The first question is to ask Why would they join the forum? I`m not
being foolish about this, I mean it literally. For example, when
Startup Nation first introduced the forums, the overall intent and
purpose was to offer a public venue for discussion particularly
meaningful to people in the process of starting a business.
The "why" had a specific answer: To find out how to put together a business.
So here you have Teepetals, and an open forum. Why will people take part in your forum?
Thanks so much for the reply. I want to create a place where crafters can come together and discuss the business and crafting side of being an indie artisian.
Visit http://www.teepetals.etsy.com Indie crafts
Alright, I think this is a fine idea, BUT!...it`s going to be a hard
sell. The reason primarily is that "crafts" is a tremendously generic
term. Countless places are devoted, not only to crafts, but to classes,
discussions, forums, and so forth.
Looking at your site, I see nothing that particularly would attract me
(when I`m in my Crafty Caper disguise) in terms of a discussion group.
To that end, how can you improve your visibility....not as a
store, but as a sit-and-chat sort of place.
One thing you might consider would be to join the forum idea with some
type of VERY specialized classes, tutorials, or instruction. In other
words, develop something people have an interest in doing, but that`s
not at all easy to find on the Web.
Then you can promote the heck out of that first tutorial---a web page,
specifically. That`ll hopefully get you into the Google indices, from
which you`ll get some traffic. As people stop in to learn what you have
to teach, they`ll also find a way to comment, give feedback, and
gradually form a discussion.
But it`s all going to come down to differentiation. Do you have a
physical store? If so, you could join the store customer list to the
forum, promoting the forum at your location in town. Those are my
initial thoughts, anyway. :-)
Definitely have a link from your blog to your forum page, just as you
have a link from your main site to your blog. Check your blog
statistics, and see what sort of interest and traffic you`re generating
to the blog. Then you can experiment with different ideas and topics on
the blog, until you find that specialized "thing" you`ll use to make
your own identity.
I`d think putting the tutorials on a "Tutorials" page/section, with a
sort of index, or table of contents (linked) would make sense.
First, having them on your site is best. Second, they`d more likely be
picked up by search engines if they`re properly done. Third, people
would more likely go to a tutorial directly, THEN notice that the site
has a lot of other stuff goin` on.
After they`ve gotten caught up in the site, you could use your forum
for questions and help on the tutorials. One whole section could be
"Tutorials Help" and each topic would be the title of the particular
That would at least get the ball rolling, I`m thinking....right? :-)
But no, I don`t think it`d work well to embed the tutorials right into
the forums. Forums should be discussion and bi-directional
communication. A tutorial is instruction, uni-directional.
See? There ya go :-)
As you see, by using a standalone tutorial, you`ve improved your
visibility, boosted your audience interest AND participation, and even
picked up subscribers.
Imagine how helpful that would be if the tutorial were on your Web
site, with secondary links to other areas of the same site. Instead of
"subscribe" you`d be offering people an option to "join" your forums.