How To Make Money On Somebody Else’s Forum (Part 2/2)

This is the second of a two part post showing how to make some good money by marketing on forums. If you haven’t read the first part, you should probably go and do that right about now.

Hopefully you managed to muster a couple of vaguely promising ideas. But it’s gotta be said. There’s a learning curve for marketing on forums. You might not think so, but there is. You need to appreciate that marketing on somebody else’s site, somebody else’s forum, it’s the sort of activity that requires respect. Respect for other peoples’ business.

How many people read the last post and shot off to find some weight loss forum where they could cheaply sling some berries? I assumed this was what many would do. But realize before you learn the hard way – a badly thought out forum campaign will bring you more hate mail than conversions. Not least from the owner of the site you’ve just manipulated.

If you’re promoting a rebill using forum marketing, you’re walking one hell of a thin line. What do forum communities like to do like no other? They like to talk shit. Nothing’s gonna get Off Topic buzzing like a member filing a complaint over some shitty rebill he purchased through the forum’s recommendation. What I’m trying to say here is that although a forum owner may be all too happy to accept your Paypal, that’s no reason to get sloppy with your marketing.

If you’re heart set on promoting a rebill to a forum community, don’t do it directly. Use a squeeze page and build a mailing list. Transfer their email to your own list and then do your thing. Think long term. If the forum owner discovers that you’re bombarding his memberlist with direct endorsements for one of the scammiest online purchases of 2010, he’s gonna shut you down and shut you out. I don’t blame him.

That’s not to say that you can’t leverage forum memberlists for a rebill offer. You just need to shift that email in to your own database before you do it. The alternative is one profitable mailshot, one extremely unhappy community, one pissed off owner and Baby Jesus drowning in a cradle of tears.

Right, that said. What is the best way to make money on a forum? I know people love being spoonfed how-to guides and top ten tips, but I’m gonna cut the crap and list you some of your options.

Sign up, put a link in your sig and post like you’re the expert on fucking everything.

Otherwise known as The Warrior Forum Technique, this tactic can generate vast sums of income approaching $2.77 p/hour before tax. If you really want to live with the best, you should pick up an avatar from wherever the pedobears are uploading their vacation photos these days. Better yet, offer members of said forum an outrageous 70% discount coupon so they only feel 30% as ripped off when they cave in to your drivel.

Yes, this technique is followed by the masses. The masses are not rich. While I don’t doubt for a second that a little viral buzz can go a long way, you wouldn’t be reading an affiliate marketing blog if you actually had something worthwhile to sell. You can probably use a sig link to cash in a few sales – but what a joyous life to look forward to. Forum monkey. Tell the grandkids.

Blitz members with a whirlwind of Private Messages.

You know the drill. Sign up using your sister’s email, write out one massively impersonal advertising plea and then send it to everybody online. As you sit back and press the Send button on that last PM, you realize that you’ve accidentally messaged a moderator – who’s banned you, removed all your PM history and swiftly rendered the last half hour utterly meaningless. This method is another top hit at Digital Point. The worrying thing I’ve learnt from marketing is that people wouldn’t be doing this shit if they didn’t at least make some kind of return on their investment.

Buy banner space for a flat rate monthly fee.

This is more like it. Forum members are used to refreshing the same old index page and seeing the same old usernames in the same old threads. A fresh new sparkling banner WILL draw their attention – for a very short time.

I like banner campaigns on forums. But to make them work, you absolutely have to be shooting at a large forum where the number of unique visitors is high. Banner blindness will set in after the first few pageloads and you’ll see a rapid decline in CTR if you don’t have the benefit of fresh traffic.

When you’re negotiating a price with a forum owner, if he’s smart, he’ll try to catch you with the “page views per month” trick. Don’t buy in to that. A forum has an artificially inflated number of page loads in its traffic logs.

1. The same users are loyal and like to click back and forth.
2. Topics are divided in to numerous pages. Although you might receive 50 impressions, it ain’t much good if they’re all from the same old dog cruising through jailbait archives since 1995.
3. Page loads never meant shit anyway.

If you’re going to buy banner space, find out how many unique hits you’ll be getting for your buck and then DO YOUR RESEARCH. Also beware of rotating banner spaces – start dividing traffic stats if you’re placed on a rotation. Find out the exact demographics of the forum. Is it worthwhile renting out a banner space that promotes an American product when the majority of the forum’s visitors are scattered around the world?

Take the lower converting International offer, not the hot-shit-US-only product that does the business for you with search. You don’t have as much control over your targeting on a forum. If you’re going to get country-specific, make sure you have a geolocating script ready to ping your clickers to where they need to be.

Oh and don’t make the classic amateur mistake of direct linking to your offer without cloaking. If the offer gets pulled from a network, you’re the fool who should have stayed at the grocery counter.

As a rule of thumb, I prefer to target banner spaces that appear in slightly unusual areas of a forum. I like to drill down and target just one particular subforum, where the category is relevant, and then get my banner placed directly below the first post in each thread. You’ll draw on a lot of search engine eyeballs. Remember that people often ignore advertising spots instinctively. The 468×60 slot at the top of the page might look pretty, but how many people turn a blind eye to ads when they’re expecting to see ads?

Purchase a sticky thread.

This generally works a lot better on smaller forums. Or just big forums with broke ass owners. If you can provide the text for your advertisement, the topic title and the forum that you need it to go in – the admin only has to copy and paste. He’s made instant profit.

If you really want to draw some attention, pay for one of those nice global announcements and disguise your offer as an engaging “forum contest”. The prospect of a prize should get them opening the message, then it’s down to you to prove your worth with some gentle persuasion. Christ knows, I can think of at least a dozen offers that would be viable for promoting in this way. Get hold of an offer that’s pro-incentive and go nuts.

Send out a paid email to the entire forum.

I discussed this in Part 1 of the post, so go back and read that for a reminder.

One last point though – think before you email the forum owner. Back when I was getting started with forum marketing, I made the mistake time and time again of rushing my proposal. I’d be so excited at the moneymaking potential of MY side of the deal that I’d forget to sell HIS side of the deal.

Don’t portray yourself as some scratching-for-riches affiliate marketer who needs a break and wants your forum to be the launch pad. You’ve gotta put yourself across as knowledgeable and polite. But most importantly you have to sell the ease at which the owner can accept your offer.

He probably won’t want to help you come up with a good email text, so have it prepared beforehand. His job should be as simple as copy and pasting your shit in to vBulletin, pressing send, and accepting the Paypal funds on the way out. If you don’t simplify the process, you won’t get a reply. I believe Ruck had a great post about this which you should be able to dig out somewhere on the Convert2Media forum. I can’t remember what he said. But whatever it was, I bet it was shit hot.

I’m not gonna waste anymore time preaching about the money to be had using this kind of marketing so if you’ve got a question, reach me on my email.

About the author


A 29 year old high school dropout (slash academic failure) who sold his soul to make money from the Internet. This blog follows the successes, fuck-ups and ball gags of my career in affiliate marketing.


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