4 Ways to Build a Thriving Practice in an Uncertain Economy

canstockphoto9071108Since the economic downturn of 2008, my practice has experienced significant growth. I attribute that growth to these four strategies.

Our economy took a turn for the worse in 2008, stock market crashed, and many companies were forced to downsize.  It was a hard time for many Americans, financially and emotionally. And yet, during this same time frame, my practice Wasatch Family Therapy experienced exponential growth. We steadily acquired new clients. opened two additional locations and grew from half a dozen therapists to over 20 therapists.

So how did I do it?  I put time and energy into creating and maintaining a strong online presence.

1) I used a website as a way to introduce myself and to serve my community

As an early technology adopter, I had a website (or webpage) in the early 2000's. As social networking expanded in the mid-2000's I saw the incredible possibilities for reaching out directly to potential clients. My website not only acts as an introduction to my clinic and my therapists, but also allows us to serve and educate through videos and articles about important issues related to mental and emotional health and well-being.

2) I used social media to have meaningful conversations with people

Social media has played an invaluable role in acquiring and retaining clients. I estimate that we gain about 80% of new customers through Google and the internet.  The importance of having an online presence cannot be overstated.  It changed my business forever, and Wasatch Family Therapy continues to thrive to this day. Here's a rough time frame of my social networking journey:

  • 2002 Started solo private practice Wasatch Family Therapy
  • 2004 Webpage
  • 2008 Joined Facebook
  • 2009 Joined Twitter
  • 2009 Started blogging on practice website
  • 2009 Employed 4-5 therapists
  • 2009 Joined LinkedIn
  • 2010 Started YouTube Channel
  • 2011-12 Joined Instagram, Pinterest
  • 2013 Joined Google+
  • 2014 Currently employ 20+ therapists with 3 locations

3) I created consistent and meaningful content on reputable websites

I  caught the vision of providing quality content to educate and serve the public.  My professional Facebook presence, blog, and other media projects were ways for us to get my name out there, establish trust and reliability, and connect with readers and potential clients. I started blogging for PsychCentral's Ask the Therapist in 2009, Private Practice Toolbox blog in 2011, Sharecare and Daily Strength in 2012, and became the Answers relationship expert blogger in 2013.

4) I sought out media interviews and learned to leverage them

Once I started creating content on larger websites, I started seeking local and national media interviews. As a result of my blogging and media interviews established news and lifestyle websites began quoting me and linking to my website.  This led to even more traffic (readers coming to our site), which in turn meant building trust with more people. It’s been very encouraging to see the fruits of my labor pay off in the growth of my clinic, and the ability to employ amazing therapists.

Never before have therapists been able to serve potential clients before ever meeting them and to educate our community without leaving the house. Through developing your strong online presence through an effective website, an engaged social media following, creating helpful content, and seeking media interviews, you can maintain viability and keep your practice strong, even when the economic climate is less than favorable.

What strategies have you used to survive and thrive in an uncertain economy? Please share your thoughts below!

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10 Ways Blogging Transformed My Private Practice

10 ways blogging has transformed my practice Jodie Gale MA built a thriving practice through online presence, blogging and social media. Read about her journey in this inspiring guest post.

When I returned home from the UK several years ago, I was shocked at the state of psychotherapy in Australia. There was, and still is, a lack of understanding about what psychotherapy is and a lack of promotion regarding the benefits of psychotherapy from our professional associations. Frustratingly, it is rare to find a psychotherapist (or a family/play/art therapist) working as part of a multidisciplinary team in private or public health.

There is also a deeply pervasive myth that it is impossible to fill a ‘full fee paying’ private practice as a counsellor or psychotherapist because of the mental health plan insurance system which only provides rebates to psychologists and a small number of social workers. Trying to persuade clients to engage in weekly, depth psychotherapy (without a rebate) literally felt like mission impossible. My private practice reflected this and was sporadic to say the least. Desperate and down hearted after 8 years of Master’s training to become a psychotherapist – I found myself smack bang in the middle of a major career crisis.

At the beginning of 2013, I built a strong online presence through blogging and by taking the Julie Hanks LCSW's Private Practice Toolbox Blog Challenge.  Since taking the blogging challenge I am now described by my colleagues as a prolific blogger and I credit creating online content as the foremost reason for my practice growth and success.

10 Benefits of Blogging Regularly on my Private Practice Website

1) I have more than enough clients

A great deal has changed since then! My practice is out of control busy and I have literally had to take my phone number off my website because I couldn’t keep up with the high level of phone inquiries. Last count, I have referred 50+ clients to other therapists in my local area and beyond.

2) Networking with colleagues

The initial benefit of blogging specifically through taking the blog challenge was networking with colleagues from around the world and building ongoing personal and professional relationships. Connections are crucial, especially when working from a home office, private practice as I do.

3) Keeping current on research

Writing one-two times a month has kept me up-to-date with the latest research and news within the therapy field.

4) Building writing confidence

Initially terrified of putting myself out there, I found that my confidence and writing improved with every blog post.

5) Increase in client inquiries

After about four – five months of blogging, I noticed a significant increase in client inquiries. One client specifically mentioned finding me through the ‘Top 10 Books’ blog challenge post. She had Googled one of the book titles, then ‘counsellor’ and I ranked first in the google search.

6) Provides resources for current clients

A blog is a great resource centre for my clients and I often send them links on a specific topic. Once my blog is written, I share it on Pinterest as my boards are the ultimate resource centre for clients and therapists alike. Whenever I choose an image for my blog, it is with Pinterest in mind as I find my articles are shared more frequently on Pinterest than on other social media pages.

7) Higher ranking on Google searches

Six months into the blog challenge, I started to rank on the front page of Google Australia and I often rank at number one for my local area, key word searches. My practice has been full since then. When I reply to inquiries, I let the prospective client know that my practice is full, I offer to make a referral and ask if they would like to go on my women’s workshop mailing list.

8) Professional credibility

Historically, psychology articles were limited to journals or written by journalists for popular magazines. As therapists, we have a wealth of knowledge to share. Blogging helps to raise the profile of our profession.

Blogging has raised my profile as an expert in the field and the go-to professional for women’s psycho-spiritual health and well-being. I have been interviewed, written guest posts and featured on Private Practice Toolbox, The World of Psychology ,, ABC Radio, Australia Counselling, The Manly Daily Newspaper, The Morning Show and Australian Well-being Magazine.

9) Job opportunities

Blogging helped me to land the job of my dreams. Late last year I attended a two-day workshop and I was approached by the two directors who offered me the position of Assistant Clinical Director of an eating disorder unit. Having written about eating disorders from a soulful and psycho-spiritual perspective, they loved my blog and felt that I would be a good fit for their team.

10) Sense of power and effectiveness

Finally, I have found a sense of personal power due to taking responsibility for the growth of my practice and career progression. I was filled with a sense of hopelessness regarding our field and often envied other therapists who appeared to have more clients and success than I did. When my practice was sporadic and slow, I was working from a place of lack. Now I work from a place of generosity and abundance. And… most importantly, I have realised that there are enough courageous, ideal (and full fee paying) clients out there for everyone!

Jodie Gale MAJodie Gale MA is a leading specialist in women’s emotional, psychological and spiritual health and well-being. She is a qualified therapeutic counsellor, a psychosynthesis psychotherapist. Jodie lives on the Northern Beaches of Sydney where she currently balances being a stay at home mother with her part-time position at EatFed and a part-time private practice.

How to Create and Sell Your First E-book (part 1)

How to write an E-bookIn this guest post counselor and consultant Clinton Power shares how to create your first E-Book

There's no doubt that creating and selling your own digital product is a great way to increase your online exposure, credibility, expertise, and earn some money while doing so.

And the creation of an e-book to sell through your own website or an online bookstore like Amazon or iBooks is the quickest and easiest product to create to get started.

I wrote my own e-book called 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship and published using the Kindle platform on Amazon. It's been a great way to increase my online presence and credibility as a specialist in relationships and has now been downloaded over 2000 times and received 19 five star reviews in Amazon.

With a $2.99 price tag, I didn't write it to make money (though the checks from Amazon are very nice), but more to reach thousands of people that I never could have on my own, through the power of the Amazon Marketplace.

Selling an e-book through your own website is also a very good idea, and the good news is you can charge much more than Amazon e-book prices.

So let's dive in and look at the steps you need to get started.

Select a topic that will sell

It's important to do some research at the beginning to check there’s a market for your e-book and people looking for the information you want to write about.

As a therapist you are well positioned to create an information product because you have years of training, knowledge and experience about good mental health, the change process, and self-improvement. These information products are often in high demand because they are providing a solution to a pain or problem.

So to get your research underway I suggest you start with Google and Amazon. Search for keywords that are related to the e-book you're considering writing.

For example, if you're a specialist in child ADD/ADHD, search for combinations of keywords in Amazon and Google such as "How to overcome child ADD", or "I think my child has ADHD", or "best ideas for dealing with ADD". The idea is you want to see how many people already have products for sale that are similar to your idea.

If you find similar products, but your idea has a particulate angle that is not covered by other e-books, then this is a good thing.

There are hundreds of books on relationships in the Amazon store, but I didn't find one that used my approach of a tip a day for 31 days, so I knew I was bringing in a different angle that might help with sales.

Create an outline

The next step in the creation process is to create an outline for your e-book.

Start by writing down the headline or theme for each chapter. This helps you organise your thinking and then you can flesh out the content later.

Here's a tip: 50% of my e-book used blog posts I had previously written, so if you have been already been writing on a regular basis, don't discount that you may have some of your e-book written already.

This was a huge time-saver that added 15,000 words to my e-book, and I then wrote the remaining 10,000 words in 10 days.

Choose a writing platform

One of the simplest ways to write your e-book is to write it directly into Microsoft Word. This is a good option if you're going to turn it into a PDF for your own website.

I used the free platform Press Books, which is like writing in WordPress, but it converts it into the .mobi file, which you need to upload to Amazon.

I found this software easy to use and enjoyable to write in. You can then make as many changes as you want and quickly upload the latest version to Amazon within minutes.

Write clearly and simply for your audience

It's important that you write in an informal and conversational way, so you can connect with you reader.

Try to avoid writing in an academic voice as it will turn off your readers. The challenge here is to let go of your college training and write as if you're speaking to a close friend.

Use calls to action and hyperlinks

The great thing about writing an e-book, either for Kindle or a PDF for your website, is you can use hyperlinks to link to websites and other online resources.

So take advantage of this and include hyperlinks to link to other websites, or your own. This makes your e-book and more valuable resource.

Also use clear calls to action, so you tell the reader what actions you want them to take.

My e-book had a tip at the end of each chapter, so I told the reader exactly what to do for the next 24 hours. This then helps the reader feel they are getting something from the e-book because they are taking action.

Watch for part 2 on how to sell your e-book!

Clinton Power is a Sydney-based Gestalt therapist and the owner of Clinton Power + Associates- a private practice dedicated to helping singles and couples move out of relationship pain. He is also the founder of Australia Counselling Directory, a free directory for find counsellors and psychologists in Australia. Clinton is also a passionate coach and consultant for healthcare professionals. Find him on Twitter or Google+.

Therapist Blog Challenge #9: Power of Infographics

Therapist Blog Challenge #9 Infographic
Therapist Blog Challenge #9 Infographic

 A picture IS worth 1000 words. Find a credible infographic that is helpful to your ideal client for your next blog post.

Visually interesting and sharable infographics can provide easily digestible information for your blog readers. It's easy to find infographics on a variety of topics by doing a Google search of your area of interest and the word "infographic".

Many infographics are easily sharable with the HTML code and a copy function near the infographic. Another option for adding the infographic to your blog post is to right click and copy the "copy image location" and insert into your blog post (If you have no idea what I'm talking about contact your webmaster for help).

It is best practices to post a link back to the site where the infographic was originally posted. I've shared a few infographics below as examples that you are free to use for your blog post. Write a few sentences, embed the infographic, and you're done! This is the easiest challenge yet!

Additional reminders about the 2013 blog challenge

Write and post your blog article in the next 2 weeks. If you miss the deadline or you read this article months later, that’s OK too.

  • Post a link for this blog challenge in the comment section of this blog post.
  • Read, comment, and share other therapist’s articles.Tweet your post using hashtag #therapistblog and tag @julie_hanks so I can retweet it.
  • Pin it on the challenge Pinterest Board. I’ve invited everyone who posted a comment on the initial blog challenge post as collaborators so you can pin onto the group board.
  • Spread the word and invite mental health colleagues to join the challenge. Articles can be added anytime throughout the year.
  • Write no more than 600 words, make it easy to read, use a conversational tone, and gear your articles toward your ideal client (not other professionals).
  • The goal of a professional blog is to provide value to your website visitors, help them get to know your professional perspective, increase traffic to your private practice website, and build your practice.

Here are a few examples of infographics on 3 different topics. This first is from Sharecare Now and is the one and only appearance on an infographic. Feel free to use any of these for your post or search for your own!

Top 10 Online Influencers: Depression

The Science of Mental Illness
The Mobile Lives of College Students

A Day In The Life: Meet Sex Therapist Regina Bright, LMHC

Regina Bright, LMHC Regina is the proprietor of Stepping Stones Professional Counseling, an outpatient private practice in Mary Esther, Florida that was established in 2009 where she provides individual, group, family, and couple’s counseling. Regina is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Board Certified Sex Therapist, Certified Family Mediator, Parent Coordinator, Clinical Supervisor, and holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology. She resides in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, where she was born and raised, with her husband, 9 year old daughter, and three Labrador Retrievers: Roxy (Chocolate), Gator (Blonde) and Chomper (Black) one of each flavor.

Read on to find out how Regina spends her time in private practice.

A Day In The Life

July 2, 2013

7:15 AM

Woke up, brushed teeth, and got in the shower followed by the rest of my morning routine.

8:30 AM

Arrive at work, greet office manager, check e-mails, look at the Google calendar, and pull files for the clients that I see for the day.

9:00 AM - 5:00 PM

See my 8 clients for the day – in between sessions, I write my case notes.

5:15 PM

Posted social media updates on Twitter and on my business Facebook page

5:30 PM

Before heading home for the day, I visited my business page to update insurance panels and to add a couple of more books on the suggested reading page.

5:45 PM

Headed home. Greeted by my husband and daughter. My husband had the house cleaned and had a delicious meal waiting for me.

7:00 PM

Played games with my family.

8:00 PM

Took a bubble bath and put on my pajamas.

8:30 PM

Snuggled with my 9 year old – read books, told her funny stories of when she was a baby, and tucked her in bed.

9:00 PM

Checked my e-mail – scheduled clients from my Psychology Today profile and added some pins on my Pinterest page.

9:30 PM

My husband and I got in bed and watched some of our favorite recorded programs: Mike and Molly, How I Met your Mother, and Anger Management

11:00 PM

Kissed husband, snuggled with my 3 Labrador retrievers and went to sleep.

Find out more about Regina's practice visit

If you’d like to submit a day in your life for this series, please contact me here.