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Archive for the ‘Blog Help’ Category

Anatomy of a therapy blog post

Today I want to address what I think is the oft-ignored topic of a single blog post as it relates to the whole blog.  Most of this information really applies to any web content anywhere.  Remember blogs are not special except you can comment (if you chose to let comments be open.)  You can easily have the “share” options on a website article.  So without further ado, here we go!

The Blog Title

In case you weren’t aware, the title is not only important to get people to read the blog post, but Google also uses the title to try to figure out, in it’s semi-sophisticated robot-brain, what the heck the blog is about so it can match it up with queries it gets.  The title can be a tense  juggling act between a zippy title that gets attention and a keyword rich title that attracts Google readers.

The Body of the Blog

The goal is readership, but then what?  Most blogs have a goal.  Sometimes a single blog post will:

  • convince people to read more blog posts
  • convince people to buy something or hire you
  • convince someone to link to YOUR blog either in their blog roll, their latest blog post, their website, somewhere….you become a clear resource to their readers
  • help a journalist get a better sense of your voice for potential interviews
  • be so amazing that everyone who reads it wants to share it, thus resulting in many more eyeballs than you ever could have imaged

Tagging the Blog

There are tags and there are categories, depending on if you use WordPress, blogpost, or another blog format.  The more analytical therapists will do well in figuring out the right ways to mark their blog posts.  My approach is to think holistically but have a lot of self-forgiveness when you don’t know what the heck you’re doing with these tags.  Eventually something naturally will bubble up for you and you can either go back and tag posts, or just ignore those and start at the point you have an epiphany on how to organize the posts.  For example, I’ve dropped the tags from my blog posts, so I don’t even label them or have the “tag cloud” show up anymore.  A category, by the way, is the most broad theme, and the tag would be less broad within that category.  For example, if you worked with moms, you may have Categories like: Children, Marriage, Self-Care, Health.  But then there may be blog posts that relate to a theme that doesn’t deserve it’s own category.  A tag may then be “Finding balance” which you could easily write about in any of those categories.  Honestly it’s all about who you are, what you’re writing, who your audience is, and seeing what makes sense.  One person’s tag may be someone else’s big category.

The benefit to having categories or tags is that if someone want MORE on that angle, they can click on that category and see everything related to it.  Most therapists struggle because they’re either so broad in their blog, or so narrow it’s hard to splice things down further.  But remember, you hopefully have new eyes every day and they deserve a compass!

Who Are the Eyes On the Blog Post

In any given blog post you’ve got a fantastic challenge!  You have to continue to entertain those who subscribe to your blog and read it whenever you post something.  You’ve got to entice new readers with ONE blog post and hope it does the trick so they read more.  And you’ve got to say something new and interesting every single blog post!  Wow, no pressure! 😉

In Totality, A Single Blog Post Will…

Be stacked up against all your other blog posts to create a bigger, more robust view of how you think about your area of expertise.  A single blog post is where the fires burn for book ideas or products or services you could create.  You start to see trends and can build an entire book off single blog posts that you found were wildly popular.   I have literally seen ONE blog post become a wildly successful book, create an entire business, speaking tours, media attention, coaching opportunities.  It’s crazy fun to watch this happen to people.

 

As always, I’d love your feedback or questions.  Are you using categories and tags well?  Having struggles?  Found some blog posts are really inspiring and considering doing more because of it?

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Rock Star Therapy Bloggers vs Regular Therapy Bloggers

I’m way excited for today’s post and it’s taken a week to get it organized as I wanted the blessing of the three people I am going to call out as Rock Star Therapy Bloggers.  I have a lot of opinions from my wide lens at this world of blogging, marketing, therapy, social media,  corporate life, being an active member of message boards and just generally still being a “normal person”, not yet a graduate student or licensed therapist with all the bias and baggage that comes with that path.

The big reasons I’m excited to share Regular Therapy Blogging vs Rock Star Blogging?

1 – it defies some of the marketers advice out there (I love being a contrarian!)

2 – it defies the sense that you have to look like a gross marketer/self promoter to be successful (a struggle new therapy bloggers have)

3 – it fits my strong belief that if you do good and have a bigger vision than self-promotion, good things will happen

4 – with all my experience, this is the path I plan on taking.  I recently talked to my therapist husband a few weeks ago on My Big Idea and he’s tentatively in agreement which means we may be launching our first mental health blog…I’m naturally psyched and he’s  exhausted already at my energy towards writing and marketing. hah!)

5 – the rock star bloggers are super inspiring, very real, and successful.  Who doesn’t love that?

Warning: Nobody can tell you that you suck or are doing things wrong even if they’re telling you that you’re doing things wrong. Success comes in many forms and we all have unique talents, abilities, goals, and missions.  Never take any marketer advice as gold (including mine) without seriously consulting your own emotional reaction, researching, and figuring out what you can do within all your abilities and limitations.  We are all biased and the following information has a bias towards a certain way of being in the world that may not fit for you.  Not every therapist has the temperament, drive, time, or interest in being a rock star blogger and I say good for you for knowing who you are!  There are countless ways to reach people with your message.

Warning in plain English: Please don’t feel awful if you think your blog sucks and please don’t redo everything you’re doing just because it’s the opposite of what I’m saying here.

Biggest Roadblock to Therapy Blogging?

The real challenge to start and maintain a therapy blog is about MINDSET and long term goals for a blog.  The goal will dramatically impact your success and how you go about blogging.  While there is no “right way” to blog, in my view there is a gap in thinking and action between a normal therapy blogger and a rock star blogger.

In no particular order…

Where the blog exists

A regular therapy blogger has a blog under their counseling website.  Like therapistjane.com/blog

A Rock Star blogger has a separate URL for a blog and very likely maintains a separate website for counseling and clients to keep the two worlds separate.  They are hyper aware of the sacred nature of therapy-client relationships and their blogging audience is not really likely to be their clients. (Rock Star Bloggers give a lot of thought to this issue and work within their comfort zone on the blog vs therapy side of their business.)

Blog Look

A regular therapy blogger has a simple blog, probably a free template

A Rock Star blogger pays good money for a well designed, customized, well functioning blog. And even more? Every year or two they pay MORE money to complely revamp. Why? A web design reflects who you are and what you’re doing. Rock Star bloggers have momentum which requires constantly growing and changing their look and functionality.

Why the blog exists

Regular therapy bloggers are told to blog because that’s what you do, darnit!  It’s the smart, savvy way to get clients, say the therapy marketers.

Rock star therapy bloggers have a passion they can barely contain!  They want to help people who may never seek therapy and they want to express their passion as widely and loudly as they can!  They have big dreams and know if they can create a mini-universe online, good things will happen (including the side effect of, yes…getting clients.)  They treat their blog really as its own business whose revenue is simply helping and media attention.  (See a future blog hopefully this week on a book review that ties closely into this topic of “free.”)

Note the huge difference in motivation!

What the Blog Does or Says

Regular therapy bloggers have a general sense of the blog topic, maybe.  It may be all over the board however, discussing anything mental health related.  Every blog post may be a big of a struggle.

Rock star bloggers have a big umbrella, or a tight niche, but either way they know what container they’ve got with their topic and they’re busy plugging away, filling the “holes” not yet discussed in the broad or narrow topic they have chosen.  Often blog inspiration comes from seeing themes in the therapy sessions with clients.  They want to “give away” what people are paying them to hear so they can help others.

Readership

Regular therapy blogs don’t have a ton of readers, not a big audience.  They’re quiet little blogs.

Rock star therapy blogs have big audiences that mushroom even bigger every time the blog is mentioned in a new publication, radio, TV, website.  You can just “feel” the audience even if you can’t “see” them, when you land on their blog.  The blog takes on a life of its own.  Perhaps in part because it doesn’t feel like a “therapy blog” with all the stigma of therapy?

Writers Block and Frustration, Oh My….!

Regular therapy bloggers get frustrated, writers block, not sure “why” they are blogging or what they’re getting out of it.

Rock star therapy bloggers get exhausted for sure, but built the blog for a passion to help the broader culture.  Since they’re really “out there” they have a beat of what people want to know and are rarely at a loss for what they could write about.  Their natural momentum plus their networking and media attention keep the blog hot, hot, hot.

Attraction

Regular therapy bloggers work for a labor of love, trusting their marketing coaches that readers will come.  Afterall, blogs are magical, right?  The search engines loves them!

Rock star therapy bloggers use their blogs as a huge marketing tool.  They’re weapon of mass attraction is a lively, energetic, snappy blog they proudly share with the world, and because their passion and website are so great, people take notice and have them be guest blog writers, quote them, link to them, give them cool opportunities.  May find ways to build e-products to make money from the blog, but it’s more like a bookstore on the blog rather than empire building by collecting emails to sell a bunch of stuff.  They may get paid in creative ways but it’s very clear to the average reader that you can absorb a ton from the website without hitting a “wall” requiring payment to learn anything more.

The Start of the Blog

Regular therapy bloggers are eager to collect email addresses as they’re told the point is to be able to sell them stuff, let people know about e-books, workshops, etc.  There can be a hunger and obsession with collecting email addresses and a sense of failure if that isn’t happening, or as fast as you would want.

Rock star bloggers are not in this game for emails.  These therapists build a blog without trying to be a sales website, without having lots of signups for things and may even have NO sign up except “get emails for this blog.”  Their primary goal is to have free, open information which naturally keeps people coming back.

So who ARE these rock star therapy bloggers?  I don’t doubt there are quite a few out there, but three I am specifically wanting to call out today and who confirmed this blog is not just blowing smoke….

Soapbox Therapy Twitter @SoapBoxTherapy

Relationships in the Raw @Estes_Therapy

The Toolbox at Lisa Kift Therapy @LisaKiftTherapy

Each are busy, each have their own stories, and each are proof that you don’t have to be a 30 year veteran therapist to get great media attention and grow a passion-inspired practice.

Please, if you’ve had success, tell us what you’ve found so others reading this can learn from you!

6 Things Therapists Need to Know About Blogs

Blogs are not magical.

A lot of people hype that blogs are the panacea to all your marketing problems.  Let’s get real for a minute.  They’re actually just a website.  The difference is each blog post represents a “new website page.”  Content is king with Google, so for many it’s simply easier to write small blog posts to add content rather than feel intimidated by adding new “articles” on a website.  And yes, blogs allow interaction but frankly few therapists have enough website traffic, let alone the right KIND of traffic, where visitors are going to be commenting on your blog.

Blogs are date-stamped (well, most entries are.)

This is not always great for therapists with timeless information or, in my premarital relationships website, where engaged couples would balk at a fantastic article with advice if they saw I wrote it four years ago.  Right now it’s on my homepage as “Hot Topics!”  Keep your audience in mind and whether, in three years when then see your blog, they’re going to think your amazing advice is outdated.

Clients may not give a hoot about your blog.

They want in person help.  They want your contact information and to learn about you.  If you have a lot of fantastic, well-organized information ON your website directly, you may get more eyeballs reading your information which will convert more web visitors into clients.  By the time clients find your website they may already be exhausted and the last thing they will do is click on your blog.  They don’t need more information – they need HELP.  In person.

Blogs are hard.

Finding your voice is hard.  It took me YEARS, after teaching hundreds of therapists and marriage educators about website stuff, to finally find my voice for this blog.  If I had started this blog three years ago it would have been a pain in my butt, a huge guilt trip, stale, hard to stay motivated, and not been as organized because I wouldn’t have a vision or know how to organize my blog categories.  (Organizing a blog is an entire training by itself!)

There are actually three different ways to have a blog.

One way is to have it “under” your website, so for example I could have chosen thomasconsultation.com/blog (Thomas consultation being my main therapy marketing website.)  I could have also tried thomasconsultation.blogspot.com to at least keep the same name of blog, just with blogpost.com or wordpress.com (there are other blog programs out there too, like livejournal.com, etc.)

The third way is the strategic way.  It’s my passion – Search Engine Optimization.  I could spend ten thousand dollars or more to get one ad in one therapy magazine and hope it draws a few eyeballs my way.  Instead, I did research, spent a lot of time thinking about who I am, my brand, and what is available.  I decided to be psychotherapy private practice as the overall umbrella for my website marketing stuff because that phrase got the most traffic on Google over other phrases.  It’s my niche client and therapists don’t necessarily think about “SEO” so it wouldn’t help me to market as an SEO guru.  The domain name itself is taken and I didn’t feel a need to spend $100/year hosting this blog, so I’m using the free wordpress version.  As of the time of this writing, it’s been 16 months, I’ve had almost 300 posts (almost one a day and I had a 6 week bed rest period in there without use of an arm.)  I’ve had 6,666 visits to my blog.  Even if you take out probably 2,000 spam visits, that’s over 4,000 eyeballs of MY ideal readers finding my blog and information.  Without a penny spent.

The trick to this SEO blog thing, however, isn’t just the name.  It’s our final quick lesson for today.

The more you write, the more you help Google understand who you are.

I realize it’s a difficult mindset to think of yourself as a Robot, but that’s what search engines are.  YOU know you’re a kick butt therapist with expertise in your subject matter, but why would Google care?  And how does Google match your amazing brain spillage with the millions of daily questions people ask?  It does this by many factors, one of which is what you say.  I blog nonstop about therapy websites so I get that exact traffic.  If I blogged nonstop about the nuts and bolts of a private practice business, I’d get that traffic.  And if I blogged about ethics of therapy, or how to set up office furniture for a private practice, I’d get that exact traffic.  The point here is I chose a fairly broad blog name (psychotherapy private practice) and then it’s my duty to help Google understand the kind of traffic I want by writing a lot so it can match people’s questions to what I’m saying.  Most therapists don’t write enough to help Google know exactly why their blog is awesome.   And most therapists are too broad with their blog topic which means their real competition is huge, national, heavily marketed websites on their niche area.

I hope this information was useful!  I protect my time but do limited personal coaching.  Contact me if you want to pick my brain more.  I find being strategic the most important first step in your marketing efforts.  You have to know yourself, your audience, and then slot in how to make this work best.

Therapists using Blogs

Why do good things happen when you have the least ability to deal with them?  I have had some long days with my small children (potty training one and chicken pox with my already-vaccinated son) with wild things like new consulting gigs for website stuff, or a CNN reporter contacting me at my premarital counseling website.  I’m so aware of the calendar and my next Networker magazine article coming out in the September issue and not having my new e-books ready.

In any event, I have to say while my last post was a bit critical of social media to find clients, it’s a FUN way to connect with colleagues, laugh, share resources and create new relationships.  From a tweet today I found a great link to therapy blogs!  Check all these out and I hope you find them inspirational.  I have always been a fan of therapists blogging and have a lot more I’ve posted (see Blog help) category, and can say in the future but for now, enjoy the link.  I also just launched a Facebook ad for my husbands therapy practice.  He got a call but per usual, not sure where the client came from til the intake.  How cool if it was a same-day set up and action?

Why I Love WordPress Blogs

I strongly encourage WordPress blogs for those who have a website and want to blog. It’s more work to set up and can be confusing, but you have the most amazing options for design. I’ve just changed mine to one I hadn’t seen before (they’re always adding new ones because it’s open source and lots of people create cool designs as a marketing ploy to get you to hire them.)

WordPress can also be a “hosted” website so you have access to editing your own website without paying a monthly fee. There are pros and cons to this including everything you write has to be dated (with a few exceptions.) I’m not a fan of having a ton of dates on things because a fantastic piece you write may “appear” irrelevant if you wrote it on March 3, 2007 if someone sees the date. If someone didn’t see a date they would not thing “old.”

Bill Doherty on Twitter

It’s quite amazing to say my father is now both on Twitter AND wrote his first blog!  He is likely to never join Facebook, and will definitely never get a cellphone.  🙂

Both of these are with me as his business manager. Both are very strategic, and both are after a lot of requests and “no’s.”  He loves having a web-saavy daughter to help him weed through the mess and requests.

So, the blog is for Psychology Today.  He is writing on Parenting and Marriage.   I do NOT tell therapists they have to blog.  It’s a complicated issue.  And my father does not need one more thing on his extremely packed schedule. But, as a cultural mover and shaker, this was an opportunity I didn’t think he should pass up!  The folks at  PT are very excited, as am I, that his unique perspective will get such a great spotlight.

As he was getting ready to learn how to upload his first blog post, I told him NOW is the time to do Twitter.  Blogging is good, but without a simple way to spread your blog (and I do not suggest emailing everyone every time you blog…though I have dear, sweet friends who also read this blog that do this), Twitter is a great, fast way to get readers and fans with minimal effort.  Find Bill Doherty on Twitter!  His first blog entry ever is  on Tiger Woods and Consumer Marriage.

Blogs as your only website

I’ve had a lot of thoughts on blogs vs websites, and it was finally cinched upon confirmation of what I thought was true.

First, let me explain one thing.  There are two categories of blogs. The free ones, which you can tell because your blog name always ends in the name of the company, like myblog.WORDPRESS.COM or myblog.BLOGSPOT.com  They are free and come with some “risks.”  The biggest risk is the blogcompany can chose, or accidently, shut you down.  They officially own all the material.  I know a young entreprenuer who managed to make some good cash when she gathered quite a following planning her wedding.  The week before her big day, she went to her blog and it was *GONE.*  Vanished.  Adios.  A year or more of blog posts, companies who paid her to have an ad…  Needless to say she learned the hard way that unless it’s casual, you should consider the  OTHER type of blog, which is a HOSTED blog.

A hosted blog basically means that your blog posts are saved on a server (plain language, it’s saved and safe – techie people keep it secure on a computer and there is no way Google or WordPress could ever shut you down.)  You also have your own WEBSITE name. No extra long name.

This blog is the free version. My www.ThomasConsultation.com is a hosted site, so I pay $100/year (actually get it free using some space my father in law has…but I digress.)

There is a lot of nuance to each version, reasons to do either,  but I have just confirmed something important.

POSTS, ie each “entry” you write, are DATED. That’s the point of a blog!   Scrolling, updated stuff instead of a website that never changes.

The problem?  A ton of what you want to share is TIMELESS.  So by adding a date/time to each post, you are potentially losing people who think, “why should I read your stuff that is a year old, or four years old?”  I have four year old articles on my websites,but my readers have no way of knowing they weren’t written yesterday.  So it feels more fresh.  They aren’t asked to consider the age of the information and whether it applies today.  With the internet moving at lighting speed, I can get annoyed at something written 6 HOURS ago if it’s not updated with the latest info.  What would a client think about material written five years or even five months ago? 

For a therapist this is so important if you have, or are considering, going “frugal” by using a blog as your website. You don’t want to have general information with dates on it.  And when you name your posts, even if you know something about search engine optimization, your blog entry “title” will also have a date attached to it.   This means if you wrote a great title, you can’t easily reference it unless you remember the date you wrote it! I can very easily spill out articles to journalists, or on twitter, or in emails, letting people know pages on my website I think they’d find useful. 

Put even more simply.  There is ALWAYS a cost to free or cheap.

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