Starting a Counseling Practice Part 9: Creating a Website

Websites - got one, need one...not sure? One of the main goals of bootcampers is to get their website in tip top shape. 

I started a cash-pay private practice and 95% of my referrals in the first few years came from the Internet. I already shared how many of my colleagues told me that wouldn’t refer to me until I took insurance. And, truth be told, I hadn’t planned for private practice, and that meant I hadn’t done any previous work on developing a referral base for my private practice.

All of my relationships had been built doing great work in non-profits, and that didn’t immediately translate to referrals in private practice. You will hear any business coach around tell you to get a website right away when starting a private practice, but it is important for you to realize a website is NOT a magic bullet. There are several steps to creating a website that will get great clients calling you begging to get scheduled.

Where to start?

The first step in creating a website for your private practice is choosing a platform that is easy to access and update. Your website is not like designing a business card. It is a living, breathing document that is more akin to a curriculum vitae that grows and develops with you. So, you need to find a place to put your website that is easy to access and update.

How do I choose a spot to build my website?

There are several features that your website MUST have. It MUST have an integrated traditional, blog feature that is integrated into the platform. Wix, TherapySites, and Vistaprints all have limited (or no) blogging capabilities- so they will severely limit your options when developing and sharing your website.

While WordPress.com and Weebly are both really cheap options to get started with your website, you might want to take into account the future cost of moving your work to a platform with the bells and whistles you need to grow a private practice in the digital age.

Expect to pay about $20 a month for your website. We recommend Wordpress.org if you are going to have someone else design and update your website (which will be more expensive)- or if you are a techy person- or SquareSpace.com if you want a clean, modern site with a lot of functionality and very little maintenance.

Can’t I just have someone build my website for me?

I’ve spoken to hundreds of therapists over the years who have been under the impression that they can hire someone to “do their website.” The truth is, developing a website has many facets:

  • Setting up the technical aspects
  • Creating the layout
  • Designing the look
  • Writing the content
  • Putting in backend keywords

Many therapists are surprised to find out that they need to supply the content and images for the website build. Think of your website “look” as the cover art for your book. Do you want to outsource the writing of your book to a high-school kid or a random person off Craigslist?

  

The most expensive, and most important part of building your website is the content. In fact, we recommend putting your content together FIRST in a basic template, and then contact a designer to help you dig deeper into your website developing and branding.

You can spend weeks, months, or even years on developing a logo, brand, and color scheme and without great content- you won’t get any clients!

Hiring someone to build your website

If you are going to hire someone to build your website, be sure you understand exactly what you are paying for. Are they taking care of setting up the basics of your search engine optimization? Are you they going to edit your content? Are they going to help you develop a marketing strategy? Are they going to help you choose images? When you find someone who will “set-up your website” or “build your website” for $200 expect bare-bones building. In fact, you might be able to find someone to do basic set-up on Fiverr.com for $5!

How do I know what to write on my website?

Now is NOT the time to go looking at other therapist’s websites for inspiration! Why? Because most therapists don't do a great job writing their website content. Go back to your niche, develop a clear picture of your ideal client- and think about your website as a personal letter to that person. Imagine that they are right in front of you, and you really want to support that person, give them hope, and make it safe for them to schedule with you- that is what a website should be.

I hope this helps inspire you today! The truth is, websites are a BIG topic! We’ve got a free 1-week video course “Website 101 for Therapists”

Click Here to get signed up today!

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!