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CASE STUDY: Do Forums Show an ROI of Time?996

Belew private msg quote post Address this user
@Steve asked a half dozen good questions in another thread about this content marketer's forum and the time it takes for me. He's good at asking questions. Answering them, too for that matter.

Effectively - the question - "Is it worth it to spend so much time building (trying to?) a forum?" Does it pay? Is there an ROI on the time spent?

I will say unequivocally, "Yes." Then add ... for some, it will depend on how they/you measure value.

4 Things I Hope For

1. Increased users and time on site = the more and longer people are around the more I am able to connect/engage with them.

2. Organic growth = I don't want to continually have to feed the forum. I want to focus all my attention on growing it. At some point I just want to be involved in it and let the growth take place.

3. Learn a transferable skill = is there some new knowledge I can gain by running a forum that my clients can benefit from?

4. Make some legitimate money = can I justify the costs of paying for the software and the time I spend here?




So, how's that working for me?

Comparing the last 12 months since the forum was implemented with the previous 12 months before the forum existed.

1. Are more people coming and are they staying longer?

No and yes.

Number of users are DOWN by 5% ... from 24.6K users to 23.2K users.

But ...

Time on site for the users is UP by ... 374%. Not a typo. Last year users spent 3,757 hours on my site. The year before 793 hours. Will I take a very small drop in users if they spend 4 times as long on my site? You betcha.

2. Is the site growing organically?

Yes. In the past 4 months, new users from Google Organic search 71, 82, 144, 188. Very good trend. And they spend a whopping 15 + minutes per visit.

3. Am I learning something here that is transferable?

Yes. I am now being asked, "How did you do that, Bill?" "Can you teach us?" Building a forum is part of the curriculum of a course I will teach in Shanghai later this year. And a consulting gig with a multi-national in Beijing is interested in what I am doing.

4. Is it making me any money?

Yes. I have been contacted for consulting via the inmail. I have some partnerships that are still young (the forum is young) but are very promising indeed. At some point I have visions of possibly creating a membership site. But who wants to be a member of a membership site with no members? Right? This forum is a great foundation IF I go that way.

CONCLUSION - this content marketers forum is a great way to spend time.

Is there room for improvement? Yup. Working with the forum software creator on that.

Do I have more to learn? Absolutely. That's beyond the scope of this thread.

Am I glad I started? Yup.
Do I plan to continue? Yup.

Am I REALLY REALLY glad you are here? Not enough words to explain how grateful I am.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for participating. Thanks for teaching me.
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Belew private msg quote post Address this user
And for the 2nd year ... most of the content was NOT created by me. But by the forum users. That's good, um, great stuff, too!
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mikew private msg quote post Address this user
Great write up, Bill. Your success in building the forum is a testament to your hustle and relentless effort.

My favorite part of your forum is that you're been able to draw in amazing, talented, and hard working folks like @Steve to engage in real world, the-truth-hurts-but-it's-not-as-bad-as-you-think dialog.

More thoughts soon....
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