How much are online forums worth?

by Martin Reed on 20 February 2008 in Articles

The value of internet forums

As online communities become an ever more important part of the online experience, you might expect the value of forums to be ever-increasing. To investigate just how much Internet forums are worth, I undertook a little research.

Recent online forum sales

By browsing through the SitePoint Marketplace, I collected details of all recent forum sales that were marked as sold, and have recorded them below in ascending order by sales price:

Date Established: 1 January 2005
Date Sold: 17 November 2007
Genre: General Forum
Members: 1,100
Posts: 2,300
Unique Visits per Month: 1,000
Pageviews per Month: 13,000
Monthly Revenue: Nil
Price: $100

Date Sold: 30 January 2008
Date Established: 30 December 2006
Genre: MMORPG Forum
Members: 246
Posts: 5,636
Unique Visits per Month: 800-900
Pageviews per Month: 5,000
Monthly Revenue: Nil
Price: $250

Date Sold: 9 November 2007
Date Established: 3 August 2007
Genre: Sport Forum
Members: 75
Posts: 1,100
Unique Visits per Month: 500
Pageviews per Month: 20,000
Monthly Revenue: Nil
Price: $300

Date Sold: 20 December 2007
Date Established: 12 November 2006
Genre: Football Forum
Members: 2,577
Posts: 14,500
Unique Visits per Month: 5,000
Pageviews per Month: 205,000
Monthly Revenue: $40
Price: $410

Date Sold: 22 January 2008
Date Established: 15 October 2007
Genre: AdSense Community
Members: 107
Posts: 1,771
Unique Visits per Month: 3,174
Pageviews per Month: 60,000
Monthly Revenue: $70
Price: $800

Date Sold: 14 January 2008
Date Established: 29 August 2005
Genre: Humour/Social Discussion Forum
Members: 1,500
Posts: 880,000
Unique Visits per Month: 7,500
Pageviews per Month: Not Known
Monthly Revenue: $200
Price: $1,700

Date Sold: 19 November 2007
Date Established: 20 June 2005
Genre: Graphic Design Forum
Members: 8,000
Posts: 120,000
Unique Visits per Month: 12,000
Pageviews per Month: 90,000
Monthly Revenue: $20
Price: $2,100

Date Sold: 13 February 2008
Date Established: 2 January 2007
Genre: Female Community
Members: 1,461
Posts: 41,054
Unique Visits per Month: 10,000
Pageviews per Month: 110,000
Monthly Revenue: $145
Price: $2,450

Date Sold: 27 December 2007
Date Established: 13 May 1999
Genre: Web Programming Forum
Members: 7,100
Posts: 12,500
Unique Visits per Month: 18,400
Pageviews per Month: 143,000
Monthly Revenue: Nil
Price: $4,300

Date Sold: 16 January 2008
Date Established: 1 June 2005
Genre: Design Forum
Members: 7,500
Posts: 200,000
Unique Visits per Month: 15,000
Pageviews per Month: 400,000
Monthly Revenue: $100
Price: $5,000

Date Sold: 5 December 2007
Date Established: 28 November 2007
Genre: Gaming Forum
Members: 14,000
Posts: 440,000
Unique Visits per Month: 26,000
Pageviews per Month: Not known
Monthly Revenue: $400
Price: $5,500

Date Sold: 3 December 2007
Date Established: 1 April 2007
Genre: Poker Forum
Members: 6,149
Posts: 28.174
Unique Visits per Month: 2,000
Pageviews per Month: 3,000
Monthly Revenue: $300
Price: $6,000

Date Sold: 14 January 2008
Date Established: 31 August 2005
Genre: Fuel Economy Forum
Members: 2,700
Posts: 85,000
Unique Visits per Month: 20,000
Pageviews per Month: 250,000
Monthly Revenue: $700-$1000
Price: $19,000

Date Sold: 27 January 2008
Date Established: 27 May 2007
Genre: Call of Duty Gaming Forum
Members: 12,000
Posts: 39,500
Unique Visits per Month: 70,000
Pageviews per Month: 400,000
Monthly Revenue: $500-$1000
Price: $20,000

Date Sold: 23 December 2007
Date Established: 1 September 2005
Genre: Community administrator forum
Members: 6,772
Posts: 142,956
Unique Visits per Month: 22,000
Pageviews per Month: 800,000
Monthly Revenue: $400
Price: $20,000-$25,000 (est.)

Date Sold: 4 February 2008
Date Established: 30 April 2004
Genre: Poker Forum
Members: 16,000
Posts: 155,000
Unique Visits per Month: 35,000
Pageviews per Month: 250,000
Monthly Revenue: $2,500
Price: $40,500

Date Sold: 23 January 2008
Date Established: 6 April 2006
Genre: Gaming Community
Members: 199,000
Posts: 375,000
Unique Visits per Month: 200,000
Pageviews per Month: 800,000
Monthly Revenue: $20,000
Price: $50,000

Have you noticed a pattern?

I sure did. If you look at the five sites that sold for the highest amounts, they all have two things in common – a financially rewarding/topical subject (poker and gambling) and great content (eg and

Sure, the sites that sold for the most do generally have a large number of members and posts, but look at – they only had 2,700 members and 85,000 posts yet the site sold for $19,000. The real value in that site was the content and subject relevance to modern day living.

As another example of why member count is not a hugely important factor in your community’s value, just take a look at – they had 14,000 members and 440,000 posts yet sold for a quarter of what fetched with half the number of members and a third of the posts.

What makes a forum valuable

The biggest determinant of a forum’s value is its content. This includes the quality of your members’ posts, and any additional features your site offers. Articles are a great complement to an online forum and can hugely increase the value of your site to its visitors and members.

The second most important factor in determining the value of a forum is its subject matter. The poker forums sold well due to the current boom in interest in the game, along with the high potential they have for revenue generation. fetched a decent price because the subject matter is highly relevant in today’s society and the site offered great additional content through articles, reviews and coupons.

Forget about monetary value

Unless you are establishing a forum with the express intention of selling it (not recommended – just look at how many sites sold for under $5,000), your focus should always be on increasing the value of your site to its visitors and members; not its financial value. If your site is valuable to these people, it will naturally become financially valuable and you’ll ensure you remain focussed on the steps you need to take to develop a successful online community.

Your thoughts

What do you think of this article? Do you think building forums with the intention of selling them on is a good strategy? Do you focus on increasing your site’s financial value or its value to your members and visitors? What factors do you think influence a forum’s value? Do you agree or disagree with my thoughts on what makes a forum valuable? Share your thoughts and opinions by leaving a comment below.

Share this community building advice


Similar Posts

Previous post:

Next post:


Amish Made Furniture February 20, 2008 at 3:03 pm

It seems to be the current fashion to start up a business, build it up and sell it to a big player, in all kinds of fields. So, why should a forum be any different? If one has a long term view about staying with the forum, the content has to have a great deal of personal toing and froing between the owner and the members and amongst themselves. Otherwise, it is best that once it has served its purpose, the forum is sold off.

Motivator February 20, 2008 at 6:04 pm

I am planning on creating some forums but it is hard to make it work out considering that it takes time and effort and some people to help it out and great deal of advertising. I wonder if how much DP forum is worth?. And I am also interested to know what sort of forums usually click or people tends to patronized easily>?. Is the value of forums worth its monetary value?.

Michael @ Freshome February 20, 2008 at 9:50 pm

Take a look at this auction. –

Domaining February 20, 2008 at 10:00 pm

I think you article is generally correct. Running a forum is hard work and is a major committment, at least in the early days. It is no suprise that forum owners eventually want some reward for their time and efforts and sell their forums.

Online Furniture Store February 21, 2008 at 1:20 am

I don’t think it makes sense to put a lot of hard work into something, make it succeed and then sell it off. Unless of course that was the forum owner’s primary motive to begin with or if the forum owner just got bored with it.

Cleveland Browns February 21, 2008 at 1:56 am

I think there definitely is a direct correlation between the number of users of a site and the selling price of the site. The current revenue is a plus for the selling price, but perhaps the current owner of the site, isn’t monetizing it correctly and the future owner is willing to pay for the potential revenue of a site.

I think that it is very difficult to build a forum, just so that you can sell it. I would find it hard to put in so much hard work, for something that I knew I wasn’t going to keep

Free Articles February 21, 2008 at 5:40 pm

I believe that traffic from search engines is also very important when setting the price of a forum. Not just for a forum, but for a site in general. And this is harder to achieve on a general and large forum and easier on a more targeted forum. So if I were to start a forum – I would go for a niche.

Bellingham Real Estate February 22, 2008 at 5:56 am

I am suprised to see these low numbers. Even the highest forum was sold for $50,000. This one made sense, it gained $20,000 a month and would pay for itself in three. And even the site that made 400 the gaming gutter it is worth $5,500 that is a pretty good return if you compare it to real estate.

Amish Made Furniture February 22, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Martin, I am eagerly awaiting your comments on all the comments made here!

Martin Reed - Blog Author February 22, 2008 at 7:38 pm

Ramana – There is money to be made from flipping websites, however I don’t think forums are particularly well suited to this due to the amount of time and work needed to build and sustain a good number of members and level of interaction.

Motivator – I would imagine DP Forum would sell for quite a few dollars due to its popularity and content. As for figuring out what types of forum make the most money or are most attractive to visitors/members, that’s easy – the ones with the best content!

Michael – Yes, I saw that auction, too! I think the majority of the value in that website is in its content. Asides from the 800,000 posts, the site also offers a number of additional features which has added to its monetary value. You going to place a bid? ;)

Domaining – People sell websites for a number of different reasons, and a forum is no different. A forum owner will invariably have some psychological attachment to their community and its members though, which may make selling a forum more difficult emotionally compared to a ‘traditional’ website.

Reena – As I wrote in response to Domaining, there are a number of reasons why people sell their sites. I agree though that forums may not be the best type of website to establish with the express aim of selling on at a later date.

Cleveland – Generally, a site with a larger number of users does sell for more however there are some significant exceptions to this as shown in the article. The bottom line is – don’t focus on member count; instead focus on creating high quality content and encouraging interaction.

Articles – Traffic to a website definitely affects its value. The more stable, reliable and targeted that traffic is, the more valuable it makes the site. I am not sure I would agree that general interest forums find it harder to attract good search engine traffic; however, having a specific niche can make it easier to attract well targeted traffic.

Bellingham – I completely agree with you; forums and online communities in general are hugely undervalued at present, although this will change in the future. The buyer of definitely scored themselves a bargain, thanks to the owner’s low ‘Buy It Now’ price.

Ramana – Well, there you go! I hope you enjoyed ;)

Nicole Price February 26, 2008 at 9:45 am

Looking at the kind of prices these forums have fetched, it brings me to believe that they probably take a lot more effort to build up than the compensation. Wouldn’t an equal amount of effort in another venture probably yield better results?

Niche Annihilation Method February 26, 2008 at 10:47 am

I was amazed. 1100 members forum for $100? Are they active? I agree, if those were common prices for forum, I’d better go with other venture.

Chantix Info February 26, 2008 at 10:48 am

Probably are the DP kind of members..paid to signup and start threads…:D

Martin Reed - Blog Author February 27, 2008 at 7:53 pm

Nicole – Perhaps; maybe we should only start online communities because we are passionate about the subject matter, or online communities in general. Perhaps online communities shouldn’t be established with the sole intention of selling them. Perhaps those that aim to make a ‘quick buck’ from an online community should think again!!

Niche & Chantix – It just goes to show that value is not your member count, but in your content!

Sue @ TameBay February 28, 2008 at 1:24 pm

The thing that jumps out at me from a cursory glance over the numbers you posted is that even a TINY bit of existing revenue really boosts the price. My conclusion (from a point of absolute ignorance) is that if you’re going to want to sell your forum, slap a few Adsense blocks on it two or three months beforehand.

Chantix Info February 28, 2008 at 4:50 pm

I am not sure if adding Adsense alone will help. If you won’t have any revenue from Adsense for 3 months that could hurt the price you ask for the forum rather than helping.

Chat February 28, 2008 at 11:54 pm

Definitely the more money a online forum makes the more valuable it is in the average website consumer(predator’s) eyes. If you look at online forum sales threads on a webmaster forum, if the user who started the topic dosn’t mention revenue one of the first thread replied will usually be whats your monthly revenue? and will ask for stats. These days in my opinion its one of the biggest factors in website sales with the whole “make money online” epidemic.

Martin Reed - Blog Author February 29, 2008 at 6:26 pm

Sue – I would agree with you. Showing that a website can actually produce revenue encourages people to bid, and results in a higher selling price.

Chantix – I don’t think running AdSense can ever harm the value of a site. Simply showing that a site can generate revenue raises its perceived value – it doesn’t really matter what method you are using (so long as it is legal and ethical!).

Cody – You’re right, although often it is the smaller sites that tend to emphasise the few bucks they make each month. Larger sites can point to their content, goodwill and brand value. Revenue is important, but not necessarily indicative of a site’s true value.

Eva White March 3, 2008 at 7:31 am

I agree forums are important to build an online community for like minded people in the same business to come together under one place and discuss about their issues. But to develop and maintain a forum is a very tough task. A forum till it is reputed does not get success. I am not much of a forum person.

GetAIO March 4, 2008 at 10:55 am

believe or not, i was about to buy at about $1200, ITS 20,000 NOW ouch!!!! wish i bought it!

Martin Reed - Blog Author March 4, 2008 at 7:14 pm

Eva – Developing successful communities is definitely hard work, and forums are perhaps the hardest to get right. The satisfaction you get from developing a successful forum though, is fantastic.

GetAIO – Ah well, we live and learn, eh?!?

Reckless September 23, 2008 at 3:59 am

Good article backed up by solid research. Kind of reminds all of us webmasters out there to not quit our day jobs!

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 6, 2008 at 8:29 pm

Reckless – Glad you enjoyed it. It might be interesting to do this again in the future to see if forums are selling for more/less.

Lisa Udy September 1, 2009 at 4:37 pm

I just setup a new site and I added a forum to it. I am a real estate agent, and I was thinking a forum might be cool for my clients to ask questions. The site is brand new, so I haven’t had any luck with it, but eventually I think it can take off if I put the time into getting it noticed. :)

Christina March 24, 2010 at 7:06 pm

It seems like most forums aren’t worth much (monetarily) so it makes sense to make the forums great from an informational standpoint. Your members will get value from it but it’s an ongoing hard process. If your forum becomes so successful that it’s worth selling, great – it’s a bonus.

{ 1 trackback }