3 Easy Steps: How to Start a Forum Website (Feb. 2024)

How To Start A Forum

Whether you’re running an online business, showcasing your professional portfolio, or simply blogging about your life, learning how to start a forum website can be a successful way to attract more readers and boost visitor engagement.

From the earliest days of the World Wide Web and the even earlier days of physically posting your message in a designated area, bulletin boards have offered a popular way to spread information and communicate with others who share your interests. Even better, online communities lead to increased sales, lead opportunities, SEO, overall traffic, and customer retention, with 90% of forum owners saying that user submissions help improve products and services, as well.

Now, millions of internet users around the world use online forums to discuss politics, sports, parenting tips, and the latest celebrity meme. Learn how to easily leverage message boards to drive traffic and revenue by reading through our three-step guide and software reviews below.

Step 1: Choose a Forum Hosting Partner

Even though discussion forums are some of the earliest web technologies developed, the communication method and online communities still power a variety of well-known brands across multiple industries and interests. Forums on Reddit, the world’s fifth most-visited website, accounts for 21 billion page views each month across more than 130,000 active communities.

Without strong technology behind your forum, the increased traffic and interactions increase the risk of slow page loads, downtime, or compromised accounts. As soon as you decide to create a forum website from scratch, examine the various ingredients to find the perfect mix of speed, security, and scalability — starting with your site’s web hosting plan.

The best web hosts blend affordability with easy-to-use technologies like one-click software installations, domain name registration, and email notifications, among other components needed to run a successful forum website. We’ve listed our favorite options below for forum management, highlighting those that offer popular message board apps, around-the-clock customer support, and ample resources to support your burgeoning community. Read our reviews below and click on each to learn more.

1. Bluehost.com

Bluehost review

Monthly Starting Price $1.99

  • Install phpBB for FREE with one click
  • Automatic site backups conducted daily
  • Manage forum tools directly from cPanel
  • FREE advertising credits
  • US-based support available 24/7 with 99.9% uptime
  • Get started on Bluehost now.
★★★★★ 4.7 Our Review»
Bluehost: Our Expert's Review

Ryan Frankel (HostingAdvice.com): We trust Bluehost for many hosting niches, and the company’s forum hosting services showcase Bluehost’s focus on simple setup and reliable servers. Manage all forum operations with your choice of forum software, which can easily be installed via cPanel as you’re getting started. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days 10 GB SSD - 100 GB SSD FREE (1 year) 5 minutes

2. A2Hosting.com

A2 Hosting review

Monthly Starting Price $2.99

  • Fast forum hosting for phpBB, SMF, and others
  • More forum software choices than any provider
  • Unlimited storage, bandwidth, and databases
  • Easily manage your forum hosting with cPanel
  • FREE SSL and SSDs for security and speed
  • Get started on A2 Hosting now.
★★★★★ 4.6 Our Review»
A2 Hosting: Our Expert's Review

Alexandra Anderson (HostingAdvice.com): A2 Hosting offers the most options for forum hosting we’ve seen. Whether you prefer vBulletin, MyBB, phpBB, or another forum application, you can easily install from your own cPanel portal. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
30 days 100 GB SSD - Unlimited SSD New or Transfer 4 minutes

3. InMotionHosting.com

InMotion review

Monthly Starting Price $2.29

  • Choose from any forum application
  • Easily set up SMF and phpBB with 1-click installs
  • All-SSD storage means 20x-faster page loads
  • FREE SSL certificate and DDoS protection
  • cPanel management with Softaculous script library
  • Get started on InMotion now.
★★★★★ 4.6 Our Review»
InMotion: Our Expert's Review

PJ Fancher (HostingAdvice.com): As one of the best all-around providers in the industry, InMotion Hosting is a predictably strong option for building an interactive online community. The host pairs modern, strong hardware with unrestricted forum application options to deliver a hosting service that can grow with your forum website. Go to full review »

Money Back Guarantee Disk Space Domain Name Setup Time
90 days 100 GB SSD - Unlimited SSD FREE (1 year) 5 minutes

4. Hostinger.com

Hostinger review

Monthly Starting Price $2.69

  • Multiple forum options available via 1-click script
  • Unlimited websites and bandwidth on most plans
  • Optimized WordPress hosting to pair with forums
  • Manage your forum via custom control panel
  • High-speed hosting for less than $1 per month
  • Get started on Hostinger now.