Thought on Membership Levels

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Tx Panther, Sep 16, 2019.

  1. Tx Panther

    Tx Panther Neophyte

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    Hi All,

    New to the Forum and being a Forum Owner/Admin. Russ has been helping me build a
    XenForo IR Photography Forum. I am totally clueless on most all the inner workings so
    He's been quite a GodSend and has great Patience.

    My main struggling point is setting up registration and membership levels. I've been a member of several
    Photo Posting Sites for the last 7-8 yrs and have paid for certain benefits and perks. So, I feel that the people that would be joining my Forum would be used to the same type of offer and my problem arises from
    How to Proceed on Registering Them and also setting up Membership Levels / Pricing.
    I'd originally thought that XF would be able to handle that but have found that it's limiting in amounts of donations, and also payment methods other than PayPal. In doing some research I came across a XF Add-on from Addon Flare for Paid Memberships, which sets up levels and has a pop up screen with the levels to guide the new member to the different Levels. Here's screenshots of the screens that open up https://www.addonflare.com/xenforo-2-addons/paid-registrations.9/#lg=addon-9&slide=0 They have a lite version, and also a Pay Version with added features.


    To Become a Bronze Member is Free, all that is Required is to Register and you'll be able to Post Images, But You will have to Link them into the Forum. Also, as a Member you'll be able to see images Posted in The Forum Full Size instead of a thumbnail.

    We do offer Several Options to Upgrade your Account:

    *** Silver Membership For those making A Donation of $5 or $10 dollars, will include Bronze Membership benefits, also the Member gets to have their own color /custom Avatar, and a Supporter Badge on your Profile

    *** Premium Membership, which is $20.00 a year, You will get the above items, plus you will be able to upload your images from Your computer, and you'll have access to a Small Online Gallery to Host your Images. Also, you will have a Premium Badge Banner on your Profile.

    ***Platinum Membership, For a one time charge of $75.00 you will be a Life-Time Member, and you'll have access all the above Premium Membership features along access to a Visible Light Gallery (Normal Color) also a Life-Time Member Badge in Your profile.

    I have a Secret IR Facebook Group right now with approx 3300 members from all over the World, all Skill Levels, and age groups. The majority of the Members I will say are 50 and above.

    I appreciate your thoughts, suggestions, and Ideas>

    Thanks and Take Care,

    Craig
     
  2. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

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    Membership levels make sense, especially since your cheapest covers budget users for a one-time low payment. However, keep in mind paid memberships usually 'cap' potential average revenue per user.

    Photography sites need predictable ongoing funding to prevent cost-dependant degradations of user experience, and making your platinum tier the cost-effective pick for dedicaced members could deprive you of ongoing earnings in exchange of a quick cash flow boost as it's targetted at the part of your userbase most capable of and willing to support the community but limits their contribution to the cost of platinum tier.

    Will the site be funded solely from memberships and staff contributions or are other methods under consideration for the future to offset the lifetime savings offered to platinum members (evaluating wether its cost would make sense as a permanent offer or a time-limited one offered only during your community's early beginning to the earliest 'charter' members)
     
  3. Ingenious

    Ingenious Fan

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    I've no experience in your niche either as a forum admin nor an end user (I'm into photography but not really on any forums, I tend to use YouTube for latest news and product tests) but I do have a couple of thoughts. First I would think very carefully about offering lifetime memberships because who knows how your community will grow or what might change. It's caught more than a few commercial sites out and could be very restrictive over what you offer in the future if you have a lot of legacy lifetimers to keep happy.

    Second, you have to ask yourself how much membership barriers will stop people contributing to your community. From what you've posted above only premium members can upload photos from their computer, don't you want to encourage anyone/everyone to do this so more photos are added? I've seen a number of communities in various niches die in the last decade as their approach seemed to be "revenue first, community second" rather than the other way around.

    Are you really sure about registered (but not paying members) only being able to link images into the forum? Just doesn't seem to be encouraging people to upload and share photos which to me is fundamental to your niche.

    Don't take this the wrong way, but assuming I have found your forum and it's the right one (a Google search showed up your XF post which linked to it) you have 5 posts and 5 members. IMHO it's far too soon to be thinking about charging for features which other sites might offer for free.
     
  4. Tx Panther

    Tx Panther Neophyte

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    Morning Lead Crow,

    Thank You very much for your reply and thoughts. Your insight to this really opens up things I've not considered , or actually never knew about. My Dream was just to have a nice IR Photo Posting forum when that I'd been dreaming of having for over 15yrs. Then after Retirement and having the IR FB Group for about 3-4 yrs I thought it was time to get started. Had a false start with a Friend and WordPress, and Hosting Service that couldn't /wouldn't handle moving
    to XF when it was discovered that the WP forum just wasn't going to be able to support 100 Photographers posting images daily and threads. So that's when I started my adventure into getting XF and having the Forum made with that Software which for someone that had no Idea what i was getting into has been overwhelming to say the least. Poor Russ has the Patience of a Saint, It's hard to help someone that is clueless but has Ideas ;-)

    On the Pricing, the light clicked on about what your were saying. My thought/plan was to have the Platinum to basically just reward/ give to people that have helped me along the way, Mentor's, and Photography Friends. So, maybe that is the weak link in my plan as I see if people were to use that which honestly didn't think anyone would it would stop things at that one time fee. I know this is probably the standard reply but with the Membership Fees I was really just trying to pay for the Hosting Service and again thought that with more and more shooters joining and posting / and also having a small online gallery I'd need to bump up to a higher Plan which would start running up the monthly cost a little more than I'm comfortable of just paying myself.

    So, do you think a better idea/ plan would be to have the Free Level with linking in their images and no online gallery, and then just have the Yearly Level of Membership would be a better idea. I think that would make the setting up of the Registration where I could have that set up with the XF Function
    and not have to purchase an Add-On Paid Membership program

    Thanks very much for your help and thoughts I really appreciate it.

    Take Care,

    Craig
    Do you feel that the money itself is
     
  5. Tx Panther

    Tx Panther Neophyte

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    Hi,

    Thanks for your Reply and thoughts. sounds like the Lifetime Membership is definitely a problem area to take care of.
    Like I'd written to Lead Crow,my original thought/ plan was to have that again to reward folks that have been helpful and mentors along
    the way. Part of that thought process was my ignorance in how the XF worked on setting up User Groups, which I'm learning about but it's
    very slow going as the wording and manual doesn't always work with my small brain ;-)

    On the Membership barriers, I've been into Photography from strictly and avid/rabid amateur aspect for over 50+ years , kind of dating myself there ;-)
    and I have to say have been on one forum or more for the last 10yrs. One that I'm on, is Fred Miranda, his is one of the Top and has a 350K members, he has the basic / free with linking in, and also has a $30 dollar a year membership with a direct upload, small gallery, and access to Buy/Sell forum. The other forum I'm on for the last couple of years has basically the same Basic/Free level with linking in, no gallery, or any other little perks, then the Premium Level
    is about 15 a yr, and offer the Direct Computer Upload, Small Gallery, Supporter Badge, and a few other small things.

    Had to kind of smile about the 5 members, and yes I think you found it !!! Well, it's still be built and most of the members are myself, and Russ !!! So that's not really a very good yardstick to be measuring it with. I'm trying to not get out over my ski's as they say, but I truly think I would have 4-500 members, which I realize isn't but a small dot compared to most large forums, but this is a Group of Folks that I've known and Had on my FB Group and other Groups for years. So, when I announce it to my Group and word in the IR Photography Community travels pretty fast. It's been one of the strange things about Photography Group and Seems IR is even more strange in that aspect.

    Thanks very much again, It's really been very helpful.

    Take Care,

    Craig
     
  6. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

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    For now, the most important should be converting your audience into members and making sure it regularly generates sticky content. Any feature or limitation that prevents you from reaching this objective should be avoided, as your community will still be in a vulnerable phase initially and a rival free-er forum could sprout from any disconrent you generate.

    Monetization-wise, your biggest revenue streams should eventually be sponsorships, direct ads and affiliate/amazon store purchases (photography addict spend a lot on their hobby, and user-generated reviews tend to convert well). Nothing to worry about IMO, as long as you keep operating costs under control along the way.
     
  7. Tx Panther

    Tx Panther Neophyte

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    Thanks Again LeadCrow for your thoughts and insight, interesting things to consider and think about. Most of what you've said haven't
    been in my thought process.

    I did have to smile about the "free-er Forum" I guess that's always the backlash with things but hopefully the Shooters Interaction and
    My Running of the Group will make it an enjoyable experience that they'll want to stay and be part of. There's always people that don't want
    to get along or have a different attitude about things.

    Take Care,

    Craig
     
  8. Ingenious

    Ingenious Fan

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    You see to me, that would suggest that offering all of the above for free would be your route to a good forum that people might use instead and you can investigate other revenue streams. You should certainly consider this at least for the first few years to get established.

    I used to charge a membership fee for content back in 2000 to about 2009 before Facebook, YouTube and such like were around. Things have changed now. So many won't bother to pay when they can get a fix on other sites for free. I offer a paid membership now but not for content or features, rather to support the community and get "kudos" perks like a fancy member badge.

    Bear in mind that if you charge for anything you have a relentless pressure to keep offering something of value in return for it.
     
  9. KimmiKat

    KimmiKat Adherent

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    Some mboards sometimes add a simple thing like adding your sig for buying a membership level. One satellite mboard did that a few years back took away the basic members signature unless you have their premie "pub" member level.

    When I ran my board I only had 3 member levels, one you moved into after so many posts and one for a few who posted advice stuff like cooking or fashion.
     
  10. Tx Panther

    Tx Panther Neophyte

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    Hello,

    I see where you're coming from on things like FB and other things but and maybe it's just me, but people that truly love Photography I don't see
    it being an issue of the 20 a year for the Direct Up Load, and Small Gallery. I do feel like the suggestions about doing away with the Platinum Level
    will solve a lot of problems and can ask Russ to help me set that up, so I won't need any outside Add-On's or I can give the Add-On Flare Lite free version
    a try. I am not sure about company's or others being sponsor's I've always tried to stay impartial and the Modding of Cameras has been a very heated
    battle between several of the Top Company's and has gotten kind of nasty at times. Plus, it's kind of like Chevy or Ford type of thing.

    Thanks very much for your help and thoughts.

    Take Care,

    Craig
     
  11. Tx Panther

    Tx Panther Neophyte

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    Hi Kim,

    Thanks for your Reply and suggestion. I had originally thought of adding different levels of Badges for the
    levels of contribution. I thought it was a nice small perk for their contributing as a Thank You type thing, also
    letting other's on the Forum know they were helping to maintain the Forum/ Group.

    Thanks and Take Care,

    Craig
     
  12. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

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    Belatedly asking, have you considered running a Patreon campaign with similar tiers ?

    You can more flexibly experiment with donation tiers there, with the possibility to not even need to offer extra perks on your website and user contributions to exceed a year's worth of subscription. With a Facebook group this active and populated by adult hobbyists, you could exceed your initial funding goals before even needing to create a forum if just a fraction chips in.
     
  13. Tx Panther

    Tx Panther Neophyte

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    Hi LeadCrow, ;-) Had to smile I'm still trying to just get the facts and learn XF !!!
    The Patreon is a little more than I'd want to get into, but Thanks for Thinking and Bringing it Up

    Thanks though !!!

    Take Care,

    Craig
     
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