Discover how some very successful mental health professionals use blogging, social media, and other technologies as powerful tools for their therapy practices.
This is the second post in our new series "The Power of Online Presence." Today's featured therapist is Joseph R. Sanock, an MA, LLP, LPC, NCC who owns "Mental Wellness Counseling" and also works as a private practice consultant with "Practice of the Practice."
When and how did you first start putting time and effort into maintaining a strong online presence?
In early 2012, I launched www.PracticeofthePractice.com and relaunched www.MentalWellnessCounseling.com. Through my private practice, Mental Wellness Counseling, I began blogging and building a stronger network. Within 6 weeks, I grew my page rank from the bottom of page 3 to the middle of page 1 in my area.
Please describe what social platforms you currently use.
I use a wide variety of social media platforms. I have a blog, a podcast, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and StumbleUpon. That's a lot!
I have found that Pinterest has actually been my leading referral for both my private practice and my consulting business. I think this is because Pinterest users are the most purchase-minded (Gary Vaynerchuck talks about this in his book, "Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook."). People who go on Pinterest are dreaming about having a new life. It could be a new hair style, a new dress, or a renovation. They are in a mindset of change. As counselors, we fit perfectly into that mindset.
Facebook has also been a great tool to engage with an audience, but it has not driven clear traffic to my websites. I view Facebook as more of a platform to build a foundation of being known within my community. I think that it then creates clear channels to set up appointments and engage with me, especially for future consulting clients.
About how much time do you devote to your online presence? How do you balance it with your other work responsibilities?
I work a 40-hour work week and then also run my private practice, podcast, and consulting business. My wife is a play-at-home mom, so I'm the only income earner. This means I have to be highly focused. When I write blog posts, I use Google's Keyword Planner (here is a walk through article on it) so I can get the most organic searches for articles. I want to know whether "depression" or "anxiety" is searched more before I spend time on the article. Overall, I spend about 2 hours a week emailing clients and readers, 2 hours a week writing blog posts, 1 hour a week on creating content for social media, and 3 hours a week on creating and promoting my podcasts.
I'm careful to balance my time between work and my family. I don't look at email or social media on Saturdays because I want to be fully present with my three-year-old daughter and wife. We plan fun adventures together, and it reminds me why I work hard: to be able to have more family time.
What kind of things do you use to inspire your content creation; what do you write about?
There are three ways that I am inspired:
1. Reading books outside our industry
2. Finding local issues and adding a psychology spin to them
3. Recurring questions
I mostly read business, marketing, and passive income books. I listen to business podcasts on my way to and from work, and I'm always inspired to think of ways to apply what I'm learning to my practice.
I also try to "trendjack." When something is erupting on social media in my town, I write a blog post about that issue. For example, we recently had a huge festival in Traverse City. There was trash everywhere and pictures of it all over Facebook. People were really mad! I wrote an article called Pure Michigan Litter: The Psychology of Trash and sent it to a local radio station. They later invited me on air to discuss my piece. It was an amazing way to get free exposure by writing about a hot topic.
Lastly, when I have clients or readers that keep asking the same question, I write a blog post about it. Over and over, I was teaching consulting clients how to do keyword research. Finally I wrote an article to point them to; it saves me time and builds my perceived worth!
How do you best balance personal and professional in your online activities? Please give examples.
What is some tangible evidence that your online presence has grown your business?
I work around 10 hours per week on my business. Every month, I post my month income for my audience to read (Joe's Monthly Income Reports). Here are some stats:
- Since Jan 2012, I have gone from being a solo practitioner to having 3 additional counselors. I am adding 2 more in the coming months.
- Moved from a 300 square foot single office to a 1,002 office with a corner view of the water.
- In September 2012, I made $1,361.60. In June 2014, I made $8,486.38.
- In June 2012, my consulting website (www.PracticeofthePractice.com) had 793 sessions with 1,849 page views. In June 2014, I had 2,992 sessions and 6,398 page views.
- I have the #1 podcast for counselors in private practice on iTunes!
Besides attracting clients, what other ways has your strong online presence helped you?
What have been some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered creating and maintaining your online presence?
The hardest thing for me is to not take on more than what I can do really well. It's easy to get overwhelmed with social media: blogging, websites, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, email lists, podcast, etc. But just like we teach our clients, we need to take a small step in the right direction. I took on too much at the beginning and had to learn to focus my time on what I could do well and what helped me create more income. Looking at the analytics helped me narrow down my efforts.
What tips or resources can you recommend to help therapists who are new to the online world of blogging, social media, SEO, etc.?
Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC
Website: www.MentalWellnessCounseling.com Blog: www.PracticeofthePractice.com Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PracticeOfThePractice Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jsanok/ Listen to Joe's Podcast on iTunes Get practice tips and blog updates in your inbox. Sign up for the Private Practice Toolbox Newsletter here.
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