The reason her post grabbed my attention today (aside from that her posts always command attention!) is that at the beginning of this year (can it be only 9 weeks ago?) I made a conscious decision that during 2013, whenever I got notice that my membership -- to any of the professional organizations, premium service levels, databases, and resource websites -- was in need of renewal, I would not automatically renew.
Instead, I would first try determine:
1. How often, how deeply, and with what level of satisfaction did I use the membership, service or site in the past 12 months?
2. Did I derive benefits I couldn't get elsewhere?
3. Was it a go-to source?
4. Did I find it simple to navigate, or if not exactly simple, do I like the way I must be engaged in order to dig for information?
5. Did I gain insight, information, and useful intelligence via the membership?
6. Can I trace back the sale/placement of an article or essay, an assignment, a new editing client, a new professional relationship, more competence with new tools or techniques, a worthwhile class or conference – to the membership?
7. Are the results I can personally trace, worth the cost? (Mind you, the annual cost may be quite *reasonable* but if it's for a service/site/organization I don't utilize, or find far too complicated to use, then it's a wasted expenditure.
8. Is it any fun to use? (Because really, how many times have we quit using something we were paying for because, although it seemed like it should be worthwhile, it turns out it was just awfully tedious, annoying, complicated, boring?)
Finally, I'm looking forward.
9. Am I planning on wading in to new waters in the months or year ahead, and if so, will a membership or premium service level help me learn about this new area of the writing world?
10. Will a membership enable me to more easily participate in that new arena?
11. Will it help me get to know others who have more experience than I, who might help me find my way?
Since I've begun to analyze my memberships more closely, I felt better equipped, when the renewal notice arrived for three different organizations/services already this year, to know whether or not to click the renew button. (I did for two, but passed on the third.)
How about you? Are there memberships you find invaluable?