Web Development is one of the most important parts to your successful practice. If you have a website for your practice but are unhappy with it, I can help.
Are you worried that your site isn’t helping you grow but don’t know how to improve it? Or maybe the whole prospect of having a website feels overwhelming, technical, and confusing so you’ve simply avoided it? Totally understandable. Most of us went into the field wanting to spend time talking to people, and the idea of sitting in front of a computer isn’t exactly what we had in mind.
Psychotherapists of yore could avoid the Internet but now to do so would be detrimental to your practice. Many psychotherapist I know have a conflictual relationship with technology, using in their personal lives but avoiding it professionally. They talk about worrying about what to say, how to say it, and vague ethical worries about being “found”. Maybe you feel the same way?
Six steps to develop your web presence
- Embrace Technology
- Get Help (if you need it)
- Get educated
- Set aside time
- Develop your message, understand your clientele
- Revise, polish, repeat
Technology is your friend. People have greater access to information now than any previous time in history. This has transformed how people search for services. Think about how you might find a professional for yourself. Chances are there are increasingly times where you will turn to Google before you turn to a friend for a referral. This is true for your patients too.
Let’s say however, you only take referrals from colleagues. You might argue that if that’s the case you don’t need a website. But let me challenge that. What do most of us do when we first consider going to a new restaurant, seeing a new movie, or need to quickly find out some information that we likely have somewhere but cannot be bothered to look? We turn to the internet. Patients are going to do the same thing. Yes, he or she may have your name, number, email, but he or she will likely also want to look up your location, your hours, insurance or fee information in the privacy of his or her own home. Remember speaking to you is inherently anxiety producing, so by having a site that can be perused you are creating a safe space for rapport to develop.
Get Help (If you need it)
Okay, so you get the importance of web development, but feel anxious about how to proceed. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable with your writing skills? Or go glossy-eyed when you hear words like domain, hosting, blog, etc. because they feel too complicated? Or maybe this feels comfortable but you are overwhelmed with the seemingly endless options out there? What do you want your url to be? Which host is best? Do you need a web developer?
Don’t be afraid to get help. Ask your colleagues about what they’ve done, especially if they have a website that is impressive.
Feel free to reach out to me for consulting in this area. I’ve helped a lot of people get started, revise, and focus their web development.
Maybe asking your colleagues for advice wasn’t enough. Now what? Get out there. Use those questioning and curiosity skills that make you such a good clinician to learn about the different types of websites, how to rank in Google, market your services, how to integrate social media in your efforts, etc. Again the internet is your friend. There are podcasts, blogs, and e-courses dedicated to these topics (including this site).
Set Aside Time
We all have good intentions, but they won’t be enough to really get your practice the web presence it deserves. So often I hear people talk about I would do X if I could just find the time. But that’s not how time works. We even if we choose to do nothing are filling our time. We won’t just “find” time. You have to carve it out.
What works for me is to schedule it and then make it routine. I pull up my calendar and literally schedule time to work on my web development. Then when I have a potential new patient ask for an hour I don’t just mindlessly offer them the time. It forces me to slow down and see that hour differently. It’s not just an hour, it the time I’m investing in my practice. Of course, doing this once isn’t enough, so I set the event to repeat weekly. This happens on Mondays for me. It’s how I finished my dissertation and built this and my clinical website.
Do what works for you. Maybe physically go to a different location, like a coffee shop to work. Or maybe enlist a friend to work with. Challenge each other to build great web material. Keep each other accountable. Whatever you can do. And protect that time. It’s gold.
Develop Your Message, understand your clientele
What do you want to say? What makes you a better fit for your patients? Who do you work with? What might they need to know to work with you? What are their particular issues that you can help them with? How would they talk about it?
If your site is meant to attract patients then speak their language. Avoid excessive jargon. Speak in the first person and directly to them.
If your site is meant to be seen only by new patients focus on what they might need to know. How do you want them to contact you? Should they call? Text? Email? Where is your office? How does billing work? Who do you work with? (You’d be amazed how many therapists forget to say!)
Revise, polish, repeat
As with all things, developing your web presence will require reworking, editing, and attention to detail. I’m dyslexic and snuggle with spelling, so I will often out-source my proofing. This has the added benefit of creating space between the time I write and the time I publish. Often I’ll see what I’ve written with new eyes and after the proofing has been completed, which allows me the opportunity to polish further.
Hopefully, you have an easier time at writing than I do but I still encourage you to take the effort to revisit your earlier efforts and revise as needed. Our thoughts and opinions can change.