Business Planning for Therapists and Funny Cat Videos

What funny cat videos can teach you about business. 

I was listening to NPR the other day and was stunned when I heard this statistic: "15% of all Internet traffic is cat related." I thought for a second that maybe they were wrong... and then I stopped... I thought about my husband telling me about" I can has Cheezeburger" and trying to explain cat memes to me over the years. 

I thought about all of my awesome therapist friends and clients who are always sharing adorable videos, pictures, and memes of the cutest kitties (and animals in general) on Facebook. I think about our Business School Bootcamp community sharing self-care strategies that include: "looking up funny cat videos between sessions." 

Today, we are going to talk about what funny cat videos can teach you about building a private practice. 

Create something that solves a problem

A great business plan starts by solving a problem. What are your clients really struggling with? What are they looking for? Do you have a solution? Can you define your solution? 

Kitty videos solve an important problem in our current world- people need to check out in a healthy way. People need to laugh. People need to shift states when they are having a bad day.

When a client comes in contact with you- are you able to articulate what problems you solve and how you help? Do they get a taste of what it is like to work with you? Is it easy for people to get moving down the path of working with you? 

Let's be honest- you probably won't be able to shift people's state as quickly as a funny cat video... or can you? Do you have any techniques you might be able to teach in 15 minutes? Do you have a statistic or quote that clients would really relate to? Could you possibly share this information in a way that helped your potential client right away? 

Be clear and concise

A person joined YouTube August of 2013. In a little under 18 months, they had gotten 45 MILLION views of their videos. Less than 80 videos, many of which they did not even take- have over 45 million views. One video alone went viral and has over 25 million views. 

Guess what they named their YouTube channel? Forget your sadness. Yep. This person knows their audience and why they look for funny cat videos. They have defined their niche, know what their niche wants, and they are clearly delivering. 

In fact, in this case- they aren't even making these videos. It appears that they are simply reposting other videos and putting them into one place where people can easily find it. 

Understand how people search

How did I find this particular YouTube Channel? Why did I choose them? I googled "funny cat videos" and the three top searches were all from Forget Your Sadness's YouTube channel. This doesn't happen by accident. i did a quick search using Google's Keyword Tool- and guess what? I'm a pretty average searcher. About 135,000 people worldwide type in the exact same search phrase into Google each month! 

If you look through their YouTube channel you will find that all of the titles are optimized for these phrases. In fact, this person's account is pretty obviously optimized for search terms- more than optimized for normal human interaction. That is why even though there are millions of views, there are only 65k subscribers. There is less engagement because this channel doesn't seem like a normal person. 

However, if you can combine a little savvy research into what people type (or don't type) into Google with an ability to talk like a human- your business and your brand can be set-up for long-term success. 

Create something visually engaging

funny cat videos

When I did my search for funny cat videos, the first video at the top of the page was a sweet cat with the most amazing eyes. 

Don't you just want to click to watch that funny cat video? Apparently, you are normal this is the first image in the video that received 25 million views. This video accounts for about half of the views for the entire 80 videos. That initial picture is a huge part of it. 

Are you creating a site that articulates how you help and what you do- but that is also visually engaging? Are you pairing engaging images with your beautiful words? What if you took your sage wisdom and started pairing it with cute pictures of cats? Win! 

Create a Business Plan

Did you know that someone using YouTube to make money will receive about $5,000 per 1 million views? Neither did I! We can see from many of the above choices, that this person is probably doing this as a business. This isn't random, Google commercials are clearly turned on, etc. That means that this person could've grossed over $225,000 from re-posting 80 cat videos. 

How many of you are working your tush off to make a decent income? While some therapists are genuinely struggling financially- many others are struggling because they started running a business before running the numbers. 

Create a business plan- it won't be perfect- that is ok- just get started on the process.

Look at What You Click On

Therapists as a group tend to be a little "careful." As a group we tend to be careful about identifying data, our home address, our phone numbers, our email addresses, our social media accounts, our whereabouts, our habits, etc. Honestly, if we were being assessed by an external group-someone might want to label us mildly paranoid ;0). A graduate program in Psychology trains us to be careful and maybe even a bit wary. 

This means we also tend to be the hardest group to engage and build trust with. You don't click on silly weight loss gimmicks or get rich quick schemes. You click on funny cat videos, pictures of animals, human interest stories. Pay attention to that. Notice what you engage with, what you click on, what you trust. 

Therapists are always asking us "what should I post on my Facebook page?" Or, how do I get people to read my super informative blog post? These questions may seem vain on the surface- they aren't. Psychologists, therapists, and social workers alike see a hurting world, have a way to help, and have realized that the best way to help is to get their message in front of people who really need to hear

Think about what gets you engaged enough to click and read. What kinds of images are you drawn to? What kinds of titles are you drawn to? See if you can't recreate that in what you share on your website and on social media. 

Have you learned anything new from thinking more deeply about funny cat videos? I hope so! Bonus: The next time you are watching funny cat videos you can truly say that you are doing research for your private practice. 

Miranda Palmer

I have successfully built a cash pay psychotherapy practice from scratch on a shoestring budget. I have also failed a licensed exam by 1 point (only to have the licensing board send me a later months later saying I passed), started an online study group to ease my own isolation and have now reached thousands of therapists across the country, helped other therapists market their psychotherapy practices, and helped awesome business owners move from close to closing their doors, to being profitable in less than 6 weeks. I've failed at launching online programs. I've had wild success at launching online programs. I've made mistakes in private practice I've taught others how to avoid my mistakes. You can do this. You were called to this work. Now- go do it! Find some help or inspiration as you need it- but do the work!