Since the launch of the biggest AI project by Openai known as Chatgpt, a lot of other AI projects have emerged. Out of the many great use of AI and chatbots are some potential challenges it has posed on businesses. it is essential to be more strategic in brand building if one must remain relevant in the space. Bloggers and content creators have lost and are still drastically losing traction because of chatbots.
To keep your customers coming back to your website you need to be very strategic and provide an extra level of value in your site that chatbots aren’t providing. One of the ways to keep users coming back to your site is by having a community or forum either as an entire site or as part of your site that offers them real help and value. In this tutorial, we will see how to make a forum in WordPress very easily using a 100% free plugin.
Forum as a great source of traffic
Having a forum on your website will really give a sense of belonging to your site visitors. This forum will help to keep users coming to your site even when they use Chatgpt. Adding a forum to my site J-insights is part of what reinstated my website traffic and sales. Today I have over 3 thousand members in the j-insights forum.
Now let’s see how to make a forum on WordPress very easily without coding or doing complex integrations. This will help you build a strong community and greatly reduce the effect of AI on your business.
Requirements to Make a Forum on WordPress
- A domain Name
- A Fast hosting Server (eg: Cloudways)
- WordPress Script
- WPforo Forum (A WordPress Plugin)
Getting a Domain Name
A domain name is basically the address or URL of your website. There are different domain registrars to get your domain name. We have Namecheap, GoDaddy, Bluehost, etc. But for the sake of this tutorial, I will be using Namecheap because it is more newbie friendly and it offers domains at ridiculously cheap rates. Just go to NameCheap and search for your preferred domain name and checkout.
Getting a Fast Hosting Server
Your website files and folders are located or seated in your web hosting. Generally, a website in the backend is just files and folders which your browser requests from the host and returns to your browser as static HTML pages which you see. From what I said now you will see that your visitors reaching your site is a science of back-and-forth requests between the host and the browser. A slow response from the host to the browser will result in a delay in loading requested resources, causing slow website loading time for visitors. This means poor user experience and average poor load time. Most shared hosting servers typically have poor load times, although not all of them do. You can check a list of the recommended fast ones here on our deals and coupon page.
Shared hosting is the type of hosting common with traditional hosting companies you can think of. This type of hosting involves the hosting company placing multiple websites on the same server. The lack of control over the server’s content leads to average slow load times for all users on the server. Since we want to make a forum where a lot of members will interact we need a very fast server that we will have full control over and host only our site or sites. As a result, we’ll go with a special type of hosting known as VPS hosting and specifically with Cloudways and I will tell you why shortly. Whichever one you are rooting to use, you’ll see how to make a forum in WordPress. Let’s get this 🔥🔥 ……
What is a VPS Hosting?
Without going into much technical detail, VPS stands for Virtual private server. Just like the name implies it is private to you. VPS hosting assigns server resources to your website, which only the websites you add to the server can use. Since it is only your site that is on the server, your server will be faster than the regular traditional servers from shared hosting companies. To better understand the concept of shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated server hosting just picture a dedicated server to be a full physical server just like the one below:
Different Types of Hosting Explained
Dedicated server hosting refers to the allocation of a full physical server to host a single website. High-performance websites with millions or billions of monthly visits, such as Facebook, Netflix, and OpenAI, use this type of physical server.
VPS hosting divides a dedicated server into multiple virtual servers, with each server assigned specific resources for hosting individual websites.
Shared hosting allocates the same virtual server to multiple individuals, who host multiple websites, resulting in hundreds or even thousands of different individuals sharing a particular virtual server. Here they can host as many websites on the servers as they want. This will obviously result in a slow server response and loading times for all websites hosted on the server. The question is … if Dedicated and VPS hosting is the best, why do people tend to go for shared hosting?? well, I have two answers to that:
Why do People go for shared Hosting?
- Shared hosting is cheap: Since shared hosting is cheap it is common psychology for anybody to go with a cheaper option.
- Unawareness: Most people are really not aware of their business needs as well as the difference between shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated server hosting. As a result, people often choose any type of hosting since they are all referred to as hosting. I remembered early 2022 when I worked with a real estate company in Lagos. As the lead developer, I had to do a lot of work to convince the founding partners of the need to migrate to VPS or dedicated hosting. When I joined the company they were using shared hosting and they already have a lot of properties posted on the site, the first thing I did was to migrate the website to a virtual private server (VPS). After the migration, the team and visitors had an over-the-roof experience with the site speed. Everything increased, Our server’s average response and load time, search result appearances and everything changed. We got a lot of organic traffic from SEO and closed organic deals.
Which Hosting is best to make a forum in WordPress?
We have already understood the different types of hosting and the best to go with for high performance of your forum site is VPS hosting. Out of the many VPS companies that exist, we can only recommend a few. They are the ones that incorporate fast servers, customer support, user-friendliness, and friendly starter price, among other factors to consider. In the course of this, I have tested a lot of VPS companies and can specifically recommend Cloudways for this.
I have partnered with Cloudways and obtained a coupon code that offers a discount on your purchase.
Click here to start a 3-day free trial with Cloudways. After the 3 days, if you like the performance of the server, you can continue to upgrade your account.
Now let’s see how to configure our Cloudways server and get our WordPress forum up and running.
Cloudways server configuration and WordPress installation
Configuring your Cloudways server is very easy. Just head on to Cloudways and sign up with your Coupon link. The interface below will greet you:
To deploy a new server, click on the Add Server or Plus icon indicated by the arrows, and the interface will take you to the next page. I have already deployed WordPress on DigitalOcean inside Cloudways.
It is important to understand how Cloudways work. You can choose which server you want to deploy your website on. You can choose Digitalocean, vultr, Linode, AWS, and google cloud. For now, these are companies that integrate with Cloudways. Let’s say we go with Digitalocean, under APPLICATION & SERVER DETAILS choose WordPress as your application. Define your server size and location and click on Launch Now.
After launch, you will see an interface like this, click the www at the top right as seen above to see your applications. Please provide the sentence that you want me to rewrite in the active voice.
Here is a temporary WordPress link and all login details given to you by cloudways automatically. Though you can access WordPress with it, you need to add your domain name so that you can access the WordPress site with your domain name instead. To do this, navigate to domain management. Click on Add domain
Add your custom domain and make it the primary domain and you are good to go.
Now you’ve set your custom domain to be the primary domain. You need to map this domain to your cloudways vps or server. To do this let’s see.
What is Domain mapping?
In simple terms, domain mapping is the process of pointing your domain name to your VPS IP address. This mapping must be done, if not your domain won’t point to any host and your site resources won’t resolve. To do this, go to your domain registrar. in my own case is Namecheap. Locate the DNS zone of the particular domain you want to map. In my own case, it is called Advanced DNS.
Now go to your Cloudways again and copy your VPS IP address.
Copy your VPS IP address as shown above and update your domain DNS.
Select an A record. On the host field put @ and on the value field add your Cloudways IP address. Save change and you are good to go.
Now go back to cloudways and access your WordPress backend or frontend with your domain name instead of the sudo domain name given to you by cloudways.
Congratulation you just launched your WordPress site. In your own case, the key icon which shows your site is secured is not going to be there. So, you need to install an SSL certificate to secure your domain name. This will make those visiting your website or forum feel safe while surfing and interacting with your site.
Install SSL Certificate on Cloudways
To initiate and complete the SSL installation, go back to Cloudways and locate the SSL certificate as you can see below:
Select the domain to issue an SSL certificate if you have more than one domain. Initiate the installation and within seconds, letsencrypt free ssl will be issued to the domain you selected. You can also import your own Custom or premium SSL into Cloudways. whichever way just ensure you install SSL on your domain. As this isn’t just important for retaining users on your website, most search engines prioritize ranking websites that have SSL over the ones that don’t. it doesn’t matter if the content on the website without SSL is better than the ones on the one with SSL. Search engines will still give preference to the website with SSL.
Now let’s proceed to build our forum.
Install the WPforo Forum Plugin.
There are a lot of other great plugins like bbpress available to make forums on WordPress. But in this guide, we’ll use the WPforo forum. This is a great plugin that has all the functionalities to turn your entire WordPress website or just part into a forum. Go to your WordPress plugin directory and search for the WPforo forum.
Install and activate the plugin.
Add as many forums and sub-forums as you want. Go to the settings tab and see the best settings for you and adjust accordingly to suit your forum need.
Now to access your forum just head on to yourdomain/community and you will be in your forum as below.
To add a topic, click on Add topic. This adds the question you want to post to the forum and anyone registered in the forum can interact with the question.
To this end, we have seen how to make a forum on WordPress and if you have any questions, use the comment section and I will be happy to help.