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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 November 19, 2019

          Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

          Work Smarter, Not Harder: 12 Ways to Work Smart

          I imagine that like me, you say that you never have enough time and that you just cannot cope with 60 dozen things all at once.

          How on earth do you get out of that spiral?

          Many people never sit down and look at how to work smarter, rather than harder and even longer hours. But not you, you’re smart enough to try to learn effective ways to work.

          So how to work smarter not harder? Here are 12 smart ways you should be following:

          1. Improve Your Time Management Skills

          Easier said than done? Well, no actually, because there are a few simple rules that can really help you to manage time better.

          For example, when setting up a top priority task, you need to switch off the phone and ignore your email first. Then you need to abandon any ideas of multitasking as that will slow you down and ruin your focus.

          Finally, set a reasonable deadline and do everything in your power to meet it.

          “When you’re born, you’re born with 30,000 days. That’s it. The best strategic planning I can give to you is to think about that.” — Sir Ray Avery

          2. Speed up Your Typing and Use Shortcuts

          These days we’re all keyboard slaves. So why not speed up your typing and try to get rid of the two finger syndrome. In fact, when you save 21 days per year just by typing fast!

          This is exactly what I am doing now, so I cannot honestly say I am practicing what I preach!

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          But help is at hand. Try some of these apps and games to help you type fast: 8 Most Effective Games and Apps to Learn to Type Fast

          Using shortcuts on the keyboard is another time saver and can speed up your work.

          For example, press F2 to rename a selected file, while CTRL + I will put selected text in italics.

          There are so many of these. If you make the effort to learn them, they really can be helpful.

          3. Learn How to Use Productivity Tools

          It is well worth downloading all the useful tools and apps that can highly boost your productivity. Take a look at these 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools and install whatever fits your needs.

          Now that is really a great way of working smarter, not harder.

          4. Use Your Phone Wisely

          Instead of writing emails, sometimes it’s better to pick up the phone and talk to the person responsible. It saves time, especially for important or urgent discussions.

          If that colleague works in the same office, it is even better to go and talk to him or her. It gives you a break, you get some exercise and you actually make human contact which is becoming quite rare in this electronic world.

          5. Keep a Tab on Your Tabs

          If you are like me, you might well find that you have a ton of tabs open at the top of your browser.

          In order to find the one you want, you have to search for them as they are off screen. Having all these tabs open slows down your browser too.

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          One solution is to use OneTab which can keep a neat list on the screen of all these tabs when you want to quickly get to one of them or you want to remind yourself which ones you have open.

          6. Use a “To Don’t” List

          We all know about to do lists and I find that they are generally great. They give me a great sense of achievement as I cross off the tasks done.

          But often, I find that we are doing non-essential tasks or ones that can easily be postponed. That is why many people recommend the to don’t list.[1]

          Some people prefer to savagely prune the to do list while others prefer to have two separate lists, to do and to don’t. You just have to work out what works best for you when you are trying to save precious time to become more productive.

          7. Expect Failure and Fight Paranoia

          When failure rears its ugly head, some people get a bit paranoid and fear that this may become a trend.

          Projects will go wrong and failure should be expected rather than feared. Learning lessons from failure and analyzing what went wrong is the best way forward.

          “Do not be embarrassed by your failures, learn from them and start again.” — Richard Branson

          And here you can find 10 Great Lessons Highly Successful People Have Learned From Failure.

          8. Be Concise

          Rambling on at meetings, in emails and even when introducing yourself to new clients can waste a lot of people’s time.

          One way is to practice and sharpen your “elevator speech,”[2] which tells people in 30 seconds or less why they need your skills and how they can benefit from doing business with you.

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          Just think of the many situations where this could be useful:

          • Making new contacts
          • Talking about yourself at a job interview
          • Meeting people at conferences or parties
          • Phone calls to new clients

          9. Ask the Right Questions

          “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.” — Naguib Mahfouz

          How do you get feedback? The secret is to ask the right questions at the right time.

          When you do this, you are gathering the information you need to help in decision making. This will save you time and you will be able to cut meetings to a minimum.

          Forbes magazine reports on research that they carried out on asking the right questions.[3] When that happens, the positive effects are increased by 400%. There are also other benefits in staff motivation and a positive impact on the company’s bottom line.

          Lifehack’s CEO Leon has shared about how to ask for feedback to learn faster: How to Learn Quickly And Master Any Skill You Want

          10. Learn as Much as You Can

          You should always be on a steep learning curve. Look at your skills profile and determine where you need to fill a gap. Talk to important connections and network in your niche.

          Keep up to date on trends and developments. It is a fact-changing world. When an opportunity arises, you will be the best equipped to seize it because you have never stopped learning. Just another way of working smarter.

          “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Gandhi

          11. Look After Your Greatest Resource

          No, your greatest resource is not time. It is YOU.

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          If you do not get enough sleep, exercise and relaxation, you find that you become less and less productive. You begin to work longer and longer hours, which is the exact opposite of what you want.

          What you should be doing is making sure you are in the best shape. It is useful to remember that you need a break of 15 minutes after every one and a half hours of work.[4]

          Taking breaks and getting fresh air and exercise is one of the best ways of working smarter, not harder.

          12. Don’t Fall into the Trap of Working Smarter and Harder

          As a society, we are obsessed with doing everything smarter so we are more efficient and we save time all around.[5]

          But the most important thing to remember is to accept when we are ready to switch off that computer and not fill up the time with even more work!

          The Bottom Line

          The key to greater productivity is to work smarter, not harder. Working smarter saves precious time and energy for the things that really matter — your life goals, your personal growth, your health and your relationships.

          Stop working for more hours and start working smarter!

          More About Working Smart

          Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

          Reference

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