I love online Forums, and even my online journey started with a forum. I recently launched a forum 24x7forum.com to have a discussion board where I can solve queries of my blogging friends and others who need some assistance. Not just me, various other forum members also solve each other’s queries. You must join and actively participate in this forum if you really love to discuss on tech, WordPress blogging, SEO, and other related stuff. Here is the link => 24x7forum.com
Now, I would like to tell you why taking part in discussion forums is beneficial?
There are many different reasons I can list here that will make you think about joining such discussion forums. However, I am listing only 5 reasons in this post.
Though blog posts give better insights on particular topics,forum comes very handy when you have to ask tricky questions which will be answered later by some other members. This way, you ask the question, other one replies with a solution, and there knowledge sharing happens. Similarly, when you are able to solve someone else’s query, you can also try responding with the solution.
If you are a newbie, you can get your doubts and questions answered quickly, and if you are an expert of something, you can respond to others with solutions. This is how discussions forum works.
All of this knowledge sharing is absolutely for FREE. You just need to devote some time for it.
If you are an expert of something, say WordPress, you can reply to all the queries that are related to it. Other members and regular users of the forum start considering you as a WordPress expert.
Later when they get some serious issues that cannot be fixed by them even by reading the responses; they may think to hire some expert to do this. And, if you are already there in the mind of those people, they would surely try to hire you. This is how your business increases too.
For example, I have been asking a lot of question from a theme developer for customization as that theme was tough to edit. That developer helped me with all the queries, and now I am thinking that when I have to create my own theme or have some serious issues, I would hire that developer only as I saw his expertise already.
Therefore, if you are a freelancer or offering some services, you must build your authority in some good forums.
If you are a blogger, and you are running out of ideas, then you must start checking out and participating in forums because you will see the new type of questions and solutions every day which will give you some good ideas for creating your next blog content.
Try it, and I am sure, you will never run out of ideas for blog posts.
When you regularly participate in the forums, you get your signature feature enabled in which you can add your website or blog link. So that whenever you reply to any queries, your signature link will be there that will surely help you increase your traffic as there will be many who will be clicking on your link to visit your site.
When you work online, building relationships is utmost important. Until you have healthy relationships with clients and other people, they won’t recommend you. And, you know how recommendations are important for the people who work online.
In the forums, you can easily build good and healthy relationships with other industry experts and some potential clients as well.
In the technical language, this is called Relationship Marketing which means that you build relationships to help your customers and others that later benefits your business.
Now, you know how important it is to participate in Forums. Look at the list of best online forums that you should join and participate actively to get the benefits.
- Digital Point Forum – Internet Marketing
- Warrior Forum – Digital Marketing
- 24x7Forum – Tech/Marketing/SEO/Wordpress [we owned it but now it is shut down due to some obvious reasons.]
- Cnet Forums – Software
- V7N Forum – Web Development and Internet Marketing
- Webhostingtalk Forum – Web Hosting
These are some nice forums which you can join and participate actively in order to gain and share knowledge.
Now let’s talk about some popular Forum Software/CMS that you can use to build your own Forum site.
PHPBB is one of the best forum software when it comes to free. Yes, this forum CMS is absolutely free to use and has a number of awesome features. The excellent look of this CMS is what makes your forum looks like a perfect discussion board.
It is coded in PHP programming language, and its full form is PHP Bulletin Board. Many big forums are using PHPBB as CMS such as Joomla Forums, Adblockplus forums, etc.
Even the Forum I have started 24x7forum.com is also using PHPBB only, and I can say that its admin section is quite great too. I really enjoy working with it.
Though PHPBB is a great forum CMS, there are some downsides such as social login integration is not there, and they don’t seem to be modernizing their CMS with the time. Also, its URLs are not optimized for SEO which is a big downside of it.
Since millions of people using it, you must not think a lot, and try this out if you want to setup a discussion board for your business or even for personal use.
Some great features which it offers are:
- Private messaging
- Password Protected Forums
- Forum Subscription
- Unlimited number of sub-forums under the parent
- Warning and Ban Options
- Easy media attachments
- Who is online feature
- Detailed Search Feature
You can check more features of PHPBB here.
BBPress is Forum Software created by the creators of WordPress. This is the best if you want to integrate a discussion board inside your WordPress site. It is called as the forum software for WordPress.
You get the power of some WordPress features when you use BBPress such Akismet protection for handling spam, and many others.
It is very simple to install as you can just install it as a plugin, activate, and you are done!
There are various plugins and themes available to customize your BBPress powered Forum.
First paid forum CMS on our list is vBulletin which is one of the most popular forum software available online. You won’t find most of the features in any other forum software that vBulletin offers.
It is easy to setup, engaging, and robust. Within 15 minutes, you can set up your very own forum powered by vBulletin. Social integration is somehow cool, and the modern features which many free software don’t have are the positive point of it.
Some Features of vBulletin:
- Forum Subscription.
- Private Messaging.
- Support both HTML and BBCode for posting.
- Unlimited hierarchy of Forums and Sub-forums.
And there are tons of other basic and advanced features you get. Though it is a great forum software, it costs a lot. So, if you have the budget, you can go for it without any doubt.
Simple Machines Forum is a free and easy to set up forum software that allows you set up your forum site within minutes. It is written in PHP and uses MySQL database. The custom made templates offer you interactive look and feel to your forum site.
It offers all the basic features you need in your forum site. The default look and feel of SMF is quite elegant and looks professional.
If you are thinking for free, SMF is just another option for you which is quite good.
XenForo is another beast and much popular like PHPBB and vBulletin. Digital Point Forum is one of the prominent forums available on the internet, is powered by XenForo.
It is a paid forum software with a lot of excellent features. It is quite well optimized for SEO. Facebook integration allows easier registration and sharing.
Social Signup is what nowadays recommended for almost every type of sites because users find it easy to sign up using Facebook or other social media sites. You can change color combinations to make your forum site look different.
In short, if you have the heavy budget, XenForo is the best deal.
MyBB is yet another free forum software which is built using PHP and MySQL. The administration panel is quite easy to use and handle. There are themes available that allow you to customize your forum’s look and feel. For extending the functionalities, there are many MyBB plugins available that you can use as per your requirements.
Your discussion board powered by MyBB looks so simple that even a new user can use it effectively.
PunBB is lightweight free forum software which is built using PHP and MySQL. It loads pretty faster than any other forum Software because it is not much graphically rich.
PunBB doesn’t boast a lot of features like others. But, being fast and lightweight it is the favorite of many.
Vanilla Forums is a paid forum software, and it offers hosted and open source software for building your discussion board. It is highly customizable, and you can create customized community which allows rewarding the users for participation.
You don’t need to pay for its open source version. However, if you want to go for business version, you have to pay. It is a good choice for creating your own forum.
MiniBB is a free forum CMS, and it is highly customizable. It is built for creating lightweight and speedy quick forum. If you are not thinking to build a forum with so many features and other stuff, go for MiniBB as it is lightweight and quick to setup.
Above is a demo set up of MiniBB forum.
Isn’t it looking simple and elegant?
This is a paid forum software, and it offers a lot of features like other forum software. The design of this board looks quite beautiful and professional too. I really love discussion page, and specifically the way it placed the user avatars. It’s simply awesome.
It is a good software, and pricing is quite affordable too. If you need to build a forum for your customers, this is a great option indeed.
IP.Board is another paid forum software on our list, and it is one of the best ones on this list.
This is a great choice for forum software if you need your discussion board for your company.
You can go to their home page, and request a demo so that you can check out a demo forum. You also get admin login details for the demo, so that you can also check out the admin panel. Once you are satisfied, you can buy the software.
Phorum is open source forum software with excellent speed. It has excellent hook and module system that allow admin to create various modules for various tasks.
Bonus Forum Software
I started my forum for two reasons: one for helping people with issues and second for working on something else than blogging. I have been blogging for more than 5.5 years now, and I always wanted to work on something else too that is equally interesting. So, I chose the forum thing.
I am sure, after reading this article, you would like to join some forums and actively participate. It’s worth of spending time discussing on some cool stuff.
Also, if you want to build a forum site for your business, then you can make use of the 15 best forum software that I mentioned above. Most of the Forum Software mentioned here are free to use. So, you don’t need to worry about the investment. Just get an affordable hosting, and set up your Forum in minutes. You can also read a post by Yaro Starak about building a popular Forum in 5 steps which will guide you to build your forum in a better way.
As per my experience, when it comes to free, PHPBB is the most efficient forum software which gives your site an excellent professional look that gives a great feel of the discussion board. I just love it.
Share your thoughts and views in comments.