Archive for May, 2009

Where’s the time spent on forums?

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/superzelle/3490611685/

Photo Credit: flickr.com/photos/superzelle/3490611685

With over 65,000 forums hosted on Lefora, we can run a number of ‘behavioral’ stats on activity within a forum.  One random, but interesting stat, is just how much attention is given to different actions on a forum.  This is based on a percentage of pageviews, so it’s not an accurate reflection of time within each – but it’s a good indicator.

49% of pageviews are spent reading & replying to threads
30% browsing through categories
5% on the headlines page
4% at a login screens
2% reading PMs
2% in the admin panel (admins are the minority here, so this is a significant number)
1% starting topics
0.5% in the user’s dashboard and profile editor
and 6.5% of pageviews are spent doing something else…


Featured Forum – The Budget Queen

Today we’re talking with Teresa Theriot, Founder, CEO, and admin of The Budget Queen Forum.  Teresa has done an amazing job of integrating a lefora forum with her website.  The layout and colors have been matched across the two sites, so that a member on the forum, doesn’t feel like they’re visiting a different site when they visit other areas of her website.  Teresa is a stay at home mother of three children, she is an expert on saving money and founder of www.thebudgetqueen.com.  She has a weekly TV spot on  KATC’s Good Morning Acadiana in Lafayette, LA and a weekly column in The Daily Advertiser.

The Budget Queen stats:
* Threads: 492
* Posts: 1,861
* Members: 96
* Software: lefora

Teresa, could you tell us a little bit about how you became the Budget Queen?
Of course! A few years ago, my husband I decided very suddenly that I should stay at home with my kids. Being that we were both professionals, it cut our income in half. I had no choice but to make it work, so I started researching books, magazines, and websites on frugal living. There was a lot of information out there, so I had to work to compile it into a system that worked for me and my family. My main concern was that I wanted to continue the same lifestyle that we were living for a whole lot less money.

As friends and family noticed our success, they started asking us how we were making it work, because they wanted to stay home too. I began e-mailing deals and sales to everyone. When that got overwhelming, I decided to compile all of my data into a website so that anyone and everyone could access at anytime. I wanted it to be a one-stop-shop for all things frugal so that people wouldn’t have do all of the research that I had to do. I really wanted to help people share the same financial success that we were. So www.thebudgetqueen.com was born.

As the economy worsened, the popularity of the site grew into a full fledged business. I now offer paid advertising on my website and forum, corporate classes, group classes,  and private consultations. I also have a regular segment on KATC TV3’s Good Morning Acadiana, here in Lafayette, LA and I have a weekly column in the Accent section of The Daily Advertiser. Coming soon, I will have an eStore that offers money saving tools and products.


Who is your target audience and how do you go about marketing to them and bringing them to your forum?

I am not purposefully trying to target a particular audience because the information that I offer is useful to anyone and everyone, although it does seem to be majority female of all adult ages. The forum is devoted to sales, bargains, coupons, deals, etc. which is mostly relevant to women because they generally do the household shopping.

There seems to be about a 50/50 ratio of working vs. stay-at-home moms. There are also a couple men on the forum as well.  I really am trying to get the message out to everyone about this different way of living, so I am hoping that the number of men on the forum will grow.

Being that I am The Budget Queen, I generally only do marketing that is free. I do lots of word-of-mouth marketing, I am a member of a networking group, I am doing the weekly column in The Daily Advertiser as trade for advertising on their www.acadianamomslikeme.com website, I promote my site on my KATC segment, and I send press releases to the local papers when something new and exciting is happening with the site. I also take advantage of marketing myself for free on sites like StumbleUpon, Twitter, Facebook, etc. I am always looking for and taking advantage of free marketing tools.

Have you noticed the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on Lefora bringing new traffic to your forum?
Yes is an understatement. When I started the site, I was getting at the most about 3,000 unique visitors per month. Thanks to Lefora’s Search Engine Optimization I have seen numbers as high as 22,000 unique visitors per month, with no other national advertising of any sort. I have only been with Lefora for 5 months, so this is a huge success. Lefora’s SEO is going to be the key to helping me reach my goal of a national website. I am so grateful for the services that Lefora provides!
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What goal did you have in mind when you first started your forum? What goals would you like to achieve at this point?
When I first started the forum, it was my goal to have a community where frugal minded people could come together and share their ideas, deals, coupons, recipes, or anything related to frugal living. Originally, I was targeting stay-at-home moms in an effort to help keep them from returning to work out of financial necessity. As the site grew, I realized that it was more than stay-at-home moms that needed the help, so I changed my focus.

Now that I realize the value of the information I have to offer, it is my goal to take the site to a national level to teach Americans a new perspective on money. As a culture, we are very frivolous and unconscious with our money. I would like to teach people that there is a better way to live. The truth is that we can live the same lifestyles on a lot less. My website www.thebudgetqueen.com has all of the tools to help people live better on less so that they can get out of debt and start saving towards their goals. The Budget Queen System is the key, and the The Budget Queen Forum is part of that system. It allows people to come together to discuss issues and share ideas on smarter spending. It has been a valuable tool in the growth of the site.

What are some of the reasons you originally choose Lefora over another forum service? Have you worked with other forum software in the past?
To be completely honest, I originally chose Lefora because it was free. As The Budget Queen, I always opt for something free over something that I have to pay for. The lower I keep my overhead, the more I profit. Plus, when I first started the site, all of the elements had to be as cheap as possible in order for me to stay afloat.

I tried other free forum services, but they always had problems that were never resolved. I loved the set up of the Lefora forum and felt as if it worked best for my readers. It was similar to some very popular forums that I saw in the past, so it was love at first site! Since then, Lefora has grown, changed, added new features, and I love it more each day. I feel that they listen to my needs and concerns and make a continuous effort to give me what I need. I am enjoying watching Lefora grow along with my own site.

Do you have 3 simple tips you could share with other forum admins to run a fun and active forum?

  1. First and foremost, you need to be present on the forum. It is essential that readers know that you are there, so I recommend trying to post at least twice a day. Any random conversation is enough for people to know that you are there and that you care about their questions. I try to make an effort to get on and at least respond to some of the posts twice a day. Be as genuine and personable as possible so that others feel comfortable posting on the site.
  2. Secondly, post valuable information that keeps readers coming back. Random conversation is great, but to really hold people’s interest and keep them returning to the forum, you need to have valuable content for them to look forward to. For instance, on Sundays I post all of the drug store sales and deals. On Tuesdays I post all of the grocery sales and deals. On Wednesdays I try to post my menu plan for the week or some new recipes. Fridays are what I like to call “Freebie Friday” when I post all sorts of free samples, events, downloads, etc. This information reduces the workload for the reader by compiling the data so they don’t have to, thus making it easier to keep their budgets low. Anything that saves people time and effort is valuable information. My readers are aware of the routine, so they come back regularly to check out the deals.
  3. Last, get readers involved. When there doesn’t seem to be a lot of activity on the site, create a contest or other fun game to get readers involved. In the past, I held a contest asking for new money saving tips. I chose the winner at random and sent her an Entertainment Book as a prize. I think I got about 52 responses to this post. I also posted a request for pictures to get readers to add their pictures to the site. There are all sorts of creative ways to get readers involved based on your forum topics. When things are super slow, this really seems to renew the passion on the forum.  I also try to do or add something new to the site each month to keep the site growing and constantly interesting.

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I hope this information helps everyone! It’s been a pleasure working with Lefora. Thanks so much for your interest in my site!

Author’s Comments: Thank you Teresa for sharing such valuable tips on how to grow a successful forum.  I particularly like what you mentioned on how you go about marketing your site for free, from sties like stumbleupon, twitter, and facebook.  Word-of-Mouth marketing is very powerful, espically when that happens online where it’s easy for people to share.  It’s always helpful to make something understandable in just one sentence on how it would benefit an interested party – that is sure to get spread around.

For the admins, you are right on the ball about being present on the forum.  There have been many members that come to us asking why their forum isn’t popular, but the #1 thing they are forgetting to do is post consistently on their forum.  By posting a few times every day like you suggested, it ensures two things.  #1 that when members come to the forum, there is something to catch the member’s interest and make the forum feel current.  #2 it helps google crawl a forum if there is new content added each day – and that will send potential visitors to the forum.


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