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The Soul Story Method: How to Use Your Personal Brand to Connect with Potential Therapy Clients

A guest post by Ili Rivera Walter, PhD

By now, I am sure you know that other than you, your website is your number one networking partner in attracting potential therapy clients. What you may not know, however, is that your website is the perfect place to communicate your personality, and what I call your “personal brand.”

A guest post by Ili Rivera Walter, PhD By now, I am sure you know that other than you, your website is your number one networking partner in attracting potential therapy clients. What you may not know, however, is that your website is the perfect place to communicate your personality, and what I call your “personal brand.”

Using your website as the home of your personal brand gives clients a refreshing experience. When your online home showcases your brand, visitors do not encounter another humdrum therapy website, and as a result, they are able to better determine if what you offer is what they need.

So, what exactly is your personal brand?

Your personal brand is who you are translated into words, colors, and images that reflect who you serve and what you want.

Today, I am sharing with you the method that I teach therapists for finding and communicating their personal brand with words. I call it the “soul-story method.”

1: Soul (The Reflection Stage)

Getting in touch with your soul means getting in touch with your humanity. When you understand who you are, you are able to consistently connect with therapy clients, and anyone, from your personhood. This is the first step in social connection, as well as establishing a flowing client and referral base.

As a therapist, you are well-trained in empathic communication, listening, and presence. While connecting with clients online may not come easy to you, this is (most likely) not because you don’t have the skills for fostering connection.

The difficulty for many therapists is found in the frame and language that exists for building their businesses–words like “marketing,” “sales,” “conversion,” “profit.”

What might shift for you if, for example, you began to reframe business growth as based on “learning,” “curiosity,” “questioning,” “serving,” and of course, “connecting”?

The soul section of the soul-story method is simple. Answer the questions:

  • What awakens your soul?
  • What have you observed from your work, and/or its results, that inspires you?

Answering these questions requires a process of reflection that results in identifying what moves you. Here is a list of sample questions to guide you:

What awakens your soul?

  • During what activities are you most present?
  • What were you doing the last time you laughed with surprising joy?
  • What nurtures you?
  • How do you express your creativity?
  • In what ways do you take care of your soul?

What have you observed from your work, and/or its results, that inspires you?

  • Think of a recent time when you felt honored to hear a client’s story during therapy. Describe your experience.
  • When has a client expressed gratitude for your work?
    • What was the client’s presenting problem?
    • What change occurred?
    • How did you feel when he/she expressed gratitude?
  • What therapy work do you LOVE?

The soul section connects your personal inspiration with your professional inspiration, because these, together, create your personal brand. They get to the heart of what you do, and why you do it.

2: Story (The Writing Stage)

Explaining her process for public speaking, Dr. Debra Campbell (2017) says, “The material had to feel utterly authentic to me, streamed live from my soul, and I had to own it one hundred per cent in the telling.”

During the story stage, you “own” the telling of your authenticity. You express what you learned in the soul section with a message that reverberates in clients’ minds.

A Quick Story

When I first visited Daniel Fava’s website, the main thing that stood out to me, and the only thing I remember from that first website visit, is that Daniel is an INFJ (Myer’s-Briggs Type Indicator personality type).

It is the last bullet point on his About page. Why did this seemingly insignificant detail–unrelated to websites–stick with me? Well, I use the MBTI as a coaching tool with my therapist clients, I speak “MBTI” language, and my husband is an INFJ.

I happen to know that INFJ’s comprise less than 1.5% of the population. This told me more about him, and what I most likely would experience working with him, than anything he says on his site about his process for creating therapist websites.

Daniel couldn’t have known what detail on his site would reach me. He, however, understood that by sharing his personality (literally!), the likelihood was that he would make a heart-connection with his readers.

Marketing communication, like all interpersonal communication, starts with a heart check. Who’s the person you want to establish or deepen your connection with? Why is it important? What’s at stake? Why does what you want to say matter to them? –Donald Miller

How to tell your story

Boundaries

All compelling stories have boundaries. In fiction, the boundaries are determined by the story arc; in poetry, by the pattern.

For therapists, the boundaries are determined, to a large degree, by our ethical and legal commitments. Let’s take a minute to establish the boundaries of your soul story.

I recently received a question from a therapist who is developing a niche, and considering blogging. She asked:

What’s the boundary of personally disclosing on a professional blog? My personal life is what led me to focus on [her niche], which is what my practice will address. I don’t normally self disclose during sessions, but I’m wondering if its a different ball game with blogging.

I responded to this therapist with what I believe about storytelling (side note: storytelling is different from self-disclosure): Clients want to know that you understand them. There is no better way to communicate understanding than to share a similar struggle, if it has led you to your niche.

How to share a struggle

Whether you’re writing a blog post, your website, or a social media post, the sweet spot, for you and potential clients, is in revealing your personality, but not your personal process. My guide for this is Brené Brown’s tip: “Share what is vulnerable, not what is intimate.” Also, ensure that the motivation for the telling is to connect with potential therapy clients from your professional identity.

How to craft your story

I’ve found the following guidelines helpful when writing business content:

1 | Mention who you serve, and why you serve them

For significant content–videos, blog posts, podcast episodes, and so forth, make sure that it solves a problem for your potential or existing clients, and/or that you communicate your experience and passion.

2 | Use “I”

If you are solo practitioner, a group practice owner who uses independently contracted therapists, or a business owner at the center of your brand, use “I” when referring to your business, rather than “we.” “I” reflects vulnerability and ownership, while “we” can be confusing when one person is the face of the business.

3 | Use “You”

Speak directly to your potential therapy clients, when your goal is to teach, or you are inviting action. In general, speak directly to them as much as possible. Your business is about them, and connecting with them, and ultimately, this is the role of your story.

What is your story?

Your story is your business story, but it is also your personal story. You’ve worked hard, struggled, succeeded, learned, and you bring all of that into every therapy session. Your clients and potential clients should know your passion and determination.

In an effort to guide you through the process of writing your story, I am listing three questions that will lead to you identifying the essentials of your story. I’ve also answered each question with my story, in order to provide an example:

  • What brought you to this point in your career, and this business?

I changed my business model (from private practice to online counseling/coaching) after becoming a mom. I needed more flexibility, and I wanted to design work that met my personal needs for my new life stage.

What events have led you to be where you are right now? Invite your potential clients into this part of your story.

  • Why do you serve the clients you serve?

When I was transitioning professionally, I could not find a community that would help me navigate the personal and career changes required. I decided to focus my expertise on supporting therapists in creating careers that enrich their life.

  • What vision are you creating, one session at a time?

I am creating a community of therapists who feel and work refreshed, by designing intentional work. I am determined to blast burnout out of the mental health field!

How to use your story

Once you’ve completed your soul story, circle words that you use regularly in conversation. Star or highlight words that communicate your heart for your work. These words will be the foundation of your personal brand. Use them repeatedly when you post on social media, as well as on your website and sales copy.

Once you are intimately familiar with your soul story, it will naturally appear in your writing. In the meantime, glance at it anytime you write content for your private practice.

I recommend going through the soul-story method with pen and paper. If you want to clarify your personal brand, and craft your soul-story, download your free soul-story method guide, here: bit.ly/soulstoryguide. It includes all of the questions listed in this post, along with space for writing.

 


Ili Walter

Ili Rivera Walter, PhD is an intentional career coach and wellness warrior for mental health professionals. She is a LMFT in the states of Florida and Pennsylvania, as well as an AAMFT-Approved Supervisor. Ili is the founder and facilitator of The Refreshed Therapist Network, a community of therapists creating innovative careers that prevent burnout and enhance wellbeing. Learn more about Ili at www.familytherapybasics.com.

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How To SEO Optimize Your URLS

When search engines crawl through your content, one of the first indicators as to what the page is about is the URL. You can use the URL of each page and blog post on your private practice website to boost your SEO game.

In this article, we’ll talk about 5 ways to optimize URLs for SEO.

When search engines crawl through your content, one of the first indicators as to what the page is about is the URL. You can use the URL of each page and blog post on your private practice website to boost your SEO game. In this article, we’ll talk about 5 ways to optimize URLs for SEO.

1: Optimize for Humans, First

Google is VERY smart.

Gone are the days of just slapping keywords in your content and ranking on page 1.

Because Google wants to show the BEST content for a user’s search, you have to write for humans, not for Google.

Make your URLs as easy to read as possible.

This way, when someone sees a URL, they’ll have a clear understanding of what they’ll find by clicking on it.

Instead of URL like this: http://www.mywebsite.com/home/post?ID=128

You want something like this: http://www.mywebsite.com/10-ways-to-naturally-battle-depression

Which link would YOU rather click on?

2: Place Your Keywords in the URL

This one is pretty straight forward.

Decide what someone would type into Google to find the content you’re creating and place those keywords in the URL.

As I mentioned in this post’s intro, the URL is one of the first places Google will look to indicate what the page is about.

Research has also shown evidence of something called “domain bias”.

This means that users will often judge content based on whether they believe a domain to be worth a click based on the URL.

Putting your keywords in the URL will help users know exactly what they’ll get from clicking your link in search engines.

3: Keep URLs short, If Possible

This one is about usability, more than the technical side of Google.

Going back to tip #1 in this post, you want your URLs to be easily read and understood by humans.

A shorter URL will be much easier to read, easier to remember, easier to copy and past and can be understood more quickly than a super long URL.

There’s not hard and fast rule here, but I’d try and keep it as short as possible and well under 100 characters.

4: Separate Words with Hyphens & Underscores

You can break up the words in your URLs by separating them with hyphens or underscores.

Sometimes, when you leave a space in your URL, it will render as %20, which just looks weird and detracts from the keywords I know you’re putting in your URL.

Most content management systems, like WordPress take care of this automatically, but it’s worth a mention.

5: Keep URLs Consistent with Page Titles, If Possible

To create a consistent user experience and re-iterate the page content, try and match the words in the URL with the words of your page title.

If you have a super long title for a blog post (10 Ways To Survive Family Dysfunction During The Holidays… Without Drinking), it doesn’t mean that it has to be word for word.

But you do want some consistency that will let the user know what they’ll find by clicking the link and then be reassured when they see the title when they land on the page.

Something like http://mywebsite.com/survive-family-dysfunction-during-holidays would totally work here.

This will also help when you share the link on social media.

Your followers will see the title of the page and the matching URL close by, giving them confidence to click.

Wrapping UP

I hope you’ve found these five tips useful as you optimize your private practice website for search engines.

SEO can be a fickle beast, but if you keep tips like the above in mind while you consistently create content, you’ll see positive movement over time.

If you’d like to learn what Google finds most important and how to SEO your private practice website, check out my mini-course, A Little Course About SEO.

Want To Learn More About SEO?

Check out my mini-training, A Little Course About SEO:

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Video Blogging Vs Written Blogging for Your Private Practice

Publishing videos on your blog regularly can be a great way to connect with potential clients. But is there a benefit or drawback to vlogging (video blogging)?

In this article we’ll explore the pros and cons of vlogging and help you discover if video marketing is right for you.

Is there a benefit or drawback to vlogging (video blogging)? In this article we’ll explore the pros and cons of vlogging and help you discover if video marketing is right for you.

The Benefits of Video Blogging

The main benefits of vlogging all come down to building that “know, like and trust” factor with your audience.

When someone feels like they know you, like you and trust you, they’ll be much easier to convert into a paying client.

Know

There’s just something about video that allows you to connect with people.

They get to see your face, look into your eyes and hear your voice.

If you’re consistently creating video content for your blog, over time, your viewers will begin to feel like they know you.

You can even share short stories from your own life that relate to the topic you’re discussing, or just share a little about what’s going on in your world.

This is much easier in a video format versus a written format, where people would probably just skip over such details.

By the time your potential client reaches out to schedule an appointment, they’ll already feel like they know you, making it much easier to transition into a clinical relationship.

Like

It’s kinda hard to hide your personality on video.

Yeah, it may be very uncomfortable when you first start doing videos.

Which may make it difficult to let your personality come through.

But as time goes on, the anxiety will fall and your personality will begin to rise.

At least that’s what’s happened to me as I continue doing Facebook Live videos.

And as your true self begins to shine through, there will be those folks who relate to your personality.

They’ll just like you!

And let’s be honest, therapy is so much better when you like your therapist.

Trust

I believe that trust is built through consistency.

Consistently show your audience that you care about them and provide them with valuable content and they will trust you over time.

Video can be a great medium to deliver that valuable content.

You can share meaningful stories, teach potential clients coping exercises or record a training video for them.

Over time you’ll be seen by your clients as an expert and someone worth trusting with the challenges they are facing.

The Biggest Con to Vlogging: Google Can’t Read Video

Video blogging has one major downfall: Google cannot index videos.

This means that just posting a video in a blog post is not enough to rank your content in search engines.

Luckily, there is a simple work around.

Always post your video with written, search engine optimized content to give the post context and allow Google to crawl through it.

You can write a summary of your video and make sure you include your keywords for SEO.

Another thing you can do is use a service like rev.com to create a written transcript of your video.

It may sound redundant, but this allows Google to crawl even more words and also provides text for folks who don’t want to watch the video.

So, Should You Start Vlogging?

Whether you should or shouldn’t start vlogging is really a personal preference.

It’s a great way to connect with your audience and the only downside (no SEO juice) can easily be overcome by providing text along with your videos.

But you have to do what makes the most sense for your personality and your business.

At the moment, I’m using video in the CMTW Facebook Community only and NOT on my blog.

If I didn’t have that Facebook group to connect with my audience via video, then yes, I’d probably be doing more video here on the blog.

For many, video is a scary thing and requires you to “put yourself out there” much more than writing.

I say give video a shot and see how you like it and what response you get.

You can always go back to old-fashioned blogging if it’s not working for you and your private practice.

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14 Experts Share Their Private Practice Marketing Secrets

Building a private practice is hard. Like any business, there can be ups and there can be downs as you figure out how to market your therapy services.

But the great news is, you don’t have to do it alone.

In this article, I’ll share advice from some of the leading coaches and teachers in private practice marketing.

Building a private practice is hard. Like any business, there can be ups and there can be downs as you figure out how to market your therapy services. But the great news is, you don’t have to do it alone. In this article, I’ll share with advice from some of the leading coaches and teachers in private practice marketing.

There are entire communities filled with successful therapists willing to share their support and advice on building a thriving practice.

But there’s also a growing number of coaches and experts who have made it their mission to help you succeed in private practice and overcome your biggest marketing challenges.

14 Marketing Secrets from Private Practice Experts

Whenever I need a little marketing inspiration for my own business, I turn to those who are further along and more skilled than I.

I listen to what they’re doing, what they’ve done and think about how it applies to my business.

I applied the same approach to help you with YOUR business.

Recently, I reached out to 14 of those private practice marketing gurus and asked them all just one question:

“What’s the MOST important lesson or tip you’ve learned about marketing a private practice?”

I’ve compiled all their marketing wisdom into an info-packed PDF – free as my gift to you!

Here’s a sample of some of the tips you’ll get when you download the PDF:

Tip #1: Market in Ways That Feel Authentic to You

If you find ways to market that feel authentic to you and your practice, the clients will roll in.

Two things typically get in the way of this:

  1. Feeling uncomfortable with marketing (I like to think of marketing as letting people know you’re out there. It’s not about convincing, it’s about connecting)
  2. Thinking you have to market in a way that worked for a colleague. There are at least 100 ways to market a practice. If you choose a few that are fun, you’ll be a more effective marketer and you’ll actually enjoy it.

allison puryear

– Allison Puryear
www.abundancepracticebuilding.com

Tip #7: Do Less & Do It Better

The most important lesson I’ve learned when it comes to marketing a private practice is to do less and do it better. Through helping therapists venturing into websites and online marketing,

I’ve noticed that those therapists that select a handful of marketing activities that they feel excited about tend to be able to sustain those activities over time.

Marketing requires this sustained, consistent effort but there will be no energy for making that effort if you’ve spread yourself too thin. Or, you’ll be doing a lot, but doing it poorly.

So the first step is to take the time to put together a simple strategy. Next, schedule time for your marketing activities in your week and set some goals. I suggest sticking to a marketing strategy for 90 days. At that 90 day point, check in and see how things are going and shift as needed.

Repeat this continuously and you will discover what works for you.

Don’t do all the marketing activities that exist. Do the marketing activities that you have discovered work for you. Take a lot of deep breaths, get help and support when you need it, and have fun!

kat love

– Kat Love
www.empathysites.com

Tip #12: Go A Mile Deep

I’ve always been scared of words like “marketing” and “putting myself out there.”

I began to reframe marketing as “connection” and that’s been helpful for me. Because all of us are good at that as clinicians. Related to this, I’m a big believer in building a few relationships with referral sources that have lots of depth as opposed to many with little depth.

Or as I like to remind myself, “Go a mile deep rather than a mile wide.

melvin varghese

– Melvin Varghese, PhD
www.sellingthecouch.com

Tip #13: Let Yourself Be Seen

You don’t have to share your deepest secrets, but you do need to let yourself be seen.

Your clients need and want to a glimpse into who they are trusting with the most intimate areas of their life. They need to know that you understand them and empathize with them.

You can’t connect deeply with everybody, so you have to be willing to get a bit specific and remember “when you try to speak to everyone, you speak to noone.”

Speaking from a niche mentality doesn’t mean you will only see that niche or one type of client, it just means in this moment you are making it easier for people who need you to find you, and speaking to them in that deep, heart place.

miranda palmer

– Miranda Palmer
www.zynnyme.com

Download the PDF to get 10 More Expert Marketing Tips

I’m so excited to share this new resource with you because it’s jam-packed with so many great tips for marketing a private practice.

I love how each teacher has their own view and strength when it comes to marketing.

So you’ll be getting a well-rounded view of what you can do focus your marketing efforts and grow your practice.

Just click on the banner below to get your free PDF, 14 Expert Secrets For Marketing Your Private Practice:

Click here to get free private practice marketing tips

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The Best Articles of 2017 (and more)

The holiday season is a perfect time to slow things down (or at least attempt to!) and plan for the coming year. So, I’ve taken a break from publishing new articles for the month of December.

But I’m not going to leave you hanging. Below you’ll find some of my favorite and most popular articles in the Create My Therapist Website archives.

I hope you get to enjoy some of them while sitting by a fire sipping your favorite hot beverage.

1: The Complete Therapist’s Guide to Marketing a Private Practice

FB private practice marketing guide 1

This guide is an essential resource to anyone looking for new ideas and strategies for marketing their private practice.

From getting started to building a website, content marketing, SEO and getting more referrals, this guide has all you need to start marketing your private practice strategically and attracting more clients.

Check out the private practice marketing guide

2. My Best Articles About Pinterest

Pinterest is not JUST a place to find out how to make Christmas decor out of old palettes you found behind your favorite grocery store.

Pinterest is also one of the BEST ways to drive traffic to your private practice website.

So, here are all my articles and lessons related to growing your online presence using Pinterest.:

3. The Best SEO Resources

SEO (search engine optimization) doesn’t have to bring you pain in the new year.

If I had to sum up my best SEO advice to you, it would be this: consistently publish new content and know the most important places to put your keywords. Then, be patient.

But, if you want to dig a little deeper… below are some of my favorite SEO articles and resources to help you get found by your clients:

4. Creating A Website That Gets You Clients

Your website is one of the most important marketing tools you have.

If it’s not bringing in new client leads on the regular, then something has to change.

And that’s my passion.

I LOVE making websites and I love helping therapists create websites that propel their practice forward.

That’s why I offer one-on-one custom design services, as well as online courses… to help as many folks as I can grow their practice through their online presence.

The website we built for my wife was KEY to her building up a successful practice back in 2011 and I can’t stand by and let other therapists miss out.

Below are some of my favorite articles and resources to help you create the website your practice deserves:

4. And, Finally, Discounts on All Courses and Services

the best private practice marketing articles of 2017

To ring in the new year, I’ve created a coupon for 30% off all my online courses.

Purchase between now and when the ball drops to receive a discount on any and all trainings:

A Little Course About SEO:
10 Stupid Simple Things You Can Do To Optimize Pages or Blog Posts For Search Engines Consistently

A Little Course About WordPress:
Helping therapists take WordPress from a mysterious, scary and confusing beast to a friendly puppy, easy to navigate and use

The Blog Traffic Accelerator:
Explode Your Traffic Using A Simple Blogging System Combined With The Power of Pinterest

The Create My Therapist Website Toolbox:

Confidently Build Your Own Private Practice WordPress Website From Start to Finish… Even if you “lack the technical know-how”

Just click the links above or use the coupon code “ITSAWONDERFULLIFE2017”

But why stop with the courses? I’m also discounting my one-on-one services too:

Custom Website Design:

Ready to redesign your website or launch a new one? Just mention my favorite holiday movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, in the inquiry form and I’ll apply a 10% discount to your future project.

WordPress Maintenance & Support Packages:

Tired of wasting time keeping your WordPress files up to date or making changes to your website? Let me and my team do the work instead. Mention my favorite holiday movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, in the inquiry form and I’ll apply a 10% discount to your package.

That’s a wrap, 2017.

I hope you and your family have a blessed holiday season and wonderful new year.

For me, this year has been a whirlwind, seeing our first baby born and learning to run a business and balance a family. Quite the adventure!

I’ve also created some great friendships within the private practice community and have enjoyed so much connecting with more of my blog readers.

And look forward to creating more opportunities to connect in the new year.

Cheers to a great new year for you and private practice!

best private practice articles 2017 pin

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How the Copy on Your Website Converts Leads to Clients: And Why You Really Need a Niche

I hate to say it, but as clinicians, we can be a little slow on the entrepreneurial uptake. We’re often so focused on serving our clients well, that we struggle to come up for air and think about the professional side of our practices.

And, because we sometimes forget that we’re running a business as well as serving others, it’s not uncommon for those in the psychotherapy profession to neglect business-building activities.

I hate to say it, but as clinicians, we can be a little slow on the entrepreneurial uptake. We’re often so focused on serving our clients well, that we struggle to come up for air and think about the professional side of our practices. And, because we sometimes forget that we’re running a business as well as serving others, it’s not uncommon for those in the psychotherapy profession to neglect business-building activities.

For instance, the idea of incorporating or even relying on technology in our practices is still a bit scary and there is a definite tension when it comes to clinicians embracing modern ways of networking and marketing.

In fact, I literally get questions daily about how online marketing works and whether or not a fellow therapist actually needs a website.

As 2017 draws to an end and we approach 2018, the answer is an unwavering and astounding YES!

Yes, you need a website. But not only that, you need a well-designed website that is both visually appealing and speaks directly to your ideal client.

Now, I’m “technically” a millennial so my willingness to embrace technology may be a bit skewed, but I’m being really honest when I say that even my 90-year-old grandma has an iPhone.

This goes to show that no matter your ideal client population, they are online.

Your website is your greatest business asset.

It’s inexpensive to maintain and it works for you 24/7. Sure, there is an initial cost to set up a website properly, and whether you hire it out or create it yourself, there is a large commitment of either money or time up front.

But take that money you spend and divide it into an hourly wage, and you’ll see that your website is actually your most underpaid employee.

Your website is also your greatest gatekeeper.

When your content is written in a way that speaks directly to your ideal client, you will not only attract them to your practice but repel those that are not a good fit.

The same goes for posting your hours and fees online. Those who cannot fit into your schedule or afford your fees will move on. But, the calls that do come will be serious and motivated inquiries.

Perhaps the best thing about having a well-designed website, however, is the fact that it is a marketing machine.

I’m a big fan of in-person networking and believe it’s essential to growing and scaling any practice.

But, it’s just not possible to meet in person 24-hours a day. What’s more, a client in need whose anxiety has him up at 3 in the morning can’t go in and see his primary care doctor.

So, who better to turn to than good ol’ Google?

Having an attractive website allows you to still be available despite the time of day or circumstances. It also provides you with an internet home base which acts as the hub of your online marketing.

The Truth About Content and Online Marketing

By now, we are well aware that we must market our practices to see any kind of success.

There are just so many professionals in our field, that without a concentrated effort, we will never stand out from the crowd.

However, many of the traditional ways we are taught to promote ourselves: in-person networking, business events in the community, forming partnerships with doctors and psychiatrists, hosting open houses, etc. all demand so much effort that they leave little time for us to concentrate on what we do best – therapy.

The truth about internet marketing is that any AND everything that is posted online counts as content.

This includes the raging rant we posted five years ago after being pulled over for a broken taillight when there are “real” criminals out there. And, it also includes the picture from last week where we are shaking hands with the police chief after implementing a mental health system in the county jail.

Though hilarious (or mortifying – however you want to look at it), what’s difficult about marketing in 2017 and beyond is that nothing ever disappears from the internet.

If it’s been posted somewhere, whether immediately “deleted” or not, it is accessible by someone, somehow. This means that all of the content we have ever created contributes to our online reputation and our web presence.

The fortunate thing, though, is that content is cumulative. So, the more positive things you post about yourself personally and professionally, the better your reputation becomes.

This strategic curation of online content that highlights you and your practice in a positive way becomes what is known as your “brand.”

Positioning your brand’s message so it is easily accessible by those that most need your help is what is known as content marketing.

Content Marketing is an extremely powerful tool for attracting clients and building a practice with much less effort and overhead than ever before.

Utilizing blogs, videos, images, and website copy allows therapists to highlight themselves among all other clinicians in the area and position their practice as the one that is the best match for those needing services.

What’s more, recent surveys show that technology such as the internet and Smart Phones are not commodities.

Regardless of their socioeconomic status, clients are online.

Therefore, content marketing is one way to reach populations that might not ever find their way to therapy through traditional channels.

Lastly, content marketing is a fervent way for us to build practices we truly love and are excited about showing up to every day.

How Your Website Fits into A Content Marketing Strategy

Like I mentioned above, your website is the hub of your presence online.

It is where your brand lives and where all of your potential clients should be going to find out more about working with you.

The first impression, which is almost always visual, is what keeps these potential leads from immediately bouncing away from your site.

However, it is the web copy (read: content) that draws the reader in and converts them from a prospect to a paying client.

There are a few different ways a lead might land on your website.

They may find you directly by putting keyword phrases into a search engine, they may find your website listed on a directory, or they may stumble across your business or rack card.

In each of these cases, the prospect is what is considered a “cold” lead. They do not know you, and they have not received your name or contact information from anyone they trust.

Once they have found you online, the only thing cold leads have to go on when deciding whether or not you are a good fit for them is the copy on your website.

How you speak to potential clients has a profound effect on whether or not they pick up the phone to schedule with you. Talking directly to leads in a language that resonates will cause them to have an emotional reaction and believe that you truly understand what it is they are struggling with.

Ensuring that your website is filled to the brim with such tailored content is the quickest way to earn a prospect’s trust and encourage them to get in contact with you.

And it’s not much different for warm leads.

These are the people who come to your website through a referral. Whether they receive your name from a trusted doctor or loved one, in this day and age, the majority of people will still go to your website to learn more about you.

While warms leads are a bit more primed to schedule with you, they can still be turned off if they don’t believe that you are the right fit for them.

Talking in too general of a way is just not helpful. Without reaching leads at a core level, you will always leave readers of your website in a lukewarm state.

But, if you’re able to get to the core of the prospect’s struggles, and speak to them on each and every page of your site, you can elicit an emotional response and motivate them to pick up the phone.

So, what’s the key to speaking in a way that resonates with potential clients?

Choosing a niche.

What is Niche Marketing and Why Should Therapists Use It?

The idea of defining your niche is still a bit controversial in clinician circles.

One reason for this is there are some that think niching down is unethical as therapists who prefer a certain population are essentially denying services to some who may be in need.

The idea, however, is not to deny services, but to offer therapy at a higher skill level.

In fact, defining your ideal client allows you to hone your skills and become a specialist. So long as you are providing legitimate options and alternatives to those outside your niche, such as genuine referrals, you are not violating any ethical guidelines.

Another common hang-up about niching down is that some therapists believe it to be too restrictive to build a thriving practice.

It’s true, the second you decide to niche your practice, you are basically choosing to alienate a large segment of potential clients. By narrowing your focus to one slice of the population, you are effectively telling others that you do not serve them as well as you serve your chosen demographic.

This can be really scary, especially when clinicians are new to practice or do not have a full caseload.

But the reality is, defining your niche is the quickest way to fill a practice with clients you are excited to work with and that leave you feeling professionally fulfilled.

Incorporating niche marketing into your practice is the best way to write “tight” website copy.

Copy that is too loose or that has too many holes in it will not speak to your ideal clients. It gives them too many opportunities to turn their attention elsewhere.

However, web copy that is written with a niche in mind becomes sharp and provocative and resonates with readers at their core.

A Five-Step Niching Process

So now that you know the importance of your website and also how integral your web copy is to attracting your ideal client, it’s time to figure out how to go about defining your niche.

A lot of clinicians make the mistake of having a niche that is too wide.

Again, this probably goes back to the fear of repelling too many clients and operating from a scarcity mindset.

However, there are enough clients for every therapist to build a profitable practice, so there should be no fear about learning to attract a very narrow segment of the population.

A great tip is to imagine the act of defining your niche as building an upside-down pyramid.

The objective is to work from a wide scope and funnel the concept of your ideal client down until it becomes narrower and narrower.

At each stage, ask yourself questions about your ideal client like “what is at the core of their presenting problem” “what is underneath this complaint” and “what is really going on here” to help you really learn how to target them.

I always recommend going through this process five times so that you essentially narrow your niche down five levels.

An example of this is:

  1. Teenagers
  2. Teenagers whose grades have suddenly dropped
  3. Teenagers whose grades have suddenly dropped because they have developed test anxiety
  4. Teenagers whose grades have suddenly dropped and who have developed test anxiety because they are worried about getting into a good college
  5. Teenagers whose grades have suddenly dropped, who have developed test anxiety, and who are worried about getting into a good college because their older sibling graduated Suma Cum Laude from an Ivy League school

By the time you get to the fifth level, you have a completely clear idea of who you are marketing to and trying to attract to your practice.

Now, that does not mean that this is the only type of client you will see.

Some of your marketing will appeal to 20 or 30 somethings with anxiety or the parents of high-performing teens, but the core of your marketing message will resonate with a certain segment of the population which is the whole point.

This exercise isn’t always easy to do right off the bat and takes some practice, but once you get the hang of it, it can be fun to brainstorm different ideal client populations you’d like to serve.

If you need a little guidance when it comes to refining your niche, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

If you’d like to take your content marketing even further, by defining your ideal client, finding your ideal clients online and generating strategic, tailored website content, download your FREE 8-page workbook here >>> bit.ly/cliniciancontentworkbook

About Marissa Lawtonmarissa lawton portrait sm

Marissa Lawton is a licensed counselor, national board certified counselor, and member of the American Counseling Association. She is also an avid content marketer and lights up helping female clinicians build their private practices through strategic and tailored online marketing.

Marissa is the creator of The Clinician’s Guide to Content Marketing, a comprehensive system of masterclasses, concierge strategy calls, and boutique writing services that helps therapists identify their niche, find them online, and generate content that speaks directly to their ideal clients.

You can learn more about Marissa at risslawton.com

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How To Write Amazing Blog Post Titles That People Actually Click

The titles of your blog posts are detrimental to the success of your content marketing. In a sea of Google search results and social media, the title of your post can mean the difference between a reader clicking for more or just brushing you aside.

In this post we’ll talk about 5 ways you can write catchy blog post titles that people can’t help but click on.

The titles of your blog posts are detrimental to the success of your content marketing. In a sea of Google search results and social media, the title of your post can mean the difference between a reader clicking for more or just brushing you aside. In this post we’ll talk about 5 ways you can write catchy blog post titles that people can’t help but click on.

Why Blog Titles Are So Important to Successful Content Marketing

Your blog headline is the first impression a reader will have with your content.

It can be their reason for clicking or their reason for brushing your post aside.

How sad would it be to slave over a blog post for hours, getting the content just write and then slapping a title on it that doesn’t draw people to the value they’ll find within the content?

We live in fast-paced times where the amount of information we see each day is astounding.

People are flying through their Facebook feed while waiting in checkout lines or scrolling through Pinterest while watching TV.

It’s become increasingly harder to make your content stand out and reach your ideal audience in this noisy sea of information.

But a catchy headline could cause someone to pause, pique their interest and make them hungry for more of the content they’ll find in your blog post.

It’s also one of the most important factors for your search engine optimization (SEO).

Combine SEO with a catchy, intriguing headline and it’s content marketing gold!

Let’s get into some tips for writing blog headlines that get clicked, shall we?

1: Keep your Blog Post Titles Short and Unique

55 characters is your target for the length of your blog post titles.

This is amount of characters that Google will show users in their search results. Anything longer will get cut off.

Shorter headlines also tend to get more clicks because they’re easier for readers to digest and know exactly what they’ll get when they click.

Get creative here. Don’t just write generic titles.

Include a keyword but also put some emotion into it that will make your title stand out from the rest of posts flying through the internet.

2: Focus On Keywords

Powerful headlines always focus on a keyword.

This is how people may find your blog post and let’s search engines know what your blog post is about.

Decide on what words your audience may type into Google to find your blog post and work that into the title.

3: Get Emotional

A catchy blog post title will have a healthy dose of emotion that will grab the reader’s attention and lead them to click for more.

You can use power words to not only make your post titles unique, but also give a sense of urgency, curiosity and emotion.

You want to stay away from common words like best, awesome, or great.

Go for the jugular here and get creative!

Use words like:

  • Ultimate
  • Greatest
  • Fascinating
  • The Truth About…

For example, a generic headline for blog post may go something like this:

“How to Set Boundaries in Marriage”

It’s not bad, but unless I’m really interested in that topic, it doesn’t really intrigue me much.

But what about:

“The TRUTH About Setting Boundaries in Marriage”

You see the difference? The second title creates a bit of intrigue and makes me feel like everything I’ve heard up to this point about boundaries in marriage was incorrect.

I just gotta click!!

Here’s a great list of 317 power words you can start using today.

4: Use Numbers

There’s something about numbers that increase engagement with blog post titles.

When you say “10 Ways to Set Boundaries in Marriage” as opposed to “How to Set Boundaries in Marriage” it conveys the value of the post and exactly what the reader will gain from checking out your content.

I enjoy creating these types of blog posts myself because they provide a clear outline for the content instead of a giant blank slate.

The same mentality gets passed along to readers, because they can more easily wrap their head around a list of short tips rather than one long “how to” post.

When it makes sense, try and include numbers in your headlines to drive engagement.

5: Write and Re-Write To Get Your Blog Post Titles Right

I had fun with the word-play on that subtitle, not gonna lie

Writing effective and engaging blog post titles takes a lot of practice.

Rarely will you ever use the first title you came up with.

I like to have a working title for my blog post to give me some direction for what I’m going to write.

But as the content unfolds, it may make sense to re-write the title.

Finally, once the blog post is complete, I’ll spend time focusing solely on optimizing my title.

One of my favorite tools to help me do this is CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer.

You can put your headline into the form and CoSchedule will analyze it, score it and give you tips to improve it.

Here’s the analysis for a working title I had for this blog post:

blog post headline analyzer

You can see I’ve got some work to do get the right balance of words and structure for my title.

It will also give you some other scores to help you improve your headline, such as analyzing the length:

blog post headline analyzer length

Conclusion

Writing blog post headlines that stand out and get clicks takes time and practice.

It’s a skill, like blogging, that you’ll grow in over time.

Take note of the types of headlines you see in Google and social media and think about why they stood out to you.

Using the tips and resources above, spend time trying to recreate that feeling of urgency or curiosity you felt when you read those headlines.

Keep at it and, over time, I have no doubt you’ll see an increase in traffic to your blog posts.

Want more blogging tips? I've created a FREE checklist, 11 Things You Should Do To Every Blog Post Before You Hit Publish.

Inside, you'll get 11 simple things you can do to optimize each blog post. You can print it out and refer to whenever you write your next amazing piece of content.

I've created a free checklist for you to reference when writing your next blog post
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How to Increase Traffic Your Private Practice Website (Join the Free Challenge)

Getting people to show up to their private practice website is one of the greatest frustrations I hear from therapists.

I mean, why put all this effort into building your website if no one’s even going to visit it?

And how are you supposed to attract new clients if they can’t even find you online?

I’m with you.

I’m all for making sure you’re not spinning your wheels and wasting your time and resources trying to create a website that doesn’t bring you more traffic – and ultimately – clients.

So, how DO you increase your traffic and attract more potential clients to your website?

That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?

Well, I’ve been there myself.

I launched Create My Therapist Website as a blog back in July of 2015 and since then I’ve learned all about what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to driving traffic to a website.

And after trying so many strategies – from pulling my hair out over SEO to trying to understand Facebook ads – I’ve landed on a simple system that keeps my blog on track and continuously brings me new traffic (mostly on autopilot).

The best part is, this traffic-driving strategy is FREE and it can work for anyone in any niche.

So, to help you get more traffic to your private practice website, I’ve developed a 10-day Kickstart Your Blog Traffic Challenge.

For 10 days, I’ll deliver one daily lesson to your inbox that will share with you simple ways you can increase traffic to your blog.

Each day will build on the day before it and by the end of it, you’ll have a system and a process you can follow to grow your traffic month after month.

I’ll also be bringing you some live video trainings along the way to answer your questions and go deeper into my favorite traffic-building tips.

Click here to enroll in the Kickstart Your Blog Traffic Challenge >>

Now, this isn’t just a bunch of random blog tips and tactics…

I’ll literally be sharing the same strategy I used that led to a 15x increase in traffic to my own website… in just 6 months.

It’s the same strategy I still use today to bring in tons of traffic to my website without SEO and paid advertising.

And I can’t wait to share it all with you inside this challenge

Because what I’ve learned is that it’s not rocket science, so anyone can follow this system to see an uptick in their own website traffic.

Ready to explode your traffic, grow your audience and attract more of your ideal clients? Join the free 10-day Kickstart Your Blog Traffic Challenge by clicking the banner below:

Click here to join the free challenge

Lesson #1 will arrive in your inbox today!

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How To Set Up Pinterest Rich Pins for Your Private Practice Website

Rich Pins allow Pinterest to display extra information about you and your website when pinning content from your website. It’s a great way to stand out on Pinterest and makes it easier to drive traffic back to your therapy website.

In this post we’ll go over what Rich Pins are exactly and how to get started using them on your own Pinterest profile and private practice website.

Rich Pins allow Pinterest to display extra information about you and your website when pinning content from your website. It’s a great way to stand out on Pinterest and makes it easier to drive traffic back to your therapy website. In this post we’ll go over what Rich Pins are exactly and how to get started using them on your own Pinterest profile and private practice website.

What Are Pinterest Rich Pins?

Rich pins are a way for Pinterest to provide some extra information about your website along with pins that link back to your pages and posts.

By enabling a bit of code on your website, it allows Pinterest to gather a little information about any content pinned from your website.

A bold title, your website name and your profile picture all appear with your pin to let pinners know more about who they’re repinning and where the content came from.

Here’s an example of what Rich Pins do:

pinterest for therapists rich pin

All this extra info will help you stand out in the busy Pinterest feed.

Notice how Rich Pins display your blog titles clear and gives your ideal audience more chances to click over to your website.

And tests have shown that Rich Pins have been proven to increase traffic.

So you’re going want to set up this functionality if you’re using Pinterest to promote your private practice blog.

You may be wondering, what does a NON Rich Pin look like?

For comparison’s sake, here’s an example:

pinterest non rich pin

There’s no extra information, such as a bold title for the content, a “read it” button, or “Article from” highlight of the author’s Pinterest profile.

This can result in less repins, fewer follows and less traffic back to the original website’s content.

Getting Started With Rich Pins for Your Therapy Website

Setting up this extra Pinterest functionality does not take long and has tons of benefits.

And you can set it up once, and then any content pinned from your website will display as a Rich Pin.

In order to enable Rich Pins, you have to have what’s called “Open Graph” code on your website.

This is the same type of code that Facebook uses to pull in information for links you share on their platform.

The process is a little different depending on which website platform you use. So I’ll cover a few of the most popular ones below.

Using WordPress to Set Up Rich Pins

The process to enable Rich Pins is extremely easy when using WordPress.

Step 1: Install the Yoast SEO plugin

Step 2: Click on “Social” under the Yoast SEO settings

rich pins yoast 1

Step 3: Click on the Facebook tab and make sure Open Graph is enabled

rich pins yoast 2

Step 4: Validate your Rich Pins with Pinterest using their Rich Pin Validator

rich pin validator

Once validated, Pinterest will show you the information they see for your website:

rich pin pinterest validated

Using Other Website Platforms to Enable Rich Pins

Wix: Setting up Rich Pins with Wix

Squarespace: Already supported when you link your Pinterest account from within Squarespace settings. Once linked, run the Rich Pin Validator here.

Weebly: You’ll have to first add the Open Graph code to your website’s “Head” code. Check out the instructions here.

How Using Pinterest led to a 15x increase in traffic to my own website… in just 6 months.

Rich Pins are just one of many simple strategies you can use to help drive lots of traffic to your private practice website using Pinterest.

Now, I’ve spent the last couple years testing what works and doesn’t work for driving traffic to websites.

And Pinterest can be a game changer.

It currently accounts for more than 90% of all traffic to this here site… and all without having to pay for my content to be seen (like you have to do on Facebook).

And after just 6 months of using Pinterest strategically I saw a 15x increase in my traffic!

I’d like to share this Pinterest strategy with you…

Because what I’ve learned is that it’s not rocket science, so anyone can follow this system to see an uptick in their own website traffic.

So I’ve compiled together my favorite traffic-driving tactics, combining blogging with simple Pinterest strategies to help you grow your website traffic quickly into a free, 10-day email challenge.

Ready to use Pinterest to explode your traffic, grow your audience and attract more of your ideal clients? Join the free 10-day Kickstart Your Blog Traffic Challenge by clicking the banner below:

Click here to join the free challenge

 

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Why Your Private Practice NEEDS To Be On Pinterest

Pinterest isn’t just for recipes, workout plans, and dream weddings. It’s actually a great way to drive traffic to your private practice’s website.

Did you know that Pinterest is the second largest driver of traffic, second only to Facebook?

So, if you’ve been weary about trying a new social media platform, below are 5 reasons why you need to be using Pinterest to your advantage.

Pinterest isn’t just for recipes, workout plans, and dream weddings. It’s actually a great way to drive traffic to your private practice’s website.

Reason #1: Pinterest has over 150 million users (and growing) who are providing details about their psychographics.

Whether they’re looking for inspirational quotes or have a board dedicated completely to self-care tips, your ideal clients are identifying themselves daily.

Using attractive graphics and optimizing your captions with keywords specific to your niche will draw your future clients directly to your site.

Your potential clients are using Pinterest already, so use it as an opportunity to attract them with content relevant to your private practice and expertise.

Reason #2: Your clients are open and receptive to your message.

In fact, they’re looking for it.

By being consistent with the design of your pin images and consistently providing content that will serve your ideal client, you can stand out as an expert in your field.

And as they become receptive to your helpful content, your target audience may be more likely to contact you, set up an appointment, and become a regular client.

I can’t promise this is going to happen overnight, but as traffic increases over time it does increase the likelihood of converting visitors to clients.

Reason #3: Pinterest can increase traffic to your therapy website exponentially.

When someone pins a post, it’s shared to their friends and followers. This means an entire network of individuals will be seeing your content.

The best part is that this can work exponentially in your favor to bring you loads of traffic.

For example, if you pin an image that links to your blog post and you only have 400 followers, it has the potential of being seen by those 400 individuals.

But if one of those 400 individuals REPINS your content and THEY have 4,000 followers, well you have the potential getting your pin (and clicks to your website) in front of 4,000 more people.

And on and on it goes.

So, more eyes means more traffic. More traffic means more prospective clients.

Reason #4: Your audience is looking for the inspiration and content that you can provide.

Since 66% of people on Pinterest are using the platform for that purpose, give them what they’re looking for.

You see, Pinterest is really a search engine… NOT a social media website.

Pinterest is a place where people go to find answers and it’s a great place to provide answers by pinning your blog posts there regularly.

Ensure your messaging is both inspirational and actionable, giving your future clients a roadmap to follow that ultimately leads directly to you.

Whether they’re numbered lists or how to’s, providing the right content to the right audience on the right platform could be a game changer for your private practice.

Reason #5: Pinterest can help with your SEO

One thing that search engines pay attention to is something called “social signals.”

Social signals do play a role in organic and local search engine optimization. Search engines want to show their users the most relevant and engaging content.

As people interact with your pins and traffic increases over time, it can cause a positive impact on your local search engine rankings.

So when potential, local clients search for services related to your practice, Google will be more likely to show them your website, as it sees that Pinterest is sending many other engaged users to your content.

And beyond local search, your pins can (and probably will) pop up from time to time in Google search results, eventually leading traffic back to your website.

Is Your Private Practice on Pinterest Yet? If not, read on…

Personally, Pinterest is my FAVORITE way to drive traffic to any website.

It currently accounts for more than 90% of all traffic to this here site… and all without having to pay for my content to be seen (like you have to do on Facebook).

In fact, using Pinterest led to a 15x increase in traffic to my own website… in just 6 months.

It required a little bit of strategy (but ANYONE can do it)

I’d like to share this Pinterest strategy with you inside this challenge

Because what I’ve learned is that it’s not rocket science, so anyone can follow this system to see an uptick in their own website traffic.

Ready to use Pinterest to explode your traffic, grow your audience and attract more of your ideal clients? Join the free 10-day Kickstart Your Blog Traffic Challenge by clicking the banner below:

Click here to join the free challenge