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Thread: Starting a new niche socail networking site...scared of liabilities..feedback needed

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Posts
    1

    Default Starting a new niche socail networking site...scared of liabilities..feedback needed

    Hi All,

    I am new to this website...it looks like it is very informative. Glad I found it.

    So a little background on me. I tried to jump into the social networking fever about 4-5 years ago, when me and a buddy tried to start a sports social network site. Let it be known, we failed miserably...we basically bit off more than we can chew, and our site never got finished.

    Fast forward to today, I now am happily married, have a nice house, and expecting my 4th child in July. I work in the medical field and I see a niche community where there is no social networking site specifically for my field. So this is when the light bulb went off in my head and I now want to create my own social network site for my professional peers.

    I already got a domain, and am going to use Wordpress and WP Symposium to run the site.

    He's where I'm nervous. I am basically doing this as a hobby...just for fun to see if I can build a fun/good site, and also to bring together my profession into one place. I'm scared of all the liabilites!!!!! I have been reading too much online about website owners getting sued, etc...

    I think my idea is good, and I learned from past mistakes to start small and expand slowly and as needed. But I ask you all is it worth it? Am I nervous for no good reason? I don't want to put my career, wife, house, and kids in danger...but at the same time I want to put my idea to work and grow a website/social network community.

    Any input on creating forums and social networks will be appreciated. I'm very nervous and I am looking for any feedback or help regarding this.

    Thanks all and I can't wait to read and interact with you all.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    14,766

    Default

    Hi Jberkley77,

    You can always hire a lawyer to help you with disclaimer info and as far as liability, you can setup an LLC for some personal protection. LegalZoom.com will help you with this.

    I like the fact you are doing this for a hobby because it sounds as if this is something you are interested in so it will keep you motivated. If you're going to use WordPress, there are forum plugins like bbPress to help you easily setup that part. As a matter of fact, you can use plugins to create almost any kind of functionality with WordPress.

    Have you narrowed down your niche? You mentioned "professional peers" but is there a certain kind of work or niche within this group of people you want to target? The key is to offer unique information to a specific group to help you gain traffic.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    (Down to) Earth - for sure!
    Posts
    436

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jberkley77 View Post
    Hi All,

    I am new to this website...it looks like it is very informative. Glad I found it.
    Wish you a warm welcome! Glad to have you here!!

    So a little background on me. I tried to jump into the social networking fever about 4-5 years ago, when me and a buddy tried to start a sports social network site. Let it be known, we failed miserably...we basically bit off more than we can chew, and our site never got finished.
    All of us fail - without experiencing failure not many succeed.

    "I've failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed." - Michael Jordan

    Fast forward to today, I now am happily married, have a nice house, and expecting my 4th child in July. I work in the medical field and I see a niche community where there is no social networking site specifically for my field. So this is when the light bulb went off in my head and I now want to create my own social network site for my professional peers.
    Great idea!

    He's where I'm nervous. I am basically doing this as a hobby...just for fun to see if I can build a fun/good site, and also to bring together my profession into one place. I'm scared of all the liabilites!!!!! I have been reading too much online about website owners getting sued, etc...

    I think my idea is good, and I learned from past mistakes to start small and expand slowly and as needed. But I ask you all is it worth it? Am I nervous for no good reason? I don't want to put my career, wife, house, and kids in danger...but at the same time I want to put my idea to work and grow a website/social network community.
    If you do each step correctly you will never get sued. Steps include, as above, putting a proper disclaimer on your website and covering yourself legally.

    Start a forum and get friends and people you know to participate. Forums add fresh content every day and the search engines love forum. Within a short span of time you will be ranking high in the search engines and more and more people will join in. The trick is to keep it active, or at least looking active. Why I say that is because no one visits a dead forum or a forum with a handful of posts. You will need to spend a few months building it up and then promoting it so that it becomes a go-to place for your community.

    If you have any doubts feel free to ask here. In fact you can start a thread to record your journey and Babblers will chip in with their comments and suggestions.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    93

    Default

    Hi jberkley77,

    I have experience with this. I set up a community website five or six months ago. It is a totally unique site and was featured in one national newspaper (brag). I use a WP blog and BBPress. I had someone build the site for me for a few hundred dollars as I am rubbish at code. I have found the maintenance of the site to be hard work, so if you know about code then that is definitely a good thing. My forum is the busiest place but I still only get around maybe 15 - 20 posts a day. If I were to do this again, I wouldn't introduce the forum until I had regular traffic. My bounce rate is great, but I still only get around 100 visits a day.

    All I will say is, for me, having a forum and keeping on top of things has taken up so much time, I wish I had waited before introducing it. As for the legal thing, I got someone to draw the page up and it cost me around £30.

    I think you should go for it if its something you really want to do, otherwise you will never know. What do you think?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Alexandria, MN USA
    Posts
    6,298

    Default

    To avoid the liability issue, you may want to check the legal folks but the key thing you have to do is to make it clear that you are not offering actionable advice but providing basic information on your topic and providing a context for discussion, sharing with folks with like interests.

    If you look at some of the disclaimers (usually linked to in the footer) on any financial or medical site you will get the idea. For example, WebMD calls theirs "Terms and Conditions of Use."

    Terms and Conditions of Use

    En español

    PLEASE READ THESE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF USE CAREFULLY BEFORE USING THIS SITE.

    By using this site, you signify your assent to these Terms and Conditions. If you do not agree to all of these Terms and Conditions of use, do not use this site!

    WebMD, LLC. ("WebMD") may revise and update these Terms and Conditions at any time. Your continued usage of the WebMD website ("WebMD Site," or the "Site,") will mean you accept those changes.
    INDEX

    The Site Does Not Provide Medical Advice
    Children's Privacy
    Use of Content
    Liability of WebMD and Its Licensors
    [Etc.]

    On my financial site I have a very similar statement. I still express strong opinions but in addition to my disclaimer statement I regularly point out that everyone's situation is different and readers need to make decisions based on their particular circumstances with the advice of their own accountants, lawyers, and financial advisers. Keep this in mind and you should be OK.

    The ones who get in trouble are those who do stupid things like promising people that they can make $1000.00 a day if they just buy and follow the advice in their $2000.00 program.
    Good Success!

    Website: Success With Money
    "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." —Maya Angelou

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Ilkeston, Derbyshire, England
    Posts
    1,484

    Default

    This sounds like a site you should geographically target. I always think starting something local can work well because there is a ready made audience to tap into using social media. You can take what would other wise be a saturated topic and turn it into a geographical niche site. And then be the best in that locale.

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