37: How to Build and Monetize an Online Forum

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In this Episode 37 of The Side Hustle Show, I’m joined by Tess Strand, the founder of VirtualAssistantForums.com, the leading online forum for professional and aspiring virtual assistants.

We cover how she built the membership up from 0 to more than 7000 members, the tools and strategies she uses, and how she monetizes the site.

I met Tess at World Domination Summit last summer — she’s good people! Building any online asset to this level of engagement and visibility is a serious feat, so there’s a lot to take away from this conversation.

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  • How to tell if a niche might be ripe for a forum.
  • The software required to set it up.
  • How to recruit your first members — and get them to stick around.
  • The advantages of a forum over a Facebook group.
  • How to monetize the site (with a multi-pronged attack) without selling your soul.
  • Why a forum is definitely NOT the fastest path to side hustle income.
  • Tess’ #1 tip for Side Hustle Nation


Are there any forums you participate in frequently? Have you ever tried to run one of your own? I’m curious to hear from you what makes a forum particularly sticky or valuable, or what challenges you ran into trying to run one. Let me know in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “37: How to Build and Monetize an Online Forum”

  1. It’s so right time Tess. I am joining a course on coursera called “Developing Innovative Ideas for new companies” and I find a need of having a forum for students to discuss after finishing the course. That’s why I setup a forum called: Business-Journey.com and I am going to introduce it with members of the course. I haven’t had any plan to monetize it now, just want to focus to build a well-growth community. The script I am using is Xenforo forum.

    Hope to have a chance to talk with you more.

    Thank you Tess, Nick for an interesting podcast. ^^

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