How to Get More Bang for Your Membership Buck

When I first started blogging, I was riding waves of confusion. Small wonder then I sped full steam ahead towards the first membership program that crossed my radar.

Lucky for me, the program was top-notch. What wasn’t so lucky is that the program content was way over my head because I didn’t do my homework before I joined.

Let’s face it, most of us put more thought into ordering a pizza than choosing a membership program. We’re in a hurry, get sucked in by hype, and then grumble when things don’t work out.

If you’re serious about getting the most bang for your membership buck, step away from the sales letters, stop drizzling drool on the bonus offers, and look both ways before leaping into a program.

To get started, ask yourself some questions to create a ‘wish list’ for your ideal program:

  • What’s your experience level? Based on this, what types of content and support will give you the greatest benefit?
  • What’s your budget? Is a comprehensive program with in-depth training on multiple topics your best bet?
  • What are your expectations? Are you simply interested in self-study materials, or is an active, engaged community a must?
  • Do you learn best from written, video, or audio materials?
  • What’s your blogging philosophy and style? Are you a hard-driving Internet marketer or a laid-back blogger?

Once you’ve examined your wants and needs, it’s time to start the hunt:

  • Ask around. Ask bloggers you respect which membership programs they personally recommend or have heard good things about.
  • Check them out. Visit the blogs of the individuals running the recommended programs. Read posts, sign up for newsletters, and grab free downloads to check out the quality and overall tone. Also visit Twitter streams, Facebook pages, and blog comment sections. Is the person encouraging and helpful in their interactions?
  • Send a message. When you’re seriously considering a membership program, use the contact information to send a message with a question about the program. Do you receive a courteous, timely reply?
  • Decide. Weigh the results of your research, as well as the the program content, benefits, and fees against your ‘wish list.’ Spend time in thoughtful consideration before making a choice.

No matter how great a membership program is, you’ll need to engage and take action to get the most out of it.

Here are some things that will help:

  • Get familiar. The amount of information in membership programs can be overwhelming. That’s why the program I belong to, the A-List Blogger Club, has a welcoming committee and a site road map to help new members feel at home. If the club you choose doesn’t offer something like this, explore on your own to get familiar with things. If there’s a forum, set up your profile right away, and add a link to your blog, as well as social media information, so members can easily visit and follow you.
  • Ask for help. If anything is unclear or doesn’t work right, notify the program director or a forum moderator immediately.
  • Make a plan. Make a note of content or forum threads that have special appeal to you. Then, commit time in your schedule to return to these areas, learn, and take action.
  • Get involved. Be active on the forums and participate in club projects as much as possible. All programs are different, but some ways to get involved in the A-List Blogger Club include participating in the ‘Anatomy of a Guest Post’ thread, where members get expert feedback as they perfect pitches and posts for Write to Done or Goodlife Zen. There’s also an ‘Anatomy of a Launch’ thread where members receive live coaching on launch strategy and implementation as the rest of us look on and learn. Other ways to engage in the A-List Community include getting and giving blog reviews and other feedback, serving as forum moderators, sharing special skills in seminars and case studies, working with other members to contribute to a library of mindset tools or basic blogger resources, welcoming new members, and saying ‘yes,’ when someone asks for a helping hand with a new project.
  • Give feedback and suggestions. If you have an idea for improving the membership program, share it with the person in charge. The A-List Blogger Club library of ‘how-to’ seminars and screencast videos is bursting at the seams because folks share questions and ideas, which serve as springboards for exciting new materials and projects.
  • Reevaluate. Review your membership every few months. Are you following through with your initial commitment to learn, take action, and participate? Is this an energetic, thriving community? Are you still amazed by the quality and value in the program?  Would you recommend this program to all your blogging friends? Do you need to recommit to the program or is it time to make an exit?

I may have struck out on a membership program my first time at bat, but I hit a home run when I joined the A-List Blogger Club. These days, I’m an affiliate and self-proclaimed ambassador for the program, with 533 forum posts as of this moment. I couldn’t be happier with my choice of membership programs, and that’s how I want you to feel about your choice too.

Joining and participating in the program that’s right for you will boost your blogging in ways you can’t even imagine. So know your goals, do your research, and when it’s the right time and the right program, walk through those membership doors and give it your all.

Because that’s how you’ll get the most bang for your membership buck.

Your turn: Do you belong to a membership program or have you considered joining one?

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39 Responses to How to Get More Bang for Your Membership Buck

  1. Farnoosh ~ Prolific Living August 19, 2010 at 6:20 am #

    Gosh am I the first to comment on this great post?
    Jean, Katie was telling me about those threads as I know both of you are now alumni of A-Blogger’s Club and look at you two rising so beautifully in the blogosphere. I joined 31 Days to Bigger Better Blog (31DBBB) by Problogger and the associated forum which charges a minimum of $2/month – but I hardly participate. I find that the forum is very big and the ideas are very diverse and far too many threads – and I haven’t really spent a lot of time there – and I also follow and participate in Thesis forum threads. It’s mostly for support of the Thesis Theme but I love the support crew and I learn a lot so sometimes I hang out there. That is about it and I don’t know if this even counts. A-Bloggers Club someday for me. Thank you for a great Thursday morning read, Jean!!!
    Farnoosh ~ Prolific Living recently posted..The Soundtrack of Your Life- Living with Music

    • Jean Sarauer August 19, 2010 at 11:01 am #

      Hi Farnoosh. The early bird gets the first place in the comment section :) Thanks for sharing your experiences with the other clubs and forums. Everything you’ve joined or participated in counts because it has enriched your blogging experience in some way – even if it’s to tell you that you can’t keep up with all the threads! That’s an important lesson to learn, and one I’ve had to learn in A-List as well. I have a natural tendency to want to personally help everyone, but that becomes impossible to do in a large group.

  2. Arvind Devalia August 19, 2010 at 6:33 am #

    Jean, you summed up the Alist Blogging Club beautifully!

    It is everything you say and much more. I am now replicating it with my own membership site – The Make It Happen Club – to help people make it for themselvs and for a better world.

    We are so lucky we have a great role model to emulate:-)
    Arvind Devalia recently posted..Do You Believe Muslims Love Their Children Too

    • Jean Sarauer August 19, 2010 at 11:03 am #

      Arvind, I didn’t know you were starting a membership site. That’s exciting and I applaud the goals you have for your program!

  3. Alien Ghost August 19, 2010 at 6:57 am #

    Hi Jean,

    With all the homework before joining I think I’ll stick to just ordering pizza.

    But seriously, I don’t belong to any membership program and haven’t thought of that simply because it never ocurred to me that there must be such thing (as you can see, I’m not exctly running with the latest)

    Great post, very informative :)

    Raul
    Alien Ghost recently posted..Master of Your Own Universe

    • Jean Sarauer August 19, 2010 at 11:04 am #

      Raul, could I get extra veggies on that pizza? :) Sometimes ‘not running with the latest’ can be a good thing – no one can say you’re not being authentic!

  4. rob white August 19, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    Hi Jean,
    This is very informative. I never much considered joining a club. Blogging already is huge time investment. Between, blogging, my own writing and other business I would worry about spreading my energy too thin. You make an enthusiastic pitch and your blog is thriving… so I may have to inquire deeper.
    rob white recently posted..Creating Money Matters – Not Reacting to Them

    • Jean Sarauer August 19, 2010 at 11:09 am #

      Hi Rob. You’re wise to consider the time and energy factor. In my case, I used time more efficiently because I used to go all over the place looking for info and answers and now I could just go to a content library or ask a forum question. Plus, the relationships I’ve made have opened doors that likely would have taken longer to open on my own. That said, I’ve really had to monitor my own level of engagement lately so that I’m giving attention to my own blog and other writing first and foremost.

  5. Karen August 19, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    Hi Jean,

    I’m a member of both the Problogger forum and the A-List Blogging forum and I think you’ve come up with some great pre-planning tips for choosing a forum.

    I would say that you shouldn’t join up because of costs because you never know where that one amazing idea will come from or that one connection that will really impact your life. I get different things from the two forums that I pay for each month, but they’ve both earned their ‘fee’ in different ways.
    Karen recently posted..Just For Today Challenge – 31 Days To A Better You eBook Launch

    • Jean Sarauer August 19, 2010 at 11:16 am #

      Hi Karen. Good point on the ‘one’ idea or connection. I’ve experienced that and believe in staying open to the possibilities rather than simply focusing on a price tag.

  6. Evelyn August 19, 2010 at 10:26 am #

    Hey Jean,

    I recently joined A-List Blogging and am learning my way around. I’ll definitely be more active. I have applied some of what I’ve read thus far.

    I am glad I joined and it is the best thing I could have ever done. I would have never learned about A-List Blogging, had we not met.

    Thanks for sharing this information! 😉
    Evelyn recently posted..Weight Loss Tips that Celebrities Swear By

    • Jean Sarauer August 19, 2010 at 11:19 am #

      Hey, that’s great, Evelyn. Welcome! Joining the A-List group was the best blogging move I’ve made too–next to starting a blog in the first place and getting out into the community of course :) The amount of information there just blows me away, and the responsiveness when there are questions or ideas really energizes me.

  7. Kate August 19, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    Hi Jean,

    I have often thought about joining a membership program, but similar to Rob, I worry that I will spread myself too thinly.
    I am weighing the pros and cons of having less time to spend on the blog itself, and all I want to do with it, with the benefits of joining a membership program and making my blog even better! And I still can’t decide what to do……
    Kate recently posted..Overcome Regrets

    • Jean Sarauer August 19, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

      I’m glad to hear you’re really looking at your situation, Kate, and not just jumping into a program. Your blogging time needs to come first, and if you keep that idea in mind, you’ll do well when and if you get into a membership program. Sometimes I see club members involved in many activities and then saying they don’t have time to post on their blogs. Well, yes they do, but they’ve put their membership activities at a higher priority than their blogs, whether they realize it or not. Keep that excellent perspective of yours, Kate!

  8. Dia August 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    Nice post jean! For me personally, I have joined any program yet, but there is a program that I am seriously thinking about and I might give it a shot. Thanks for sharing
    Dia recently posted..6 Steps to improve your relationship with your spouse

    • Jean Sarauer August 19, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

      Hi Dia. Glad to hear you’re considering joining a program. There are lots of things to consider, but the benefits of a great club can really make a difference in the blogging experience. You’ve proven you’re a dedicated blogger who is willing to keep going, and the right program will help you boost to the next level.
      Jean Sarauer recently posted..How to Get More Bang for Your Membership Buck

  9. Gurl August 19, 2010 at 5:25 pm #

    Hi Jean,
    Sorry I’ve not been as talkative with you lately..busy times etc etc. Not a good reason, but we all know how it goes sometimes. I am going to have to start setting me a schedule for all things important to me and sticking with it 😉

    I am glad I took the time to read this post. I DO want to join a club of some sort to help me and so I can help others who may be just starting out, etc. Its the money holding me back :( Even the reasonable monthly fee’s for the A-listers is more than I can be sure I will have each month. Maybe I will e-mail someone and see if I can pay several months at a time and then consider if I want to join when I get my extra money from the college. I’ve looked at the Alisters several times, and like what it seems to offer. And now with your high praise of the program, I am nearly convinced it will be a good investment for me.

    Thanks for sharing these ways to “test” the waters before you jump in. I am sure they will be helpful to many :)
    Gurl recently posted..Updates- Finances- Sisters- and Brainstorming

    • Jean Sarauer August 19, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

      No worries, Jenn. I’ve been really off in my visiting and communicating too. I was stretching myself so thin that my sanity was beginning to look like gauze :)

      You would shine in the A-List community. If you ever need contact info for payments or anything else, DM me on Twitter and I’ll send that to you. I don’t give a hoot if you go through my link or not – it means a heck of a lot more that you get the benefits of the program if and when you’re ready and able. You have no idea how much you’ve inspired me by how you’ve kept on and kept working to improve things through all sorts of challenges.
      Jean Sarauer recently posted..How to Get More Bang for Your Membership Buck

      • Gurl August 19, 2010 at 7:33 pm #

        Wow, Jean. I can’t say how much that means. (The inspiring you bit). I am flattered and humbled. I look up to you in a lot of ways, so I guess we have a mutual admiration society going on 😉 Thanks for the kind words, Jean. I needed that today.

  10. Preeti @ Heart and Mind August 19, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    Jean,

    This is very informative for those who want to select membership programs out of many to choose from. Alist Club and Darren’s forum are two site I know offer such programs but I am sure there are more out there!

    I know personally lot of bloggers from A-list bootcamp and admire them and their blogs!

    Good to see you off the meltdown bus, Jean! Now, I am getting there in chaotic schedule as schools are starting so is my volunteer teaching job! :-)
    Preeti @ Heart and Mind recently posted..101 Changes- Change 7- Watch Less Television

    • Jean Sarauer August 20, 2010 at 9:59 am #

      I bet you’re wonderful in the classroom, Preeti. It’s probably best if you don’t use the Meltdown City Express as a means of transportation though :) Seriously, good luck with rebalancing your life as you pick up the extra responsibility. It seems that just when we get things figured out, something is added to the mix!

  11. Cori Padgett August 20, 2010 at 12:05 am #

    Dang… bang up jobby on the post Jean! 😛 Yikes you make me tired, lol… so in-depth and helpful my friend!

    I love A-List too, it’s a great program. While I’ve had some experience with quite a bit of the content, I’ve had a great time just being social and getting to know some of the other members.

    But I do know the feeling you’re speaking of, I am actually part of a forum that I joined when I first started my entrepreneurial journey..that forum is literally like family to me.. they’ve been there through all my ups and downs, and the owner has let me harass him six ways to Sunday… and I happily pay my membership fee month after month, even if I don’t make it by the forum or don’t utilize any of the material.. because it’s had that much of an impact on me!

    So it’s important that everyone find the place they “fit” and can grow comfortably. :) And I have to say, A-list forum, while not quite as busy as the one I became a member of a couple years ago (as it’s still fairly new) the helpfulness and willingness to give time to each other there is very reminiscent of the one I speak of! So I think it’s a great place to begin to cultivate some online “family”!
    Cori Padgett recently posted..Pipe Dreams are for Losers- Why Not Sculpt Your Own Reality Instead

    • Jean Sarauer August 20, 2010 at 10:01 am #

      Thanks for sharing your personal forum/membership experiences. That ‘family’ feeling is just the best! It sure beats stumbling around on our own out here.

  12. Jeffrey August 20, 2010 at 8:56 am #

    Hi Jean,
    Just the fact that you are a member of the “A-List Blogger Club” is enough of an inducement for me.
    I’m joining as soon as possible.
    Jeffrey recently posted..Matching Clothes For Your Blog

    • Jean Sarauer August 20, 2010 at 10:03 am #

      Jeffrey–I’d love to be able to harass you inside the Club as well as outside :)

  13. Lisa @ PracticallyIntuitive August 20, 2010 at 9:23 am #

    Such a timely post, Jean! When I first started taking PI public, I jumped in feet first to all kinds of programs and courses and quickly got overwhelmed (the “wanting to hide in a closet” kind of overwhelm) and didn’t do any of it.

    I finally decided to choose one that resonated with me, forsake all others for the time being and go deep into that one. I still read all the things that come into my in-box but have made my own agreement that I will not jump into anything else UNTIL I do what I signed up to do.

    I love forums and hearing from others what works for them, what didn’t work for them and just riding the energy of group collaboration. My challenge is to work through one thing at a time.

    There are lots of benefits to working with a group and your post really highlights those.

    Thanks for all you do!

    • Jean Sarauer August 20, 2010 at 10:06 am #

      Hi Lisa. I can sure relate to that ‘hide-in-the-closet’ overwhelm. Oh boy. Yes, one thing at a time is the way to go. I have to step back from some really great A-List projects sometimes because I’d never get anything else done. Hope you have a great weekend!

  14. Angela Artemis August 20, 2010 at 1:49 pm #

    Hi Jean,
    Great post. I wish I knew all about this before though! I’ve spent thousands of dollars on programs, products and courses before I found out about the A List Club. Joining in February was the best thing I ever did for my blog!
    Angela Artemis recently posted..To Be Your Best – Surround Yourself with Inspiring People!

    • Jean Sarauer August 20, 2010 at 1:54 pm #

      I know exactly how you feel, Angela. I can’t believe what a value A-List is compared to so many other things I’ve seen. One thing I especially appreciate is how Mary invests in some of the super-expensive internet marketing courses and then tests and tweaks strategies so we can all benefit from her experience via seminars and swipe files.

  15. Aileen August 21, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    Brilliant post Jean! When I joined A-List Bloggers Club I had joined two other programs at the same time. I was too new to know what to look for so I went on what I could afford and knew that all three had a cancel at anytime for any reason. I dropped the other two within a few weeks because the difference was huge.

    You’ve given some great solid advice about (1) knowing what you want from a membership club (2) evaluating ones before you jump in.

    It would be interesting to hear voices from others about which membership clubs they love and why and which ones they didn’t like and why. hmmm….

    :)
    Aileen recently posted..The Legendary John Wooden Series- Enthusiasm and Industriousness

    • Jean Sarauer August 22, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

      Hi Aileen. What an interesting perspective trying out three programs at once must give. I’m sure glad you ended up in A-List so I could get to know you!
      Jean Sarauer recently posted..How to Criticize Our Fellow Bloggers

  16. Mary |A-List Blogging Bootcamps August 22, 2010 at 5:45 am #

    Hey Jean,
    thanks for this post!

    When I emailed Leo Babauta after the first A-List Blogging Bootcamp and said, “Hey Leo, people don’t seem to want to leave – let’s create an ongoing training and call it the ‘A-List Blogger Club’!” I really had no idea what would grow from there.

    We started in October with 45 members and now, only ten months later, the Club has nearly 700 members. And what wonderful members! You just couldn’t find a nicer bunch of people.

    It’s truly humbling to see what a wonderful group of people this is. What gives me the most pleasure is seeing how hot bloggers like Jean and others are streaking ahead and are now lending newbies a helping hand. It’s like a wonderful cycle of support.

    We are all in this together. It’s like a multifaceted experiment where everyone learns from everyone else.

    I love it!

    Thanks to all members for your amazing support.
    – Mary Jaksch

    • Jean Sarauer August 22, 2010 at 8:19 pm #

      What a nice surprise to have you pop in here, Mary. And how true that there just couldn’t be a nicer bunch of people than our members (including you and Leo!). It’s the ‘everyone learning from everyone else’ experience that energizes me so. I can’t wait to see what happens next in the Club and with the individual members!

  17. Tess The Bold Life August 22, 2010 at 10:27 am #

    Hi Jean,
    I just joined the A-list Bloggers Club. I was on the waiting list and when my opportunity came up I took it even though I was leaving town for a couple of weeks. I’m back and will dive in this week. My future blogging success awaits me;)
    Tess The Bold Life recently posted..Mind Adventures- Rob White

    • Jean Sarauer August 22, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

      Tess, that’s fabulous news about you joining A-List. Yay! I spent some time on the waiting list before I could join too, but it sure has been an experience worth waiting for! See you on the forums :)
      Jean Sarauer recently posted..How to Criticize Our Fellow Bloggers

  18. Andrea DeBell - britetalk August 22, 2010 at 7:32 pm #

    Hi Jean! I just joined the A-List Blogger Club this week. I agree that it’s a top notch program. I’m a new blogger and the information so far has been extremely helpful.

    I joined the club in time to participate in Leo’s last class about headlines. It was so inspiring that I went ahead and changed all the headlines on my blog.

    I’m a bit overwhelmed with all the information and the learning curve but excited at the same time.

    Thanks for sharing your experience. Loving blessings!
    Andrea DeBell – britetalk recently posted..The Best Relationship Tip Ever

    • Jean Sarauer August 22, 2010 at 8:25 pm #

      Welcome to the A-List Club, Andrea. Wow, you are a motivated blogger to have changed your headlines so quickly! Good job for putting your learning into action.

      Yes, all the information can be staggering and overwhelming and there’s a part of us that wants to gobble things up quickly. Try to take small steps and little nibbles and remember that this blogging adventure is a marathon. Pacing ourselves is important! Do let me know if you need help finding your way around or have questions.
      Jean Sarauer recently posted..How to Criticize Our Fellow Bloggers

  19. Ayah August 25, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    Hi Jean,

    What a gem! I also just joined the A-List Club and I couldn’t be happier with my decision. For starters, it led me to your site! :-) Aside from all of the great information that is available, I’m so excited to meet new and interesting people and to share our learning experiences with one another. After all, isn’t that what blogging is all about?

    Thanks!!
    Ayah recently posted..Be Healthy

  20. Jean Sarauer August 26, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    Welcome to the A-List Club, Ayah! If it led you here, then that right there is worth the fee :) See you on the forums!

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