"Helping people who help people"

Interview with Clinton Power, who can be found on Twitter as @SydneyTherapist

His website to see how he does online appointments: www.clintonpower.com.au

Of all the online tools, technologies, and ways to make your life easier as a therapist, online appointment scheduling is probably up there on the most nervous yet exciting tool.  It attracts therapists because of the potentially higher “conversion” rate of a web visitor to client and yet it repeals therapists who are too frugal for the monthly fees, or too nervous about how to schedule in person while people are scheduling online.  I’m excited to ask a techie therapist who has been doing online scheduling how this all works!

How much do you pay a month for your online scheduler and can you share any of the online schedules that you’re aware of?  Any “must have” features you suggest for US readers who aren’t using your scheduler?

I am paying $19.95 a month and use www.appointmentsonline.com.au This is an Australian company, so may not be as relevant to your US readers if they are wanting US customer support.

I also trialed:

www.appointmentquest.com/

www.gobookings.com

www.appointment.com

Some of the essential features to look for are the ability to accept or decline appointments before they are confirmed, auto-responder for confirming or declining appointments and the ability to completely control which appointments you make available and how far ahead.

My system is currently bringing in SMS reminders, so I am eagerly awaiting this inclusion so I no longer have to manually enter SMS reminders.

I have seen other systems that allow for wait-listing for popular times.

 

What percentage of your prospective clients are scheduling themselves online?  How do you pre-screen them to make sure they’re a fit as far as your ideal client niche, your fees, etc?

Currently about 80% of prospective clients schedule themselves online for the first appointment. The way I pre-screen is I never confirm an appointment without speaking with the client(s) first to check for suitability. So essentially, I see the online appointment scheduler as another way to make that initial contact with a client.

Only a very small percentage of clients go back to book subsequent appointments online. They tend to be the clients that come irregularly. This is very convenient for both of us as they can book in an appointment anytime at their convenience and this saves endless calls back-and-forth trying to catch each other.

While on holidays last year, I had my vacation responder and voice mail messages direct people to my website to book online. I had 8 new clients booked in when I came back from holidays in the usually very quiet period of January. I called all the bookings to confirm and screen a few days before I went back to work and had a full week of work to return to. This is one of the advantages of the system and saves me having to employ a PA or pay for a phone answering service when I am on leave.

Do clients pre-pay when booking appointments?  If not, how do you avoid no-shows?

The only sessions I request pre-payment for are telephone consultations, for obvious reasons. Again, I see the online bookings as no different from a client that calls on the phone. Because my policy is to always speak with the client before I confirm an appointment, I make sure they are suitable and I have established a connection with them. For this reason, I have a negligible no-show rate.

How do you schedule existing clients?

I schedule them in the session and then enter them into the online appointments interface. They then receive a confirmation email and that time can’t be double-booked online. Only very rarely have I booked someone in a session and someone has booked online before I had time to enter it into the back-end of the system. Most people understand when you call them and offer them an alternative time.

How much of your schedule do you release for appointments?  This is especially important for new therapists who may have a LOT of openings and don’t want to display they aren’t busy.  Any suggestions?

I release one month at a time.  I then blank out all my pre-existing commitments and current client bookings.

I would suggest for new therapists that they only release a couple of spots a day to avoid having too many openings.

How do you manage the natural schedule changes, say you get a call Monday 10am for a Wednesday cancelation.  Do you try to quickly go into your appointment scheduler and “open up” that time?  Can clients cancel on most appointment scheduler systems?

This is very easy for my system. When I cancel the appointment, the time automatically opens up again for a new client, unless I want to block it off. I can’t speak for other systems, but I would think this is pretty standard.

Would online scheduling work the same or better for the therapists who have slots that clients fill for the same day/time, or for therapists who schedule at the end of each session on a first come first serve basis?

I’m not sure there is a difference. The only inconvenience with my system is they don’t offer recurring appointments, so I need to manually enter the recurring appointment for the month. I do believe other systems offer recurring appointments.

The really great thing about the system is it gives a potential client something to do when they arrive at my site in pain or distress. Taking action can help relieve their anxiety and they feel like they have begun to find a solution to their problem. I always try to call anyone who has booked online within 24 hours.

What would you say is the ultimate ROI (Return on investment) for therapists considering this but not sure if the $20-$50 in fees will actually pay for itself?

I haven’t calculated the exact ROI, but I do know that with so many new appointments being booked every month with the system, the monthly cost is very small compared to the income I generate from the bookings.

Any usual problems or issues that came up when you first started using online scheduling?  How did you fix those?

The only issue I have encountered is that as my practice has grown I have had some extremely busy periods that the online scheduling has become a little complex. One dilemma is the after-hours times are often in high demand and I have had new clients come in and book those times later in the month that I actually need for current clients.

I have solved this by not releasing the after-hours times when my practice is very busy and giving my current clients first preference for those times.

Online scheduling does require greater time and resources for administration of entering appointments, however, it saves me needing to get a personal assistant, and so I am happy to have to put in a little more time.

Could a therapist experiment with online scheduling, say for a month or two, before confirming if they like it?  I don’t mean on the sign up end (I’m sure most have month to month contracts) but from a logistical, client side.

That could be done, however, if clients are used to your automatic email reminders, they may miss them if you discontinue the service.

Do these systems make it any easier to cancel client appointments, say you get the flu on a Saturday and know you’ll be out until at least Wednesday?  Or does it require both contacting each client, and removing them from the schedule, and then blocking out openings the rest of the week that may have been open?

In my system, when I cancel an appointment, it sends notification of the cancellation to the client automatically. I personally would call each client to advise of my sickness. I have a function to block out days if I become sick or I want to remove available appointments at short notice.

Anything else you can add?  Perhaps the ideal therapist for online scheduling and the “never try it if you’re this type of therapist?”

I’ve had great success with my online appointment scheduler and have never looked back. The feedback from clients is they love getting the email notifications and the flexibility of making an appointment whenever they want, day or night. The advantages for me include having clients book when I am leave and when a client books online I get all their contact information, so less work for me obtaining this over the phone.

If you are a technology-phobic therapist, this is not for you. If you are comfortable with technology and are ok with a little extra administration, I think the rewards are worth it.

Thanks so much!!

My pleasure. Hope this has been helpful for you Elizabeth.

 

Cheers,
Clinton Power

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I welcome my blog readers to share what they’ve done, learned, or questions!  I’ve seen therapists use Google Adwords with appointment scheduling to add a one-two punch of immediacy and availability.

 

My little niche is SEO – search engine optimization, specifically for therapists, specifically within that for those who are not techie.  I love helping people learn and grow.

Lately, however, I’ve noticed some odd declarations coming from so-called SEO experts.  It’s bizarre, especially when I have facts to back up my reality and they’re able to spout out stuff that just plain isn’t true.

A big one is that BLOGS are vital and that a regular “static” website will only give you a handful of keywords.  This was from a guy who specializes in SEO and teaches it!  I replied that in fact one of my “static websites” gets over 3,000 unique phrases a month.  He replied, “Are those from your blog?”  No.  I have a sad, neglected blog on that website and even at that, I only get about 300 visitors a month.  You can do the math.  And in fact that blog has been separate from my website and my web visitor numbers didn’t change.  He never replied back.  I’m guessing because he doesn’t himself have a large website, with great links to it, and just has no way to know that he isn’t actually telling the full truth.

Here’s my super-duper-short run down, demystifying everything about search engine optimization (which is the fancy, intimidating phrase that simply means when people type stuff into their search bar, which websites show up…”ranking high” as it is often called.)


The Three Parts to SEO and what you can do today to help your website

It all boils down to: saying stuff, building a reputation, and looking good to humanless robots.  We’ll break these down.

Saying Stuff

As is true in real life, the more someone has to say on a topic they claim expertise on, the more likely we are to believe they are telling the truth.  Google isn’t a human.  Google doesn’t know that you have two Ph.D.’s, studied with the founder of your field, did internships that were more ground-breaking than anyone has ever done as a therapist, and that you’ve written 300 books, etc.  You get what I’m saying here.  YOU know in real life you’re awesome.  But Google doesn’t unless you start waxing poetic on your expertise!

This is where people get trapped into thinking blogs are God.  Blogs, as I’ve written about before, are simply another way to add a website page.  A blog entry represents a blog page.  Just as a new “article” represents a new web page.  Same thing.  My website that gets 3,000 phrases to it is actually a Really Big Website.  And I did a lot of research on what people are asking for on search engines and still do when I can find the time.  As I’ve mentioned before, one big downside to blogs is if your niche expects “current” info, even if it’s illogical because your expertise is timeless, you may lose readers.  I can not have my main website as a blog for engaged couples with basic information dated to 2006.  In a young persons eyes, that’s just irrelevant!

What you can do: Writing for writings sake, especially if it’s not your first love, sucks.  You won’t keep it up, won’t stay motivated, and frankly, writing just to write is not likely going to get you new followers.  You need to really hone in hard core on a niche group and write to them, covering all the nuance of whatever you are an expert with.  The tighter the focus, the better.  Not only will it keep you more motivated because you’ll have a core audience in mind (vs the generic human being), you’ll be actually helping, deeply, a specific type of client who will want to bookmark and keep coming back.

What you MUST DO, even if you do no other writing, is to LIST YOUR LOCATION and SURROUNDING AREAS on every single website page.  Remember, Google is a robot and it’s trying to play matchmaker between people seeking therapy in Schlagapoo, Georgia with therapists in Schlagapoo, Georgia.  If you don’t say you’re from there, Google won’t know to match you. Similarly, Google can’t know that super near to Schlagapoo is Fartfranken, Ooglaboogla, and Goikington.  List those for Google and for your readers to realize you aren’t in their desired suburb, but you are really close by.

 

Reputation Building

OK, in fancy lingo this is called link building.  It relates to page rank, though another big lie is that page rank is God.  You can have a very high page rank and almost no website traffic.  Trust me – I had that exact situation before I learned SEO.  La la la, ok.  In big companies they hire firms who exclusively look for websites that are well ranked and who will give them a link.  Put another way, two national corporations hired a link finding company, who found my website I keep talking about, said WOW, it’s well ranked, it relates to our business, so let’s PAY them for a link to our website.  Every month I get free money for putting a link on my website.  (And yes, we’ve said no to as many companies as we’ve said yes to in order to protect our brand.)

This is where the voodoo magic of blogs comes in.  If you’re the freak therapist who has a blog with tons of traffic and tons of comments (I say freak therapist because I’ve yet to see this on a private practice blog) then you are building a reputation by having all those people comment!  But for my website I have very well regarded websites linking to MY WEBSITE.  Hence, my big main website has the reputation in Google’s eyes, not my blog.  I know three therapists with wildly successful blogs, by the way, who have full practices because of their blogs.  Please note however, their blogs actually have their own website name, own branding separate from the counseling side of their practice, and these blogs are enormously time consuming, require cash outlays for IT and design and become a full force of energy and attention.  Only then, with the therapists driving them hard core, they can get a lot of media attention, social media attention, etc.  But they are NOT blogs inside boring, small private practice counseling websites.

You’ll hear people tell you to set up articles on ezine directories and other places.  This is a bit faulty for two reasons (though I’d never tell you not to if it’s working for you, or if it gives you confidence because someone said you MUST do it.)  The first problem is those directories are not IN YOUR FIELD.  Reputation is granted by people “in the know” who give recommendations.  If your doctor recommends a specialist, you’re going to trust that recommendation and the reputation of that specialist more than if your car mechanic recommended the specialist, as will Google.  The second problem is Google and other algorithms aren’t idiots, and they’re now, from what I’m reading, starting to actually penalize websites for using these types of websites to get links.  They’re slapping people’s hands saying, no!  If you’re really good you must have peers that are saying you’re good.  And it makes sense.  In real life you need testimonials from your core customers, not from your grandma and the local librarian saying “she sure is a swell woman!”  A third issue, in my mind, is you want people to land ON your website when they search for what you are talking about, not on what I consider a brandless, huge messy, ugly directory of a bunch of self-promoting writer types.  Not that I have a strong opinion or anything 😉

What You Can Do: The most organic way to get links is to get to know websites out there in your area of expertise and ask to be a guest writer.  Maybe even pay for an ad as long as you get a real text link (not a link they use that reroutes your link, because then Google doesn’t see the direct link.)  Maybe you could even be a blogger for a large website in your niche area.  The point here is to ask for links, but in a way that doesn’t turn off the website owner.  I hate being asked for links because, well, that’s just gross.  I am protective of my web readers and I’m not going to just sprinkle out links to other websites because you asked me too.  I also have money to make selling products, so why on earth would I link to your book, lose revenue on my site and give you free money?  However, if you give me high quality content that helps my website, well then, yes, you get a link.  (As is the case for numerous people I asked to write for my site!)

 

Looking the Part: OK, so this part is probably the most dull, but it relates to how you organize your website AND if you’re titling every page with great keywords, if you’re creating great page names, and the actual file name itself is descriptive (example: therapistjane.com/how-to-destress-in-a-hospital-stay, vs therapistjane.com/article2

Similarly, you don’t want the navigation of that article to be where Google starts at the homepage, then has to go to a medical section, then an articles section, then a stress section, THEN finds the link to your destress in a hospital stay article.  Google figures if you’re going to bury your article it must not be that important!  The closer to the homepage, the better.  BUT you MUST give great care to your READERS otherwise you have one of those pathetic “I’m writing for the search engines!” website.  If you turn off your reader, it doesn’t matter if you get a lot of free search engine traffic!

 

 

I hope this little educational rant helps!    As always, I have a lot more to say and have an entire 3 hour audio course on this entire subject, A to Z on how to select a website name (thinking through SEO, marketing, branding), on down to figuring out how and what to write, how to organize your website, and how to market the website.) Check out my store.  I also have limited consulting available to be your techie cheerleader, strategist, researcher, and motivator.

Happy Website Enhancing!

I’m really nervous because this is my first ugly, gross “one page sales website.”  But it does the trick, so for now, sorry for the slickness.  I’ve been working on this way too long, since this summer I think.  I need to be kept honest and have too many people wanting it so by making it public I hope to get it done.

The next Networker magazine will have an article written by me on Twitter so I want this ready for those readers as well.  Deadlines – a good thing.

I’m not a normal marketer in that my approach is much more feet-on-the-ground, educationally based rather than having a lot of fluff, hype, then sharing a couple points, all while overcharging you AND upselling you on other stuff.  For any of you who have been to a workshop of my father and professional mentor, Bill Doherty, you walk away actually knowing stuff!  My specialty is to get people excited which, in my opinion, is half the battle in learning.  Boring stuff is hard to learn, don’t you think?

Check it out and please do sign up to be notified when it’s available.  I will not harass you if you sign up and don’t want to buy it later.  I’m way too busy for that.

Twitter for Therapists – learn more about it and sign up here.

This is the goofy new world we live in, folks. One where I unfriend friends and friend request people I don’t know on Facebook.

Facebook is quite the catchall for 500 million people (though a great majority of those are non-USA citizens of other countries.)  Finally, there is a place to see your old high school and college friends, get to know your religious community members in a better way, see what family and relatives are up to, and generally hang out online with people you know from any aspect of your life.  For some it’s basically a list of “who would come to my funeral.”  For others, especially famous folks, there is no boundary around who they will friend.  Most of us are in the middle somewhere.  The great thing is Facebook is locked down (if you know what you’re doing), and you’re able to manage exactly who you want to see.  This post today is NOT an attempt to convince anyone of anything, but rather to share the goofy world of social media and how the journey for some of us makes Facebook less intimate, but more interesting and rewarding.

I’ve already written about purging Facebook friends, which was an interesting experience that wasted 2 hours of my time, but removed 70 friends and businesses I was following.  I was lighter and have never regretted the experience.  Exactly 3 friends re-friend requested me, and I accepted (though one breaks a rule below so that person may be unfriended again.)  From the time I wrote that, I think I’m back up to 40 or so friends!  What gives?

What I have found great about Facebook, the way I use it, is that it allows budding professional friendships to grow in a more organic way.  There is nothing worse than a stiff email, “so great to meet you!  We should get together for coffee.”  “Yes, that sounds great, I’m busy until [insert future month].”  And then nothing happens.  Twitter solves a lot of these problems because you can sort of “hang out” online without having to necessarily personally talk to everyone all the time.  I liken it to knowing they hang out at the local coffee shop so if you’re in the mood you can chat with them on the fly.  But Twitter is still limited to 140 characters of friendship building (sometimes in 10+ direct messages, oof!)  So what do you do when you find a kindred spirit on Twitter and want to be able to contact them less awkwardly than the stiff email, but more intimately than Twitter?

Facebook!

But lest you think Facebook is just another way to annoy colleagues with your latest ebooks, coaching programs, and awesomeness, I actually have a rule about professional friends that runs counter to common sense.  The rule?  If your Friend account only talks business (and specifically, really self-promotiony stuff and little to no personal disclosure about your life), then I will unfriend you.  If I wanted your awesomeness, I’d sign up for your newsletter, blog, or otherwise hire you, buy your stuff, sign up for your business Facebook page, etc.

Organic, holistic, baby step friendships…

What I’ve found moving people from Twitter to Facebook is that it allows me to get to know them in a different way than Twitter.  I even live chat with folks, which is great fun.  And best of all, I feel in my “intimate” circle of Facebook that I have more people rowing the same professional boat as me.  So when they occasionally post something work-related, I’m happy to read it and share it with my non-work friends.  And sometimes I have struck up friendships with friends of friends, based on sharing comments to status updates or shared links.  And seriously, who wouldn’t want a dilemma they’re willing to be semi-public about and have great mental health professional friends weigh in?  Private practice is simply too isolating and doesn’t have to be.

My final rule: if I get a friend request and I have no clue who the person is, I expect a personal message on where they have heard of me or what we have in common.  I am not interested in collecting Facebook friends, but in connecting with like-minded individuals (even if it’s just ONE small similar interest.)

Remember, there is no such thing as privacy, as any celebrity, politician, or journalist will tell you, except those very conversations that happen in real life, live, on the phone, or in person.  True intimacy exists offline, not on Facebook, even if it is just your list of people who would go to your funeral.  But for all the non-intimate things in our lives, Facebook is a fantastic place to hang with your kindergarten best friend and professional colleague you’ve never met!

And the best part of Facebook?  I can decide it’s TOO MUCH and do another purge. Or decide I am more open, and blast my Facebook friend link everywhere to find more people.

How do you use Facebook and do you feel yourself moving towards expansion or contraction?

I’ve been sick, exhausted, travel weary lately.  I know I’m at the bottom of the barrel when things that normally excite me feel stressful, overwhelming, and impossible.  One of those tasks?  Blogging!  I’m a blog addict.  I love to write.  And yet fatigue kicked me down…down, down enough for me to truly empathize with all the therapists (my husband included) who have so many questions, issues, uncertainty about WHY to write (separate issues include WHAT to write or WHERE to write.)  Even this blog has taken me longer than normal.

Why Write?

Wisdom that leaves your head or private client conversations into the broader world may really help someone. Ideally that person becomes your client, but seriously, there is only one of you and what, 5 billion people now on the planet?  How cool to potentially have a real impact on another human being.

Search engines love content. And search engines bring you effortless attention, as compared to the attention you get from word of mouth, direct advertising, speaking, or purposefully trying to GET attention

Journalists love content.  The more you write the more you may be convincing a journalist to contact you for a story.

Clients need content to be convinced of therapy, and therapy with YOU. I would argue unlike other health care professionals where, even if the doctor isn’t great, you’re just in the room for 15 minutes and done, therapy is a deeply personal, ongoing relationship.  For you to convince someone of doing therapy with you requires writing more than just a “welcome to my website” and a short bio that discusses nothing but boring details about YOU.

The world is hungry for words. Media, when you think about it, is simply filling air or pages with content.  And a lot of media folks have a lot of space to fill, every day.  Many good therapists end up becoming therapy experts on magazines, websites, radio shows.  You’re way more likely to be contacted if you have shown these media folks that you have a lot to say.

Make new friends. I know, this sounds weird, right?  But yes, when you write and someone likes what you say, they may strike up a friendship and that may lead to personal or professional gain.  I have a growing list of amazing Twitter therapist friends and some of them I specifically “fell in like with” because of how they wrote.  And lots of cool professional things are coming of these friendships (mutual support, idea generation, swapping ideas, appearing on each others stuff, cross-marketing each other.)

Dare I say, it’s your professional obligation? Just stay with me for a minute.  You had a community and family raise you, tax dollars went to help fund your graduate program (if it was a public school, and even private schools get tax write offs for being non-profits.)  Your faculty worked hard to train and educate you.  And a licensing board approved you to help others.  There really ought to be a bigger professional standard than “do the minimal work to fill your client load.”  Writing is just ONE of many ways you can do more to help the world, especially when it’s free content to the public.

I recognize this blog post won’t likely get you unstuck, but perhaps you had a new “oh!” moment when considering the WHY behind writing.

For therapists reading this, why do you write?  Do you have a specific goal for yourself?  Any cool stories that have come from your writing?  Comment below!

Honesty Gets You Everywhere

Last night I finally satiated my curiosity by counting the number of inches of scar I have on my body, thanks to the year 2009.  (A whooping 31 inches, folks!)  To be honest, I was more open before I realized I wanted to pursue a mental health license.  Now I feel stuck.  I have very intense stories, raw, honest, complicated, insightful, shocking, that need a home.  (And yes, therapy is good for all that, but therapy is private.)  There is a hunger many people have to be more public, to witness to it surviving and thriving.  The challenge for therapists is just how public to be and about what!

As a savvy internet marketer who is also insanely genuine and real (what you see is what you get online and off!) my thoughts run the gamut when it comes to marketing my future practice.  My latest newsletter article for the Minnesota Marriage and Family Therapy association was about growing up in a systems thinking house.  The editor worried for me, which made me paranoid.  He worried that I was so honest, he hoped people would respond positively so I wouldn’t feel so exposed.  I found it odd, because it’s really not that personal the way I view personal.  And then it hit me again.  I am going into a professional of stiff but caring individuals who are sometimes/often overly focused on puffing their feathers among each other, rather than letting their guards down.  Heaven forbid a therapist be vulnerable!

Right now I have therapist friends of all extremes being honest and raw online.  On the one extreme is reading a Facebook status response that is the actual client, saying she’s excited about her 1:30 therapy appointment, on the therapists personal Facebook account.  The other extreme is a Twitter friend who has no picture, no last name, and a blog that also has no names attached.  She doesn’t want clients to ever find her, but she wants to express her therapisty self.  Another therapist friend plays a solid middle game, truly being herself, sharing her marriage joys and struggles, her parenting experiences, and has maintained a full practice for twenty years because she is REAL and her clients appreciate it.

I just can’t be either extreme.  But the middle is really, really large!  And with a therapist husband, I have to be extra careful because his clients can see what I’m saying and he has his own very different personality and privacy limits.

Here’s where I am at so far and I would really love your comments (I took off comment moderation so it’ll appear right away) on how you handle being your real self with being a therpist.

Truth #1 – therapists are never a blank slate and for those of us who won’t ever take insurance, we can’t afford to be commodities.  We are selling ourselves as it connects to prospective clients.

Truth #2 – the utmost care must be given to prospective or current clients so as to not shock them or create intense emotions (this could be anything from raging about politics, religion, or sharing the intense version of a personal tragedy you’ve experienced.)

Truth #3 – people heal best in community, in support systems where they don’t feel alone.  If a therapist can more personally relate to a client, even if they don’t over-disclose, isn’t that at the core of what this crazy thing called life is about?

Truth #4 – Therapists who faced their fears and came out publicly with their internal demons end up finding more personal growth, help a lot more people, experience more public acceptance than they ever thought possible, and end up actually growing professionally.  (And let me just say I went to a workshop with great therapist self disclosure and it was far more powerful than any material I could ever read or therapy sessions I could attend on that topic.  If I were alone in the workshop I would have just broken down bawling.  As the therapist said, NOBODY gets a pass on potentially having personal drama or tragedy.  Not even mental health professionals.)

Truth #5 – It seems to me demons are best opened up if they relate to the clients you see.  It seems best to only risk burdening or over-disclosing if you work with the population that you’ve experienced personally.

Truth #6 – to speak your truth it seems therapists have an obligation to have sought therapy and worked on their poo.  Otherwise it seems you’re a raging hypocrite who wants people to pay you to help them but you haven’t taken the time or spent the money working on yourself.

Truth #7 – Failure is awesome, more connecting, and leads to greater things.  My audio trainings include a ton of my failures and it makes me sad more marketers don’t open up.  Isn’t it more encouraging to know others make mistakes and have come out the other end better?  My father once started a workshop by (with permission) sharing a fight he had just had with my mom/his wife minutes before the workshop started.  He then went on for the next 1.5 hours giving his presentation. And you know the only thing most of the audience will ever remember?  That even experts are human!  So many people approached him afterwards with glee that he and his wife also have fights, and how much better they felt about their own marriages.  It became almost ridiculous how being a real human with people was breathtakingly amazing and worth a conversation about.

 

What I consider a fun challenge, then, is where do these moments of honesty live?  Only online?  Only in the therapy session?  Only in paid products so they’re only semi-public?  Somewhere in between?  And what can you generate for a service or product, out of your honest truth, that may be the most amazing thing ever to a prospective client or web visitor?  I know my story leads me in many potential directions, with many potential clients, referral streams, and innovative new niches.

What about you?

ps: in the name of honesty, I get nervous writing posts, more nervous when I get comments or don’t get comments (isn’t paranoia great?!), ridiculously happy when people subscribe to my blog or Top 10 Tips report, and very pleased when people comment with great thoughts.

I see it over and over.  It makes me sad.  I cringe.  I feel bad.

You see, my father is at the top of the therapy game, knows thousands of people, amazing organizations, researchers, therapists, writers.  I probably won’t have to buy any books as he seems to have given them a testimonial and has the book, or gets free copies as a key player in the field.

Why do I mention this?  I mention this because I know a lot of insider stuff.  Mostly really, really amazing stuff.  Geeky cool research based facts, or insider knowledge on why this particular person is extra impressive.  Or how that organization is doing trendsetting work.

And occasionally I get an email from my dad, with a link to the name or website of someone he recently was impressed by.

And this is where I get sad, or cringe, or feel bad.  Going to the website of these amazing people or organizations.

More often than not, the build up I’ve been given versus their website startling.  And the reason it makes me sad is because I know without an amazing online presence, these people or organizations are losing people, losing potential partnerships, media calls, interns, clients…

So how do you get awesome?

There are lots of factors, but I’d say even more important than what you say is your web design.  You can have amazing words on a horrid website design and you might as well be serving your gourmet food on plastic plates.  And the challenge with design is that it constantly evolves.  You should never expect to have the same website design for more than 3-4 years.  In fact on my therapy directory I run, the It firm has split out design from content so we have maximum ease when we want to update our look.

Organizing what you say is also crucial.  (I have an entire training on this topic because it’s so, so important to your reader and search engines!)  You want to make sure people know where to go based on why they’re coming to your website.  You also want to emphasis whatever is important across a variety of pages.  Afterall, you can’t have everything on your homepage, so how do you ensure the right things are on the homepage and other key information is clearly marked so people click to learn more?

Your Words are a big fat “duh” in being awesome.  For some reason therapists can be amazing in the clinical office, but as soon as they get on a keyboard they diarrhea grad school speak.  The other direction therapists may go is simply being too passionate and watered down in empathy.  There is a fine balance between empathy and explaining why they should hire YOU (vs why they should generally seek therapy.)

I’ve got two services that help with your online impression-making.  But whether you hire me or not, please be aware that you can be awesome in person, have a great word of mouth referral base, but if your website sucks, you’re going to lose people.

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