How to use systems & teams to avoid membership burnout
Start a membership, they said. It will be an amazing source of steady, easy recurring revenue, they said. Did "they" also tell you just how much work the running of your membership was going to be?
To be fair - they probably did. But most likely you skimmed over that part in your excitement to get your amazing membership up and running. Membership burnout was the last thing on your mind.
But here you are. In the thick of it. You've made it past those first difficult milestones. 5 members. 20 members. 50. 100. More. And while having a growing membership makes you awesome (it truly is an amazing business model) - it also makes you really busy.
You spend your days doing ALL the things:
- checking in on your members
- answering their questions
- planning new content
- running q&a's
- Facebook lives
- promotion planning
- Instagram stories
- solving tech issues
- and so much more.
You're also constantly thinking about the fun projects that you are NOT getting time to do. The new membership plugin that looks great. The Facebook ads you want to get up and running.
Oh, wait. Did I forget to mention all of the membership admin that you're doing every day?
- answering emails from customers
- answering emails from potential customers
- processing cancellations
- writing member newsletters
- setting up your next webinar
- scheduling call reminder email
- scheduling blog posts
- so many random little things...
There is a lot to this membership machine. All the plates are spinning in the air and sooner or later something is going to fall. Perhaps catastrophically.
Feeling overwhelmed with your membership?
Me too. Not now but back in 2016 - I felt so overwhelmed and overcome by membership burnout (especially the admin part) that I actually closed my membership down. That's right. I CLOSED MY MEMBERSHIP DOWN. I had just had a baby and could not handle being ALL the things to ALL the people anymore. So I just straight up shut it down. Talk about catastrophic!
In hindsight - shutting my membership down was definitely one way to solve my membership overwhelm issue. But it also killed off my entire business so I probably went straight to the last resort and not the logical first step!
Four years (an online business management agency, and a ton more membership & systems experience) later and I have a way better solution that doesn't involve shutting the doors and running for the hills.
How to avoid membership burnout?
If we look at this problem big picture it seems simple. You need to do less. There is no way that one person can be everything to everyone in a growing membership. Slashing your daily to-do list is the key.
Now how does that work, Kat? What do I do next? You've got options.
You could do less for your members.
Doing less, showing up less, giving less to your members is one way to relieve some of that pressure.
For example, you could:
- Schedule set times to check your forums as opposed to being available 24/7
- Set boundaries around answering questions at night or on weekends
- Decide not to personally answer social media messages
- Hold more group Q&A sessions to reduce the one-on-one
Setting healthy boundaries in your membership is important
I recommend implementing all the structured space you can think of.
It's a key part of staying sane! And making sure that you are there for your members (at your best) for many years to come.
So if you find yourself too available definitely look at making some changes here.
But, be careful not to fall into the trap of making yourself so unavailable that the membership loses its value. Balance.
What does that look like? Well perhaps you don't answer forum questions on weekends but maybe you do office hours on Monday to make up for it?
Or maybe you choose not to respond to emails at all yourself (your team - or our team - does this for you) but instead you do choose to always answer forum questions personally.
This will help regain some sanity and time and still keep the value high for your members.
ACTION STEP: Go ahead and implement some healthy (sanity-saving) boundaries now. Yay.
Boundaries are great. But don't stop there.
Setting boundaries will give you space to become more productive. Meaning you can get more done. Or take more breaks. You'll feel good for a little while.
But (spoiler alert) it won't be long until you reach capacity again. There is only one of you and only so many hours in the day. Productivity hacking will only get you so far towards avoiding membership burnout.
The real secret? You need leverage.
You should (um... need to) get help with your membership admin
There is a limit to how much time and sanity you will get back without it.
You need to get help. Game-changer...
Getting help with the day-to-day running of your membership is the key to avoiding membership burnout.
And no, I don't mean hiring the cheapest offshore Virtual Assistant you can find, doing no training, and then wonder why you're paying them to do nothing every day.
No thanks. We want help with our memberships that will actually reduce our to-do lists, save our sanity, and help us grow our businesses.
In fact, removing yourself from the day-to-day admin of your membership is the holy grail. It can be done. It doesn't have to be hard. It will save your sanity and help you avoid membership burnout.
How do you actually get yourself out of the day-to-day of your membership?
Three impactful ways to avoid membership burnout using systems & teams
Here are three great options to free up your time and create leverage in your membership. So you can breathe again.
A great membership business will use elements of all three. You probably have some of this happening already. But, if you're feeling that gotta-work-tomorrow dread on Sunday evening it's probably time to push a little further.
1. Create time-saving membership systems
Let's talk systems and processes. At the beginning, your membership didn't have any. Over time you have decided how you like things done in your business and those decisions form your specific systems and "way of doing things".
Now it's time to turn your way of doing things into actual processes that will save you time, make the business more efficient and best of all OTHER PEOPLE CAN EXECUTE. Hallelujah.
Systems, processes and policies you need to create for your membership can include;
- cancellation policy and process (the policy being the WHAT and the process is the HOW)
- refund policy (helps make the cancellation process smoother)
- webinar or Q&A process (how to setup for regular calls or webinars in your business)
- content publishing process
- content creation process
- etc. etc.
Pretty much any task that is performed more than once in your business - can be turned into a process that you can then teach someone else to do.
2. Use tools designed to allow automation
Now, if you take the systems and processes that you've built above and add a little automation magic you will be one step closer to removing so much dreaded admin from your plate.
I am hoping that you have some automation already happening in your membership. I bet you do. For example - when a new member signs up what happens? Hopefully, some sort of automation is setup to tell your membership software to give that new member access and automatically generate an email with a username and password? If not, that's a good place to begin!
And then think about how you can take it further. Two examples of using automation in your membership;
- automating your cancellation process, for example, members fill out a form that triggers your membership management system to process a cancellation automatically.
- automating the sending of your weekly newsletter (once you've written it) to your members using your email provider
Word of warning: automation has its place but it won't always be the best choice for you or your members. For example, automating cancellations is great. Automating customer contact is not so great. Your members will want to connect with a real person. So don't go too crazy with automation.
3. Outsource your membership admin
Last but definitely not least. It's time to utilize people power. Systems, processes, and automation will help you be more productive. But like I said, the magic is in the leverage. And if you are still the only one using those systems, there isn't a whole lot of leverage there until you add the last ingredient. People.
I guarantee that most of those (time-sucking) things you're doing every day? Could probably be done by someone else. Yes, even the seemingly super complex tasks can be done by someone that is not you.
Outsourcing is going to be a KEY part of your membership growth. I suggest starting with the day-to-day membership admin. It's driving you insane so why not get it off your plate.
Outsource membership tasks such as:
- customer support
- writing weekly newsletter
- posting blog posts
- posting on social media
- processing cancellations
- uploading new membership content
- setting up Q&A calls or sales webinars
- writing podcast show notes
- publishing podcasts
- need I go on?
If you are doing any (or all) of the above... please stop. You can outsource this. You can free up your day for more important, and more fun things. Promise.
P.S we can help tame your membership admin monster. It's what we do best.
Don't stay stuck.
Whatever you decide to do with your pesky membership admin - please don't stay stuck. Membership burnout is very real but luckily preventable.
You can have a membership that doesn't feel heavy. You can spend your day doing fun things like making content and connecting with your members.
It's time to get started. Whether you begin with systems, processes, automation, or team - it's the act of taking action that is the first step to getting this mind-numbing stuff off your to-do list. Keep me posted.