Developing a successful online community is a huge challenge. It can be disheartening to spend a huge amount of time and effort on your community only to see minimal growth and development. You may have thought that after six months you would have over 500 members when in fact you only have 50. This is no reason to give up, though.
The first six months are the hardest
Starting an online community from scratch is tough. Really tough. You need to attract members, but visitors are unlikely to join if they come across a forum with few members and few posts. This is when you need to take the initiative. You need to create the content. You need to create a buzz about your community, and you need to get the word out.
You will spend hours every day creating content and marketing your site. After 50 hours work, you may be lucky to attract 1 new member. This should be seen as a success, though – not a failure.
Start seeing success in every achievement
Don’t set your aims too high. See every member as a success. See every post they make as a success. See every new thread as a success. You may not have 500 members, but if you have 25 who are posting regularly, you are well on your way.
Many people give up after they have already achieved so much – this is a waste. If you are feeling downhearted, look through all the content on your site. Look at everything you have created. Look at the members you have attracted and build on what you have.
Be realistic – don’t consider a site with 10,000 members and over 1 million posts your closest competitor; if you do, you will be constantly downhearted. Find another site that is similar in size or age to your own and use that site as your motivation. If they gained 10 new members this week, aim to get 12 at yours next week.
Once you have your foundation, you are on the path to success
Successful online communities are based on strong foundations. Once you have the initial buzz, you will find it easier to develop and grow. Your first 100 members are your most important. When you find yourself needing to create less content yourself, you are on the path to success.
Just be realistic as to how long that path may be. Indeed, you may have to walk through the undergrowth for a while before you can even set foot on that path. Either way, you need to keep walking forward in order to reach it. Don’t give up – keep at it, and you will succeed.