TTE 5: How Kelley Kitley’s Hustle & Passion Ignited the Rapid Growth of Her Practice
Kelley Kitley has managed to ignite her private practice on fire through a combination of hustle, passion and growing a brand for herself on Facebook. Have you ever had a client come to you and say, “You’re fabulous with your marketing?” If not, then you need to listen to how Kelley started and grew her practice through coffee dates, hustling and a tremendous Facebook presence.
In This Episode, You’ll Learn:
- How to leverage Facebook and draw boundaries on privacy with Facebook.
- How to use Facebook to get potential clients to know, like and trust you.
- Why you should leverage your professional network to help you learn how to grow your private practice
Best Marketing Move for Business
- Using Facebook as a means to connect with your audience
Links & Resources Mentioned in This Episode
- Recommended Book: The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
- StudioPress / Genesis
- Kelley Kitley’s Website
Weekly Website Tip
From Brighter Vision’s Sascha Montgomery:
We build all of our websites on WordPress, and one of the great things about WordPress is that all of the code is open source. That means that developers from around the world can write themes, plugins, and other tools for it. However this can also be a serious issue when you deal with large marketplaces.
One of the largest theme marketplaces in the world is Theme Forest. You can get a theme from there for only 50 dollars or so. The problem is a lot of those themes are developed over seas and are poorly coded.
You can buy a theme and see the demo of the theme and it looks beautiful. The problem is when you go to customize it yourself it’s incredibly difficult to customize and you quickly learn that you can’t make it look like the developed demo because you don’t know how to code and you don’t know how to customize your images to meet the specific needs of that theme. Trust me, it can be exhausting. If you’re interested in doing things yourself we strongly encourage going to studiopress.com and purchasing a Genesis framework. There are few dozen genesis themes you can then choose from and you know you’re getting a great product.
All Brighter Vision websites are built on the Genesis framework because of how well coded and structured it is. So we know our clients are getting the best back end structure for their website.
Thanks for Listening!
Thank you so much for joining us this week. Do you have some feedback you’d like to share? Please leave a note in the comment section below!
And if you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of this post.
Also, please leave an honest review for The Therapist Experience on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are extremely important to get this podcast in front of other therapists who could benefit from it. The ratings matter in how iTunes ranks the show, and I read each and every one of them.
And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on iTunes to get automatic updates.
Thanks to Kelley for joining me this week. Until next time!
TranscriptClick here to read the Transcript
Kelley: Absolutely, I’m super excited. Thanks for asking me.
Perry: Alright. We’re super excited to have you here Kelley. Kelley is the founder of Serendipitous Psychotherapy. She’s a licensed clinical social worker and has been providing individual couple and group therapy for 11 years in many different environments. In May of 2015 Kelley opened Serendipitous Psychotherapy LLC on Michigan Avenue in Downtown Chicago. This was a dream of Kelley’s since she was 16 after completing her treatment for an eating disorder with a therapist. Kelley has experienced rapid growth in her business in the past nine months as a contributing expert in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Woman’s Health Magazine, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Parrot Magazine. She educates women and their partners through a national organization called The Bump Club And Beyond on postpartum depression, transitions to motherhood, and enhancing intimacy in your marriage. She has a self-help memoir to be published this summer and is the mother to four young children. Kelley, I gave a little overview of you there but why don’t you take a minute, fill in the gaps from that intro and tell us a little bit more about you personally and about your practice?
Kelley: Sure, thanks. That was a great introduction and very thorough. I did have this vision when I was 16 as you have mentioned, really knew that I wanted to be a therapist after I had reparative experience with my own therapist who was also on Michigan Avenue in Downtown Chicago. And I had this vision and embraced many different opportunities throughout my career that ultimately led to opening Serendipitous Psychotherapy.
Perry: So, Kelley, you’ve been in Psychotherapy for eleven years. What were you doing before you opened Serendipitous Psychotherapy?
Kelley: Immediately before I opened the practice I had been working in an environment in a group practice with several other practitioners and psychiatrists, and we focused on women’s mental health. But at the core I’m really a grass root social worker and did a lot of non-profit work in community mental health, and in hospitals, and residential treatment. And after having four kids I needed to take a leap of faith and make some more money and this really just was the perfect time for me.
Perry: Fantastic, and how old are your kids? What’s the youngest and the oldest?
Kelley: My oldest son is 10, and I have daughter who’s eight, a son who’s six, and a daughter who’s four.
Perry: Awesome. Well, Kelley, one thing we find really fascinating is exploring the why with therapists. Just like you worked to explore the why with your clients, we want to hear more about your story. To hear more why you got into private practice, so can you share with us why you chose a career in therapy and social work and why you specifically focused on helping women overcome eating disorders, and yeah, if you can elaborate on that for us?
Kelley: Sure. I had experienced a lot of adversity throughout my life. I’m the oldest of five kids. Two alcoholic parents who owned a bar in Lincoln Park, and really was a caretaker from a very young age and loved helping people. Genuinely loved hearing people’s stories and I had experienced a lot in my own personal life. I had mentioned recovering from an eating disorder in high school and following that I was sexually assaulted in college by a stranger on the streets, and had experienced group therapy and that was extremely helpful. So there was this parallel process going on for me throughout my career and my personal life. And it just kept unfolding into being directed to helping people who had similar situations. After I had worked through some of my own healing process and some of the things that I had experienced. And I also had postpartum anxiety and panic with my children and ended up after working through that being directed to working in women’s mental health through a psychiatrist who was connected with Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Then finally in March I will be celebrating three years of sobriety, and that has really been– I can’t say enough about my growth in the process. I probably knew at a very age from where I came from that this is where I would end up going, so that too has been an area focus for me in my clinical practice with women. Specifically moms who have struggled with addiction as well.
Perry: Kelley, thank you so much for sharing that story. I’m sure many of our listeners can relate with some aspects of your journey here. When you went to college did you study first and foremost psychology or were you studying something different in your undergrad?
Kelley: No, in undergrad I studied social work and then graduate school, I studied social work. And, thank goodness, I was studying it because I knew exactly what I needed to do when I was assaulted and had just actually taken a self-defense class as one of my electives in college as well. So that’s part of the reason I found myself being drawn to this word Serendipity. It just seemed– I wouldn’t wish it upon anybody, but through all the adversity I’ve experienced it’s really helped me more so than any training. And I’ve had really great training and I’m grateful for that, but I have a different level of empathy, I think, for my clients because of my own experience.
Perry: Kelley, you have so much– What was the word? Not Empathy that you just used before. What was that worth that you just used again?
Perry: Serendipity, yeah. And your experience and your journey has made you so strong and helped make you so successful as a therapist. And it’s that grit and determination I think that also allows you to see so much immense success in just nine months since you opened your practice. These nine months have probably been such an amazing journey for you as an entrepreneur. Let’s take a quick step back in your career as a therapist though, where you could have called it quits. Where you were as low as you could possibly be in your journey and you were ready to throw in the towel. Because I know we’ve all been there. I have many moments myself as an entrepreneur, when I had been there. But share with us that story and then share with our audience how you overcame that?
Kelley: Hmm. Well, to be really honest I have always loved what I’ve done and I knew that I would never throw in the towel in this specific career, but certainly within the population that I have chosen to work with has been a huge variety of different populations. But ultimately it came down to leadership, and I had an experience before I went out on my own, where I had asked the women who was running my practice for a raise. And she had said to me that I was the highest paid social worker in the city of Chicago and that I would never make any more money than I currently make.
Perry: That must have felt really great, didn’t it? Haha.
Kelley: Hahahaha. So it ended up being a good thing in hindsight because it really pushed me to take this leap into going on my own, but in the moment I thought– I was just ridden with fear and thought, “Okay, so I’m either going to suck it up and keep doing what I’m doing and maybe see more clients–” Even though I was at capacity. I needed to figure something out. So when she told me no– Often times when people do tell me no, that kind of helps me push forward. So I had said, “Thank you very much but I am taking your advice and you’ve said that you couldn’t pay me anymore so I’m going to need to go on my own.”
Perry: Wow. What was that like? Walk us through that feeling. How did you get that– How did you say that? Did you just say that then and there or–? Did you take a moment to reflect on that or you just like, “You know what? I’m going to go do this on my own because I know I deserve more and I can help more people and charge more and be able to support my family.”
Kelley: Well, I certainly wish I was more composed in the moment than I actually was. I really wanted to walk out then and there, but through my recovery I have recognized taking a pause before I respond, and I said, “Thank you. I’ll need to think about that.” And then I called my sponsor and my husband and my friends, and said, “Can you fucking believe what this woman said?” So right away I started looking for office space and just really needed to put a plan in place. I wanted to quit then and there so badly because I felt shamed for asking for more money, but I pulled myself up by my boot straps and continued to work in that practice for another six months until I had everything lined up. Then I said, “Thank you for having me. I will be working down the street on my own.”
Perry: That must have felt great.
Kelley: Hahaha. And I have not seen her since, so…
Perry: Not even out for a coffee or something? Haha. So, Kelley, when you were building up– Or when you were getting ready to launch your own private practice but you were still working at the other practice, were you just getting things in place so that way when you quit you could start seeing clients, or were you starting to build up a client loading, client based off on the side while still working at this other practice?
Kelley: No. I’m a hustler. I had a conversation with my husband and my kids. We called it a family meeting and just talked about the next six months would be a lot of work and me trying to start my business on top of the clients I was seeing at the other practice. And I really wanted to make things as smooth as possible, so I committed to seeing my clients where I was and closing the door at three o’clock because I see clients very early in the morning starting at six. Then I would work on my practice the rest of the day and would write letters, go out and meet people face to face, and go out and do speaking engagements. So really it truly is a labor of love and I can’t believe I am where I am today. But it’s because I’m so passionate about what I do, and making connections and building relationships is really the foundation of private practice. Not just with the clients but with people who are referral based.
Perry: Hustle and passion. That’s something that we hear so much in the journeys of successful therapist entrepreneurs and Kelley, you embody that so perfectly. One thing you just mentioned there was the foundation of a successful private practice, and that differs for every single successful therapist out there. But building that foundation is something that people often struggle with because it sort of involved marketing, which– You know, marketing and sales can be a bit of a dirty word in this industry for therapists but there’s really no way you can grow a thriving private practice without marketing. And there’s no way you could have grown this amazing brand that you have in just nine months. Well, I guess 15 months if you include the 6 months that you were at the other practice. And just 15 practice marketing yourself, whether it was conscious or not. So Kelley, can you share with us the single marketing move you made for your practice and why do you feel that it worked so well?
Kelley: I am cracking up because it’s Facebook. I mean, it is social media and I am a late bloomer. I told you this is the first time that I ever done Skype. I live in the ’80s and I had not been on social media up until last December, and I told the friend of mine that I was opening my practice and she said, “You need to get up with the time and you need to create a Facebook account.” And that’s exactly what I did.
Perry: Did your kids kill you for that? Haha.
Kelley: Do my kids kill me for it?
Perry: Yes. “Mom’s on Facebook. We got to get off this now.”
Kelley: Oh my gosh. Luckily, they’re kind of on the cusp there and they teach me a lot about technology. So I created an account and started putting– Once I opened Serendipitous I started putting articles that I was quoted in and just grew from there. And somebody actually said to me the other day after they were referred to me, I said, “What made you decide to come see me?” And she said, “You’re fabulous with your marketing on social media.” And I didn’t even think, I was like, “Who? Me?”
Perry: Did you just have this immediately and knew this knowledge and you figured out how to leverage it or did you read about how to use social media effectively? How did you get started with it going from no Facebook profile, no presence on social media to being an expert in it in a year and change?
Kelley: Well, I don’t know if I’ll call myself an expert but–
Perry: Well, you’re doing something really well here Kelley.
Kelley: You know, I followed people that I admire. Brene Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert. Authors, because that is an avenue that I’ve tapped into. And I looked at what they were doing, and really I’m just real and authentic with what I post and if I don’t feel it I don’t post it. And really it’s things that speak to me that I want to share with other people and I think that’s the commonality. I keep it real. I work a lot with families and parents, and a lot of people talk about this Facebook syndrome of feeling jealous and envious. I posted a picture of the 10 loads of laundry I had on my floor, and people loved that. It was like, “Thank you. That’s what life is really like.”
Perry: It’s not like this crafted image that you put on Facebook that so many people try to do and you see it. I see with my friends from college and from high school, people trying to craft this perfect image, but here you are being yourself, being authentic. Ten loads of laundry is your Facebook post, and that just speaks to people. People want to do business with those that they know, like, and trust. And you’re authenticity on Facebook really has resonated well with people. Fantastic Kelley. So great to hear. Another question about Facebook then. Are you just posting directly on Facebook, or are you leveraging the power of paid advertisements on Facebook as well? Or are you just posting and creating a community that way?
Kelley: Well, the rapid growth of the followers I guess they call them, has been great. A lot of the publishing companies have said, “We want to see that you have a following. So I don’t know a certain number but I know between LinkedIn, and Facebook, and Twitter, and all that. There’s over 3000 followers. So I started blogging a couple months ago and I just wanted to try it out and see what would come out of paying for a post through Facebook, or boost I guess is what they call it. And I did and it didn’t really make much of a difference. There were a couple of new followers that came out of that, but really it comes from people sharing what I post. I’ve done a lot of different interviews of sharing my story and I think that’s what speaks to people. And I do, I want to increase my following and really expand just because I think my message is really relatable. So I’m learning how to do that other than like being scrappy and collecting friends of people who have friends.
Perry: You got to be scrappy to start with. When we started Brighter Vision I was so scrappy. I was fighting for every single sale, every single phone call just to speak with somebody. And if you’re just getting started this is a great lesson on how to start and grow a thriving practice in under a year essentially. And you got to be scrappy. You need to be fighting for every single conversation on social media, every single client. And you’ve done such a great job at that Kelley, but I want to chat about your business skills because you have a ton here and a ton of great advice to offer. So when you went to school you went to school to become a social worker, not to get your MBA, but along the way, due to reasons we already discussed here you decided to open your own private practice. Unfortunately when you go to school they don’t really teach you much about starting a private practice. So, Kelley, what’s the one thing that you wish you would have learned in school about starting your own business?
Kelley: Everything. It’s almost like I learned all of the clinical components for working for somebody else but this business component is so self-taught. I mean some of it’s in my blood. My parents are bar and restaurant owners and I worked for them and had a lot of leadership roles in different organizations I worked in, but graduate school doesn’t teach you how to rent office space, negotiate a lease, find out what your overall input versus output is, and all of that. I mean, the learning curve has been huge and really I attribute my growth in learning about the business world by learning from other people. And I reached out to people and asked them if they wanted to have coffee on a weekly basis and just interviewed them. What worked for them, what didn’t, what did they wish they would have done. Kind of like what you’re doing with me and I just really embraced and respected and trusted those people I reached out to and would gather that information and go execute.
Perry: Fantastic. Kelley, when you’re just getting started those coffee conversations, that’s why we’re doing this here. That’s why we’re interviewing you and other successful therapists is because we want to have those coffee chats. We want to learn from you and help spread that message so that others can learn from you as well, so that they don’t make the same mistakes you made, and can leverage your knowledge to help them grow their practice. So thank you so much for that Kelley. A common struggle that we’ve seen amongst therapists is overcoming the hurdle of technology. What are some tools that you’ve used to leverage the power of technology in your private practice? So that social media, so that Facebook, so that technology itself is no longer a hurdle, but instead an asset for you?
Kelley: You know, especially as a psychotherapist there’s been this whole idea of privacy and I’m probably not in the norm in terms of my colleagues and how much I share, and they don’t share what I’m sharing with you or in some of these interviews with my clients. But a lot of them follow me on Facebook because I do speaking engagements or their relative articles. I do post pictures of my kids and my family which my husband hates but it just makes it more real and relatable. So that has been something that has been a shift, because even for so long I wasn’t on social media and somebody would look me up or Google me and they really wouldn’t find a whole lot of information out about me and now everything’s out there. So there are two types of people who will come to see me. Before it may have been they wanted to perceive me as being perfect, and that I had my shit together and that I was a good role model. And they didn’t want to know anything about me. And then there’s the other people who want to know that I had overcome things in my own life and that I practice what I preach, and that is certainly a core value of mine. And now it is all out there, and sometimes it comes up in therapy and sometimes it doesn’t but it’s because of technology that there is more of an awareness about my personal life.
Perry: Thank you so much for sharing that Kelley, we really appreciate that. So we’re going to take a quick break and get our weekly website from one of Brighter Vision’s lead developers and when we get back we’re going to jump into my favorite part of the show, brighter insights. Hang on one second Kelley, we’ll be back in a minute.
This week’s website tip comes from Sascha Montgomery, a lead developer at Brighter Vision. The worldwide leader at custom therapist website design. To learn more go to www.brightervision.com
Sascha: We build all of our websites on WordPress, and one of the great things about WordPress is that all of the code is open source. That means that developers from around the world can write themes, plugins, and other tools for it. However this can also be a serious issue when you deal with large marketplaces. One of the largest theme marketplaces in the world is Theme Forest. You can get a theme from there for only 50 dollars or so. The problem is a lot of those themes are developed over seas and are poorly coded. You can buy a theme and see the demo of the theme and it looks beautiful. The problem is when you go to customize it yourself it’s incredibly difficult to customize and you quickly learn that you can’t make it look like the developed demo because you don’t know how to code and you don’t know how to customize your images to meet the specific needs of that theme. Trust me, it can be exhausting. If you’re interested in doing things yourself we strongly encourage going to studiopress.com and purchasing a genesis framework. There are few dozen genesis themes you can then choose from and you know you’re getting a great product. All brighter vision websites are built on the genesis framework because of how well coded and structured it is. So we know our clients are getting the best back end structure for their website.
Now back to our conversation with Perry and Kelley.
Perry: Okay, Kelley, now we’re going to move into the final part of the interview. My favorite part. The part we like to refer to as brighter insights. We’re going to do just a rapid fire of Q&A where we can really distill down your experience and your advice into little sound bites and quick answers that therapists can use to inspire, motivate, and excite them in growing their practice. Are you ready?
Kelley: I’m ready.
Perry: Alright. What or whom inspired you to become a mental health professional?
Kelley: Claudia Black. She is an architect for the Claudia Black Center which is a treatment facility in Arizona, and she’s really a family guru of addictions.
Perry: What do you do to clear your head and get a fresh start in your day?
Kelley: I’m an early riser and between five and five thirty it is quite in my home, so I go downstairs, make a pot of coffee, light a candle, and just jot down some things to lay the foundation to start my day. Inspirational quotes or make a gratitude list.
Perry: Awesome. And with four kids I bet that’s the only time you get some piece and quite, right?
Kelley: Yeah. I like to tiptoe in so that stairs don’t creek and wake them up.
Perry: What’s the quote that you hold near and dear? Something that has helped formulate your perspective on life or really any quote that has inspired, motivated, or provided guidance for you in your life?
Kelley: There is a quote that was actually my senior quote in high school, and I have it painted as a mural on my office and it’s, “Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” And that’s by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Perry: I love Emerson quotes. If you could recommend one book to our audience, what would that book be?
Kelley: It would be The Power Of Now, by Eckhart Tolle. And the reason I recommend that is because starting my own business– If I recognized before I started, how much was going to be involved I may not have signed up for it, so to just really stay grounded, and present, and in the moment to not spin out of control in terms of all that is ahead but just be in the present moment.
Perry: Alright, Kelley, last question and it’s my personal favorite. If you moved to a new city tomorrow, knew nobody and all you had was your computer and 100 bucks to start a new private practice, what would you do on your very first day?
Kelley: I would spend that 100 dollars on buying people coffee and knock on people’s doors going around to doctor’s offices, which is similarly to what I did when I started Serendipitous, and just being persistent and taking even 15 minutes of people’s times. Not taking their 15 minutes, but asking if they can give me 15 minutes of their time and just build relationships.
Perry: Love it, Kelley. Any parting advice for our listeners?
Kelley: Don’t give up. There were so many times when I thought, “Oh my gosh. Am I doing the right thing?” Or, “This is crazy, I don’t have a consistent paycheck.” And really create a vision board. Specifically what you want your practice to look like, the kinds of clients you want that are attracted to you, look at it every day and just continue to persevere.
Perry: Love it, Kelley. And you are the definition of perseverance. You have overcome so much and built such a thriving private practice in such a short amount of time. Where can our listeners find you to connect and learn more about you?
Kelley: They can follow my website www.Kelleykitley.com or certainly on Facebook, and my page is Serendipitous Psychotherapy LLC.
Perry: Perfect. And of course, we’ll have all of those links and all the great resources that Kelley mentioned at brightervision.com/session5. Kelley, thank you so much for being so generous with your time, your expertise, and your knowledge. We all appreciate this great advice that you provided and the therapist experience you have shared. Thank you again.
Kelley: Thanks, Perry. It was an honor.
Perry: Thank you so much for tuning in today. If you have a question for us you can email it to us at [email protected] and if you’re interested in launching a website, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Brighter Vision is the worldwide leader in custom therapist website design. For just 59 bucks a month you get a website that’s as unique as your practice. Unlimited technical support and complementary SEO so people can find you online. To learn more you can email us at [email protected] or just head on over to our website brightervision.com and drop us a line through one of our contact forms. That does it for today. Thank you so much for being so courteous with your time and letting Kelley and myself into your ears today. We’ll see you next week.