The way forward for Cruisers Forum
We all want this site to grow to get more interesting discussions going AND we all want the site to perform well even if we have a 1000 members online simultaneously.
The site has come to stay and will always be free, but I want you to decide what way we should take forward.
The ideal media to hit the crowds in the cruising world would be to have classified ads in Cruising World or other relevant magazines, but check these prices:
Classified ads in Cruising World and Sailing World
It would cost a minimum of $285 for one ad once (15 words, link and logo) or $75 without a logo.
Hmmm. It would be fun to have a Word Ad with the link in CW. I have the magazine sent all the way to Norway and browse through the ads myself, so I'm sure that's gonna make us some new discussion partners ...
But we can always wait for the traffic to pick up by "word of mouth", search engine submittions etc. We risk loosing members that way, though, members that want more action than the forum can give today.
When the traffic "hits the roof" of the shared server we're using today, we need to move the site to keep up or (better) improve the performance - but sorry, that's not for free :(
To really hit the crouds we need some more funds than I will be happy to pay out of my regular paycheck alone, so I'm asking for your suggestions on which way to go forward.
You can choose more than one option in the poll and I would be happy to get some posts with ideas on this thread.
Personally I would rather keep the site on a small budget than having loads of commercial banners on each and every page you look at. But of course there are reasonable limits to everything.
If you wanna help out drive more traffic to Cruisers Forum, you can put this banner on your website or send it in an e-mail to some cruising friends.
But don't make it look like SPAM (which I hate) - please say something personal to your friend as the main content of the mail.
What is spam?
Spam is flooding the Internet with many copies of the same message, in an attempt to force the message on people who would not otherwise choose to receive it. Most spam is commercial advertising, often for dubious products, get-rich-quick schemes, or quasi-legal services....
Promotion and attraction
The best way to get traffic going here is to have some interesting conversations going. You need to get some people who like to talk (write). For every person who posts, there are probably 20 who just read.
I think your method of giving small "awards" to people for posting a certain number of messages is a great idea. Keep promoting it. Maybe think of other benefits which you can give people who post.
I don't think advertising is a good idea, way too expensive for minimal return. People will find the site and visit if there is something interesting to read.
You might try going through the websites at cruisenews.net and asking if the webmasters would be willing to answer questions about a geographical area, or a boat type, or about certain type of equipment.
Try having a featured subject every few days with an "expert" moderator answering questions and taking comments. Post a profile of the moderator ahead of time so people can see what their expertise is. Make a schedule and post it on the main page in a prominent place: for example, if I see that someone is going to be answering questions about sailing in Chile (for example) and I am interested in that subject, I would make a point of stopping by and asking a few questions during the day or week that the expert will be answering questions.
If you need ideas for subjects to discuss, just take a look at back issues of sailing magazines and see what has been popular in the past. You could be doing this in each of your thread categories. Another way to find subjects is to ask people what their expertise is and focus in on what they have to offer. It is important to focus on very specific subjects that are of interest to many people. Sometimes you can post a somewhat contentious opinion as a thread starter and see where it goes, although I think that using hot subjects to increase traffic is not the best way to maintain quality visitors.
I think the key to getting traffic here is to have these pre-scheduled discussion threads with specific topics that people are interested in and to treat the discussions as if they were magazine articles, with links to the threads on the homepage. Promote next month's discussions in order to draw repeat traffic.
That would be creating an interactive magazine, the Slashdot type of online publication which has been so popular in other subject categories.
Sailnet sends out an email every couple of weeks with articles on sailing subjects. I usually delete spam, but I always check out the articles and have founds some very good articles. You might want to have a monthly email newsletter on request which would provide easy links to the featured discussions for that month.
Eham.net has a "emagazine" front page, with links to "articles" which are really just discussion threads on a specific subject. I think that the editors start some of the threads, or they select hot threads, and put a text link from the main page, and by doing so they have created a magazine instead of just a forum.
Splendid ideas Skylark !
You have a lot of really good points here Skylark. Thanks a lot.
I'll se what I can do and who I can get to work with me on this time-consuming strategy.
Anyone interested in teaming up as a moderator? Don't hesitate to send me a personal message.
I'll check the market for moderators more thoroughly later.
By the way Skylark. You have 33 referral points already. Thanks again for the great support!
This site works. Please don't fix it.
My initial thoughts:
You're really asking three unrelated questions, and it probably helps to think of them as somewhat separate questions. They are:
1) How to increase traffic on the site?
2) Once you get somebody to look, how do you make them come back?
3) How to improve performance?
I note that "spend more money" is a necessary part of the answer to all those questions, if only because you need greater network bandwidth to support more users. (You may or may not need computer upgrades - many web server machines literally CAN'T be maxed out because limited network throughput limits how much work there is for them to do.)
Since you want the site to be free, the only serious revenue source is advertising. I note that you have advertising already, but presumably you need more-- or more correctly, the revenue that comes with having more.
Don't do anything that might bring in 1000 new users until your system is ready to support them. That means, for example, that you might want to put off the ad in Cruising World. Once your revenue stream can support the users you might get, spending $100 on an ad is not going to be a problem.
I actually wonder if the reason I tend to visit the UK IPC site more often than this is to do with the layout of this site... Just too many options???
For me there is no problem with carrying advertising although if it can be boat related that is better - In fact it is good.... Means being a bit commercial about it and aiming for the West Marine, Defenders, Bennett Marine Video rather than Mercedes which is irritating. My own site generates enough income just from Google and Amazon (both of which target boaty things on the pages) so owning my own web site costs me nothing but does enable me to sell my book and videos. So a more 'commercial and professional' site like this could maybe activly sell space - or engage a company to activly sell space???? rather than just rely on Google.
There appears in life to be a rule that either you grow or shrink - nothing remains the same for long... If the site is to grow then you are right - something needs to be done - I suspect it is getting people to want to visit more often - come back several times a day (as so many do with the UK site) that is the key.... So maybe it is also to do with 'presentation'??
I like it the way it is.
Just all be aware that CapJeff has commented on the tail of a thread that is ruffly 3yrs old.
We are working on tidying up little bits here and there and getting the "Home page" spruced up a little with things like the Titles that we have been running the competition for, but the board its self is pretty much it and will be.
Geesh, hadn't realized I was dredging up such an old thread. Must pay attention in the future. :)
Do not post to this thread! Let it sink to the bottom and be covered by the worn words of other, weary, weathered and long-winded topics. Don't add to its buoyancy by breathing into it.
Even you, Kevin!
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