Membership Geeks

How Much Time Does it Take to Run a Membership Site?

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How much time does it actually take to run a membership site?

This is probably one of the most common questions we get asked…

And as with many things when it comes to memberships, there isn't a ‘one size fits all' answer..

Some membership sites can quietly tick away in the background without really needing much attention…

Others, however, need you to work on them pretty much daily.

In general though, membership sites – or at least successful ones at any rate – aren't really the holy grail of passive income that they're sometimes portrayed to be.

After all, they do take a lot of work to run!

And your membership should be an ongoing value exchange between you and your members, either through the content you provide them or the community they're part of.

That is going to need at least some ongoing time involvement on your part…

Checking in and engaging with your community, releasing new content and so on…

But how much time you dedicate to that is entirely up to you…

It could be half an hour a day, 5 hours a day or 8 hours a day.

To help you decide how much time you can, and want to, put into your membership site, let's take a look at the more time consuming tasks your site might involve…

And some ways that you can minimise the time input needed directly from you.

Where will your time be spent?

Whilst every membership site varies, there are several areas where the bulk of your time will generally be spent.

Live Sessions

It probably goes without saying that if you're running any kind of live component in your membership site…

Like live training or live Q&A sessions or mastermind calls and so on…

That's going to be time consuming.

If it's a live Q&A session then you may need to put time aside to run the session itself…

But for live training you'll need to factor in the actual time spent creating the materials too.

The good thing with live sessions is that there will typically be a consistency to them…

You know you'll be running two a month for example, and that each of those sessions maybe needs 2 hours.

So you can plan accordingly and have that time permanently blocked out of your diary.

You decide what you have time for and block it out.

The other great thing about live sessions is that they don't have to be as polished or perfect and pre-recorded sessions, so you don't need as much prep time for things like training or the creation of a course.

Speaking of content creation… 

Content Creation

One of the most time consuming elements of a membership site can be creating your actual membership content, particularly if you're providing new content every month.

How long this content creation process actually takes you will depend entirely on the type of content that you're creating though…

A 10 module video course will obviously take much longer to create than a downloadable PDF.

Community Engagement

We typically recommend that your membership have some kind of community alongside your site in order to improve retention…

As the saying goes “Members come for your content but stay for your community.”

Building a community, however, takes time…

Especially in the early days of your site where more effort may be needed to get members interacting with each other.

Longer term on an ongoing basis, ideally you'll have a community that ticks along nicely, members are interacting with one another…

And you just check in briefly every day…

But the amount of time involvement a community will need is one of the hardest things to predict, particularly early on in your membership journey.

Customer Support

This is another area that will take up your time… 

Even with the best of membership sites you're going to have customer support issues coming up…

Members emailing you about an issue with the site, queries about accounts, even pre-sales questions…

All of these can all end up taking a considerable amount of time to deal with, especially as your site, member base and audience grows.

When it comes to handling customer service it's very difficult to gauge how much time this is going take you…

That's because it's variable…

It will depend on how the dynamic of your community forms and it will change over time as your site evolves.

Marketing

You need to be continually bringing new members into your membership in order for it to continue to grow.

To do that, you're going to be spending some time marketing the site…

Whether that's through blog posts, a podcast, Facebook ads or something else entirely…

You might think that a way around this is to only open your membership site at certain times of the year, but you should keep in mind that whilst doing that may reduce your ongoing marketing needs, you'll still need to be doing some brand awareness on an ongoing basis…

And your launch periods themselves may require a great deal of time and effort to prep, plan and run successfully…

It's definitely not the easy option to close the doors to your membership site….

And won't necessarily save you time.

Time saving tips

If you're in the early stages of your membership journey you might be freaking out a bit…

But don't panic!

There are some things you can do to reduce the time impact of running your membership.

The good news is that as a membership owner you get to decide where you want your time to be spent in your site…

And how much time you want to spend on it!

You decide on the amount of time you dedicate to your membership.

If you know you can only commit an hour a day to your membership, design it in such a way that an hour is all you need, without it being detrimental to your members…

Or to you, for that matter – You don't want to burn yourself out. That will be bad for your membership in the long run.

Here are just some of our top tips to avoid your membership becoming too much of a drain on your time:

Hire a Team

There are plenty of tasks that you can outsource in order to reduce demands on your own time.

You could hire a community manager, a marketing specialist or a virtual assistant to help you edit your content for example.

Not every task for your membership site needs to be done by you…

And hiring other people can allow you to focus your time and energy on the areas where your input is most important…

On things like community engagement or content creation.

You can start with just a few hours a month…

You don't need a fully formed team straight away.

Reconsider Your Community

While we're big fans of having a community for your membership site…

If you know that you don't have the time to commit to engaging with and growing that community, then it may be better for you to forego it altogether…

Having no community is better than having one that's as dead as a dodo.

However it doesn't need to be all or nothing…

It may be that you can utilise comments on your content to foster a sense of community and engagement amongst your members, without the time pressure of a full blown forum.

Similarly it may be that you simply want a Facebook Group to act as a community hangout area where your input is less expected.

A forum will generally be the most time consuming community you can have, so consider the alternatives that you could use which would better fit with the time you have available.

Batch Content Creation

This is great way to save time an ongoing basis…

Can you find a way to create several months worth of content in a short space of time and then drip it out to your members, rather than being in constant content creation mode?

Many well known entrepreneurs swear by the content batching approach, setting up their camera and creating months worth of video content in just a week.

If you the outsource the actual editing of your content…

Or the uploading of the content to your membership too…

Then content creation can become a much more streamlined and far less time consuming process.

Pick the Right Structure for your membership

You're totally in control of the features that your membership site offers…

And as such can pick the most suitable membership structure for your personal needs.

Don't have the time to create new courses every month?

Why not offer a couple of live sessions a month instead?

You're still giving valuable content but the time needed for creation is much shorter.

We all fall foul of perfectionism when creating content that isn't live…

But when you're in the moment delivering live, that's taken away.

Some membership sites are built entirely on one or two live trainings a month and a library of the recordings.

Decide what you have the time to provide each month…

As long as this still provides good value for your members, go for it.

Manage Your Accessibility

In the Membership Academy we're very accessible to our members…

They can ask us questions in the forum, via a support form, via Intercom or even on our monthly mastermind calls.

We knew when we set up the Academy that due to the nature of the topic we wanted to be as available as possible to members.

But if you're short on time, one of the main things you can do to reduce the ‘burden' of your membership site is to reduce your accessibility to your members.

In other words, set boundaries with them so they know what to expect from you.

So instead of being available daily, you could have a monthly office hours call…

Or you could only answer emails within set times.

You don't have to be totally accessible to your members, and there are benefits to actually taking a step back…

So think about the level of personal interaction and engagement you want and can manage.

So, do you have the time needed?

As we've already mentioned, it's entirely up to you to decide how much time you want to put into your membership…

Nobody else can decide that for you.

But hopefully you're now better equipped to determine if you do have the time to run your own membership site…

Or if you may need to adapt some of your plans to work with the time that you have available.

One last thing to consider when determining the time involvement in your site is your actual goal.

If this is a ‘side hustle' that you just want to bring in a bit of extra cash each month, then you're going to want to devote less time to it than if it's a membership that you want to grow to replace your main job or income.

You can certainly run your membership in just an hour a day with the right setup…

But if you want to go “all-out” on your features, content and accessibility then it can easily turn into a full time job.

The choice is yours!

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