Hi, I have an idea to have a website created for a area in which we live during the winter months. It is a area that has hotels, timeshare and many private complexes including bars and restaurants, at present there is no way for residents/long distance owners to communicate with each other to resolve problems and have discussions and I believe we could have a better community with a site and forum.. We would not be doing this out of the goodness of our heart and would want to make a living out of it as well. I would be thinking of estate agents advertising on the site along with bars and apartment owners. How would we start a public forum website and what are the pitfalls? - All help would be appreciated.
1. Don't expect to make a living from running a web forum. Unless you have tens of thousands of members you'll be unlikely to attract enough advertising revenue to do that.
2. Be prepared to spend a huge amount of time setting up and running a forum - particularly if it gets busy. Unless you keep a close watch on things you'll soon find that all kinds of people register and post abusive messages, just for the fun of it.
As for recommendations, go for one of the very widely used forum packages - like click here or click here or click here rather than anything obscure. These popular forum packages are popular for a reason - they work like a dream, have every facility you could possibly want, and are customiseable.
How do you start? Get a domain name, and have it properly hosted. Then start developing the look and format of your forum on the server, testing at every stage. Fill it with content, and invite people to join in. It will be slow at first - they always are - but if you work hard you'll get there. Don't expect it to be easy, because it isn't - many people fall at that hurdle.
You could just do it via a Yahoo group. No advertising revenue but also very little effort: set the group up so that you (and/or others) moderate memberships to ensure that only genuine members of the community join then let the members post. That's all there is to it.