Premium Membership

Discussion in 'FHF Community' started by steve, Jul 20, 2017.

?
  1. £0 - Thank you but I won't be taking it

  2. £1.50/month

  3. £2.50/month

  4. £5.00/month

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  1. steve

    steve Founder/Owner
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    Dear all,

    I need a little bit of guidance and direction from many of you. The forum has been growing steadily for the last few years now thanks to leadership of @Magpie and @Kilmory. In the last 2 years or so, I have been involved more in the administration part, sometimes with success and some others not so much! Hopefully it there where more good moments than bad.

    Some of the older members remember that the forum started off on a tiny little server which my father was paying unknowingly. When he started questioning how a normal shop website (I had installed the forum on his small shop subdomain) with so little traffic (he would hardly have more than 40 users a month) was costing him so much I had to move it away. It's been 11 years now and I think it's time to look a bit into the future. Some of you have been here since the start. Some joined later but for sure is that everyone here, like me grew up together with this sport site.

    We are now in a position where we cannot afford to continue on shared hosting. In simple terms, the forum size (2.3 GB) has outgrown our current home. Apart from the sheer size I would also like to move the hosting from the US (that's where the current server is located) to Europe (where most of our users are) - the assumption is that we would make it a little faster. Last but not least I would like to make the website more secure with ssl (when you see the https:// in the browser) for everyone's safety. Apart from the actual cost of hosting and SSL, I also need someone professional to do the migrating for me. I'm not risking it myself with such a big database and userbase.

    We will be having some adverts soon and they will definitely help with the costs. It's people like them who make the current software and server run but the people who actually make the forum are you, the members. Without you there's no content, no discussions and no sharing of information. We all came to this place because we where looking to discuss the sport that we truly love with like minded people.

    Cutting a long story short, I am currently toying with the idea of a premium membership for anyone who wants to pay something small. This started off because I was looking at a replacement of the Tapatalk app. Apparently tapatalk, aren't the nicest of people. They have questionable business practices where they where caught harvesting data and dealing with security vulnerabilities for their users in a very lax way. I found someone who can customise an app just for the forum and I have to admit that it looks cleaner and nicer + it is definitely more secure. The drawback as always in these things is the price. There's a $100 for the setup and with all the customisation it would come to $40 a month.

    At first I said we leave it as it is but then I started thinking what if those who regularly use the mobile app pay for the actual app. I found that on average we have 40 daily visitors through tapatalk (of which I'm one of them!) so if those daily users pay $1/month than we are sorted. After that I started looking into how to make it work and the ideal solution is to setup a premium membership for more things than just access to a mobile app (which can be downloaded from the app store itself... how cool is that!)

    Having said that I would like to have the premium membership as something that is worth it for you and not just a glorified donation. Apart from access to the Mobile App, this is what I thought to include:

    - Different coloured username with premium member banner
    - Verified member next to your username
    - Access to a private forum for discussions
    - Chat Box (especially useful during live tournaments and also the idea to get high profile players, umpires and coaches to organise webinars)
    - A complete resource centre for umpires, coaches and administrators (I still have a large collection of resources which I plan to share and also work to increase). I would still like to make the resource centre public (that's the whole idea of sharing) but maybe the resources will be made available to the general public after 3 or 4 months being private.
    - Access to a private marketplace for good condition used sticks
    - Discounts from 'Preferred Vendors' on the forum
    - A really nice FHF branded Polo shirt which can be actually worn (my last attempt was a failure). I would get a professional designer to do it for me. The Polo shirt would be for those who take a yearly membership I guess.

    I'm thinking of giving the possibility of a monthly membership and a yearly one (maybe the yearly one would be a bit cheaper)

    Now, I have two big questions for you...

    Is it something that you would be interested in having? and how much would you pay for it? Again, I want to make it clear that it's not a donation but something that you put value on.

    Please answer the poll so that I can have an idea of what to do.
     
  2. Ravennghorde

    Ravennghorde FHF All Time Great

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    As one of the Tapatalk users I can't see polls
    So that's one thing the app needs to fix.
    Personally don't mind paying if the app works better. Naught for naught in this world


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
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  3. Magpie

    Magpie Administrator
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    Thanks for the acknowledgement Steve. I still look in as a guest from time to time.

    I'm happy to pay $5 per month (AUD) to keep this forum going despite that I am no longer active in the sport or even on here! This forum and hockey was a big part of my life for many years and I always smile when I look back on these days. Garli and her goalie smocks, Keely getting an entry on Urban Dictionary and Animal for eating children, not to mention the umpiring discussions. Despite Steve's dream of having it as a forum for all hockey players it was taken over in the early days by 'us' goalkeepers and then the umpires turned up...

    What I am trying to say is that this forum has a life of its own now, and that is what I think the dream always was, a place to get together and share the love for a sport.

    If I'm willing to pay to support this forum despite being old and grumpy every other user should help to support this forum.

    Yes I am a real person
    [​IMG]
     
    #3 Magpie, Jul 20, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
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  4. sanabas

    sanabas FHF All Time Great

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    I don't access site on a phone, so I won't need the main selling point.

    meh

    I think this would be counterproductive for having a high quality site.

    This would be a decent feature. Though missing out on it might see new people check the place out and not stay.

    Don't like this. Don't think it's any sort of benefit, think it might annoy people for nothing, and also think it takes away from any discussion of the resources posted, people with stuff to contribute likely end up not contributing because they only see a 3 month old thread with no posts for weeks.

    Why would the sellers of used gear restrict their potential market by not posting in the public areas? Suspect both these will be a bit country dependent, more benefit to those in the UK or other bits of Europe.

    Would probably wear one if I had one, but not something I'd particularly want.

    I'd be more likely to make a donation, because if I looked at it as buying something, I'd feel like I wasn't getting value for money. But I am a tightarse, and I don't need the mobile app.

    If you're going to be introducing banner ads & things, then I think you're missing one of the likely bigger potential benefits of a paid membership, which is not seeing ads.

    Another potential way to differentiate between paid & unpaid members might be to limit post volume. But I think that could also be counterproductive.

    I think doing FHF merchandise could be a way to raise money, too. Does take a bit of effort to set up, has an upfront cost/money tied up in stock, there's some man-hours required to process & post orders, and postage costs might mean it's only really feasible to sell to Europeans. But it's reasonably easy to do a decent quality printed or embroidered tshirt for $10-15 and try and sell for $25-30. Could also do hoodies, beanies, stubby holders, things like that.
     
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  5. Gingerbread

    Gingerbread FHF All Time Great

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    The sites I've seen that went premium tended to do one-off payments of £2-£3 e.g. for some access (like faster downloads) or ad-free versions of the site. A monthly subscription seems like it might be a hassle to manage payments and while £1.50 a month doesn't seem much it has to be worth it - I'd suggest maybe one off payments for a premium service that offers stuff like interviews with top players/umpires etc or stuff more like a magazine but with the content available free after 3-4 months to keep people coming but gives incentive to pay for it for people who want it. Agree with sanabas about the clothing - small orders are expensive and postage could cripple them, I have bought t-shirts to support sites before and they were US based so customs and postage whacks on about £20 for an order of around £50
     
  6. steve

    steve Founder/Owner
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    I really appreciate the feedback on my post. First of all I managed to get the legend of @Magpie out of hiding! For those who don't know him, magpie was the person running the forum for many years when I was missing. It's incredibly true that the forum has a life of its own and it passes through phases as well. It was firstly inundated with goalkeepers, then it was the umpires who took over control and lately I'm seeing the stick geeks taking a bit control. When will it be the turn of the coaches? :)

    @sanabas First of all thank you for the time to go through my post. It's nice to see that people actually care about this. Your points are all valid and in all them you managed to get all of my worries/dilemmas. The main selling point is the actual mobile app and there's no beating around the bush about that. The mobile app is the deal maker and the other benefits are just add ons which some people might take. All that you mentioned was at the back of my mind when I was writing those points down. Some sound ridiculous now but maybe can be tweaked slightly to make it more efficient.

    @Gingerbread Thanks for the info. I'm not sure if clothing is right choice because all different colours and sizes we would need to stock. I'm still based in Malta, so sometimes I have to put into consideration the expensive an along shipping. Let's see where the end of 2017 will take us!
     
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  7. sanabas

    sanabas FHF All Time Great

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    It could be done, at least initially, as say a twice a year effort to collect orders, then you can get only the needed sizes plus maybe a few extras. Embroiderers/screenprinters generally want 20 or so at once to get their best rates/minismise the setup cost per shirt. Likewise if it was a sublimated design, if you can get 20 orders then the price is reasonable. If postage from Malta is going to be very high, then maybe look at someone in UK to organise it? Or even, if you are sorting out some sort of advertising/discount with an fhf preferred supplier, could talk to them about ordering the stuff and getting it printed. If it's a shop that does team uniforms, hoodies, that sort of thing, it should be easy enough for them, as they're generally getting wholesale rates from both the apparel company and the printer. Especially if they're willing to sell them to you at near their cost. e.g. $13 for shirt, $8 for FHF embroidery, organised as a batch of 20+ by the shop. You/fhf pays the shop $25 per shirt (and it probably costs $15 and $10 to get shirt + embroidery as a retail customer anyway), we buy the shirts for $40 + postage, your UK based minion, ideally in the same city as the shop, collects them and spends an hour or two posting the lot. Shop only makes 15% gp instead of 35-40, but hopefully they're willing to do that because they'll be getting more fhf custom as a result. Reduces the effort & overhead needed, doesn't leave money tied up in stock, and 20 shirts pre-ordered pays for 6 months of app cost. 40 shirts pays for 12 months. Might be harder to sell more shirts to the same people 12 months later, but could always update the design, put a new slogan on it, something like that. Or do shirts the first time, caps the second time, etc.
     
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  8. Magpie

    Magpie Administrator
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    Thanks again Steve for the kind words. When I stood down and handed the reins over to Kilmory it was with some regrets, but it was also at a time when the forum to grow needed a change. Many thanks to Kilmory for standing up and accepting the reins from me.

    The forum is again at a crossroads and now it needs the help of all its members (old/new) to keep it alive and relevant.

    Clothing - for different countries you could make arrangements with business in the local area like Just Hockey in QLD and have them stock the items or even officially licence the FHF logo. Lets face it the biggest marketing tool this forum has is its logo and it is well known. I still have the FHF goalie logo at home :)
     
  9. nerd_is_the_word

    nerd_is_the_word FHF All Time Great

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    Steve, as somebody who was much more active in the early days of the forum, it is wonderful to see where it has come to and that your are always looking to make the forum better.

    I would definitely be willing to pay a monthly/ yearly fee for some added benefits as well as to help the forum grow. my initial reaction to a lot of the points that you brought up was very similar to Sanabas' reaction ( think of how many sub-forums have been created over the years that haven't been posted in for 5+ years).

    A couple of thoughts of other things you could offer to premium members:
    When doing online Q&A's with high level players/coaches/umpires make it so that non-premiums can see the thread, but only premium members can ask questions.
    Access to premium exclusive competitions.
    Divisive topic (like the old Sin Bin) threads are only viewable/postable by premium members.
    Signatures only available to premium members
    Potentially make the "adverts" section only postable to premium members. I think that most clubs/people who are genuinely looking to recruit would probably be willing to pay $5 a month for the 2 months of the year that they are looking to recruit for. And so long as it was still visible to everybody, non-paid members could still read the adverts and email the clubs directly
     
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  10. steve

    steve Founder/Owner
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    Thank you all for your feedback. It looks like the Premium Membership model is not the way to go. There are people who would pay but it would be more of a donation rather than what I'm looking for. I'll look more into @sanabas suggestion for merchandising and @nerd_is_the_word for the 'adverts' section. Thinking about it these would be more ideal revenue streams ;)

    Thank you all.
     
  11. sanabas

    sanabas FHF All Time Great

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    Am I right in thinking the frontpage sidebar link, and top of every page link to cricket-hockey.com are there as regular links because they're the only advertiser/sponsor, rather than an displayed based on which country ip says I'm in and/or from a list of advertisers? Just asking because my adblocker doesn't recognise them as ads. ;)

    Not sure if it's set up to count the number of hits their website gets from following the link from fhf, but I clicked on it anyway and had a look around their site. Their automated checkout seems willing to send obo gear to australia, which is surprising. Equally surprising is the price. 358.49 pounds to arrive on my doorstep in 3 working days thanks to DHL international. That's $590 in aussie pesos. To buy from just hockey's website, and have it arrive in 2-3 working days via australia post express is $595. Some of the stuff is slightly more expensive than here, some, like a new fatboy, is significantly cheaper, and even available in a colour that isn't black. They look pretty good.
     
  12. steve

    steve Founder/Owner
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    I guess that's a pretty good thing than :)

    On prices and delivery I will leave it to @Cricket-Hockey.com to answer
     
  13. BlindGoalie613

    BlindGoalie613 FHF All Time Great

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    Exhorbitant prices from our major retailer?! Never...
     
  14. Krebsy

    Krebsy FHF All Time Great

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    The only principle I think which really needs to be avoided is for there to be space for discussions by members/donors only.
    I would happily give you a few of my Bristol Pounds every so often to keep a good resource running properly but I would not like to see non-members being confronted with discussions which refer to forums they aren't able to access.
    I rather like the chat window idea and think there would be overall benefits to the site if this functionality were to be made available come what may.
    Furthermore I think setting a bill for the mobile app will be damaging. Apps are becoming more and more prevalent and younger players will naturally head to the App Store or Google Play for everything and I know they will download whatever is free over something they have to pay for.
    I would be happy, as a non app user to pay and if my money were to be partially used to keep the app, which I don't use, running, I would see that as a benefit as it enriches the overall forum by making it more accessible and widening the audience and contributors. I would go further and say that anyone who is unhappy with part of their membership money being used to fund the app, is selfish and short sighted.

    I am going to be honest and say that I am in no great rush for FHF branded clothing. Maybe I just don't have my eye on the zeitgeist, who knows.

    a few ideas for alternative 'benefits' which paid members could get and which may entice younger players to stump up:

    1- another site I used (for vastly different purposes) only allows contributors who pay a monthly membership to see message threads in their entirety. Free users only see the last message from them or their respondent.
    2- allow the building of a more advanced personal profile where contributors can have more of a social presence. Upload relevant pictures of training, status updates and the like. Probably not too far here as server storage can start to build up... but the more you pay the more you can upload?
    3- allow over 18yr old users who opt in, to see which over 18 year old users are local to them.
    4- similar to 3, an option to make it known in your profile which club you are affiliated to.

    A bit of a brain dump, sorry, on a train and using a mobile device so coherent typing is near impossible.
     
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  15. philthy

    philthy FHF All Time Great

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    I agree with @Krebsy that there shouldn't be a discussion space only premium members can access - we don't want to split the community. Apart from anything, it may well put off new members from signing up at all. If you don't already know and trust the forum, it could sound like a bit of a con... "pay money to see more topics"

    A potential option could be a limit to the number of daily/weekly/monthly posts non-premium members?

    I'm not sure merchandise is the way forward. Particularly not if you have to wait for a critical mass of orders to be placed before hoodies/tshirts etc are made and dispatched. It's the internet. If you order something you want it now. It's frustrating enough when you order a new shirt through the club and you might get it by Christmas if you're lucky... I can't see many people being happy with that from an online supplier.
     
  16. steve

    steve Founder/Owner
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    Fair enough. The idea of a premium forum is not something that I want to implement. You are absolutely right and creating a division in regular/premium content would lead to nowhere. Consider this idea scrapped.

    I don't intend to charge for the app directly. I'm using tapatalk more often now and I have to say it is very good and easy to use. The issue is that there was some bad publicity lately about their privacy policy. I'm happy with their service at the moment and there are thousands of people who use it so it is not an urgent thing moving away from it. If people are happy to use it and it's free, I'm happy to keep on supporting it.

    Not so sure when you will see some of the designs I have in mind ;)

    If I go the merchandise way, I'll make sure that I have the shirts in stock physically. Order comes in, and shipped on the same day with 3 day delivery period. I'm already looking for suppliers to make it work.
     
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  17. sammzib

    sammzib FHF Legend

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    I'd happily support the site even if I've only been on here a relatively short period of time. coming from a student's point of view, it could be a good idea to have an option to pay annually too, that way we can pay when student finance comes in (being put to good use:D) and not have an extra monthly outgoing, just a thought, non students might prefer this option too. And perhaps have a slight discount over paying monthly? as the site would get the year's fee up front to use for maintenance
     
  18. Beardymanbristol

    Beardymanbristol FHF Legend

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    This forum has enough value that I'd be happy to pay.

    Perhaps a simple fundraising reminder every couple of months might be the way to go. I realise that not everyone will pay up and you'll end up with a core of regular supporters who will then be subsidising everyone else. This is no different to a hockey club (thinking about time rather than cash) where you'll always find a handful of names willing to umpire/coach/fix things etc. whilst others do little or nothing. They still give their time knowing the lazy buggers won't ever give as much.

    Other bits:
    If you can make merch work then I'm sure there will be some interest.
    I'm happy to see adverts as a revenue stream, especially if they are relevant. Perhaps a headline sponsor too? It wouldn't bother me to see the Forum name attached to a brand name.

    Sorry, no more bright ideas, marketing has never been my strong point!
     
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  19. Stuart Burnside

    Stuart Burnside FHF All Time Great

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    Hi Steve

    I have a few thoughts on this as I've started writing for a satirical website and I think the models these sites use would work for you. That's generally ads plus merchandise & never paid access.

    What matters most for ads is views. So as soon as you go that route, you do not want to have any of your content restricted, as that restricts views. It is as I understand it pretty easy to use say Adsense to embed some ads, you don't have to go find a hockey specific one. That would be a good addition to your income. I dunno where you are on views but it could be quite material. It would also mean you actually get something from guests who eg scroll the transfer rumours thread but don't sign in or otherwise contribute. I don't know if you see your guest to member ratio.

    The second thing these guys do is merchandise. Here my suggestion to you is that as well as your own ideas you allow people to retail via your platform as an alternative to building their own. For example, let's say you found someone who can print mugs or t-shirts on an as needed basis at a cost effective price. You invite members to contribute a phrase or image they want on a mug / shirt that they think people on here might buy. You cover your overhead, take a slice to fund the site, and pay a slice to the idea originator. Everyone wins. And it doesn't need to be you shipping this from Malta, someone on here with a shop could help. Then I'd say particularly popular products could be available for licence to distributors, and so on. Then FHF becomes a good place to test merchandise.

    But...what I absolutely would not do is premium. Your lifeblood is content, don't do anything that restricts the potential flow of content.
     
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  20. steve

    steve Founder/Owner
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    Hi @Stuart Burnside

    Thanks for the feedback. The more I look at it and reading feedback from other members, the more I'm moving away from the idea of premium membership. The good thing is that it's not all back to the drawing board now. Apart from all the ideas that I got here, I have been approached by a couple of advertisers which means we should be able to just make it. You already saw that @Cricket-Hockey.com are now advertising so things are looking a little brighter. What I can say is that if you need to buy something online and have the option of choosing from one or another vendor, please use one of our supporters. In the end, it will make a big difference! There's no commission or anything involved so it's good you tell them you found them on FHF.

    Steve
     
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