gained a few loyal followers that way, but joining a forum for the sole purpose of gaining traffic is a waste of time in my opinion.

    I also know from other members of that forum who have a much higher post count (10 000 or more) and who happen to own blogs, that their referral rates aren’t much different than mine. When they start a thread on the forum posting their outfit, it will get 1000 readers a day, but they’ll only get about 10 hits on their actual blog from that source.

    As readers are being bombarded with info from every media outlet, I think people are just starting to overlook blog links and are less willing to click on yet another URL. It’s the same problem advertisers face with ad banners. Unless you somehow integrate your blog URL in the actual post (which is usually against forum rules), most people won’t notice or care to check out yet another blog. Blogging communities like IFB tend to be the exception.

    Reply
  5. GG

    Before I started blogging fashion, I never even heard of blogging forums. If I wanted to discuss fashion, I went to a blog that had high traffic to discuss it with like-minded people. Same thing with reality tv (specifically real housewives). I became part of the community and many people on those blogs spawned their own blogs after being part of those communities and since they were already part of the community, the interest in visiting their blog by members was enormous. I found a lot of support there.
    I tend to think of forums as just an easy way to fall in to the “I follow you, you follow me” trap and just posting the link. When messaging another IFB member, I always keep it personal, starting with the subject line. Most people just write “hi!” and then write “please follow me!”. I, on the other hand, will look at the person’s blog to see if I really like the content and then my subject title will go along the lines of “I love your blog!”.
    At the end of the day, I believe in meaningful contributions. And if that means I have less followers to my blog, so be it.

    Reply
  6. misslikey

    the thing about forums is that you need a lot of spare time which many of us don’t have. I think once you sign in you need to be fully involved. personally it didn’t help me except when I find out that is somewhere forum thread about blogs you read and someone mentions mine. anyway I will try problogger. great tips as always!

    Reply
    • Karen

      Forums are great for driving relevant visitors. Also WordPress is almost ready to launch a really great forum as a plugin. It is called bbPress and it rocks!

      If you have your own alive forum right there next to your blog, there is a real chance to build something bigger and better than just a blog.

      Reply
  7. barcelonette

    Actually I have never used forums as a source to get more traffic to my blog but I’ll try to do so for a few months just to check if this works for me!!
    Thank you for your advice

    Xenia – Barcelonette

    Reply
  8. Eli

    The only forum that brought traffic was the Fashion Spot. But you need an invite to join. The lookbook.nu forums are also good, but I dont post on there anymore and now find it inconvenient for me. Thats all besides IFB of course

    Reply
  9. cupcakejunky

    The only forum I use is IFB as it’s easy to engage with people. I haven’t had too many ‘follow me’ messages, instead the messages tend to be bloggers saying what they liked about my blog and leaving their link in case I want to have a look at their blog.

    I rely on readers from bloglovin and I regularly find my posts in ‘the most liked posts of the week’ but I don’t know what this means or how they get there. I also find that I get a lot of readers finding me through Google search. WordPress seem to have a powerful search engine optimisation (SEO) and my stats show the words people have type into Google to be directed to my blog. Through the powerful WordPress SEO I find some of my posts and post photos come up on the first page of Google sometimes depending on tags, search words used etc.

    In my first week of blogging I was Freshly Pressed on WordPress which means that your blog appears on their front page for a few days. The traffic from this was absolutely crazy and it was fun while it lasted. I would love to have that level of traffic all the time.

    Reply
  10. Michal

    Just wanted to note this post is true and accurate. Moreover, I came from the forum niche even before I started a blog. Guess what – 50% of the visits in my blog came from the same forum platform!!
    You have to give it a try, and write in different forums to see where people really notice you. Google analytics has been a great help for me with that.

    Reply
  11. Alexa Rae

    I completely agree with the statement about forums. I have been trying endlessly to increase the traffic to my blog by using forums and it’s just really a time consuming and lengthy task. Being in school full time & in a sorority already hinders the amount of time a week that I blog & being on forums as well as keeping up with the forums is a really difficult thing to do.

    Thanks for posting this, it’s really refreshing to see that a lot of the blogging issues that I’m having are not foreign & many bloggers have them! 🙂

    Reply
  12. Sara

    I’m so over the “follow me & I’ll follow you” thing on forums, it’s also time consuming with negligible increase in traffic. Having said that I’ve made a couple of lovely fashion blogger mates thru forums too so they can’t be all bad…

    Reply
  13. Joanne Faith

    I believe that networking is absolutely critical to building a successful blog, and one of the things I would do if I had more time is be more active on forums & communities. 🙂

    Reply
  14. THE SHAPE

    I agree . Web 2.0 is the new key . we must using all internet’s channels
    to have succes . I hope that the networking will be THE SOLUTION.

    Reply