We all know that blogging is on the list of things therapists are “supposed” to do to market their practices and improve their websites. Something about SEO, more content is better, ideal clients, blah blah blah…
So maybe you’ve felt pressure to hop on the bandwagon, especially if you’re in the stage of floundering around trying to figure out how the hell you’re supposed to get clients to realize you exist, and how to get them to choose you once they do.
But let’s get real. How many therapist websites have you visited that have “blogs” with only a few generic posts on them, all published within a two-month timespan two or three years ago?
The truth: That shit is embarrassing.
It conveys that the therapist:
- isn’t actually paying very much attention to their web presence, even though they felt pressured enough at some point to do something about it; and
- half-heartedly tried something out a couple of times and then bailed on it.
Not the end of the world, but there’s really no upside either. A dusty, barely-formed blog on a therapist website is, in my opinion, the marketing equivalent of going to a client session with your unironed shirt on inside out and incorrectly buttoned. It conveys carelessness, even obliviousness. Neither of which you want to be communicating, I’m pretty sure.
While we can generally acknowledge it’s important to be “human” to our clients, this is not where it needs to come through.
So if you’ve been feeling the pressure to blog as part of your marketing strategy, here’s what you need to know:
A blog, properly done, takes a LOT of time and energy.
A blog is one of the more time-intensive and, honestly, burdensome commitments you can make in your marketing strategy. Ideally you’d be posting new content two to four times a month. And if you’re not already comfortable with blogging, writing two to four posts a month is likely going to take you a long time and a lot of stress. Especially if, like me, you’re inclined to perfectionism and an anaphylactic reaction to visibility.
So first there’s blogging, which is enough of a headache. Then there’s blogging well, which is a whole other can of worms. We’re talking about nailing your voice, writing content that’s relevant to your ideal clients (which means knowing who your ideal clients are), writing content that will directly (but not pushily) convince people to actually call you, and optimizing your content for search engines.
Self-disclosure time: Honestly, I thought blogging for my private practice website would be a relatively easy thing for me. I’d written blogs before, I have a background and most of a graduate degree in writing… And yet, despite it tagging along on my to-do list every week, my private practice blog has yet to see the light of day. Why? Well, my best guess is because all my fears of overexposing myself to clients, of saying the wrong thing in my copy, and of committing to a punishing posting schedule felt like too much to deal with. These hangups created a perfect storm of paralysis and a lot of wasted energy, guilt, and frustration.
Your time is precious.
Let’s do the math. Say writing, editing, and publishing one blog post takes you about 2-3 hours. (Not counting the days and weeks you spend dancing with writer’s block-related procrastination.) That’s 4 to 12 hours of your month devoted to a marketing activity that you would need to be doing for a minimum of 4 to 6 months for it to not end up looking a little embarrassing on your site. So we’re talking 16 to 72 hours of your life on this marketing project.
That’s a lot of time.
The big question: Is it worth it?
My answer is, unless you find joy in blogging for its own sake, there are much more impactful marketing activities you could be investing those hours into.
And if you’re still in the process of trying to get your practice to a place of being financially stable, I strongly encourage you to focus your time and energy on marketing efforts that are more directly linked to earning money. More about that in another post.
Still want to write? Try pitching or guest posting instead.
Maybe you’re quite attached to the idea of writing and publishing. I hear you! Some of us really do love to write. Besides, all of academia is founded on the prestige of publication, and this sentiment certainly pervades a large part of our profession. The problem is that writing an article for an academic journal, while it might build your fame within the field, makes for a longer and less certain road to recruiting clients in private practice.
So academic publishing is not a marketing strategy, but guest posting certainly is.
Guest posting is essentially pitching an article/blog idea to an established online publication (think HuffPo, Quartz, Psych Central, Autostraddle). It gives you many of the marketing benefits of blogging, but doesn’t require an ongoing arduous commitment to writing copy that no one will ever read.
A few of the benefits of guest posting:
- SEO. Having a link to your professional website from a bigger site that gets a lot more traffic than yours will boost your ranking with Google. The link to your website will generally appear in the bio at the bottom of your article/post.
- Reach. An article on a major (or even mid-level) online publication will get a vastly larger readership than your blog will. It has an established readership already that you’ll get in front of by virtue of posting. If you choose a local/regional publication with a significant readership, there’s an even better chance that this will translate directly into more calls from prospective clients.
- Credibility. Having an established publication feature your writing gives you a kind of professional legitimacy that blogging simply doesn’t. It makes all kinds of people take you seriously who wouldn’t have thought twice about you before. (Sad but true.)
- Expert Status. If you choose a topic relevant to your niche (and I strongly recommend you do), you’ll begin to build a reputation as an expert on that subject. This is great for drawing clients and other professional opportunities to you.
- Leverage. Having one byline will make it easier for you to get an article or post accepted in another, more prestigious publication. With this kind of scaffolding, you’ll be able to more confidently and successfully book speaking engagements and other paid opportunities in the local community and online. All of which increases your exposure to prospective clients.
So please relax. You don’t have to blog!
(You don’t have to guest post either, for the record. But if you want to, look for another post about this soon.)
Just think twice if you’ve been feeling the pressure to add a blog to your professional website. I’d say the vast majority of the time, it’s not the right move. Use your precious spoons somewhere that’s going to give you more of a return for less investment.
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