The following is a fantastic guest blog by our friend, Allison Puryear. See more of her private practice advice at Abundance Practice-Building.
If you hate writing, stop reading this now. But wait, why did you open this if you hate writing?
Do you think that just because blogging is super-effective you need it to bring clients into your practice?
Ok, let’s dispel that. Yes, blogging is a very powerful way to get clients to choose you for a number of reasons but if you hate to write, trust me that there are other options. Marketing your practice should not be a slog.
So again, if you hate writing, stop wasting your time reading this and put that energy into a marketing strategy that you’ll actually keep up with.
For those of you who feel somewhere between neutral and adoring on the “how do you feel about writing” spectrum, let’s talk.
Why Blogging Works: Take A Client’s Perspective
Get an Edge
Imagine you’re looking for a therapist. You have 3 names you’ve been given by someone you trust.
Therapist A doesn’t have a website. You just have her phone number.
Therapist B has a good website and their copy (the writing on their website) addresses your specific problem. Hallelujah!
Therapist C has a good website geared towards your problem and several blog posts that speak to the nuances of each of the stressors you face. She even wrote about that thing you haven’t said out loud to anyone. And the thing you can barely admit to yourself is an issue.
You’re very likely to choose Therapist C, right? It gives you more opportunity to get to know how they approach things. You can tell by what they write that they know what they’re talking about. But it’s bite-sized and manageable to read, not like trying to cram all this information into a website. Having too many words or too many pages on a site is overwhelming.
Each blog post is a prime opportunity for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), aka being found on Google.
True story: I found my last therapist after Googling something like “how to stop being a workaholic” and boom, there was his blog post. His office is literally a half a block from mine, plus it turns out I’d had friends who worked with him, so I had no excuse not to see him. He was immensely helpful. Without that blog post, I don’t think I would have found him.
Get Good Fits
As an eating disorder therapist, I love the opportunity to dispel any erroneous assumptions about how I work that may keep a potential client from scheduling. Blogging is a great way to do that. I can talk about Health at Every Size in a way that allows my clients in bigger bodies to feel safe from judgment. I can talk about Intuitive Eating in a way that gives my more restrictive clients a peek at the long game. I can answer common questions like “Will ED Recovery Make Me Fat?” or “Why is a Dietitian Important if It’s ‘Not About the Food?’”
My blog will make it clear to people who want support for their latest juice cleanse that that’s not what I’ll be offering. I’m sure some people don’t call me based on my blog and that’s just fine with me. I work best with the clients who are ready for recovery and my hope is that those that don’t call me get in touch with some of the other ED therapists in town who do more pre-contemplative work.
How to Blog Effectively
Make a List of Topics
It’s too hard for me to generate the idea for a blog and write the blog at the same time, so I encourage brainstorming sessions for topics first.
Make it Valuable
Vet those topics and make sure they’re things your ideal client will actually read. Don’t write a blog post just to write it. Think of the clients you’re currently working with. What would help them in between sessions?
The consistency piece is the single most important piece in this. If you post 3 blogs at random times during the year, you look haphazard and unintentional. If blogging is one of your chosen marketing strategies, commit to it. Publish at least once a month and at most once a week but choose a frequency and stick with it.
Batch Your Writing
Scheduling in writing time ensures that it gets done. Batching it ensures that you stay ahead of the game. Let’s say you want to blog weekly. If you put a 2-hour block in your schedule and write 2-3 times a week, you’ll never have next week’s blog post breathing down your neck. You won’t have to worry about it when you go on vacation or over the holidays. You’re covered.
Gain Confidence By Setting a Word Count
It may help you to make a word count and stick to it. 1,000 words look like a lot but it really isn’t. 2,500 looks like are you kidding? I’m in private practice and I got stuff to do, but it’s hardly a page and a quarter. If you set your word count to a reasonably achievable count per post, you’ll find yourself surpassing your initial word count goal and being excited about it.
What to Expect
Hitting “Publish” on your first several blog posts makes you feel ridiculously vulnerable. That’s totally normal. I’ve known people with stockpiles of helpful blog posts that have never released them into the world because of that vulnerability.
Perfectionism is protective in a lot of ways but it’s not going to serve you much here. You don’t have to be the best writer in the world to connect with your clients through writing. You just need to be a great describer of what they’re going through, which takes connection. And you’ve got that in spades – you’re a therapist! Depending on your ideal client, a comma-error or typo is an easily forgivable offense. Unless your ideal client is like my super-rigid American Lit teacher in high school. If it’s something you’re super worried about, look for apps and software like Grammarly that double-check your writing copy for you.
The Possibility of Haters & Trolls
First, they don’t come out of the woodwork for therapist blogs in the way they do in forums, so it’s unlikely that you’ll have to deal with them. But if you do, the delete button has a lot of power. Unlike social media pages, this is your blog and your weekly/daily/biweekly letter to your ideal client. Other opinions need not be considered.
Get Good At It
I’m serious. Writing is a muscle and you have to flex that muscle or you end up with email atrophy. “Email atrophy” is when you don’t even notice you’re not using the right “your” and you just don’t care; everything you write sounds stilted and unfinished and you have no idea how you went from the wordsmith/BS artist of your graduate years to basically churning out eye gravel. The more you write, the easier it will get and the better you’ll get at it. The appointments you make with yourself to sit down and write will be easier to keep and you’ll probably, dare I say it, get to like writing.
Lots of Blog Posts
One long-term result of having a blog is having a lot of material to turn into whatever you need it to be later on. You’ve created a cache of writings that you can turn into something if the need arises: copy for your website, content for a workshop, the beginning of a clinical or self-help book, a speech, or marketing copy. Blogging can bring in clients, but it can also be an investment in your changing future.
If you hate writing, dread writing, or break out in an overwhelmed sweat thinking about blogging, there are other avenues of marketing that will probably work out better for you. But if writing is your thing, or thinking about writing is your thing, grab a pen or a keyboard and get writing. Your ideal client wants to read this.
Craving even more blogging advice? Lucky you!
Check out the writing mini-series we launched this summer called Writing Your Way to a 6-Figure Practice – or just sign up below to get notified whenever we add new content to the series. Never miss a word!