Starting a forum is allot like starting a company, you have to find an interest in the "market" and be able to get the word out to those with the interest. For example, allot of us came from the jeep forum, why'd we join the jeep forum? How did people find out about it?
Here are a few ideas, these will require a bit of work, but, I think we have enough active and willing members to spread it around.
What we have going for us is a great URL, and a great idea. State websites, at least the TN website, are great for getting the news out. Why don't we put together a formal letter and send it to the government websites? I know on the TN website they are all about local...local restaurants, local social networking, ect. I'm sure they would gladly put a link w/ description of our forum.
Traveler forums and websites, in my mind, will be our greatest asset. Why don't we draw people this way, and when they realize the benefits of the website, perhaps they'll stick around.
Organization is KEY. Right now, if I go to the TN portion of the forum, there's two sub forums for Nashville and Memphis. I realize for someone who's not from TN or been to TN, it may seem like that's great. But if you visit here, you don't go to memphis, you go to Franklin, LeipersFork, Knoxville, Chattanooga.
Local Events - Make a sub forum for events in each state forum. It's free advertising for them, it's organized so we won't have advertising all over the forum, just in one place and if we did it right we could have a compiled list of all the events going on in that state...an extremely useful tool for anyone.
SEO - Search engine optimization breathes life or death into a website. Optimizing keywords, releases, publicity, ect so that when someone searches "things to do in TN" we are in the first results. How do we do this? Well, there are websites such as EzineArticles Submission - Submit Your Articles For Massive Exposure
that will allow you to publish an article about your website. You don't do this necessarily for people to read, but to get your name recognized by a search engine.
Google, for example, has an intricate algorithm for deciding what sites it places on the first page of your results. It looks to see what sites are linking to you. If "Site X" links to you, it rates that link based upon how "legit" that website is. For example, if i was to go and get a free web hosting and put nothing but our link on this website, google would first find a link to our site, go back to "Site X" and scan the page to find keywords, see how large and how active the site is, and then give that link a rate. In my example, the free domain with just a published link would give the link a rate of zero. No one visits the site, there's no content, nothing.
BUT, what if a state government site links to us? Google back tracks to the gov site, see's how large, active, and content regarding the state and would rate the link a 5. the more 5s you get, the more likely your site will pop up when someone searches for what we offer.
I've written allot and am sorry...but you asked
. I want to emphasize this, some of these ideas may not work, we may get turned down by some allot of sites, but some may like the idea, ect. ALL these ideas are free
It works...my company is proof.