Customizing SMF > Building Your Community and other Forum Advice

Question for the experts...

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njnydigger:
Hey guys, have a few questions for all you experienced forum owners...

I am starting a forum based around my profession and passion. I've never ran a forum before, this will be my first. As I'm not really a tech guy, I found someone here to set the site itself up for me. So, first question is, as a non-tech guy, am I biting off more than I can chew, or, will running the forum basically consist of simple point and click type stuff? To be very candid, I am pretty computer saavy, however, when it comes to programming, coding, knowing how to mess with things within the software, etc., I'm lost. Gonna be a problem for me?

Next, my goal is to slowly build this forum up over time. While I'm not expecting a mass rush of users, I would like to have a goal of acquiring a couple hundred users within the next two months or so. How much work (or hours) can I reasonably expect to invest in this during the early stages? As I work from home, I do have a fair amount of flexibility in my schedule. However, am I going to need to mod this thing 24/7? I'm sure there are going to be numerous issues to deal with throughout the day, like; monitoring & dealing with spam, deleting posts which violate the rules of the board, etc., etc., etc. How do I (as a 1 man band with limited time) contend with all of this?

I appreciate your help! This is quite exciting for me. But, as a businessman with a tight budget, limited time & a non-tech background, I'm just wondering if I can pull this off all by myself.

Joe

Bigguy:
SMf is very easy to use and along with our online wiki and the community here you should have no problem. Users usually catch on pretty quick. Most of it is point and click yes but when getting into installing mods you may have to do manual edits at some point. we are all here to help ya out. :)

During the early creation of a site the time spent on developing is going to be a lot. Content is everything. If you don't have any content then no one will come. Content, content content. That's what it's all about. The hiring of staff should help you out moderate your boards. Just be careful who you invite in as a team member as some people can do damage if they feel they are being slighted in any way. By yourself it is very possible to do. take regular backups of your site from your hosts control panel, install some anti-spam measures and you should be fine. The reast the good people here can help you out. :0 I hope this was helpful in a small way.

njnydigger:
Yes, Bigguy, that was an excellent response! VERY helpful  ;D

The writing part is a snap. I am proficient when it comes to copywriting, business writing, etc. That should be a breeze. However...

What do most of you do to get the content up? I've seen people trading post-for-post, post writing services, I've even seen people recommend creating a slew of 'dummy' accounts and posting under different screen names. I'm all for whatever works, but, what is the best route, in your opinion?

Also, would checking in for lets say at an hour at time, 2 or  3 times per day, be enough time for me to keep the board clean and problem free, or, would you look to hire a couple of good mods right away to work different shifts, for example; a night mod from 12am - 8am & another one from 8am - 5pm...or something similar to this?

Would my mods expect to be paid? I'm guessing that if I can find a person that adores my site and is hooked, just the thrill of them being a mod would be sufficient, no?

Finally, I read some numbers online recently. They said that 95% of  forum members are very casual, occasional posters, 4% are regular posters, and the remaining 1% are die-hards. Would you agree with the theory that the small number of loyal, fanatical users will create most of the content of a forum?

P.S. - Any way you can recommend a trusworthy, affordable host that has good customer service and no downtime issues. Would prefer someone familiar with  hosting SM sites.

Thanks again for your suggestions!

Bigguy:
Personally to get content up I spend as much time as I can on the forum adding it. It does take a bit of time to do but once guests start to see content and something catches their eye they usually come in and start posting. I don't like making dummy accounts. I feel it's a bit decietful., but that's just me. Trading post for post sometimes works but then you have to spent time on another forum posting. So if you have time to do that then that's fine.

Hiring people is a bit tricky. You want people in power that you can trust and know a bit about whats going on. Getting people to work for you that you don't know could be really tricky and lead to all types of problems. It's better to trust the people in power. Spending time on the forum comes down to how busy it gets. At first your just there to add content and tweak the settings. After a while though you have to be there a bit more as more people come in. Once some team members are hired and they know what they are doing things even out a bit.

On the average I can't say I know a whole lot of people that get paid for running or helping run a forum. Most forum owners look for volunteer help. If they wanna be paid i hope they are doing a great job above and beyond the call of duty.

I think the numbers are a bit off but they seem kind of reasonable. People will come and go but you will always have your handful of faithful users that will always be there posting for you, asking advice and adding content.

njnydigger:
Thanks again, bigguy! As I mentioned, I don't do a whole lot too well, however, writing really comes natural to me. In return for your excellent advice, I wouldn't mind putting up 10 or so posts on your site. I sk nothing in return. Simply my way of aying "thanks" for your feedback ;)

P.S. - I know it's difficult due to a wide range of factors, but, if you can recommend a good host, I'd be very appreciative.

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