Advertising and marketing a counselling business can be an ethical minefield for therapists in private practice.
After all, we can’t put an advert out there saying:
‘For the best counselling in Lincoln, come to XXX!’
‘Feel better fast with XXX’.
‘Happiness guaranteed in just 6 sessions or your money back!’
We don't have sales or special offers or stock clearances.
But what we do have is knowledge, and sharing this knowledge is how we can let people know who we are, where we are and how we can help.
Blogging is perfect for this.
Let me tell you why...
Blogging is the single most important thing you can do in a business, and never more so than for counsellors and psychotherapists because we have ethical considerations around what we can and can’t say.
But counsellors as a profession are missing out on this amazing opportunity to both help people and attract clients.
In 'Friend, not foe: blogging for counselors' by Bethany Bray in Counseling Today, she explores how professional counsellors don't have enough of a voice online:
'Conduct an Internet search for any mental health topic – i.e., suicidal behavior in teenagers, group therapy for single moms, eating disorders among college students – and you’ll find a wealth of blogs.
The top hits that come up in your search, however, will likely be blogs written by social workers, educators or other helping professionals — not professional counselors.'
We are doing ourselves, our profession and the public a disservice as we are highly skilled and knowledgeable people, but we simply don't share that.
There are many benefits to writing a regular blog, and here are 10 of the main ones:
When you write a blog, you’ll establish authority in your niche. It demonstrates your knowledge and skill in your specialist area and gives you the status of ‘expert’.
Now before you grimace at me, yes I know as counsellors we shy away from the term expert because it can hamper the therapeutic process, but from a business perspective it’s important to be seen as highly knowledgeable and skilled, otherwise potential clients will find someone that is.
You can't be a counsellor if you have noone to counsel.
Counselling needs a rebrand: many people are terrified of going to see a counsellor!
There’s a perception of the counsellor being someone in authority, a bit tweedy and ‘holier than thou’ - which as you’ll know is (mostly) nonsense!
As a profession, we need to collectively change that, and blogging is the perfect way.
Think back to when you’ve had counselling, what did you look for when choosing a counsellor?
Qualifications and experience - yes, you need to feel that you’re in safe hands.
But you also need a warmth from the therapist, you need to know they will understand you. After all, the therapeutic relationship is paramount in most modalities.
A blog on ‘10 ways you can avoid a panic attack’ or ‘how to use mindfulness to reduce stress’ don’t cross any personal disclosure boundaries, but do give the perfect opportunity to let your warmth come through.
You don’t have to cross any personal disclosure boundaries for a blog to show your warmth and understanding #CounsellorTips
Over time your personality will show and people will start to trust you, which will attract the right clients.
Over time regular and consistent blogging means you’ll produce a valuable resource for people to use.
Again, having a niche directs people to you as the ‘expert’, so if your specialty is anger management for example, your blog will be full of resources to help with this, like ‘how to recognise your anger triggers’ and ‘10 ways to calm down fast’.
Google favours websites that are current, so adding a keyword rich blog post every week/month keeps it fresh, which means google will rank your website higher. So if you want to be on page 1 - get writing!
A stale website that hasn't been updated for months will stagnate on page 10, and when was the last time you looked beyond the first couple of pages in a search?
There are so many counsellors and trainee counsellors around, to make a living and attract your ideal client you need to stand out from the crowd.
Blogging about your niche elevates you among a sea of others and gives you that edge.
Blogging's got me noticed in many ways:
It will open doors for you.
Advertising is expensive!
And not only that, there's no guaranteed return on investment (ROI).
Related post: The Therapists Guide To Paid Advertising
Blogging is free.
Yes, it’ll take some time, but one well written blog can work hard: you can promote that blog all over social media many times over.
On my sister site JaneTravis.com some of my blog posts have been shared thousands of times. That gets my work in front of a whole lotta people!
So if you’re just starting out, blogging is the best marketing activity to do.
Blogging gives you fantastic content to share with your social media followers, providing visibility.
And did you know you can very simply use social media platforms to advertise?
I use facebook to provide highly targeted advertising to ‘boost’ posts, which means I write a blog, share it on my Facebook page and then spend a fiver so it appears in the feed of my ideal clients.
Related posts: 5 Biggest Mistakes Therapists Make On Facebook
Unlike advertising in the press, I know my blog will be seen by exactly the type of person I’ve identified as my ideal client.
Blogging regularly about your chosen niche encourages you to keep up to date and continue learning about your speciality.
Another way you can market your business for free is email marketing, or starting a newsletter.
A newsletter increases visibility, gains influence, helps clients, establishes authority, makes you stand out, increases know/like/trust factor - actually, most of the things blogging is good for.
Driving traffic to your blog, potential clients can check out your interesting and useful blogs and sign up for your email list, and you can send them useful info and tips regarding your niche.
So there you go, 10 good reasons for starting a blog. If you're serious about building your counselling practice, don't miss the boat, get writing!
And if you need some counsellor specific help getting started, or need more inspiration check out Grow Your Private Practice Club
Jane lives in beautiful Lincoln with her 2 boys and rescue dog. When she's not talking about herself in the third person, she's usually found with her feet up and eating Maltesers. Sometimes she even shares them with friends.