I was browsing the SitePoint forums the other day when I came across someone who was about to launch a brand new online community.
The hardest part of developing an online community is just getting it started and established in the first place. The person in question had started the website but only as a way of gauging interest in his idea.
Basically, he set up a website explaining what the new community would be about. He also gave visitors the opportunity to join a mailing list to be notified when the site launches in full. Not only does this method provide the opportunity to determine the amount of potential interest there is in the subject area of the proposed community, it also provides a surge of well targeted visitors to the forum as soon as it opens.
When a forum is first established, it is completely void of content. Ideally the owner of the forum should start populating the forum with quality content in order to attract members.
In this instance the owner of the website can take his time creating content whilst at the same time collect the email addresses of highly targeted users. When he is ready to launch, he will have good content and a great boost of initial traffic which should contain a high number of visitors interested in becoming members.
This example just goes to show that it really does pay to think of the fundamentals before setting up a forum. How will you get traffic? Is there a demand for your proposed community? How will you create content for your new community? In this case one person has thought of a way of tackling all of these challenges – can you?!?