9 Tips for Cheap, Easy, and Successful Online Marketing
If you’re like most therapists, you weren’t taught much about marketing in graduate school, especially about online marketing. Online marketing for therapists is an incredibly easy (yes, easy!) and inexpensive way fo let your ideal clients know who you are and how you can help them. A super easy and inexpensive form of online marketing is blogging, but there are a few tricks you need to turn a random blog into an online marketing tool. So what are we waiting for? Let’s dive in and learn how to do it! By the way: If this seems like a lot of information and you'd like support in the process, please feel free join my program for an extra sense of support!
The easiest way to attract whatever types of clients are perfect for you is to write blogs about topics that interest those clients, make sure the world sees them, and make sure the blogs guide people to actually book your services. I know many of us (myself included!) felt like never writing anything ever again after 5+ years of graduate school including a 100+ page dissertation, so let me just say that blogging for marketing purposes is much easier than writing grad school papers. In fact, those old grad school papers can come in handy; keep reading to see how! Here are some easy ways to kick out some blogs that will sit online forever, working to attract business for you while you sleep, catch up with friends, see clients, or do whatever you enjoy doing while those blogs do your online marketing for you:
1. Recycle your old essays into blogs. Remember those papers you had to write in grad school on topics like how two different theorists conceptualized anxiety? Or a painstaking case analysis that included pages and pages of explanation regarding how certain interventions helped a particular client? Good news: You can adapt nearly ALL of that into bite sized blogs.
2. Write a “how to” blog. Whatever types of therapy goals you enjoy helping people with, write blogs about those topics. For example, “How to Raise Your Self Esteem”. Or “How to Move Past an Old Relationship”. Nearly any therapeutic goal can be converted into some sort of “How To”. “How To” blogs tend to get a lot of traffic because readers quickly and easily understand their use. These types of blogs are great for marketing because they will be intrinsically targeted towards your ideal type of client issue. Here's an example of an article I wrote for US News and World Report on how to choose an online therapist... guess what types of clients it helps me attract?!:) Oh, and you're wondering how I got to write for USNWR? They saw my blogs on my own site and like them so much that they approached me! Yet another good reason to blog and make sure your blogs are wallpapered all over the internet (see tip # 8).
3. Try using a ghost blogger. If you’re just allergic to writing, try jotting down a few key points, or just have a phone call with someone who is good at writing. Tell them to just write down whatever you say. Depending on the quality, you can either use it as a rough draft or it may be basically ready to go. Undergrads and graduate students are usually up for this type of work. Just make sure you get a signed release that whatever output they create is your intellectual property that you’re free to use without crediting them. Or, you can save money by offering to list them as second author; if that interests you both. Here is a link to a ghost blogger I have used before when I'm in a pinch for time or when I was still learning how to generate blog ideas.
4. Remember, “less is more”. When I was first starting to blog, I used to think I needed to write big huge long essays. Then, I learned that the public tends to get overwhelmed by long blogs. So keep it short. If you are overflowing with information, consider breaking your blog into a multi-part series.
5. Talk in lists. See how you’re reading this list right now? That’s what readers like to do. Lists of 3 are generally good, though in some cases lists need to be longer.
6. Brainstorm at least 5 titles. The title is actually KEY to getting people to read. Don’t make the mistake of spending lots of time on a great blog and then dropping the ball with a boring title. Titles that include phrases like “How to” and numbers (ie “Three Top Tips for xyz”) tend to get clicks since readers know there will be actionable info in your blog.
7. Close with a “Call to Action”. For most therapists, the call to action goes something like, “If you’d like to talk more about (topic of blog), please feel free to reach out to discuss private sessions by visiting (your online booking page here or however you want to be reached)- I love helping clients with this issue!”. Many therapists are afraid to seem pushy, but remember: this is only a blog, and you’re just telling people that you’re available. It’s really not pushy; it’s professional.
8. Post EVERYWHERE. Once you have created a blog, squeeze the maximum value out of it by posting it everywhere you possibly can. “If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears, does it make a sound?” The same question could be asked, “If you write an awesome blog and no one reads it, does it help you?” Personally, I keep a spreadsheet of all the places where you can post blogs for free. Every time I create a blog, it gets posted on every single one of those websites. And of course, you will have an author page on each of those blog sites. The more sites that link to your website, and the more sites that are posting your material, the better you’ll do in organic searches on Google. Make sure you also post them to your LinkedIn profile, and to your personal and/or professional Facebook page. For a copy of my spreadsheet and more guidance on this, you may want to check out my on-demand social media workshop for therapists.
9. Use Facebook. Facebook ads are also a great way to promote your blogs very cheaply to people who reside in your area, are your desired age range, have indicated an interest in therapy/anxiety/depression/relationships/whatever your blog topic is. You can even target Facebook ads towards people who have an income level that connotes an ability to pay for services. Facebook ads can run for as little as $1 per day.
10. Bonus Tip! I know I said 9 tips, but here's one more: Every time you have a new blog, make sure to send it to your existing mailing list as well in your monthly newsletter. My office always sees a bump in bookings when we send the newsletter. The newsletter stimulates existing contacts to think of you, and this is a positive thing if your newsletter is full of helpful information, such as a great blog on a topic many of your readers enjoy!
I know it may sound daunting to write a bunch of blogs, post them to high heaven, and potentially even market them on Facebook. Don’t worry about doing it all at once. Personally, I just keep a list of all the topics I might want to blog about as well as a list of all the places to post blogs. When I was first starting out, I’d blog if I was feeling energetic and talkative; and do the mindless posting admin stuff when I was feeling quiet or mentally tired. Now, I have an assistant who posts the blogs everywhere. You might be able to find a student or online assistant to help you with this part, but when you’re starting out it’s all part of the process. Sometimes, I’d take my laptop to a restaurant and work on this type of stuff over lunch, dinner, drinks, or whatever. It was a fun way to be “out and about” while still feeling productive.
Do you need help brainstorming a list of topic ideas? Join a ProfitablePractices.net group coaching call or discuss on our alumni listserv! You are SO FULL of ideas, and you may not even know it-- we'll help you discover them together!:)
Remember: blogs are a win-win for you because they not only help get your name out there to reach new clients, they also allow you to shape what potential clients see when they Google you. Plus, blogs are what’s known as “evergreen”, meaning that once you create them they sit online forever blasting your message. If you have a newsletter, make sure you share relevant blogs there too. It’s okay to re-share the same blog if there’s a relevant reason (ie every holiday season I re-share my blogs about holiday stress).
Do you want more tips on how to grow your practice? I’m proud to say that my practice grew super quickly to the point where I had to hire people after being open less than two years. I’m now taking pleasure in teaching other therapists how to do the same, since I remember how scared I was when I was first starting. To learn more, join ProfitablePractices.net!