Building Your Own Reddit: The Ultimate Guide

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Hey there! Have you ever thought about starting your own website like the ultra-popular Reddit?

Well, you‘ve come to the right place. In this ultimate guide, I‘ll be walking you through exactly how to create your own Reddit-style community from start to finish.

As an experienced developer and avid Redditor myself, I‘ll be sharing plenty of insider tips and recommendations along the way. By the end, you‘ll have all the knowledge you need to launch the next big user-powered hub on the web!

Let‘s dive right in…

An Overview of Reddit‘s Core Features

For the uninitiated, Reddit is a social news and discussion website where users submit content and vote submissions up or down. It‘s split into over 100,000 communities called "subreddits", each focused on a specific topic like technology, sports, or food.

Here are some of Reddit‘s key features that drive its wild popularity:

  • Subreddit Communities – The site is divided into topic-specific subreddits. Users join their favorite communities to discuss shared interests.

  • Upvotes & Downvotes – Users can upvote content they like and downvote content they don‘t. The most upvoted content rises to the top.

  • Comment Threads – Members can comment on posts and reply to other comments, creating conversational threads.

  • User Profiles – Each member has a profile page displaying their posting/commenting history.

  • Anonymity – Users can browse and vote without creating an account. Only commenting/posting requires an account.

  • Moderators – Each subreddit is moderated by volunteers who enforce community rules.

Recreating these core pillars is crucial for building a successful Reddit alternative.

But why would you want to make your own version anyway? Well…

The Benefits of Building a Reddit-Style Community

Before we dive into the how-to, let‘s look at some of the key benefits of launching a Reddit-style site:

๐Ÿ‘ฅ Attract a Large Userbase

Reddit is the 7th most visited website in the US, with over 50 million daily active users (source). By recreating that familiar Reddit experience, you can attract a built-in audience.

๐Ÿค Foster Strong Communities

Reddit‘s subreddit system allows users with shared hobbies or interests to connect. This creates a strong sense of community – something any new platform should aim for.

๐Ÿ’ก Aggregate Diverse Content

Reddit‘s model organically surfaces the most interesting, important, or funny content as voted by its users. This results in an engaging stream of entertaining or thought-provoking content.

๐Ÿงญ Guide Public Discourse

On Reddit, participating communities collectively decide what content and opinions are amplified and shared. This provides insight into what ideas, topics, and views are most important to everyday users.

๐Ÿ’ฐ Monetization Opportunities

Once you build a solid userbase, platforms like Reddit offer many options for generating revenue – ads, premium memberships, tipping, and more.

In short, the Reddit model offers huge opportunities if you can execute it well. Now let‘s talk steps…

Step 1: Choosing a Domain and Web Host

The first step in bringing your vision to life is finding the perfect domain name and signing up for web hosting.

Your domain name will act as the unique online address for your site. It should be short, memorable, and ideally contain relevant keywords. Some examples:


As for web hosting, you‘ll need a plan that can reliably handle all the traffic of an active community. I recommend going with one of the following established hosts:

  • Bluehost – One of the largest web hosts, recommended by WordPress themselves. Shared plans start from $2.75/month.

  • SiteGround – Fast, secure servers and excellent customer support. Starter shared plans from $3.95/month

  • DreamHost – Reliable uptime and unlimited bandwidth. Shared hosting from $2.59/month.

Aim for at least 2-4 GB of memory to accommodate all the plugins you‘ll need to install later. You‘ll also want free SSL to keep your site secure.

Most hosts make the domain registration and setup process very quick and easy, taking just minutes.

Step 2: Install WordPress

Next up, you‘ll need to install WordPress, the open-source CMS powering over 40% of all websites. This will form the core platform for your Reddit-style community.

I recommend WordPress for a few key reasons:

  • Open source – Free to use and built by a large community of developers.

  • Easy to use – Intuitive dashboard and workflow for managing your site.

  • Extendable – Plugins allow you to easily add any features and functionality you need.

  • Optimized – Built-in SEO, performance, and security features.

  • Support – Huge amounts of documentation, guides, and help available.

Your web hosting provider should offer one-click WordPress installation that handles all the complex setup for you automatically.

The whole process only takes about 5 minutes. Just enter your site name, create an admin account, and wait for it to work its magic!

Step 3: Choosing a Theme

Your theme controls the overall look, layout, and design of your site. You‘ll want to pick one that‘s:

  • Visually appealing
  • Easy to customize
  • Fast loading
  • Optimized for community sites

Here are some of my recommended premium themes that check those boxes:

  • BBPress – Designed to integrate beautifully with the leading forum plugin. Retro, minimalist aesthetics. (39.00 USD)

  • Flatsome – Bold, vibrant designs and strong community features. One of the most popular multipurpose themes. (59 USD)

  • BuddyX – A more modern community theme with bright, eye-catching design. (79 USD)

  • Rank Math SEO Pro – Clean and professional design. Built-in SEO features. (69 USD for 1 site)

Avoid bloated themes with excessive features. Instead, look for a lightweight base you can build on top of with plugins.

Once you‘ve selected and installed your theme, customize the design like colors, fonts, logos and banner images through the WordPress customizer.

Step 4: Install Crucial Plugins

Here comes the fun part – leveraging plugins to recreate Reddit‘s functionality!

WordPress plugins are add-on scripts you can install for extra features. Let‘s go over the essential ones you‘ll need:


Every social platform needs a forum system where users can post and discuss content. Some top choices:

  • bbPress – Lightweight, focused solely on forums. Seamlessly integrates with WordPress.

  • wpForo – Modern, full-featured forum plugin. Very user-friendly.

  • Advanced Forum – Fast, customizable, regularly updated.

I‘d recommend bbPress or wpForo to start. Both are free and have all the core forum features you‘ll need.

User Profiles

To allow members to create Reddit-style profile pages, a user profile plugin is a must. These let users share profiles with avatars, bios, social links, recent activity, and more.

Ultimate Member is the most popular choice here with over 1 million active installs:

  • Ultimate Member – Packed with customization options and add-ons. Integrates nicely with bbPress.

Some alternatives to consider are WP User Avatar and Paid Memberships Pro.

Voting System

What‘s Reddit without upvotes and downvotes? To allow users to vote on posts and comments, install a rating plugin like:

  • WP-PostRatings – Allows upvotes/downvotes and sorts content by vote count.
  • Rating-Widget – Simple five star rating system. Shows aggregate ratings.

Make sure to get the Allow Anonymous Ratings add-on so users can vote without an account.

Anonymity Plugins

To allow anonymous browsing like Reddit, use a plugin like WP Logged Out Visible. This shows all content to non-logged-in users.

You can also use the Allow Anonymous Ratings add-on mentioned above.


Spam is the scourge of any new platform. Protect your site with an anti-spam plugin like Akismet. This catches automated spam bots before they can bombard your forums.

There are many other plugins out there to add any other functionality your community might need – real-time commenting, badges/rewards, filters, notifications and more.

Shop around to find the best options suited to your forum‘s focus and goals.

Step 5: Set Up Subreddit Communities

No Reddit alternative would be complete without the iconic subreddits that make the platform so addictive.

Most forum plugins allow you to create separate forums or categories that function just like Reddit‘s subreddits.

For example, in wpForo you could have Forums for:

  • Gaming ๐ŸŽฎ
  • Sports โšฝ
  • Foodies ๐Ÿด
  • Beauty Gurus ๐Ÿ’„

Encourage users to start their own subforums once your community gains traction.

Appoint trustworthy moderators to oversee each subforum, enforce rules, and cultivate a welcoming environment.

Without lively subreddit communities, your forums will struggle to foster ongoing discussion and member retention. So put in the work to nurture each one!

Step 6: Promote and Manage Your Community

With the underlying build and design of your platform complete, it‘s time to breathe life into it by promoting your site and fostering a thriving community!

Here are my top tips for getting your forums off the ground:

Spread the Word

  • Leverage social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook Groups, LinkedIn, and Instagram to spread the word about your site. Share teasers and announcements leading up to your launch.

  • Reach out to bloggers and influencers in your topic niche to help get the word out to their engaged audiences. Offer exclusive access in exchange for promotions.

  • Participate in relevant Reddit communities, forums, Facebook Groups, etc. and promote your site (without spamming). Focus on providing value.

  • Run a launch giveaway, contest, or special promotion to incentivize early signups and activity on your forums.

Keep Users Engaged

  • Continually share new content and post discussion starters to keep your community active, especially in the early days.

  • Send weekly or monthly newsletters to update members on popular threads, new features, and community announcements.

  • Highlight your most valued contributors by giving them badges, special roles, or prizes.

  • Respond promptly to flags, reports, and requests from your members. No one likes an unresponsive or unaccountable admin!

Grow Your Moderator Team

  • Appoint moderators you trust to help manage discussions in subreddit forums. Don‘t take this duty solely onto your own shoulders.

  • Outline clear rules and guidelines for moderators to enforce – free speech should be protected but things like illegal content and spam are unacceptable.

  • Leverage auto-moderation plugins to ease the burden on human moderators by automatically screening posts and comments for banned keywords, links, etc.

With continual effort and engagement from you and your team, your homegrown community can thrive!

Step 7: Start Monetizing

Once you‘ve built a solid foundation and loyal user base, it‘s time to explore options for generating revenue from all your hard work!

Here are some of the most viable ways to monetize a Reddit-style website:


  • Display Ads – Sign up for an ad network like Google AdSense to automatically fill your site with relevant text, image, and video ads. You earn money when visitors view or click on them. Widely used across forums and content sites.

  • Sponsored Posts – Allow advertisers to pay for sponsored posts that appear just like normal community content but are labeled as ads. Popular on Reddit itself.

  • Affiliate Marketing – Promote relevant products, services, tools, etc. within your niche and earn commissions when members purchase through your links.

Premium Subscriptions

  • Paid Memberships – Offer special perks like badges, unlockable emojis, increased voting power, etc. for a recurring monthly/annual subscription fee. This gives your most loyal users VIP status on your forums.

  • Tip Jars – Let users send one-time monetary tips or donations to thank other members for providing valuable contributions.

Merch & Services

  • Merchandise – Sell t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, and other swag branded with your community‘s name, logo, or inside jokes. Fans love supporting sites they‘re invested in!

  • Consulting/Services – If your community gains a respected reputation around a valuable niche (like marketing, design, etc.) you can sell specialized services to interested companies.

Take the time to experiment with different approaches and see what resonates most with your audience before fully diving into monetization.

Key Takeaways and Next Steps

And there you have it – a comprehensive guide to building your very own version of Reddit, step-by-step!

Here are some key tips to remember:

  • Choose a catchy, relevant domain name and reliable web hosting provider. This forms your foundation.

  • Install WordPress for a user-friendly interface and total customizability through plugins.

  • Select a fast, mobile-friendly theme that supports community building.

  • Use plugins like bbPress, WP User Avatar, and WP-PostRatings to enable forums, profiles, voting, and more.

  • Create subreddit-style communities and nurture them with engaged moderators.

  • Promote your site extensively and keep users constantly engaged.

  • Once grown, introduce advertising, premium memberships, merchandising and other creative monetization strategies.

The work doesn‘t stop once your platforms goes live – you need to actively foster and moderate your community daily. But by sticking to the tactics in this guide, you‘ll be well on your way to building the next Reddit!

I hope you found this helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions as you embark on your journey to creating an amazing online community!


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.