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Another website template option

WordPress.  This blog is in WordPress.  Lots of websites are in WordPress and you’d never even know.  Mine at the very bottom says “powered by WordPress” as do many.  But this company was founded on what is called “open source” technology, meaning anyone with the interest and tech abilities can get in there and not only do anything they want, but distribute their work for free, or money.

I like WordPress for two reasons.  One, you can find templates that offer what is called a “header”, the links at the top of every page, usually filled with “About”, “Contact”, etc.  I am a fan of those and really dislike this template right now for that reason (it’s red..apologies if you’re reading this blog and it’s not red, it just means I’ve found a better template).  The second reason I like WordPress is how easy it is to make “Categories” to help your reader.  Notice the categories to your right and how nice it is to “see” what I talk about on this blog and be able to just jump to a category that interests you.  I am wildly NOT organized in real life, but for some reason I crave  and do get really organized with computer files and on line stuff.  (Perhaps it fits my analytical side more than the real-life cleaning which also involves the actual work of moving things? 😉  )

So why should this matter to you?

WordPress gives you the option to get a very nice looking, FREE website.  The best ones don’t even seem to be a blog.  It’s what they call “static” information, which is to say there aren’t dates on it and you aren’t constantly updating it they way you would a blog.

I am very excited because I just got more “hosting space” last night, which is a techie way of saying I have the space on the Internet to build another website.  This one is going to be public and private, professional and personal.  And, it’s going to be my name.  Yes, I spent two full days pondering everything I teach in my “website names” CD.  Website names should be taken very seriously, very strategic, thinking through both your marketing plan on line and offline, and with a sense of self-awareness about who you are today and who you might want to be in the future (say, you love eating disorder work today but can see yourself moving in a new direction.)  This would help inform what domain name you bought, or would help you understand your marketing work today on line will be very pinpointed and have to “start over” if you get a new website for a new interest later.  The Domain CD is designed for EVERYONE!  I’ve made every single mistake I teach you about, and it’s all about helping you ask questions you’ve never thought about before.  I’m even more excited about it having gone through my own two days of figuring out a new domain and using everything I’ve learned to feel confident and strategic about my choice!

I was up waaaay too late last night finding really awesome websites that are 1) free, 2) unique and funky.  I never thought I could put those descriptors together because on normal websites you’re pretty much stuck with templates designed by 18-25 year old geeky computer science folks who love the challenge of building stuff but either don’t have the skills to do it for money, or who aren’t actually designing for people like you and me, but doing more “generic” website templates because it’s fun.  These folks, I hate to stereotype, generally aren’t working with real people in the real world.  If they were, they would not be giving away hours of their time for free, because they’d be too busy doing work for money!  You’ll also find that people who aren’t designers (as most of these folks aren’t), have the almost identical website over and over.  They aren’t artists but crunchy folks doing things behind the scenes that make them excited, but don’t matter to you and I if the look is pretty medicore.

I will blog about my new website when I get it up!  I’m very excited.  “ThomasConsultation.com” is a very boring website name and doesn’t make me “love it” when I write bios for public articles, nor does it give one central home for people to see all the things I’m up to.  I’ll keep that website as my “website marketing for therapists and educators”, along with this blog.  But I will have more passion, interest, and abilities to do more with that website, because I will have the proper “home” to put everything.  Having a home for everything, being organized, you’d be surprised how powerful it is.  That’s why I have an entire training on the topic!  Website organization.

Blogging smartly

I feel bad when therapists or marriage educators hear they are supposed to blog but really don’t KNOW WHY for sure.  Yeah, blogging is cool, it’s where the young people are, it’s what search engines like.  For some, it’s actually going away, losing its appeal as everyone and their dog is blogging and on twitter.  (Yes, Martha Stewarts dogs use Twitter.)  With freedom of speech comes a lot of nonsense and bad crap that lessens the quality of the web. 

Let me clarify something real fast about blogs.  A blog IS A WEBSITE.  Every “post” you make is making a NEW WEB PAGE.  As I train people who to do keyword research and “write smart”, a blog is just another way to write smart.  A blog is just more likely to be returned to for updates because it can be perceived as more “living and breathing.” 

But keep in mind your audience.  If you see a client for therapy, they may have no interest in sticking around to read a blog.  In fact they may think it’s odd to have a blog.  Or they may just not want to know that much about you.  Who knows. 

In a well “optimized” website, Google reads all the new content because you know how to write, where to write, and all the little tricks.  Google will generally read all my new articles within a couple days, so while a blog can also be that fast, at least with a website it is all well organized and not one long stream of consciousness.  My site The First Dance  let’s people enter and not feel like they’re missing out when they see the blog dates back 3 years.  The moment of panic that can set in, wondering if you really have to go back to the beginning of the blog to “get” the latest posts…

Anyway, Google and other search engines do like blogs, but you don’t HAVE to blog if you don’t want to.  Remember, a blog is literally just a website.  You can go ahead and build your website well, and then try to get OTHER blogs to link to your website to reep the “search engine power” of blogs.

Being really, really unique doesn’t have to be hard

I don’t want to use this blog to just link to my own stuff, or pat my own back.  But I was looking for something to tweet about and came across this article I wrote.  With some “distance” I can cringe as some things I write, but this one is good!  I wrote it after doing some search engine keyword research and feeling like the advice out there is lacking.

http://thefirstdance.com/weddingthankyounotes.php

Notice how I address things in logical ways that get everyones attention.  The topic of thank you notes can be broken up by categories, which themselves are  categories (you like the gift, you don’t like it) but the real pressure point for couples is the PERSON they write to, not whether they like something.

If you do searches for wedding thank you notes, you’ll also see how extremely general the information is.  Whether it’s simply etiquette issues on when to get them out, or a trite answer of “show gratitude.”  My is an article that someone may read and feel like they know me a little bit personally and would be more interested in reading more of my website.  I was human, I was real, and I had similar issues they had.

You may already know this, but most of the web is filled with a lot of extremely generic stuff.  It’s almost as if “cultural wisdom” is so bland that people feel wise repeating the same advice as found in every other website, newspaper, or magazine.  If you know a topic well, you may get excited to see “unique ideas” in an article title.  But you read the article and it’s either not unique, not attainable (ideas for wealthy or those with tremendous time to give to a DIY project), or simply less common of the “common ideas” in print.

You have a voice.  You have experiences.  You have a personality.  There is nothing more dry than therapy or educator websites that share nothing about the writer.  Or, that have funny stories, but end with the same darn advice everyone else has.  Think deeper, think more grounded.  I you have to, think of your best friend asking YOU the question, knowing he or she is not going to put up with “therapist talk”, a mile high.  No, your best friend wants the REAL, honest to goodness truth on what to do.  You can do that without feel like you’re being over dogmatic in your advice.  Maybe even giving a few angles to the problem is all they need.  Or giving 3-4 examples of how “real people” deal with the issue.  Just please, please, I beg of you, don’t fill cyberspace with “MORE OF THE SAME.” 

For more content generation ideas and ways to do website content research, two trainings would be useful, the website content and website organization CD’s.  I promise you will learn a lot because if you haven’t already noticed, I hate boring same-as-everyone-else advice.  🙂

http://www.thomasconsultation.com/buy.php

Wordtracker for Keywords

This is one subscription I’ve maintained since I’ve learned about it.  I don’t join things for pay but there is no doubt Wordtracker is the “Bible” for search engine work.  I’ve used data from here and added 100 new visitors a DAY simply by discovering phrases with good volume and low competition!  Click on the banner to get a daily, weekly, or annual subscription.  This is good for BLOGGING or your website or even creating a website or blog name.  Enjoy!

Story of this blog

I just wanted to express my own surprise and wisdom gleamed from my recent experience with this new blog.

I’ve had my website, www.ThomasConsultation.com for over a year.  While the domain name isn’t zippy, it is STABLE.  As I continue to grow, learn, and change what I offer, it stays generic.  But my website has been neglected and is not very thrilling.  It isn’t marketing friendly because the name is too generic.  It doesn’t excite me to update content (though I did a few months ago with some good articles worth reading!)  The only audience I had was people who know I exist.  And I don’t know THAT many people!

So the beginning of my story starts with  a massive surgery three months ago.  It was so big it left my always-active brain dead for 2.5 full weeks. I wasn’t even that brain dead with newborns!  I sat in front of the television and did nothing else (physical restrictions as well as no interest in anything.)   Finally my father joked that I must be feeling better when my conversations moved from the latest ache and next doctor follow up visit to more exciting things like marketing, therapy, the world.   I had several more weeks of full on restrictions, which got me a little bit buggier since my mind was more active but my body was still wiped.

Then, a few days before I was going to be “released” to living my life again, I got VERY, VERY STRESSED OUT.  I had two websites that I had neglected.  I had consulting gigs that had gone  badly and more people wanting my services.  Having gone from no worries, no stress, to that level of reality within seconds was my eye opener.  I could not sustain that life again.  I’m a stay at home mom for one month out of each quarter while my husband does a corporate job AND therapy at night.  The other two months he’s around so I can work (but he still does therapy at night.)  My time can not be spread that much.

I just had too much on my plate and it was not worth it.  Sometimes making money is a bad thing.  And the reality was the money wasn’t “fun” for me.  I was stuck dealing with crappy websites built by designers who had no idea about search engines.  I was updating content for people which is time consuming and took me away from the stuff I wanted to do.  I was stressed. I wasn’t feeling like people knew as much as they could to do more for themselves.

And then I had the lightbulb moment.  What if, instead of consulting with people, I refocused back to EDUCATING them!  What if I used my own life story as a “do it yourself”er to help OTHERS do this web stuff themselves.  What if I used my limited time to empower as many people as possible to build amazing websites, to attract and help more people?  It’s like the ultimate “help the helper” pyramid scheme!  The more you know, the more you can share with your colleagues, and the more the web will better reflect your unique passions, experiences, and contributions to this world.

But to do this, I had to recognize there is competition out there.  And I am a zero-budget expert, known only in two circles, and do NOT WANT TO BUILD A FULL TIME CONSULTING GIG!  Wow.  Could I really continue being the website guru on my two main sites and help others? 

Short answer is YES.  I have an extremely unique, fun brand.  You will not find anyone else who both works directly on their own websites, with proven results, and who can teach for teaching sake.  I know what I’m talking about because I EXPERIENCE It myself.  I don’t just “know of others” who have had something go awry or go well.  I have countless stories, aha moments, stories of massive mistakes, of things I still beat myself up for doing (or not doing), and I am with you on your journey.  This blog is new.  If I get ONE visitor a day I’m excited (8 and I’m jumping with joy!)  On The First Dance website, if I get less than 300 people a day I’m very disappointed.  Two extremes and I get the joy and frustration from both!  I am also not married to one thing, like Google Adwords.  Nor will I EVER send you to places I think are crappy (Godaddy free website templates, as one example.)  And I run the three types of websites that you may run: a therapy website (my husbands MN couples Counseling website), a marriage therapy directory (you may be listed on one or more), and a marriage advice website (The First Dance.) 

Sometimes I stop and listen to my own teachings.  (You know, the cobblers children have no shoes.)  And guess what?  When I take the time to do what I tell others to do, it works!  I spent 8 hours back in May on search engine stuff, writing, reorganizing, etc.  And for that work I was seeing 100 new visitors A DAY (I still have a huge range because it’s busy wedding season so when the fall picks up my web traffic will pick up even more.)  And you may be wondering how do I know it was that work and not something else?  Because I did keyword research and the pages people “entered” on my website were articles I had specifically written for search engine traffic!

But back to this blog and the point of this rambling. 🙂

Notice how I got reinspired, re-focused, and re-thought my brand?  I am a lot less stressed and a lot more enthused.  And it was finally time to get a website that had great website traffic potential, to “organically” find new clients beyond the two sources I currently have.  The phrase “psychotherapy private practice” gets very decent traffic every month, so voila!  The .com version is already taken.  So I chose a WordPress blog.  And what a blessing.  Now I feel like I can share those small thoughts that don’t fit on a website.  I feel like I’m growing an audience because unlike a website, a blog is something you bookmark and return to.  I now have a “home” for my thoughts, experiences, and advice.  And I have a place to “launch” my CD trainings which are being made this Thursday night by a professional sound friend.  I’m psyched.

Creating, Marketing, Managing Websites

Welcome!  You can learn more about me in the ABOUT page and BRAND YOURSELF! page.  I’m one passionate, unique , therapy-minded GenXer here to storm the therapy world and get each of you more EMPOWERED, EDUCATED, and ENTHUSIASTIC about what the web can do for you.

Have you been reading or hearing the buzz words in the therapy magazines and websites?  Do you get a solicitation every week to join a therapy directory?

  • “Search engine optimization!”
  • “Twitter!”
  • “Blogging!”
  • “How to create a website!”
  • “How to market your website!”

The good news is therapists (like you!) realize the web is where it’s at. 

The bad news is well-meaning people are trying to sell expensive advice that is sometimes downright WRONG!  (More often it’s misleading or is only half the picture or is only priced for fat wallet therapists.)

My mission is simple.  Connect therapists on the internet to people seeking their help

My vision is simple.  Therapists are educated, enthused and empowered to translate their expertise to the online world.

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