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Friday, June 09, 2006

Turning Your Forum Signatures Into Cash

There are thousands and thousands of message boards on the internet. That's a lot of potential people who may be interested in your products or services. It also serves as a quick and easy way to get a lot of links pointing back at your site and can help get your pages spidered faster by the search engines.

I use a free tool, Board Tracker (http://www.boardtracker.com/), to help monitor posts on over 25,000 forums.

You can set up a free account there and then set up alerts. You can set it to alert you to any posts containing any keyword or phrases you like. Some examples would be, your board nicknames, your domain names, affiliate programs you work with, or whatever else you're interested in..

When someone makes a post and one of your alert keywords is found, you are emailed a link to the thread which you can follow and make a post. So as not to be a blatant board spammer, it is recommended that you register and make an introduction post on that board before responding to the thread. When responding, you should make your post helpful to the person in regards to answering any question they had without spamming your site/program, you are relying on your signature file here to draw their attention.

To make this task easier, I suggest utilizing Roboform (http://www.roboform.com/). Roboform makes it easy to handle all of your registering and logins.

Now, let's find some forums in which we can participate. Everyone has some knowledge or interest in something. Perhaps it is cars, interior design or something else. Whatever it is, you can be certain there are forums for that particular niche.

You can use your favorite search engine and search for...
forums
"message board"

or specifically for...
car message boards
interior design message boards

or search by the different types of forum software like...
"powered by PHPBB"
"powered by vbulletin"

Before registering with any message boards I would suggest that you setup a yahoo or gmail account just for this purpose. It would also be a good idea to use this email for your boardtracker alerts as well.

Now you are ready to begin registering. I have created a new identity in Roboform to handle the registration for me. This includes my signature file as well. Before posting, make sure that you read the board rules so you are able to comply with those.

Once registered, make your introduction post. Basically you are just announcing your arrival and maybe saying a little something about yourself (roboform can do that too!), be sure to set your introduction thread to notify you of new posts so that you are able to respond as others welcome you.

Some things to keep in mind...

Who is your target audience and where will you find them? Are stay home moms likely to be found in Family & Parenting forums? Who is most likely to be participating at a car forum? A pet owners forum? etc..

Once you've located your target audience, target your signature to meet the needs of that audience. For example, if you were involved in a Family & Parenting forum, a signature aimed towards the mom who would like to earn money while being home for her children may be in order. If it were a Car or Electronics forum, maybe a signature promoting Free Satellite Dishes (these pay $50-$100 per install btw) would be more appropriate. The idea is to determine what the needs of any particular audience would be and finding a way to appeal to that.

Also, notice that the majority of forums offer a place for people to place advertising, usually under a category labeled something like, "opportunities", "recommendations", "spam allowed", etc.. Look for these and make use of those as well. Each of those is a free targeted link to your site or product.

Make sure that you are paying attention to your anchor text. Anchor text, in case you don't know, is the actual text that is linked. Choose good keywords for your anchor text that you would like to do well for in the search engines. Never link text such as "click here".

The most important thing is to make this a part of your daily schedule. Do it each and every day and shortly you will have thousands of free advertising links all over the internet!

Disclaimer: I am in no way endorsing blatant spamming! The method I've outlined above is more of a suggestion for yet another avenue of free marketing that should be used in a responsible and productive manner which will benefit the board owners, other board members as well as yourself.

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