E21: How to Build, Launch, Market and Monetize an Online Forum – Interview with Suraj Sodha

Suraj Sodha

(Entrepreneur, Internet Marketing Expert in Forums, Membership Sites, SEO, Affiliate Marketing and The Founder of WPMaintain.co.uk)

SurajSodha on Be Efficient Tv with Ahmed Al Kiremli

How to Pick the Right Forum Idea, What are the Different Types of Forums?

Best Softwares, Systems and Plugins for Forums and Membership Sites

Video Interview




In a nutshell…

Realising quickly that a £40,000+ investment in university and professional exams to become a lawyer wasn’t going to provide me with the quick return on investment that I thought it would or the lifestyle to go with it, I was motivated to leave my high-paid job in London to learn how to start and grow a business on the Internet.

The first business I got into after leaving my job when I turned 23 in 2008 was a small online franchise that I bought from a franchise exhibition in London. I ran it successfully and profitably for just under 2 years before deciding that I could ‘go it alone’ without piggy backing off an existing brand or a ‘business in a box’ that anyone could buy.

Since then, I have built up my own brands with products and services that are sold around the world today. Online marketing is what got me started in this industry and that is still the core product of all my businesses which is now evolving into buying and selling online businesses to expand and grow faster than ever before.

Remember that kid at school who was always selling stuff to the other kids out of his locker and in the playground? Yep, that was me.

The longer story…

When I was 15, I was fascinated by the fact that I could buy something for £1 and sell it for £2 to somebody else who wanted the same thing but didn’t know how to get it for themselves. This simplified concept of business is how I became an accidental entrepreneur whilst still at school and started thinking about all the other things that I could apply this same principle to! It wasn’t long before I was ‘supplying’ all sorts of things to kids in the playground (nothing dodgy, all above board!). I was a jack-of-all-trades and master of nothing at first, but then I really drilled into my niche – selling posters of then-famous boy bands to girls at school. I had found my hungry market of buyers who would, quite literally, buy anything with a boy band picture or slogan on it.

I had no idea that what I was doing was running a ‘business’. It all made sense years later when I started a real business in the real world!

On my way to school on Monday morning, I’d spend all my lunch money on out-of-date pop star magazines such as Top of The Pops and Smash Hits which I bought cheaply (because they were out of date!) thanks to a little deal I did with the newsagent near the school. He didn’t know I was reselling the posters inside the magazines, I think he was just happy to get rid stock that he couldn’t sell otherwise! By the end of the week i’d have my initial investment back and a profit on top.

When I look back and connect the dots, it looks and sounds like a real business: I had found myself a few suppliers of my product, had a loyal customer base, had ‘staff’ (i.e. my friends) who would deliver the posters and collect the payment from the customers (i.e. the girls in the playground) in return for a percentage of every sale. All I had to do as the ‘business owner’ was keep up the relationships with my suppliers and keep my customers happy by meeting their demand for the latest posters of the Backstreet Boys and Take That!

This carried on for a while before I got into doing the same thing online. I bought domains on the Internet and sold them to whoever offered me more for them and continued to be fascinated that I could buy something for one price and sell it to someone else for a different price. I still didn’t know that this was business and it all only made sense when I look back on it now.

All of this fun stopped after my GCSEs and I started my journey down the academic path to a ‘secure’ job and a career as a lawyer. I studied hard, got my grades at school and then my Law degree. I tried to start businesses whilst at university but nothing really worked out. I successfully applied for a Subway franchise during my 2nd year at uni and had agreed in principle to open the store on the student campus where thousands of students gathered every day for lunch. It was a sure thing with guaranteed profits for many years to come. I had the franchise paperwork ready, contracts ready to sign, dates for training….and then the bank told me I couldn’t have the £30,000 loan I applied for (the actual Subway franchise fee was less than £10,000, the rest was for fitting out the store). I was gutted and I remember phoning home to say that I wasn’t going to be opening the first Subway store on campus. I had my heart set on doing this and but for the lack of money, I would have done it. I wasn’t upset for too long though because it was a Thursday that I got rejected by the bank and that means student night at uni – time to forget that I just had my first failure in business!

I focused on my Law degree after that and went on to pass my LPC at The College of Law in London with a Commendation in 2007. With no gap year or break I started working at top city law firms in London with a great salary for a graduate and a potentially greater legal career ahead.

I was good at my job but I didn’t love it. I didn’t have the same passion for practicing law that I thought I had and I quickly started to lose interest in my job after nearly 2 years of working. I decided to ‘take a break’ and see what other opportunities were out there to start a business or do something else. Naturally, I looked for ways to start a business on the Internet and that’s when I found this whole industry.

I applied the same principles that I learned back in school about business, i.e. to keep it simple and not over complicate the process of doing business. Today, I have built a training and consultancy business as well as various done-for-you service businesses with clients all around the world.

Some of my achievements:

  • spoken at conferences and seminars to over 10,000+ people in 7 countries
  • participated in a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ record-breaking event
  • developed a respected and growing client base in the UK, Dubai, Australia, South Africa and USA
  • took part in a joint venture that generated £100,000 in sales in 24 hours (read about it here)
  • Skydived and walked on fire to raise money for charities that I support
  • built a passionate team to work with spread across 4 countries
  • travelled 150,000 miles around the world

My focus at the moment is on the following:

  • consulting and training businesses around the world on their online marketing strategies to get more clients online
  • building new businesses with passionate teams in place which add value to new and existing clients
  • teaching other entrepreneurs how they can use the Internet to replace their job income and live the lifestyle that they want

Websites & Social Media Links








Interview Questions

  • Lets start with your background before digging into the internet marketing field?
  • How did you start in the internet marketing field and how long it took you to make your first $ online?
  • You launched many products & services before, which one you think is your biggest breakthrough and which one have made you the most financially?
  • You have built https://www.rapidleverage.net/, tell us more about the services that you provide through this forum and how it works?
  • What are the different types of forums?
  • What your subscribers like the most in your forums, the Q & A, webinars, others?
  • How to built an idea for a forum, we want to teach the audience the process of building an online forum online?
  • How to monetize a forum?
  • What are the must use plugins that you use in a forum or membership site?
  • Ok now we have a ready forum or membership site, what to do to launch it efficiently?
  • You have a lifetime registration for your forum for 220, is that works or the people like the membership model more and why?
  • How to deal with the issue of the people who subscribe as members then opt out after 1-2 months?
  • Which video hosting service and plugins do you use to provide the videos access only to your members? And to host the videos only on your site?
  • For web development can you recommend a team or online service for the audience that you have tested before?
  • What is wp maintain?
  • How to make a wordpress blog really fast?
  • Your top 3 internet marketing tools?
  • Your top 3 wordpress plugins?
  • Which hosting that you recommend for websites with many visitors?
  • How do you use Office Auto Pilot?
  • How do you use affiliate marketing nowadays? Any recommended tools? And how do you use Nanacast?
  • How long it takes you and how much do you charge to set a full sales funnel for a membership site or affiliate site?
  • What are the latest Google algorithm changes? And SEO suggestions?
  • Do you recommend a stand-alone landing page or to be within a website? Which one more credible and which one sales more?
  • Any other interesting social media platforms are a must to use for companies, small business owners or startups? Other than facebook, linkedin, google+, twitter and pinterest?
  • If I’m a new speaker, what are the strategies that you recommend to get speaking engagements? What are your strategies to get paid speaking engagements?
  • What are your strategies to get featured in the media?
  • Internet marketing masterminds that you recommend?
  • How many team members are currently working with you offline and online? And can you highlight to us what they do exactly?
  • How much do you charge per hour as consultant for your services?
  • Did you work before on commission basis from revenue, do you have a price structure per lead or customer?
  • How to blog consistently and efficiently?
  • new projects to talk about: ContentDay.co.uk (launching soon)
  • Tell us more about your other projects that you are currently working on or planning for the future?
  • When you make money in what you like to invest? Do you think capital gain or cash flow?
  • Take us through your typical working day?
  • What are your other hobbies?
  • If you are just starting today in your field, from where you will start and what are you going to focus on to be more successful?
  • 3 things that you believe are the most important factors for any success?
  • What are the Top 3 apps that you use on your smart phone?
  • What are the habits that you are trying to develop to stay efficient?
  • What are your top 3 favorite books?
  • What are the top 3 people that you are inspired by? 
  • What are the things that make you happy?
  • How people can find you or contact you?