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7 Tips for Creating and Running Your First Membership Site

7 Tips for Creating and Running Your First Membership Site

Membership sites like Netflix and Spotfiy are a major part of everyday life now, allowing us access to a huge range of entertainment at our convenience.

However, while these may be two of the most popular businesses built on a subscription model, there are countless membership sites online, like Uscreen, offering users a massive variety of products and services and providing you a great platform to host your online videos. From specially-prepared food to niche gift-boxes, the membership model has redefined our consuming habits – and it’s here to stay.

Want to launch your own membership site? It’s not easy, and the competition is fierce, but with enough work you can reap impressive rewards.

What should you do before you start?

1. Study Membership Sites You Use

Research is, of course, a key part of launching any business – you need to pay attention to the practices used by enterprises you admire if you hope to echo their success.

Study Membership Sites

    Depending on the products or services you intend to offer through your membership site, you may well be subscribed to leading businesses in this sector already. What can you learn from them?

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    • Structure: How easy is the site to navigate? Are users guided from one page to another in a logical way?
    • Content: What type of images and videos do they integrate? Do they feature introductory videos? How many blogs or articles do they publish each week?
    • Community: Do they have a forum, and if so, how is this set-up? How do they cultivate a sense of personality and stand out among the competition?

    Learn from the best and worst alike – if you explore a membership site that doesn’t work, ask where it’s gone wrong. How would you change it to improve users’ experience?

    Study good sites, and make notes of what works and why. Focus as much on fundamental elements (presentation, site architecture) as on smaller ones.

    2. Embrace Your Inexperience

    When you’re just starting out in business, you can easily feel a little lost at sea.

    Well, you’re not alone – even the world’s greatest entrepreneurs had to start somewhere, with no guarantee of success. Richard Branson, who surely needs no introduction, said it best: “the best way of learning about anything is by doing.”

    Few sites are perfect at launch. All businesses need time to grow, to improve, to evolve. Why should your membership site be any different?

    Placing high standards of quality upon your business is great, but avoid making them too high – you’ll only cause yourself more stress, and besides, you can’t really know whether certain things work until you see them in action.

    By launching the site as a work-in-progress, you can gather crucial feedback from users (via forums or submission forms) and build a gradual following while tweaking it. Offer subscribers a low fee, and make sure they know their opinions will help to dictate how the site evolves. This doesn’t mean you should take a lackadaisical approach, but rather, you can start generating revenue and building momentum while getting the site to where it needs to be.

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    3. Consider Free Subscriptions for Influential Users

    As with any business, membership sites can flourish with good worth of mouth. Whether this comes from telling friends over coffee or posting links in forums, organic user-generated marketing is free and highly effective.

    Reviews are another way in which your site can reach a wider audience – an influential blogger or website in your niche can recommend your business to their followers. However, in order to do this, they need something to base their views upon.

    Free Subscriptions

      So, why not offer free subscriptions to influential figures? Ask them for an honest review of your site, and make it clear there are no strings attached: if they dislike it, they’re free to say so; if they love it, they’re equally free to tell the world. People will be able to recognize an insincere review, so the writer’s impartiality is vital.

      Make your site the best it can be as a launch model, and then reach out to influencers.

      4. Foster a Strong Relationship with Your Customers

      Now more than ever, good customer service is vital. The internet has given consumers more of a voice, and word of bad experiences with a business can spread in mere hours, posing a real risk to reputations.

      Fortunately, business-owners have more ways in which to provide great service than ever. Social media, easy video uploads, and email provide convenient communication to resolve issues and put a face on your business. According to a survey by RightNow, 73 percent of consumers cite friendly customer-service as an element able to make them ‘fall in love’ with a company.

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      Create introductory videos and webinars on your site, either hosted by yourself or employees – welcome your users, and make them feel valued. Social-media engagement is a must, and not just to promote your products or services: respond to questions and criticisms as readily as praise.

      Remember: except in very few cases, competitors will exist – don’t give your prospects any reason to choose them over you. You could even create specific groups on Facebook to discuss issues with consumers, and gain valuable feedback to improve your services.

      5. Structure Your Site to Balance Content and Aid Navigation

      As your business grows, you’ll add more and more content to your membership site. Depending on your niche, this may include more blogs, videos, articles, webinars – the more there is, the more potential there is for confusion.

      Use clear categories and to ensure every type of content, product, and service can be found within seconds. The longer a user has to search for something, the more frustrated they’ll become, and the more likely they are to leave.

      Present links to your latest updates on the homepage, and make it clear what users can expect to see. Also, don’t forget your old content – link to past posts or media when relevant.

      6. Invite Customers to Get Involved

      Remember we talked about fostering a sense of community? Well, hosting competitions, group challenges, or events from time to time is a powerful way to do this.

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      3

        For example, if your membership site is based around gift-boxes (such as Chococurb, Birchbox), why not run a competition with three-months’ worth of boxes up for grabs? Why not pose a challenge to members, asking them to submit their own ideas for future products or services, with a prize incentive?

        This helps members to feel recognized, engaged, and part of an exciting community – rather than just faceless customers.

        7. Evolve to Suit Your Growing Membership

        As we’ve already established, great customer service is a must. Listen to your subscribers’ opinions and complaints – change aspects that don’t work, and prioritize those that do.

        Does it mean you appear less knowledgeable and in-control if you ask customers what they want from you? No. It shows you understand that your membership community is integral to the business, and know that your site should suit their needs perfectly.

        As this is your first membership site, don’t be afraid to explain to members that your business is still growing, and needs constructive feedback to become what you all want it to be. Provided they get quality service and outstanding treatment in return, many consumers will be happy to answer questions (as long as they’re kept short and sweet).

        How to Get Started

        Uscreen is a great option for those looking to launch a video on demand website. They offer a user-friendly platform perfect for a huge range of applications.

        uscreen
          Some of Uscreen’s features include:
          • Reporting & Analytics
            As we discussed earlier, to give your customers what they want, you need to know about it first. Uscreen’s reporting and analytics program gives the power to track members’ progress and activities, letting you know which videos are most popular, and which types of content gain the best traction (helping you to improve future content).
          • Scale Globally
            Uscreen is powered and managed in the cloud, so they are able to scale to suit demand and traffic-requirements. They have powerful CDNs (Content Delivery Networks), enabling you to broadcast streams across the globe instantly, for uninterrupted viewing.
          • Stream and Download Videos
            Cross-device access is a must for maximum customer engagement, and Uscreen’s Stream & Download feature enables your members to watch videos at their convenience – at any time, in any place.
          • Custom Storefronts
            With a completely customizable storefront, you can organize your videos as needed, in chapters and episodes. Subscribers can enjoy fast access and easy navigation.

          Starting a business of any kind is never easy, but with the right amount of planning, drive, and willingness to evolve, you can achieve success. Just be prepared to pay attention to feedback, engage with your community, and put members’ preferences above your own – without their subscriptions, your site simply cannot succeed.

          Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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          Jane Hurst

          Writer, editor

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          Last Updated on July 22, 2019

          10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

          10 Killer Cover Letter Tips to Nail Every Interview Opportunity

          A cover letter is an introduction to what will be found in the resume. In a cover letter, the applicant is able to use a conversational tone, to explain why the attached resume is worth reviewing, why the applicant is qualified, and to express that it’s the best application the reader will see for the open position.

          Employers do read your cover letter, so consider the cover letter an elevator pitch. The cover letter is the overview of your professional experience. The information in the body presents the key qualifications, the things that matter. The cover letter is the “here is what will be found in my presentation”, which is the resume in this case.

          Something really important to point out- a cover letter should be written from scratch each time. Great cover letters are the ones that express why the applicant is the best for the specific job being applied to. Using a general cover letter will not lead to great results.

          This doesn’t mean that your cover letter should repeat your most valuable qualifications, it just means that you don’t want to recycle a templated, general letter, not specific to the position being applied to.

          Here’re 10 cover letter tips to nail every interview.

          1. Take a few minutes to learn about the company so that you use an appropriate tone

          Like people, every company has its own culture and tone. Doing a bit of research to learn what that is will be extremely beneficial. For instance, a technology start-up has a different culture and tone than a law firm. Using the same tone for both would be a mistake.

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          2. Don’t use generic cover letter terms — be specific to each company and position

          Hiring managers and recruiters can easily identify generic cover letters. They read cover letters and resumes almost every day. Using words and terms like: “your company” instead of naming the actual company, and “your website” instead of “in your about us section on www.abc123.com”, are mistakes. Be as specific as possible, it’s worth the additional few minutes.

          3. Address the reader directly if you can

          It is an outdated practice to use “To Whom it May Concern” if you know the person that will be reviewing your documents. You may wonder how you’ll know this information; this is where attention to detail and/or a bit of research comes into play.

          For example, if you are applying for a job using LinkedIn, many times, the job poster is listed within the job post. This is the person reading your documents when you “apply now”. Addressing that person directly will be much more effective than using a generic term.

          4. Don’t repeat the information found in the resume

          A resume is an action-based document. When presenting information in a resume, the tone isn’t conversational but leading with action instead, for example: “Analyze sales levels and trends, and initiate action as necessary to ensure attainment of sales objectives”.

          In a cover letter, you have the opportunity to deliver your elevator pitch: “I have positively impacted business development and growth initiatives, having combined two regions into one and achieving 17% in compound growth over the following three-year period”.

          Never use your resume qualifications summary as a paragraph in your resume. This would be repeating information. Keep in mind that your cover letter is the introduction to your resume- the elevator pitch- this is your opportunity to show more personality.

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          5. Tell the company what you can do for them

          As mentioned above, this is your chance to explain to the company why you are the best person for the open position. This is where you tell the company what you can do for them: “If hired as the next (job title) with (company name), I will cultivate important partnerships that will enhance operations while boosting revenue.”

          Many times, we want to take the reader through the journey of our life. It is important to remember that the reader needs to know why you are the best person for the job. Lead with that.

          6. Showcase the skills and qualifications specific to the position

          A lot of people are Jack’s and Jill’s of all trades. This can be a great big picture, but not great to showcase in a cover letter or resume.

          Going back to what was mentioned before, cover letters and resumes are scanned through ATS. Being as specific as possible to the position being applied to is important.

          If you are applying for a coding position, it may not be important to mention your job in high school as a dog walker. Sticking to the exact job being applied to is the most effective way to write your cover letter.

          7. Numbers are important — show proof

          It always helps to show proof when stating facts: “I have a reputation for delivering top-level performance and supporting growth so that businesses can thrive; established industry relationships that generated double digit increase in branch revenues”.

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          8. Use testimonials and letters of recommendations

          A cover letter is a great place to add testimonials and information from your letter of recommendations. Mirroring the example above, here is a good way to use that information:

          I have a history of consistently meeting and exceeding metrics: “(Name) rose through the company and became a Subject Matter Expert, steadily providing exceptional quality of work.”- Team Manager.

          9. Find the balance between highlighting your achievements and bragging

          There is fine line between telling someone about your achievements and bragging. My advice is to always use facts first, and support that with an achievement related to the fact, as shown in the examples above.

          You don’t want to have a cover letter with nothing but bullet points of what you have achieved. I can’t stress this enough — cover letters are your elevator pitch, the introduction to your resume.

          10. Check your length — you want to provide no more than an introduction

          The general rule for most positions is one page in length. Positions such as professors and doctors will require more in length (and they actually use CV’s); however, for most positions, one page is sufficient. Remember, the cover letter is an introduction and elevator pitch. Follow the logic below to get you started:

          Start with: “I am ready to deliver impeccable results as (name of company) next (Position Title).

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          What you know and like about the company, what initiatives, missions, goals resonate with you: “I read/listened to an interview that your Chief of Staff did on www.abc123.com. His/her statement regarding important up and coming employee engagement initiatives really resonated with me”.

          Overview of your qualifications and experience: “I have a strong background in developing, monitoring, and controlling annual processes and operational plans related to community relations and social initiatives”.

          Highlight/ Back up your facts with achievements: “I’m a vision-driven leader, with a proven history of innovation and mentorship; I led an initiative that reduced homelessness in four counties and received recognition from the local Homeless Network and the County Commissioner”.

          Close with what will you do for the company: “As your next (job title), I am focused on hitting the ground running as a transformational leader who is driven by challenge, undeterred by obstacles, and committed to the growth of (name of company).

          Bonus Advice

          When applying for a job online or in person, a resume and a cover letter are standard submissions. At least 98% of the time, both your resume and cover letter and scanned via ATS (applicant tracking systems). You can learn more about that process here.

          The information provided in a cover letter should be written and organized to be compatible with these scans, so that it can make to a human; from there, you want to make sure that you capture the recruiter and/or hiring managers attention.

          More About Nailing Your Dream Job

          Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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