Keeping Busy with a Webmaster Forum

Making money online can be hard, but it’s not a challenge that you need to face on your own. There are countless blogs out there — like John Chow dot Com — that offer useful advice on search engine optimization, maximizing your profits, and understanding the latest developments in the blogosphere. While blogs are great for this sort of thing, they’re not as good at developing a sense of community as a forum.

The BzImage Webmaster Forum addresses this rising need, offering a community of webmasters, internet marketers, and dot com moguls in the making that can help answer your questions. And you can answer their questions in return. In ordering this review, the team behind BzImage believes that “the members of JohnChow will benefit by joining our forum and posting with us to create the ultimate friendly webmaster forum!” That statement is telling of what you can expect to find within the BzImage Webmaster Forum.

Webmaster Forum Sections

The BzImage forums are broken up into several sections, each of which is further divided into few sub-forums. The idea is that these forums can encompass everything that a webmaster would want to know. The main sections in the webmaster forum are Search Engines, Marketing, Business, Tech & Gadget Forum, Design & Development, and BzImage News & Discussions.

Within these sections, you’ll find sub-forums for everything from Google and MSN to blogging and domain discussion. To get a sense of what sort of topics you should expect, here is a screenshot from the General Internet Business forum.

bzimage-typicaltopics.jpg

From what I can tell, BzImage is fairly comprehensive in scope. There is a marketplace for registered members only, where webmasters are able to buy and sell domains, logo design services, and so on. At the time this review was written, there were just over 2500 members and over 20,000 posts. That’ll probably grow a bit after this post gets published.

Making Money From a Forum

The best kind of income is passive income. The beauty of running a successful forum is that you don’t need to produce any of the content yourself; the forum members do this for you and they do so willingly. This is an ongoing source of traffic. All you have to do is assign some forum moderators and the site should run itself.

bzimage-headerads.jpg

The BzImage webmaster forum is monetized through two sets of ads. Shown above are the four 125×125 button ads placed in the header. These are visible on every page. Along the right sidebar, there are three 250×250 square ads, but these are only visible on the main page.

bzimage-sidebarads.jpg

By and large, these ads are not intrusive at all, ensuring a fairly good user experience. I know that there are other forums that embed ads right into member posts, so this is a much more subtle approach.

The Internet is International

That’s not to say that the forum posts are going to be completely ad-free! You have to realize that the vast majority of members are budding online entrepreneurs, just like you. They are just as motivated to promote their websites as you are, so user signatures can feel a little spammy. BzImage limits the signature to one image and three links.

Reading through a few random threads, you can tell that English is not the first language of many BzImage forum members. This can be pretty frustrating for some users (like me), while others are willing to overlook the errors. That’s up to you to decide.

bzimage-insidethread.jpg

Members are offered several opportunities to promote themselves. There are the aforementioned signature links, but I also found that the information underneath each username to be a bit much. Depending on the status of the member, they are able to display their avatar, mood, a link to their latest blog post, forum rank, iTrader rating, join date, post count, and rep power. It ends up feeling pretty cluttered.

On a side note, you’ll also notice that each thread can be rated. Other vBulletin-powered forums have this feature too, but BzImage is highlighting it quite a bit more.

The BZ Image of Webmaster-ing

What makes or breaks a forum are its members. If the forum has a large member base, active discussions, and thoughtful threads, people are willing to overlook design problems and a little bit of extra clutter. On the design front, the BzImage Webmaster Forum is nothing special, but the content can certainly be valuable to webmasters and other online entrepreneurs.

While there, you can also check out the blog (Talk about a fat header! The actual content doesn’t start until after the fold!) and the BzImage web hosting service.


40 thoughts on “Keeping Busy with a Webmaster Forum”

  1. Neil Duckett says:

    Once again a thorough review Michael, nice work.

  2. Nice review, going to check out the forum later.

  3. I am the owner of BzImage.org

    First off we do have a marketplace, its actually are biggest forum section besides the general chat. Only registered members can see this section to keep out search engine spies and such.

    Please take a look at the forum and join up if you like what you see.

    1. Shannon: What’s the difference between BzImage and DP forums or any other webmaster forum? πŸ™‚ Anyway I think I’m going to join your forum. πŸ™„

      1. The difference is simple, DP is full of scammers and spammers. I wanted to create bzimage so that we can all finally have a safe haven. Unlike DP and the other forums I am dedicated and a big part of the community each day. I address every issue I receive and give everyone’s thoughts consideration.

        I want to have the best scam free forum as possible, and I do ban scammers if I find them to be guilty.

        1. I agree with your comments on DP’s members.
          Lowest of the low, more good forums are need. I have a forum and it needs buzz to run on its own, the forum reviewed here looks good and active and I will be an active member there as well.

          Thanks,

          Dan
          http://marketersrelief.com

        2. But for how long you will keep monitoring it Shannon. Tomorrow your forum reaches to levels of DP, and it will also end up meeting lot of spammers and scammers. It’s feasible for you to monitor closely now, but don’t expect you can do it after few years.

          1. Hello, I see your point, but thats why im working hard now to ensure I get great mods (10+ already) and if I did get to dps size I would make enough money to work on bz full time which I would love to do.

            I also have many friends in the industry who would love to help out when I need them.

            God Bless

        3. Everything that becomes famous gets infected by spammers, so I would say that is not a lucrative answer, and neither the question was smart too. In either case, different forums have different members, which is what makes the difference.

          Your forum is good I know it from the first days and now I see you are taking your forum even more serious then you used to at the beginning πŸ˜‰

          I wish you all the best.

          1. Thanks much, I agree its hard to be compared to places like DP, but I gave the best answer I could think of πŸ™‚

  4. Giovanni says:

    Nice, I was thinking about this. Which messageboards can you monetize? Only the ones given by a web host? And can you change the layout of those messageboards, also?

  5. NEM says:

    I will try it! :mrgreen:

  6. Jcyreus says:

    Looks like a legitimate opportunity for diversification and establishing a presence for building credibility in your niche. I can appreciate the fact that they limit signature formats.

  7. VernLai.com says:

    will check it out.

  8. Robert says:

    As an online entrepreneur, this forum is very valuable. When you’re not well-versed in computers, website design, and SEO, any information you can get is critical. This forum seems to be very comprehensive and will, no doubt, be helpful to a lot of entrepreneurs.

    1. Definitely Robert, forums often contain a lot of information that you can really learn a lot from!

  9. Syed Balkhi says:

    A detailed review Micheal … I am definately going to try this forum.

  10. Rick says:

    This forum looks great. I was wondering what other forums are good for promoting your blog by sharing knowledge?

    Thanks in advance!

  11. Robert says:

    Good question. And what other forums or sites are good for general information on website building, etc.?

    1. Hannah says:

      Apart from Digital Point there’s also SitePoint, Webmaster world (which is headed downhill quickly), 9mb.com… there’s a huge number that a quick Google search should help with.

  12. I’m a member of so many webmaster forums I can’t keep track of them all! Regardless, I’ll check this one out.

    1. natespost says:

      ditto….way too many here too.

  13. I am impressed at the number of members you already have for a new webmaster forum! I’ll take a better look into it tonite.

    1. Thank you, but we are actually nearing the 1 year mark of being up. However we have not had the funds till this point to afford advertising on sites such as JohnChow.

  14. SiteHoppers says:

    Interesting read, I will definitely check out the forum as I do go to Digital Point and YoungEntrepreneur regularly, but this would be a nice add.

    1. Robert says:

      What do you think of Young Entrepreneur?

  15. OK! We try to see what will give!

  16. Resonate says:

    Hey Hey, I work as a Super Mod at BZ & i can tell you i have got shannons back on it, he doesn’t have time to do much as im always keeping him on his toes improving this forum. The Spammer thing will never become an issue, im a hard ball when it comes to spammers as i manage near on 13 forums all high rankings so i now the regulars & we dont tolerate it. Besides all that you can not beat the family feeling you get from bz its fun to be there & help each other out rather then trying to seperate every ones wallet from the clutches of there hands =0).

    Regards, Resonate
    Seo, Sem, Web Standards & Web Analytics Consultant
    Seo Consultancy

  17. I was so close to starting my own forum,but decided to take a rain check because it seemed like it would take longer for a forum to get popular as supposed to a regular niche website.

    I’m a member of DP and understand how the SPAMing stuff ticks people off,but that’s going to happen…call it the nature of this business we’re in. What’s important is that YOU don’t do it…however I will take a look at this forum. If it’s as good as it sounds I’m down with it.

  18. Wisdom says:

    Good review. The forum has an interesting approach to ads. Many forums just stick google adsense in after posts.

  19. Wade Shuler says:

    You read my mind John. Last night I was just thinking, I need to find some communities that will help promote my website. I was thinking of a site/blog that you submitted you site to for free. It would be just a site full of user submitted links, to help smaller sites get seen.

  20. Beverly says:

    Iam going to take a look at this.

  21. SiteHoppers says:

    I tried the service today and I was impressed.

    It’s like DP but less spam.

    1. Hannah says:

      That was how I felt about it too. Though personally, I can’t stand reading posts that aren’t in proper English: I don’t care if your words aren’t perfect and your grammar needs a little bit of work, but posts written with no grammar and words like “cuz”, where it takes about 10 times more effort to read the post than to respond are some that I just glance over. The only webmaster forum I’ve seen that doens’t have much of this is SitePoint. If these guys could encourage better grammar then it would be pretty damn good!

      1. I am open to suggestions on how to help improve that, however giving people infractions for bad grammar is not an option. Not everyone has english as there first language…

  22. Hannah says:

    I should add that I have visited the site, find it very nice and do intend to register tonight. It does have that “DP minus the spam” feel to it.

  23. Hi Michael

    When you state, ‘The beauty of running a successful forum is that you don’t need to produce any of the content yourself; the forum members do this for you and they do so willingly’, I think you have hugely oversimplified developing a forum.

    Sure, once a forum reaches ‘critical mass’, you can take a back seat from creating content. However, it often takes a very long time for forums to reach this point. Until then, it is the forum owner that needs to be creating the content and encouraging interaction.

    Many people feel forums are easy to run and make money from because they think of successful forums they visit. The vast majority of forums however, are deserted wastelands started by people who failed to realise the huge amount of work needed to make a successful forum.

    – Martin Reed

  24. Looks cool…but i’m a member on alot of webmaster forums and even moderator at some larger ones and i have to say DP is the best i’ve been at (although im not a moderater their…yet) although i’ve not tried your forum so i’ll give it a go πŸ™‚

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