6 ways to simplify your membership business

As a membership site owner you may have so many things to keep track of, produce, and manage that simplifying things sounds like a far-off dream.

“Any fool can make something complicated. It takes a genius to make it simple.”

Woody Guthrie

Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel; there’s a lot of available wisdom to draw from. In a sense, memberships themselves are a simplified form of digital business; you get to streamline the organization and delivery of your content, and use an intuitive recurring billing system. But how do you take it a step further and save yourself some serious time and hassle?

Decluttering, consolidating, and automating are all key words here, but you’re looking for specific tips and strategies for accomplishing these things within the context of your membership site. In this post, we aim to provide some of that guidance – and hopefully make your life a little easier!

1. Create a content strategy

Since membership sites run on regular fresh content, creating a content strategy for your membership site is not only necessary; it’s a game-changer that can make running your site a lot more enjoyable!

One of the biggest mistakes membership site owners make is not delivering new content, but having a plan in place gives you something concrete to refer to when designing your content and organizing your publishing schedule. A good content strategy simplifies the content creation process, and lifts some of the decision-making weight off of your shoulders, too.

Part of this is the member journey; when you are aware of the goals your members have, the pathways they need to get there, and any identifiable milestones, it becomes a lot easier to come up with quality content. All of a sudden, things start to fall into place, and you may even find yourself able to be much more creative and focused, knowing that you have a solid foundation supporting you.

Understanding this journey and creating a content strategy around it is a crucial part of avoiding member churn as well. Designing your content for the people who are most likely to become your “power users” is a surefire way to reduce churn – and refunds, too!

2. Batch create, drip feed, and repurpose your content

Once you have your strategy ready, you’ll be able to streamline your content production. Creating content in batches, for example, is one of the best ways to simplify the process.

If you have certain ideas for blog posts, videos, podcasts, graphics, or other types of content that are similar to each other, consider creating them all at once. Or, take the topics you want to cover, and create a larger batch that you can break down into smaller segments. You can deliver them as distinct new products or content, making your work go much farther.

In addition to batch creation and drip feeding, you can get a lot of mileage out of your work by repurposing existing content. Think about all of the time and energy you could save!

For example, maybe you have a digital course full of information that’s applicable to other topics, or that could be used as supplementary content – or even packaged into bonus downloadables. Or, if your membership site uses download credits, you might decide to put together new product bundles to feature as fresh content.

Whatever the case, consider combining your existing content in new and unique ways to lighten your load!

3. Automate wherever possible

We are fortunate to live in a time when countless productivity tools are at our disposal. More specifically, automation is a time-saver when it comes to pretty much any industry – and membership sites are no different.

You might be surprised by how much time and mental bandwidth you could free up by automating certain tasks. Tools like Zapier and Automate.io can automate workflows that transfer information, send alerts, and complete routine tasks that you’d otherwise have to do manually. What this means is that you get more out of your time spent, and more time to spend elsewhere!

4. Create a thorough FAQ / support page or database

Part of simplifying your membership business is simply reducing your workload. When it comes to member support, this is huge!

Support requests can take up a lot of your time, so why not cut to the chase? Anticipate your members’ questions and address them upfront by creating a thorough FAQ page, support page, or searchable support database.

Giving your members all the answers to the most commonly asked questions not only provides an efficient and pleasant experience for them; it also makes your job a little easier!

5. Simplify your membership tiers

Membership tiers can be a godsend – or a nightmare! Are you offering too many different options? Or, do you have overly-complicated options?

Simplifying your membership tiers can reduce headaches for both you and your members (both existing and prospective), not to mention your content organization, site design, and finances! While it’s effective to have multiple membership tiers, having too many can be more work than it’s worth. Plus, an overabundance of choices can end up leaving shoppers in analysis paralysis.

Keeping things simple is ideal; limit yourself to three or four tiers, unless you have multiple tiers for each different type of user, such as basic and professional-level users.

Fewer tiers can mean fewer complications, and fewer things to manage, generally speaking. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule because every membership site is different! But, the point is that you want to take a look at where you’re spending your time and effort to decide what’s paying off and what isn’t.

Don’t forget that it’s not just about the number of tiers – you can also make your tier offerings much simpler by reducing the number of features. That’s not to say that you should offer less features; just that it’s worth considering how you package your offerings together. For example, you could group certain features into categories, and then include or exclude the whole category within a tier.

6. Consider setting up auto refunds

If you have a clearly-defined refund policy within certain parameters, you might do well to set up auto refunds. Membership refunds are a bummer, but if you know you’re going to issue refunds within a certain time frame and under certain conditions, you may as well skip the hassle of dealing with the emails and support requests.

Nowadays, people expect efficiency – especially when it comes to their money. Unless you consider each refund on a case-by-case basis (which is a totally reasonable approach), auto refunds can make things a lot simpler for you and your members.

Take it step by step

Don’t worry if you can’t implement changes like these all at once – even making small changes over time adds up in the end. Maybe some of these ideas don’t apply to you, or others are better left for later. That’s fine, too!

Hopefully this post has given you some things to think about, regardless of the stage you’re at or the size, breadth, or specific niche of your membership site. Trends are always changing, but endeavoring to simplify (and ultimately save time, money, and effort) never goes out of style.

What are some ways you’ve simplified your own membership business? What have you found to be most effective when it comes to freeing up your time, creating new content, and doing things like managing support and member onboarding? Let us know in the comments below!

Mandy Jones

About the author: Mandy is a content writer at Sandhills Development, singer/songwriter/musician, and founder of Looplicious. Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, she's a frequent traveler and animal lover with a passion for creativity and maker culture.