If you have read any articles on the internet about making money online, you will more than likely come across the phrase "content is king". Many people take this phrase to heart and spend all of their free time writing blogs and articles with the hoping of building an online income.

The problem is that there is only so much time in a day and only so many articles that you can write. Of course you can outsource your article writing, but that also costs money. Imagine if you had hundreds or thousands of people producing articles and content for your website for free!

It is possible of course, by creating your own user generated content website. The easiest type of user generated content website to set up is a forum, or bulletin board. People register to your website and post questions, answers and discussions based on a specific topic.

Starting a forum from scratch is not easy. I am not referring to the technology, but selecting a topic or niche that people are interested in and then trying to promote it. If you have an existing website with existing traffic, it might be easier to just add a forum to that website.

The problem with starting a new form is that you typically don't have any members in the beginning. If the forum looks empty or even has only a few posts, other people will be reluctant to join. You need to make some posts yourself or get some friends to help you out. There are even companies out there that can help add posts to your forum, something which I wouldn't recommend doing if possible.

The important thing to consider when deciding on a forum topic is, whether there is enough competition in the subject and whether there is already an established community already. There is room however for more than one community or forum on a particular subject if it is popular enough, but you still need approach your site from a different or unique angle to ensure success.

Once you build up some posts and regular contributors, your forum can grow exponentially. When more content is added to your site on a daily basis, the extra content makes it possible for more people to find your site in the search engines.

Making money from your forum

Once you have established your forum, you can slowly ad advertising to your site. You have to be careful though, not to add too many ads too quickly as you might lose regular members to the forum.

Some webmasters say forums are difficult to monetize. This can be true, especially if your forum is of a more general nature. If the forum is based around a hobby or holiday location, it should be possible to find regular businesses willing to advertise on your forum.

You can try adding Adsense to the forum, but many forum owners have often stated that regular forum members tend to ignore the ads. It is probably better to try and sell products and services that your forum members migt be interested in buying.

Some forum owners have a private area on the forum and charge a monthly or annual fee to access the section.

If you have a very popular website already, you can even charge people to access the forum like what Problogger does with his blog forum. This has the benefit of controlling spam and will also you make a lot of money! I imagine most readers of this article won't have the luxury of already having an established website which already has a lot of traffic.

Downside of running a forum

Running a forum can be a lot of work. You can recruit moderators who help delete spam and provide some control to the forum. You will be sure to eventually get complaints from companies if someone on the forum criticizes the company's products or services. You then need to decide whether you will remove the offending posts and risk a backlash from your community or fight the issue with the company in question.

Different countries have their own laws for handling forums. You need to check if you as a forum owner is libel for anything bad that is written on your forum.

Trolls are a problem on any forum and you will need to decide if the controversy they stir on your website is good or bad for the forum.

Running a forum can be a great way to generate pages of content for your website and large amounts of traffic. You need to consider your options carefully as to how you plan to monetize your website and finally you need to be aware of some of the problems you will encounter.