The biggest challenge in trying to get a forum established is getting people to join up and post. To have a successful community, you need members and activity but with minimal members and activity it is extremely hard to get people to sign up in the first place.
At this stage you may be considering using one of the many paid posting services that are about. These will vary hugely in terms of the quality of posts they will offer, and in price. Is employing paid posters something I would recommend? Well, yes and no.
Firstly I wish to make it clear that I have never used paid posters on any of the sites I run. I was however tempted to employ the services of paid posters on our TV soaps website as when I took it over it was pretty much a ghost town. The problem was that the subject area for this site is relatively specialised – it covers UK television soaps. I was not interested in paying someone to post in the off-topic areas of the site; I could easily do that myself. I was more interested in creating quality content.
I sent an email to a company which appeared to be quite reputable with positive referrals on SitePoint asking them if they feel they could fulfil my requirements of providing posts and content relevant to soaps broadcast in the UK. I received no response and this was as far as my experiment with paid posting went.
If you choose the services of paid posters, I would always recommend agreeing with them in advance what percentage of the posts can be made in off-topic areas of your forum. Ideally you want as many posts as possible to be subject specific to your forum, relevant to the current threads of discussion and unique. You will also want to see them starting new threads and making posts of a decent length.
Ideally I would always recommend asking for a trial of some description, and always ask for too see live examples of work they have done. When they provide some references, contact the site owners to see if they were satisfied. If your paid posting service cannot offer what I have suggested above, then shop elsewhere.
In future posts I will cover alternative ways of kick-starting your forum without relying on the services of paid posters.