It is the norm in most solopreneur private practices to have an ebb and flow of clients. As frustrating and scary as this is, it is part of the gig of being in business for yourself in a one-person office.
It is something we all have to get used to, and after 25 years as a solopreneur myself I can offer these insights.
In mentoring many psychotherapist colleagues, it's typically the case that when business slows down that's when you start thinking about marketing and website SEO. But marketing works best when done on a consistent basis, even when your practice is full. And SEO too needs ongoing attention.
Level 1 Audit -- The Basics
If you are just starting out, here is the short list of what you need first:
A narrowly defined ideal client
A professionally designed website
Client attracting website content
Frequently fresh content / preferably bi-monthly blog posts
Well optimized meta tags and page headlines
Claim your Google Business listing if you want local clients
Active social media presence, with icons linked from website
Locator directories linked from website
A lot of clinicians and others in helping professions stop marketing when Level 1 Basics are done. But this is just the beginning, not the end.
And, if you have been in practice a while, and haven't redone your website top to bottom, it might be time to reconceptualize your content and give your design a fresh new look.
Level 2 Audit -- Introverted and Extroverted Tasks
After you have the basics done and have a routine habit of blogging and posting on social media, your marketing plan should be expended to include Level 2 -- Introverted or Level 2 Extroverted Marketing Tasks. How many of these are you tending to on a weekly basis?
Extroverted Marketing Tasks
Attending business networking groups
Contacting allied professionals for referrals
Giving signature talks to groups of potential ideal clients
Doing a weekly TV spot, radio show or webinar
Introverted Marketing Tasks
Writing a give-away info product
Sending an ezine
Developing a helpful audio download
Creating a series of short tip videos
Publishing an ebook on Kindle
In essence, to keep your pipeline filled with clients waiting to get in to see you, the standard advice still works -- spend 2-4 hours a day on marketing. That includes research and development time, especially when engaged in introverted tasks.
Level 3 Audit -- Thinking Out of the Box
When you have tried several introverted and extroverted tasks long enough to give them a fair trial -- and usually that will be 6 months to a year -- you might need to get more creative with your skills. Ask yourself these questions:
How can you use your skills in a different way or with a different population?
Could you take your skills on the road / make house calls?
Could you offer concierge services to an affluent clientele?
What if you partnered with an already formed group such as a church or synagogue for a once a week drop in or group counseling / parenting coaching / navigating aging or aging parents group?
What about mentoring new clinicians from your special approach to therapy?
How about brainstorming with a couple local colleagues over a once a month mastermind lunch?
Marketing is never ending. There is no magic formula except devoting the time to spend the effort on what works for you. Every year or two assess what is working and what isn't. Give your tasks enough time to prove themselves, but don't be afraid to change your plan when your own energy isn't enthused about what you are doing to attract new clients.