Wanted to ask about message boards as a business

I came here from a youtube video, and I wanted to ask about message boards as a business. I have always loved message boards, ever since the early 2000’s. So I finally decided to make my own, for my local area. And perhaps include some of my hobbies too (as subforums).

I’m hoping that someone here has some advice to offer. I do enjoy forums and managing software in general, but I would also need it to earn some money. Around $700 per month is my goal. I realize that may take some time, but hopefully it’s actually achievable.

That said, does anyone here have any advice or do’s and don’ts? I looked into discourse software, but it seems to be a bit rigid. Because I want my forum to look like this one:

That one appeals to me aesthetically, but I’m thinking maybe it’s a custom job. I haven’t seen any other forums that look quite like it. Anyway, I look forward to reading your replies, thank you.

I offer mine for free so I don’t really have any insights into how to monetize membership for forums. As for the customizing Discourse, that is not something that I have spent any time doing and that might be better asked in the Discourse Forums.

Oh yes I intend to offer it for free as well. The vast majority will always be free, membership may only come later for a select subforum or something. And only once there’s a lot of members and traffic.

I’m really only talking about the typical message board, that may run ads at the top or on the side. And perhaps has a blog attached, where merchandise could be sold. The usual forum stuff.