The days are long gone when private practice counselors, social workers, marriage and family therapists, psychologists, life coaches, wellness coaches, career coaches, and naturopathic doctors can build a business without having a website. For introverts and extroverts like, this is THE most important and most central thing you can do for the sustainability of your professional life.
So there’s no 2 ways about it — you need a website. Probably 20 people this week have told you that. You know it’s true, and yet — not being a computer wiz — you don’t know where to start. Well, here’s a roadmap for you. By the time you’re finished reading this blog, you’ll know exactly what to do.
Internet presence is an essential foundation for all other marketing in today’s world. Everyone will have an opinion about where to start. And my opinion is that if you:
- like being a do-it-yourselfer
- want control of the design
- need to be able to make changes fast
- want to keep your content fresh
- got to keep your expenses low
- have just a little computer savvy
The homepage should be conversational and focused on the pain, problem or predicament of your ideal client. Let your writing take the reader by the hand, lead them through recognizing that you understand what it’s like to have the problem they have, that you know what they want instead, and that they are already getting a warm and trusting feeling about you, so they want to make an appointment when they see your call to action.
The bio page can tell the story of how you too know what it’s like to have a problem and seek help for it. A bit of your personal journey is more persuasive than a long list of credentials and professional affiliations. Or you might make your education and experience relate-able by also saying something about why you felt drawn to what you studied or what you learned from where you’ve worked that can benefit your clients.
The services page is the place to highlight your marketable specialties and processes such as groups, DBT, hypnotherapy, weight loss coaching, parenting skills, etc.
The fees and insurance page is the place to define your rates and list which insurance panels you are on, or whether you operate as an out of network provider, and why you may not accept insurance at all.
The FAQs and Contact page is the place to provide a contact form that potential clients can use to email you, along with a map and directions for finding your office. You could also include a link or button for an online appointment scheduler if you use one. And it can be helpful to explain policies about missed appointments and cancellations, inclement weather, not leaving children unsupervised in your waiting room, and other important details.
The basic account plan for many webhosts limit you to a 5 page website. When that’s what you start with, the 5 pages above are the best way to make use of your space. If you have more pages to play with, I’d add a Resources page with your own materials — not links that send people away from your site — and possible niche specific pages for those additional ideal clients that you really want to attract.
2. Select a Webhost — Decide in advance whether you want a webhost that offers:
- domain registration
- domain specific email address
- blog platform (if blogging will be a major marketing strategy for you)
- photo gallery and easy photo uploading
- unlimited pages (great if you’ll make writing a prime marketing strategy)
- easy html uploading for extras like sign up forms, audio and video
- fresh templates
- social media icons and / or interface
- meta tag wizard
- SEO assistance
- mobile conversion options (so your site looks great on a smart phone)
For a list of all the webhosts I have personally tried and highly recommend, get a copy of Deah’s Picks for Easy, Cheap Webhosts by using the request box in the column at right.
3. Determine your Brand Style – colors and design hold visitors or push them away
Your color scheme and the photos or graphic designs used on your website represent the personality of your private practice. It’s best to use what will somewhat match your clientele while also saying something about your style. Most webhosts have many templates to choose from, and the best webhosts allow some customization of templates such that you can keep the design but change the color, etc. Having a sense of your professional brand before shopping for a template will keep you from getting overwhelmed with too much selection.
4. Load content & tend to meta tags and on-page SEO
A page isn’t done until you’ve adjusted the line length to about 75 characters, paragraphed generously, and proof-read for typos and grammar. And it’s still not done until you’ve used the editing tools available to write a meta tag description for each page, fill in the meta title, and install meta keywords. These meta tags are what the search engines show when your site is included in someone’s search results, so they are very important.
There are a number of things that make for on-page SEO, including having your primary keywords in the header, and subheads on the page, and in the first couple paragraphs of the content. There’s much more SEO that could be done, but as a do it yourselfer, you can do that much and make a good start on search engine optimization for your website. Start with that.
5. Add social media and interactivity
Google loves social media connections. Look for how to add Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn icons to your home page and any niche specific pages. Consider allowing Facebook comments widget on your site for those important recommendations. If you’re an avid Tweeter, think about installing a Twitter feed widget to continuously add fresh content to your site.
Another form of interactivity that search engines like now are YouTube videos. You can make your own with a webcam, or from a PowerPoint slide show, and post those on your homepage or resources page. A fun form of interactive device is a Prezi, where the website visitor can manipulate the display. An example of a Prezi can be found on my other site at http://deahcurryphd.com/deciding.html .
6. Create a marketing plan and start driving traffic to your website
You’re ready now to put that website to work for you. Don’t be shy — let everyone you know have your web address. Ask friends, family and acquaintances to check it out — this helps Google and other search engines to start to notice you. Set up a Facebook business page and use it to refer people back to your website. List it on locator directories.
No Hype Coaching Questions: Is the creative process fun for you? Do you have the time and patience to learn the process and the simple technology available for do-it-yourselfers? Or would you rather turn this need over to someone else?
No Hype Help: My Picks for Easy, Cheap Webhosts will help you identify the best start for you, but if creating your own website still doesn’t sound all that fun for you, I can help. See my Nearly Done For You and Simple Blog Set Up options at the new webstore.
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