It is difficult to sustain them for free. Often the resources that the forums require run up huge bills that the pay per click ads don't pay. With your revenue generated by the ads fluctuating constantly, yet your server costs remain constant and growing you need to have savings that you can call upon during poor months.
The free forum hosting market is now quite overcrowded and there is alot of competition now. Some of the competition are so good, it is unbeatable. Trying to stop people using those sites instead of yours can be difficult. It requires alot of work to get somewhere. However, somebody with the right ideas, skills and business model can make it work successfully, it just depends for how long it can be sustained for as forums grow so quickly that the revenue generated is often not proportional to the resources required to keep it running. Be prepared to have to get a dedicated server, even 2 of them and getting rid of old forums to preserve disk space, thereby keeping costs down, is important to remain free. Ideally, revenue from other sources would be best to compensate for what it is costing to keep online.
Last edited by alankru; 11-03-2006 at 01:04 PM.
Reason: added a little more