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Zaratustra

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I'm building an online community and guiding space for a small niche that my business operates in (Adventure travel). Have created a website with forum & groups, but the challenge is building it in a right way, attracting quality people and posts.
@MJ DeMarco mentioned in his book, that initially it was just some "lonely" posts before forum got some traction. What would you have changed now in terms of gaining traction more effectively?
Also, if you are a moderator on this forum - what are some of behind-the-scenes challenges that need to be addressed? What kind of users should be avoided?
 
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Gtp

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I'm building an online community and guiding space for a small niche that my business operates in (Adventure travel). Have created a website with forum & groups, but the challenge is building it in a right way, attracting quality people and posts.
@MJ DeMarco mentioned in his book, that initially it was just some "lonely" posts before forum got some traction. What would you have changed now in terms of gaining traction more effectively?
Also, if you are a moderator on this forum - what are some of behind-the-scenes challenges that need to be addressed? What kind of users should be avoided?
Yes, the FLF is a marvel. I imagine the rules one sets out and apply from the get-go is crucial.
 

missinfinity98

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I'm building an online community and guiding space for a small niche that my business operates in (Adventure travel). Have created a website with forum & groups, but the challenge is building it in a right way, attracting quality people and posts.
@MJ DeMarco mentioned in his book, that initially it was just some "lonely" posts before forum got some traction. What would you have changed now in terms of gaining traction more effectively?
Also, if you are a moderator on this forum - what are some of behind-the-scenes challenges that need to be addressed? What kind of users should be avoided?
I send you a private message about the business you do
 

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if you are a moderator on this forum - what are some of behind-the-scenes challenges that need to be addressed?
(These are my opinions, not necessarily MJ’s.)

Behind-the-scenes challenges for moderators that need addressed:

1) Spam, and disguised spam.

2) People doing deals with each other then blaming the place where they met if things go south. Make sure people know to do their own due diligence.

3) Bullying, especially where a mob develops.

4) Unscrupulous people faking it to reel in people and their wallets.

5) Staying an impartial and supportive member who doesn’t add petrol to the flames but moderates instead.

6) Representing the values of the founder in actions and words.

7) Encouraging people to contribute.

8) Trying to not be dogmatic, and helping people find their own way instead.

I’m sure there’s more.

What kind of users should be avoided?
Oh boy. How to summarise this.

1) Spammers ruin a community super fast.

2) People talking AT everyone instead of participating in the community don’t do well, but communities often ignore or self-regulate.

3) People who knock others down to make themselves look or feel better.

4) People using a community for lead gen.

5) People who don’t follow community rules.

6) People who can’t help but have flame wars or who make debates personal.

I think common sense prevails here.
 
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Zaratustra

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(These are my opinions, not necessarily MJ’s.)

Behind-the-scenes challenges for moderators that need addressed:

1) Spam, and disguised spam.

2) People doing deals with each other then blaming the place where they met if things go south. Make sure people know to do their own due diligence.

3) Bullying, especially where a mob develops.

4) Unscrupulous people faking it to reel in people and their wallets.

5) Staying an impartial and supportive member who doesn’t add petrol to the flames but moderates instead.

6) Representing the values of the founder in actions and words.

7) Encouraging people to contribute.

8) Trying to not be dogmatic, and helping people find their own way instead.

I’m sure there’s more.


Oh boy. How to summarise this.

1) Spammers ruin a community super fast.

2) People talking AT everyone instead of participating in the community don’t do well, but communities often ignore or self-regulate.

3) People who knock others down to make themselves look or feel better.

4) People using a community for lead gen.

5) People who don’t follow community rules.

6) People who can’t help but have flame wars or who make debates personal.

I think common sense prevails here.
Thanks for your write-up Andy!
 

SEOguy

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I had a forum back in 2008 which took off on its own. If I was you I'd acquire a travel blog or website and just add the community tab onto it - the types of users are out of your control and you'll learn how to deal with them relatively quickly.
 

Andy Black

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Lex DeVille

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My experience building communities is that they start out slow and the creator has to facilitate discussion for engagement. Later, if the community grows large enough, then it becomes more self-sustaining with group members helping one another. You can easily increase the size of a group if you funnel people into it from email, youtube, courses (like Udemy courses).

If you build a community on Facebook then it will probably be more engaged than if you build it through another platform like discord, but then you'll be subject to the whims of FB. I left FB and the only community I keep now is through discord (unless you count my YT subscribers). The challenge with discord is that people don't show up there regularly. This can be a good thing since it naturally filters out most of the noise and you're left with only the most committed members.

If you really want to filter a community, put its access behind a paywall. $9/mo...hell, even $1 per month will filter out most low-value losers.

In terms of moderation, there were a few things I've learned from failures in communities.

1. Avoid over-moderating.
Just because something doesn't get posted in the right place doesn't make it a criminal sin. It's better to let things go sometimes than to make people feel like they'll be instantly banned for minor infractions.

2. Establish group norms.
This is only my opinion, but it is supported by peer-reviewed journals. If you want to establish strong group norms then you need to enforce punishment when someone breaks key rules. For instance, if a member of my server posts a book that they downloaded as a torrent, they will be instantly banned because our group does not facilitate theft. As time goes on, you can relax on these rules, but in the early days, rules like this must be enforced so people learn the group's norms and will help enforce them for you later on.

3. Be careful appointing moderators.
Many people like to be moderators because it gives them a sense of power within a hierarchal structure, but not everyone is cut out for that job. Until your group reaches members in the thousands, you don't need moderators. Appoint moderators who prove that they can handle the role long before they're considered for it.
 

Zaratustra

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I had a forum back in 2008 which took off on its own. If I was you I'd acquire a travel blog or website and just add the community tab onto it - the types of users are out of your control and you'll learn how to deal with them relatively quickly.
In terms of Pareto Principle (80/20), what do you think would be the best move for travel forum to increase their search ranking?
Currently I'm using answerthepublic.com to list all the potential questions & answers that could benefit my SEO.

If you build a community on Facebook then it will probably be more engaged than if you build it through another platform like discord, but then you'll be subject to the whims of FB.
Do you have any experience with attracting people to your platform from Reddit?
 

Lex DeVille

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Do you have any experience with attracting people to your platform from Reddit?
No. You couldn't pay me to funnel traffic from reddit.

@Fox did it once. I learned all of the lessons I needed from his experience.
 
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Black_Dragon43

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I have a total of around 300 members in the communities I run. About 200 or so on Discord and 100 or so on Facebook.

If you’re interested to build a community ask yourself what the purpose is and what value they will get from joining the community.

A large part of that value will be support towards their larger mission and a sense of belonging. You usually get the first few members by becoming friends with them… a community isn’t just business but a group of people who like to hang around each other.

So search for other communities who already have your target audience. Then find ways to add value to those communities - don’t just take members away from those communities as most try to do. That will lead to you getting banned. Instead, try to see how your community can add value to the other community. Maybe it can increase user engagement in the other community, provide additional support, bring new members, whatever it is. Make it a win-win deal for both you and the other community and keep your word.

Then maybe you become like the whale and the fish that never get eaten because they clean the whale’s teeth. Basically, at its essence: don’t just look out for number one, think win-win, add value, be a good person.

As for how you get your community going - it’s just continuing your relationship with the people and providing them value they’re not getting elsewhere. That may include posting valuable content, offering support and guidance, hearing them out, whatever it is.

With regards to moderation, none of the communities I’ve run ever needed any with one exception when we were invaded by some bots, and that’s only because i posted links to the community on some community boards where many communities are listed.

Also, I will add that I’ve never had a problem with engagement in any of my communities. Most of your members will be lurkers - that’s ALWAYS true. They will read/watch but not interact. That’s not a bug, just the way large groups of people behave online. Some will be active, and others will interact almost daily.
 
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WJK

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I'm building an online community and guiding space for a small niche that my business operates in (Adventure travel). Have created a website with forum & groups, but the challenge is building it in a right way, attracting quality people and posts.
@MJ DeMarco mentioned in his book, that initially it was just some "lonely" posts before forum got some traction. What would you have changed now in terms of gaining traction more effectively?
Also, if you are a moderator on this forum - what are some of behind-the-scenes challenges that need to be addressed? What kind of users should be avoided?
I come on this forum because I enjoy the back-and-forth conversations. It keeps me up on what others are doing. I've tried other ones, but this is where I landed. I'm comfortable and safe here. I'm starting a new business this spring, so I can always learn more. And I can help a lot of young people who want to build businesses by adding some wisdom that I've gained over the years. I did have one guy who made some personal attacks here a while back. Several of the other members came to my defense. I appreciated them standing up for me.
 

Zaratustra

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So search for other communities who already have your target audience. Then find ways to add value to those communities - don’t just take members away from those communities as most try to do. That will lead to you getting banned. Instead, try to see how your community can add value to the other community. Maybe it can increase user engagement in the other community, provide additional support, bring new members, whatever it is. Make it a win-win deal for both you and the other community and keep your word.
Great points, thank You!
How did you get your first 3 members?
 
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MTF

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I come on this forum because I enjoy the back-and-forth conversations. It keeps me up on what others are doing. I've tried other ones, but this is where I landed. I'm comfortable and safe here. I'm starting a new business this spring, so I can always learn more. And I can help a lot of young people who want to build businesses by adding some wisdom that I've gained over the years. I did have one guy who made some personal attacks here a while back. Several of the other members came to my defense. I appreciated them standing up for me.

You're one of this forum's greatest treasures with a wealth of life experience. I'm very happy you find value here for yourself as well.
 

Black_Dragon43

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Great points, thank You!
How did you get your first 3 members?
That's easy. Invited my friends from The Fastlane. Put the link in my signature here.

Then the rest of the members were the result of using my email list based on giving away a lead magnet with a cool, exciting offer. Offers here, on Warrior Forum, Reddit and so on. At first people didn't like me, but over time most realized that I'm here to help and provide value, not just sell some stuff. Some who got the lead magnet, got on the email list, and I advertised the community there. Many of the people from Warrior and Reddit have actually joined the Fastlane after joining my community because I always post threads I find interesting here there.

And The Fastlane is actually the community I'm most active in, because based on my experience: (1) MJ's books have been life-changing to me, especially TMF , and I owe a great deal to him, (2) the community here has some of the smartest business people I've been involved with, so I'm always learning new stuff, and (3) you have massive opportunities for support and accountability, track your progress, exchange ideas, get other opinions etc.
 

MJ DeMarco

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I think one key to spearheading a community is being active in another community, one in which people know you, and can follow you. That can be a subReddit, a Discord, or another forum. Notice @Black_Dragon43 is leveraging the value he created here to spearhead his group. In my case, I came from another forum where others enjoyed my posts and saw that I delivered value. When word got out I started my own forum, a lot of people followed. And that forum was NOT moderated very well and full of MLM and AM'ers (which is why I left, value skew)-- as such, I was able to put a signature to my new forum, from that unmoderated forum.

The rest is history.
 
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thechosen1

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I think one key to spearheading a community is being active in another community, one in which people know you, and can follow you. That can be a subReddit, a Discord, or another forum. Notice @Black_Dragon43 is leveraging the value he created here to spearhead his group. In my case, I came from another forum where others enjoyed my posts and saw that I delivered value. When word got out I started my own forum, a lot of people followed. And that forum was NOT moderated very well and full of MLM and AM'ers (which is why I left, value skew)-- as such, I was able to put a signature to my new forum, from that unmoderated forum.

The rest is history.
MJ,

I know that you don't invest in residential rental homes today (or I believe you said that), and I'm curious why you were on that forum before. I liked those books too. Just wondering if you were once a real estate nut, just loved the overall message, or what. :)
 

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Just wondering if you were once a real estate nut, just loved the overall message, or what.

No, I never was enthusiastic about the general RE message, but I totally agreed with the philosophy that working in a job wasn't a true path to wealth and freedom. Lot's of the messages there were not RE related, but entrepreneurship in general. It just happened that the bulk of the contributors had the idea that "entrepreneurship" was stock trading, MLM's, or affiliate marketing, really low-entry, low-control, low-probability ventures. That's why I bailed.
 

thechosen1

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No, I never was enthusiastic about the general RE message, but I totally agreed with the philosophy that working in a job wasn't a true path to wealth and freedom. Lot's of the messages there were not RE related, but entrepreneurship in general. It just happened that the bulk of the contributors had the idea that "entrepreneurship" was stock trading, MLM's, or affiliate marketing, really low-entry, low-control, low-probability ventures. That's why I bailed.
makes perfect sense. This attitude is still really popular, but your forum has been an oasis against that ;)
 
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Black_Dragon43

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No, I never was enthusiastic about the general RE message, but I totally agreed with the philosophy that working in a job wasn't a true path to wealth and freedom. Lot's of the messages there were not RE related, but entrepreneurship in general. It just happened that the bulk of the contributors had the idea that "entrepreneurship" was stock trading, MLM's, or affiliate marketing, really low-entry, low-control, low-probability ventures. That's why I bailed.
I feel that this is how WarriorForum has become today. I have very few posts there precisely for this reason. There are some high quality members there, but they’re drowned out by the spammers and low-levels money-makers more often than not.

Ever since Freelancer.com bought that forum, I feel that the quality has gone way down. The forum just doesn’t receive as much attention as it needs to be protected from crap. And their WSO section (similar to Marketplace here in purpose) is INFESTED with lots of crappy offers…
 

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I feel that this is how WarriorForum has become today. I have very few posts there precisely for this reason. There are some high quality members there, but they’re drowned out by the spammers and low-levels money-makers more often than not.

Ever since Freelancer.com bought that forum, I feel that the quality has gone way down. The forum just doesn’t receive as much attention as it needs to be protected from crap. And their WSO section (similar to Marketplace here in purpose) is INFESTED with lots of crappy offers…
Same with DigitalPoint, WickedFire and BlackHatWorld. They were all great around 2006 but stagnated for one reason or another.


In terms of Pareto Principle (80/20), what do you think would be the best move for travel forum to increase their search ranking?
Currently I'm using answerthepublic.com to list all the potential questions & answers that could benefit my SEO.

If the community is high quality, SEO will take care of itself with both backlinks and users generating enough content to start ranking for many longer tail keywords.
 

MJ DeMarco

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This attitude is still really popular,

Yup, even here, except today it's WSB's meme stocks and crypto... although I think crypto has potential on the entrepreneurial/business/"sell shovels" side, not so much on shitcoin investments that involve "buy, wait, and become billionaire."
 
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Having the community attached to something that's a going concern seems to help a lot. This one is attached to MJ's books, which have a lot of readers. Yours can be attached to your travel venture, with past, present, and future customers. I have one that's a bit different, but ties together many cohorts of students. Lean as much as you can on the "other thing" you're doing, or incorporate it directly somehow. Trying to get a conversation going starting from when you're the only person in the forum is really hard.
 

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