Copyright 2012 Deah Curry PhD, updated January 2015
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 alike, 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
then building your own website is the way to go.
Here are my top suggestions for how to quickly and easily get a website done with the least amount of cost and frustration.
1. Write your content first — Content is the hardest part. Here’s what to keep in mind.
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 several ideal client types and their problems in one short paragraph each. Then each paragraph should link to a full page for that client type.
The Niche Specialty pages
are where to put your long marketing messages to each of the ideal client types you want to attract. Each type should be addressed separately. The pages should be in the 700-1000 word range, each. Get my helpful guide here on how to write an emotionally compelling marketing message.
The FAQs and Fees 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.
And it can be helpful to explain policies about missed appointments and cancellations, inclement weather, not leaving children unsupervised in your waiting room, your social media policy, and other important details.
The Contact page
is the place for a map to your office, an email form, your fax number is you use one, and any parking or bus directions that might be appreciated.
The Free Resources page
is the place to put your own authored materials — not links that send people away from your site.
2. Select a Webhost — Decide in advance whether you want a webhost that offers:
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
social media icons and / or interface
meta tag wizard
mobile conversion options (so your site looks great on a smart phone)
I have used half a dozen or more of the do it yourselfer website builders, and now exclusively recommend www.Wix.com as best.
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. Wix allows 100% customization of templates such that you can keep the design but change the color, or change everything, or start with a blank slate if you wish. 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 a keyword rich meta title, and install your primary meta keywords for each page of significance. 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.
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.
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?
If you've decided, after reading this blog, that you'd rather have someone else design your site and install your content, I can help. See my website about building websites for clinicians and coaches here.