Believe it or not, you can market on forums and message boards without pissing anyone off. In fact, not only can you market this way, you SHOULD market this way, and I'll tell you why later in this article. But for now, I'd like to point out that the reason I'm writing this article is because someone on an affiliate forum that I frequent got kicked out of an affiliate program for spamming a message board community. He'd posted his opinion of the affiliate product in the "personal opinions" section of the board, and the moderator of the community reported him to the merchant, who then kicked him out of the affiliate program.
There's a big difference between expressing your opinion and marketing a product. Often the difference can be discerned as easily as discerning the tracking code in an affiliate URL for a product. I moderate at several forums online, and I despise dealing with spammers who think it's okay to blatantly market to my readers without contributing anything of value to my community. So here are my rules for marketing on forums without pissing anyone off.
1- Participate in a forum that allows links to your website in your signature. If the discussion board doesn't allow links in your signature, go find one that does.
2- PARTICIPATE in the forum. Ask pertinent questions. Make pithy observations. Answer others' questions if you know the correct answers. Try to post something daily, maybe more often. Just be sure that you're not just participating to get your link in front of people; participate in the forum in order to add value to the members' experiences there. The rewards in terms of higher click-through's and conversions are well worth it.
3- Include a link to your website in your signature file in a normal sized font.
That's it. That's all there is to it. How does this help your marketing? Well, you should be participating in forums at least partially related or of interest to the people who hang out in a forum. So some of them will click on your signature link just out of interest. And, if you post intelligently and often, you will gradually become recognized as an expert in that area. And that will make you more attractive. You'll begin to get link exchange requests, links, and requests for help from indviduals on the forums. This is when you know your strategy is working.
Marketing on forums and message boards isn't for the faint of heart, or for the lazy spammer. But if you're willing to make appropriate effort, you'll get appropriate returns.
The author is a full time affiliate webmaster who manages and promotes several sites in several industries. You can read more about his exploits at his Affiliate Marketing Programs Blog and see an example of one of his sites at Major Millions Jackpot