Should you launch with a discussion forum?

I recorded a podcast a while back with Jeff from Online Course Coach. We had a great conversation, part of which was naturally about discussion forums. At one point Jeff asked me if a membership site should launch with a discussion forum, which is a great question.

My short answer: no.

Of course, there are caveats. But typically, if you’re in launch mode, you’re going to be extremely busy. And when you’re super busy isn’t the right time to add a discussion forum to your membership site. It takes a lot of tedious, consistent effort to get things kicked off and get members to consistently participate.

On the other hand, if you’ve got a team, and someone can be devoted to fostering the growing community, then by all means launch with a discussion forum. Just be prepared to seed it with good topics, and answer any member questions that come up right away, until it gains momentum and has a life of its own.

If you launched with a discussion forum (or added one later), I’d love to hear from you. What went well? What didn’t?