The Membership Guys

8 Ways to Reduce Stress When Running a Membership

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Is your membership stressing you out?

When you first started your journey to being a membership owner, the chances are you didn’t picture sleepless nights…

Or the feeling of dread you can't seem to shake at the thought of switching on your device to begin working on your business every day…

This ISN'T how it should be!

While owning any business can come with stressors…

We believe memberships are the perfect type of online business model for building a stress free life.

So if you're feeling the strain right now…

And you're struggling to feel happy and motivated running your membership…

Don't worry, we're here to help!

Here are eight things you can do to reduce your stress levels and learn to love your life as a membership owner again…

1. Have realistic expectations

You don’t have to look far in the online business world to see a marketing guru or influencer bragging about the trappings of their success…

Their big bank balance, recent successful launches, their amazing house and car… 

Seeing things like this can make it so easy to fall foul of that dreaded disease…

‘Comparison-itis’

But judging yourself based on others’ achievements puts an unfair amount of pressure on you to strive for what someone else already has.

Think about it this way…

What success looks like for them, may not look the same for you.

Your career might be in a very different place right now from those you’re comparing yourself to.

You may even be comparing your first few months of your membership journey to where they are in their tenth year!

You're not seeing what it was like for them when they were where you are now…

You're just seeing a highlight reel.

So this is why you shouldn’t judge your success against other people’s…

And you certainly shouldn’t use this as a basis to create unrealistic expectations for you and your membership.

Say you’ve just started a new membership and you’ve got 100 people on your email list…

You’re new to this space and haven’t yet built any real online presence…

So you can’t expect to launch a membership and get 10,000 instant sign-ups!

Instead, you need to think about context.

What are you working with?…

What’s a realistic goal?

Other people may have 10,000 sign-ups as a goal because that’s their benchmark.

It’s realistic for them…

But when it comes to your membership business, you need to look inwards.

So, that’s tip #1: be realistic with your expectations and don’t judge your progress by someone else’s.

2. Focus on the long game

If you've followed us for a while you'll have heard us say this before…

Running a membership is a marathon, not a sprint.

Your membership isn’t a mad dash to the finish line…

Your focus should be all about the long-term.

It’s a bit like the tortoise and the hare….

As a membership owner, you’re often the tortoise.

You’re building one member at a time, slowly but steadily.

Be the tortoise, not the hare

Memberships aren’t about striving for that moon-shot – they’re about consistent growth over time.

So, it’s fine to have an ultimate goal, like owning a membership with 10,000 members…

But it’s not a race to get there.

This also means that you don’t have to push for perfection.

Memberships are constantly evolving…

They’re a living, breathing, ever-changing product that you can add to over time.

Unlike courses, books, or other products where the finished article needs to be “perfect” before you can sell it…

Memberships will always change over time.

You don’t need to wait until your membership is “perfect” to launch.

Member feedback will guide your decisions, changes, and even give you new ideas.

Even if you do launch with what you think is the “perfect” membership, this idea might completely change 12 months down the line…

If you’re a perfectionist, keep this in mind.

You’re never going to get to this state because it’s constantly changing.

Yes, you can have big, ambitious goals…

And yes, you can have a picture in your mind of what you want your membership to look like one day…

But you don’t need to get there right now.

3. Give yourself breathing room with your deadlines

You may set yourself deadlines for things you want to do for your membership.

Perhaps you want to add a feature by a set date…

Or release a course into your membership within a certain time frame…

But what’s great about running your own membership is that you can do all of this on your terms.

Running your membership your way means you can set your timeframes and deadlines, and not pile too much pressure on yourself at once.

Say you decided to launch your membership next month, but then something happens…

Maybe you’ve underestimated the workload…

Or a global pandemic breaks out…

You can simply move those deadlines.

When you do set your own timeframes, give yourself a buffer so you have more time than you need…

because if you’re rushing around to hit an arbitrary deadline, then you’re not going to do your best work.

In fact, you’re going to feel more stressed about it, launch something you’re not happy with, and potentially that your members won’t be happy with either.

All because you set an unrealistic goal.

Remember: you’re in control….

It’s your membership.

Set your own terms and go at a pace that works for you.

4. Be realistic with your content strategy

While it’s important to think about how you are going to provide content for your members, people don’t join membership sites for stuff.

This is the first thing to bear in mind when you’re deciding how to deliver content to your members.

Are you going to do live Q&As, guest interviews, release workshops, downloadable tutorials, etc?

When it comes to memberships, less is more…

Giving people too much content can soon become overwhelming.

For both you and your members… 

You don't want your members to say this…

If this happens, your members aren't going to consume the content, and therefore won’t implement it…

Meaning they won’t get results…

And when they don’t get results, they’re less likely to stick around.

So, frequently adding lots of new content can actually work against you, rather than for you.

Quality always trumps quantity.

It's that simple. 

That being said, if you're planning on providing more content within your membership…

You have to be realistic about your capacity for delivering it.

Perhaps you want to run a live Q&A every week.

Well, first, you need to ask yourself if you have the time and enough demand to provide that.

If you don’t, then is this a strategy worth committing to?

When your strategy is difficult to sustain, you end up over-promising and under-delivering or burning yourself out trying to stick to something that just isn’t working.

Be honest with yourself about your capability, capacity, resources, and ability to deliver the amount of content at the frequency you want…

And always make it clear to your members what content you’re going to give them and when.

5. Outsource where you can

Most membership owners (especially at the beginning of their membership-owning journey) try to do everything themselves.

My good friend Chris Ducker refers to this as “superhero syndrome”

Where you convince yourself that everything in your membership falls on you…

That you’re the only person for the job.

This is nonsense.

You shouldn’t be trying to do everything yourself.

It’s just not sustainable…

As your membership grows and your member base gets bigger, you’ll have more customers to deal with and more demands on your time.

At this point, you should take a look at what repeated tasks you’re doing…

Day to day, week to week, month to month…

And figure out what you can outsource.

Think about those tasks that you’ve outgrown and consider what you can outsource to make running your membership more manageable.

Perhaps admin is eating up precious hours each day…

But to keep developing your membership, you need to be focusing on other areas of your membership…

Or maybe you need to hire experts like designers, video editors, or podcast editors, who really know their stuff …

And can do the tasks in a quarter of the time it takes you!

This is going to help your membership in a multitude of ways.

Not only will it free up your time…

But you’ll be able to spend more of your available hours doing the things you’re best at and enjoy..

In other words, you can get back to working on things that inspired you to start your membership in the first place!

You can't carry your membership business alone.

6. Put your blinders on and run your own race

If you’re paying attention to what everyone else is doing, you'll lose focus on your membership.

Distractions will knock you off course and that can be a massive problem.

It’s a bit like comparing yourself to others – getting caught up with distractions is counterproductive to your own success.

Yes, you should keep your finger on the pulse of your industry…

And get that general level of awareness about what’s going on….

But don’t get so obsessed you’re not looking at your own path anymore.

All you’re really seeing are other people’s highlights…

You don't see what's going on behind the scenes…

But it’s easy to take these at face value and start that downward spiral of comparison.

If you’re constantly looking at others, you’re going to add extra stress while running your own race and make your journey less enjoyable.

It’s a dangerous path to go down.

So put those blinders on, ignore your competitors, and stay focused on your own lane.

7. Set clear boundaries and stick to them

You might want to be on the ground with your members…

Communicating with them, dealing with support queries, and making sure people know you’re available in the community.

But it’s essential to set boundaries.

These are key to establishing a work/life balance that will keep you performing at your best.

And when you do set your boundaries…

Stick to them!

You with your members…

It's easier said than done, we know…

And it might mean putting someone’s nose out of joint…

Or reminding your members about these boundaries when they overstep.

But, if you’ve clearly communicated what your boundaries are, then you’ve set the expectation.

For example, you could only answer customer support emails during office hours…

Put a note on your site or email your members to let them know this.

Once you’ve made your boundary clear, all you have to do is stick to it, and not sneak in those replies after hours.

Or perhaps there are certain topics you don’t want to cover in your Q&As.

In our member Q&As inside the Membership Academy, we never talk about tech.

Why?…

Because it’s not the most beneficial way we could be helping our members in that scenario…

Instead we ask members to post their tech questions in our forum so we can answer them properly with access to a computer…

Establishing these house rules allows you to work at your best…

That’s what your members ultimately want and are paying for.

As long as you communicate what these rules are, where your boundaries are, then your members will understand.

If you do get the odd one or two members who don’t respect these boundaries, then don’t be afraid to reinforce your rules.

If some members get upset and throw their toys out of the pram…

Are they really members you want in your community?

Probably not.

If you lose members who drain your time, energy, and don’t want to play by the rules, it's not really a loss.

Don’t be afraid to stick to your guns.

It’ll be better for you and your membership community in the long run.

8. Keep everything in context

As membership businesses owners, sometimes we have a tendency to over-inflate our perception of how important what we do is…

When I say this I'm not down playing the great work we do…

Of course, our work is important, we make real changes in the world and our members love what we do…

But, for most of us, the day-to-day of running a membership isn’t a life-or-death situation.

We have to keep things in content…

A lot of anxiety comes in when you start to be afraid or worried about doing simple things…

Such as rescheduling a live call or pushing back a deadline.

If you’ve promised these to your members, it might feel like a big deal to go back on your word.

But things happen!

Sometimes you’ll have to move your live Q&A to a different day.

That’s OK.

Nobody’s business will implode.

We all like to think that our membership is a key part of everyone’s lives…

And maybe it is for some…

But you’re also human...

And if you explain the changes to your members…

You might fear this huge backlash about a trivial thing…

But in reality, 99.9% of your members aren’t going to pick up the phone and complain.

Most member bases are far more understanding and supportive than membership owners give them credit for.

When things feel overwhelming, or you find yourself panicking about something, take a step back from your membership.

Look at the big picture….

See whatever it is you have to do in context.

If things have been getting a bit much for you…

I hope these tips have given you some food for thought about changing how you do a few things…

Or even given you permission to lighten your approach.

It can be tough when you start feeling the strain of running your membership business…

But you can get out from under the cloud…

And learn to love your membership again.

So enough with the stress…

Start running your membership in a way you enjoy!

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