Ultimately this is up to you, but the paragraphs beneath aim to provide you with some rough guidelines so you can kick your community off to a good start, leaving you with enough funds behind to add more content.
You haven't developed the server yet.
If you haven't developed the server yet, we recommend you go for our 8 slot development package which can be found here: Our Packages. This allows you to develop your server cost-effectively when you're expecting no players.
You already have an established community.
If you already have an established community with another server and a playerbase that is eager for you to release a DarkRP server, a 48 slot server would be fitting for you. Generally you will have enough space for the initial surge of your community members still leaving space for new players.
This is the first server for your community.
Our 32 slot special package would be ideal for you. It's cost effective and great value for money, 32 slots allows you to build up a strong tight-nit community on a low budget, allowing you to build up some revenue to expand self-sufficiently in the future.
DarkRP is unfortunately one of the harder gamemodes to build a community on due to the many established DarkRP servers that already exist. Don't let this discourage you though.
As I'm sure you're aware, inviting friends and just trying to keep the server consistently above 10-15 players is the best way to build a strong playerbase. There are promoters, such as Youtube content creators, that will take payment in return for joining your server, although we discourage this. It doesn't provide a guarantee of you getting your money back and often generates a volatile playerbase that comes and goes as the promoter does.
Running a Discord server is great, it allows you to provide a conversation space exterior to your server and creates a sense of community. In addition to this it provides you with a space to keep your players in the loop if your server is down for development.
Steam groups, like a Discord server, is another great place to keep players in the loop. It also allows you to post announcements that directly appear on their screen, Steam groups are an extremely useful tool as a result of that.
Forums really complete the perfect community. As time goes on and new players join, old players will fade away, the forums are a great place for older players to check up on the community and keeps them interested without them having to be as far integrated as to be in a Discord server. This increases the likelihood of them rejoining in the future. In addition to this we advise that you push for general discussion on your forums, as well as Garry's Mod discussion because it allows those who no longer play Garry's Mod to still feel as if they're apart of the community. A key thing to remember is that, if you're planning to run a community, you're running a community not a single server.
This is a question we get a lot and there's a lot of factors to it really, the largest servers like SuperiorServers, IceFuse, ASAP Gaming and others have gotten to the point they're at through trial and error and you'll have to do the same.
Lot's of people chuck 150+ addons in their workshop collection and call it a day. The problem that arises as a result of this is optimisation, Garry's Mod is an old game, it can only run so many addons on one server. With it being an old game, it means it's a lot more appealing to people with lower spec hardware. As a result of this you'll have to cater your content to that accordingly. We recommend no more than 80 addon to be installed on your server at once. As with any recommendations, generally you can go over that limit and be fine, but it's dependent on how many heavy addons you have installed.
Optimisation is generally going to come as a result of player feedback, we recommend you reach out to players and ask them how they feel their computers and how the server is performing and adjust your content accordingly.
Security is becoming increasingly important, there are hundreds of backdoored addons in Garry's Mod. Leaks are a large cause of this, we recommend you stay away from leaks, not only because of the principle behind using leaks but because of the security issues that arise. Leak sites are not regulated and we receive support requests everyday from people who have installed a leaked addon that contained a backdoor.
There are tools out there that will catch backdoors, such as Nomalua and Backdoor Buster. If you believe there is a backdoor we recommend you use one of them to try and locate the backdoored addon.
DarkRP jobs need to be balanced, interesting and have content that applies to each of them. Take notes from the most successful servers, many of them have no more than 40 jobs, some even only having 30 jobs. The best way to do this is to remove jobs that aren't being used, having a low amount of jobs comes with another benefit, the less jobs the less playermodels, the less load on your server.