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Advice for Introducing Paid Memberships

Discussion in 'Forum Management' started by dvduval, Mar 2, 2014.

  1. dvduval

    dvduval Active Member

    I have a forum that will is now passing the million post mark, and with so much server space and traffic, we are also trying to increase our revenue, as well as allow advertisers to post but in an appropriate way. Two things I am hoping to get some advice on:

    Vendor Memberships
    I assume we would charge a fee (monthly or annually?) and they could then post in one or more sections about their products, events, or services. Maybe they would get a "vendor badge", or some additional page describing them. Of course they would be bound by some rules where they didn't advertise in the wrong place or post too often.

    Premium Memberships
    This is the one where I feel I could anger some long time members. I was thinking to have a private section open only to paid members, and try to get some premium content only in that section. Maybe we would sell it as them being "supporters" to help us with costs. I'm trying to develop a strategy where it would be totally optional and people wouldn't feel we are treating people differently too much. Wondering if anything has advice especially in this area.

    Thank you, and hopefully someone has done something similar and can talk about how they did it or the challenges they faced! :)
    wedgar likes this.
  2. FredC

    FredC Well-Known Member

    Don't segregate your forum by creating private areas for premium subscribers.. It only creates cliques..

    Instead consider selling perks such as... (from my own list of premium perks)

    1. View users who have read a thread:
    2. Custom User Title:
    3. Edit posts up to 24hrs:
    4. View deleted/Moderated threads / posts:
    5. Maximum large avatar file size (unlimited bytes):
    6. Add up to 5 conversation recipients:
    7. Customize Home Page:
    8. Ability to upload profile cover photo.
    9. Premium Subscriber Badge.
    wedgar likes this.
  3. dvduval

    dvduval Active Member

    Thank you. I'm not sure those would be all that appealing to ballroom dancers, who I think are looking for content. Possibly, they would like their own profile page to have more options, or maybe a way to search for dance partners, but not sure if that would end up being a lot of custom work. Special deals from vendors to premium members was another idea. Most of the people have money, but they also come for the enjoyment of talking with fellow dancers, and appreciate it being not overly commercial, so just trying to brainstorm a little here. Thanks for you input and I can see a couple of the items you mentioned as at least nice bonuses or similar.
    wedgar likes this.
  4. Mouth

    Mouth Well-Known Member

    I agree with FredC, don't create segregated areas but just leave what isn't broken and keep altogether.

    Leave vendors as free, but joinable usergroup by request and approval. There's an addon for that :) Create a vendors forums, where only that usergroup can create topics (all can reply) and set it so that the vendors have to give special deals or time limited discounts when posting in this forum. The drive traffic and interest to your site, so don't charge them for providing you additional traffic - let your display ad's account for that and it costs you nothing. Then have a 'portfolio' of vendors and start monthly competitions with them and your members for a prize, with the entry being a question whereby the answer is found by visiting teh vendors website.

    Introduce some constraints on your current usergroup, such as signature options, number of images, limits to conversations inbox size, restrict posting (but can still see/read) in a site feedback/suggestions forum, etc. etc.
    Create a premium members usergroup, entry via upgrade for once-off or annual fee, with additional benefits or no constraints. Have a usergroup banner that clearly distinguishes membership. Automatically put your long-term and high-posting (aka supportive and contributory) users into this group for the first year, or forever. This way you wont anger them, and lose nothing. With a instant power-up for recognition of teh premium group and peer pressure for the others to hang out with the 'cool' kids :)
    wedgar likes this.
  5. dvduval

    dvduval Active Member

    Great, information, Mouth. Thank you.

    I've been in discussion with our moderators, and the big area we agree on is to make our Ads section more official and call it a "Marketplace". Are there any good add-ons or examples I should be reviewing for this?

    I would love to see what you mean about the portfolio of vendors and competitions in the case you are able to provide an example site (or PM me if you don't want to announce to all).

    Thanks you!
  6. Gazhyde

    Gazhyde Well-Known Member

    I've just finalised my plans today for this. Ditched the term "Premium Member" in favour of "Supporter", which I still don't particularly like but it's the best I can think of.

    I feel particularly nervous about introducing this. I was on a site which took donations in return for promises about changes happening & upgrades which never happened. I handed over donations and nothing happened. It caused a huge argument in the end. Hence being nervous!

    What I wanted to do was offer something for their donation. That way it's not just about blindly handing over money. It also allows me to set expectations that they are buying something, rather than donating.

    This screenie shows what I've come up with so far. For an annual donation they get one list of stuff. On their first donation they are given lifetime access to certain other options on the site (those that would be difficult to withdraw access to later on). I plan to keep adding stuff where I can, to enhance the offering.


    One member found the page before I have had chance to announce it and he has already made a donation. We have a few people who want to make vanilla donations, and won't want the visible banners etc.
  7. Mouth

    Mouth Well-Known Member

    For classified ads, I just use the forums and restrict creation of threads to only the paid members group.
    Portfolio of vendors is just the member list for your joinable by request vendors usergroup
    A good competition addon is http://xenforo.com/community/resources/competitions-for-xenforo.2344/

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