I've been an Admin of some online communities for many years now. During all those years, I have learned quite some useful tips and recommendations, that I will try to share with you.
This post is not going to be a guide, I'm only going to share my experience and tips I learned during the years.
But firstly, Who am I?
My name is Ivan Expósito, known online as "By-Jokese" or "BJ". I started early on this world of administrating online communities. With 13 years, me and some friends made a small forum, for some friends and known people. Our tasks were simple, just moderate the forum and listen to the "community" for problems. That forum ended with a total of 150 users (many friends and great people joined), and was active for nearly 2 years.
My next adventure as admin was 2 years later in another forum, this time we had 2 extra servers, a Minecraft server and a Team Speak server. This was a closed community for approximately 15 users. On this adventure my tasks were simple, keep mods updated and configure them on the server, once that was done, I used to send a simple message to notify all users about the update. Half year later I entered on another forum, not related with the previous one. And some months after joining, I became a member of the admin team as a moderator. This was the first time I was actively in two different communities, not only as a member, but also as an Administrator/Moderator.
I lasted 2 years in total as admin in both communities. The last one, closed because of monetary problems, and the other one is still open, and I'm a user. From there, I kept from joining admin teams for 3 years. During this period, I made some collaborative works for some online communities, but noting else.
In 2014, I joined 2 communities in the ones I'm still in, and active. One of them is a 13,000+ user community! I was close to admins, helping, but never taking officially the role. On the second community, the one I am currently as part of the admin team, is a small community of less than 15 users but with a medium size architecture (Website, Forum, Portal, Game Server, Team Speak). As an IT engineer, I was the one who developed a hand made web portal and website for the community. My tasks in admin team, were and still are developing and maintaining both, website and portal; moderating the forum; keeping mods updated on the game server (Arma 3 Simulation server), and checking all is working properly. I also do some social stuff on the community's Facebook page, posting a couple of times per week. And modding some Addons for the community.
During the week, I dedicate all my free time to those communities.
I like things to be where they should be.
What are my tips as an Admin?
Once you know a bit more about me and my background, I will try to share the tips I learned with time and experience on all the years and communities I've been.
Work Hard. Being an admin is not an easy task, it requires motivation and time, a lot of time. Keep your mind motivated and let the motivation be your strength. An Admin works 365 days a year, must help the rest and give, without hoping to receive.
Be a User. Being and admin is not becoming god, NO. Be a user when you have to be a user, and take the admin role when you need it. An admin is just one user more of the online community with some extra buttons. Don't be a dick! A good admin is the one that doesn't look like an admin. Keep both roles separated.
Consistency. Working hard is important, but even more important is to be consistent. Don't work a week and sleep the rest of the month. Being and admin is a daily task. Do every day something, check your community forums, servers, mail, PMs, etc... Create your own schedules and distribute your tasks during the week.
Life For and By the Community. This is something I really focus on, do everything you can for the community, because with the time, the community will give it back to you.
Take care. Help the users on all the problems they have. For users, it is important to know that someone is hearing them and willing to help them when they need it. No one loves having a problem, so try to solve it, and what is most important, take decisions that reduce the chances of problems for the users.
Good decisions. No one is a wizard. Taking good decisions is difficult, but try to think on the community, even if that means more work for you. Be impartial and try your bests. Bad decisions will always occur, but take those as a chance for learning. A good Admin is the one that learns from bad decisions, and takes his experience on making every step the best one.
Be Organized. An Admin has many things to care about, many files, posts, URLs, information, addresses, IPs, etc... Keep all this information organized, so you can access it fast and easy at any moment.
Live on the present, think on the future. Thinking on the future is good, but don't rush your community to it. Just keep you concentrated on what does your community need and require on the present. Don't try to build something that the community doesn't need for now, keep it in mind and organized for the future, but don't mix future possibilities with present needs.
Let the community be itself, don't try to convert a community, don't try to change people on what you would like to be. Create a community with an identity and find the people that are identified with it.
Numbers are not important. Don't try to make the biggest and most famous community. Sometimes a small community with good people that feels like a family has more value than a big one with thousands of users. Bigger infrastructure doesn't mean anything if users don't take advantage of it. Give what community needs, no more, no less.
Last but not least, Relax. This point probably goes against the previous ones, but you know: the key is on the balance. At the end of the day, you are one user more that wants to enjoy the community and its moments. Try to take some time to enjoy the work you have done. Have fun with the users, and enjoy your hobbies. Relax!
For and By the community
Being and admin is not easy, take you time; NEVER lose hope on what you are doing; keep mentally motivated; work hard; and don't be a dick ;). It may take time, but keep it up, and sooner or later will be there.
NOTE: Those tips are recommendations based on my experience for Non-Profit Communities.