Guest Author - Violette DeSantis
One goal of most every blogger is the need to build community. It is nice to share comments and exchange ideas with other bloggers, but there is always room to grow. One way to expand your community is to compliment your blogging efforts with a forum.
Many topics are geared toward building a community; hobby blogs, home improvement blogs, cooking and recipe blogs, job or career specific blogs and other niche specific blogs. If you are not sure if a particular blog topic warrants the effort to build a community via a forum, do the following exercise.
Consider the forums and online social network communities you visit related to your blog topic. Is there an active community for the topic? If not, have you come across others who are interested in the topic but have no place to gather together to discuss the topic? Answering yes to either of these questions is an indication that a forum could compliment your blog and garner more interest in building a community around it.
Options for offering a forum to your blog readers include adding a WordPress plugin if you currently use WordPress, using an embeddable app in your Blogger/Blogspot blog, or reviewing third party options. Third party options usually have a subscription fee but a few are free, or free to test out.
We will review two simple, quick and free options to get WordPress and Blogger/Blogspot bloggers started.
Mingle Forum plugin for WordPress Blogs
Although not reviewed as the most popular WordPress forum plugin, it is easily the simplest available and is feature rich. A Mingle forum can be installed in about five minutes. Features include categories, groups, user levels, private messages, forum search and more. Blog posts can be published and at the same time added to a specific forum category as a topic for discussion. There are additional Mingle plugins to enhance the Mingle forum on a blog as well (Mingle Avatars, Mingle Profiles, etc.).
Other WordPress plugins to consider: Simple Press, bbPress, phpBB Recent Topics, Wp2BB and WP Forum Server.
Nabble.com Embeddable Forum for Blogger/Blogspot Blogs
Nabble offers free forums and other embeddable apps. Blogger and Blogspot bloggers need to register at Nabble.com to start a free forum. You create the forum and sub-forums to your liking and then review the embedding options. Simply copy the code and embed the forum code in a page on your blog to install the forum.
Additional Benefits of Creating a Forum
Other benefits to adding a forum to your blog include adding to your membership base and adding relative SEO content to your site. You are growing a community and at the same time they are adding to the blog’s published content.
Add a forum to your blog and share the blogthusiasm!