A number of my clients have recently asked for help with getting started on using blogging as a marketing method. If you are in the same place they were with wanting to blog, feeling a little reluctant, imagining it's like writing a thesis, or thinking you don't have time, I have 5 basic tips for you. Blogging doesn't have to be complicated, although there may be a learning curve at first. If you think it will be too hard, you might be overthinking it.
Blogging is a Conversation with Your Ideal Clients
Blogging is not about writing a scholarly article for peer review. It's about setting down the kinds of things you might normally say to clients when they ask a question. For example, today you -- the version of you that lives in my head -- asked me what you need to know about blogging.
See how your question became the title for this post?
And PS -- if you don't have an ideal client who lives in your head, get one. They come in very handy as a marketing assistant. LOL
Start with your imaginary client's question, and then simply talk about all the things you say over and over to clients and others who ask about healthy and unhealthy coping mechanisms, common and complex grief, every day worries and debilitating anxiety, situational versus clinical depression, overwhelming versus creative stress, pharmaceuticals and alternatives to medication, etc.
Right there you have 12 broad topics, enough to blog about for 3-6 months.
Just Write Like You Speak
Write in the first and second person tense (I and you), and never in third person (the vague they). Be casual with your phrasing and vocabulary so that your writing is easy to understand and quick to read.
There is research to back up that tip. Most people read at a 5th grade level. If we, as clinicians, write at the stilted, academic -- boring!! -- grad school level, it's intimidating to those we want to attract as clients.
A lot of my clients initially think it shows their knowledge in a good light to be somewhat stiff and formal with their blogging. They call it being professional. But what it really does is make you unapproachable.
Remember, you may be conveying well researched and credible information, but you are also building a reputation by blogging. And the reputation you want is that of a person who sounds easy to talk to, and easily understood by the average person.
Be a Storyteller: It's the In Thing Now in Marketing
Even in how-to writing, which is essentially what most blogging is, there is a role for some storytelling. Clinicians and coaches might call it giving an anecdote or case study. Potential clients feel it as the illustration of another person's experience they can relate to.
For example, I have several clients that I'll roll into one here and call Chloe in order to personalize this point. Chloe has worked in an agency for the first 15 years of her career, and just recently moved into private practice. She feels like she's starting over again because just like the rest of us, she never had to learn anything about websites, branding, or using the internet to market her services.
Chloe didn't see herself as a writer. In fact, she never liked writing papers in college, and secretly wonders what's wrong with her friends who can write lengthy, chatty emails all the time. I suggested she might reframe her friends as representative of her ideal clients, and imagine why they write so much.
Maybe because they feel unheard? she wondered. Maybe because they relate to the social story of who did what when and then what happened?
Yes, maybe so. And that kind of writing and reading holds their interest, I suggested. So what if you blogged in a similar way, making basic psycho-education sound relatable and interesting, instead a dry recitation of scientific statistics?
Well, Chloe tried that approach. And she found it easier than she expected to blog that way. And she said it was a relief to not have to build a case conceptualization or a treatment justification, or essay argument. It was just like talking.
Yup, I smiled. See point number one, I said. She got it, and we laughed together.
Bring Your Personality
If you write like you talk, you can't help but bring your personality with you into your blog. That's a good thing. It gives the potential client a subtle sense of what it will be like to work with you. (If your personality is impatient, rude, and overbearing, you might rethink your career choice.)
Now those of us who do some teaching on the side, or who have a naturally more direct tone in our speaking -- as I must admit to -- can sound a bit preachy in writing. So, we have to watch that. You'll find your own style for handling it.
Mine is to try to be somewhat free-wheeling in using language to paint word pictures, that hopefully inject a little humor or at least a pleasant or interested feeling for the reader. Actually, I take that imaginary client who lives in my head, set her in a chair next to my desk when I blog, and often think in dialogue, rather than in instructions.
How'm I doing? I ask her. (She nodded back at me, so I guess I'm okay.)
What you see in my blogs is what you'd get on a phone consult. If it's off-putting to you, well, you're not likely my ideal client. And that's okay with me -- there are plenty of others who may match your style better.
But if you feel comforted, or intrigued, or at least moderately motivated to know more, then I've achieved my goal.
And, do please notice, when you are busy bringing your personality, that good grammar, correct spelling, proper punctuation, and plenty of short paragraphs actually help your personality shine through the verbiage.
Don't Be Afraid to Share What You Know
My last basic tip is to not worry about plagiarism. You can't plagiarize your own understanding and application of someone else's concept. And they can't copyright a concept, only the extensive written explanation of it.
This is why it is best NOT to do much if any research when blogging. Trust what you learned in grad school. It's rolling around your brain just waiting, silently begging for you to blog about it.
Blogging is an extension of giving clients examples and explanations while you are in session. Most of us don't read to them from Jung's Red Book or Hendrix's Keeping the Love You Find, right?
No, we translate for the listener who doesn't have an MS in psych. We interpret our understanding, and put it in easy to understand terms.
Do that when you blog, and you find blogging to come naturally.
And when you are done making your point(s), don't bother with a summary or conclusion paragraph. Just stop writing.