You know how I feel about websites, but if you’re new here, you’re in for a special treat.
TLDR – if you want to build a sustainable business that offers your therapy clients high-quality care, earns you a livable wage, and allows you to take care of yourself better than you could when you were working a 9 to 5 aka THRIVE, you need a website.
Otherwise, you can wave goodbye to your dream of decorating a lush therapy office, enjoying nights + weekends off, and building a *profitable* 6-figure practice.
Last year, I attended my first digital marketing conference and I had the best time! Not only because I met some amazing people, but because I felt super pumped to come back home and share with you what I learned.
Among the many lightbulb moments I had in San Diego, the most pivotal moment happened during the Opening Remarks from the CEO & Founder of the Conference Ryan Deiss.
“… and at this point, every business owner already knows that you need a website.”
As a chuckle washed over the crowd, I thought to myself, “I know tons of therapists who think the exact opposite.”
And in that moment, I started paying closer attention to the many reasons why private practice therapists don’t think they need a website, hence this list was born.
Take a gander through this list and let me know if you’ve heard yourself or your peers utter some of these and don’t hesitate to let me know if you think I missed a few.
Pitfall #1 : “I only take insurance”
Most insurance companies are not giving their members any details about you beyond your name and contact information. That’s not enough info for anyone to know if therapy with you will help them.
And regardless of how someone pays for therapy, everyone deserves to feel more at ease about starting therapy, and a website is an invitation, a warm introduction into what it’s like to work with you and gives a potential client an opportunity to pre-screen you before reaching out to schedule a therapy consultation.
Your website will help people determine if therapy with you will help them with their goals, challenges, and aspirations.
Without a website, the lack of information sharing between the insurance company and their members, requires you to work even harder to figure out if your clinical skills are well-aligned to help them.
Sure you could help a lot of people but it’s arrogant to think that you can help everybody. You know that not all therapy is the same and not every therapist works in the same way, so do yourself and others a favor and help make the process of finding a therapist a little bit easier by creating a website.
Pitfall #2 : “I only use [insert your favorite therapy directory]”
Using someone else’s website to promote your practice. << this is a nice little loophole around having your own website
I’m sorry to break it to you, but if you only use therapy directories to get the word out about your practice, you’re doing yourself a disservice. I could go on and on about how therapy directories are not the end all be all and I have – so go check that out.
Pitfall #3 : “all of my referrals come from word of mouth”
Word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is THE MOST profitable way to promote a business, however when you only implement this strategy through networking calls & meet n’ greets, you’re setting up unrealistic expectations.
Each person you meet with will not remember every single detail about your clinical skills and your ideal client population and they shouldn’t have to. The human brain has marvelous capacities and yet, it’s unrealistic to expect someone to remember the ins and outs of your ideal client population, when they have to remember the details of their own.
What happens when people become so busy and focused on their business and life that they stop recommending you?
What happens if you become busy, focused, or exhausted by your business that you don’t have the time or energy to attend networking meetings?
When you have a website your reliable referral network doesn’t have to work so hard to recommend you. They can refresh their memory with the information you have digitally laid out for them or even better they can direct a potential client to your website, so that the therapy-seeker can determine if you’re a good fit for them and not rely on someone else to explain who and how you can help them.
Pitfall #4 : “I’m not ready to put myself out there”
Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. Yes, marketing requires you to be vulnerable and put yourself on center stage AND as therapists we’re (dare i say) experts at vulnerability.
I mean, are we not inviting clients (people we don’t know) to share their vulnerabilities with us?
We sure are!
Holding space for strangers and expecting them to tell us the most vulnerable details of their lives so that we can help them achieve their goals is what we do.
So, you don’t find it a *tad* hypocritical that you want people to reach out to you when you’re unwilling to meet them in the middle and raise your hand to say “here i am. I can help you” ?
I get it, putting yourself out there can feel scary and the good news is you don’t have to jump into the deep end of the marketing pool by sharing your life story.
All you have to do is consistently tell people who you serve and how you help them.
Pitfall #5 : “I know great therapists that are full that don’t have websites”
This is what I call a classic “True, True, Unrelated”
Yes, there are great therapists out there, and yes, there are great therapists that are full. But having a full practice doesn’t mean you don’t need to have a website.
Additionally, the effectiveness of your clinical skills has nothing to do with the amount of effort it takes to get clients.
And while we’re at it, please resist the urge to compare yourself to other therapists without knowing what it took for them to make what they have possible.
Unless they are out here sharing the ins and outs of their process, like yours truly, you don’t really know what they did to get where they are.
Let’s focus on what you need in order to have your needs met and my friend you need a website.
Pitfall #6 : “It takes too much time”
Do you have the time to manually market your practice 24/7/365?
Nope and neither do I.
But the internet does. So let your website do the work for you.
Even the most productive therapist wouldn’t be able to handle the 450,000 monthly inquiries Google receives – that’s currently how many times per month “therapist near me” is searched.
Spending 3 hours on your website so that ppl can determine in 3.0 seconds if they’re inspired to say yes to working with you, seems like a great return on investment to me.
Pitfall #7 : “My target audience doesn’t use the internet”
So, how are you getting clients?
Do your referral sources use the internet?
I rest my case.
Pitfall #8 : “It costs too much money”
When it comes to being an entrepreneur, there’s a time and a place to pinch pennies and if you have no plans to spend a dime on marketing, you can kiss your dreams of having a 6-figure practice goodbye.
And if your frugal habits are holding you back from investing in your private practice like it’s a business you’d like to keep for years, then you’re setting yourself up to have a very expensive hobby on your hands.
The amount of money you spend on a website is pennies in comparison to how much you’re losing by NOT having one and the intention of investing resources like time & money to build a business is to earn a return on your investment aka receive more that what you spent.
You don't have to have a custom website out of the gate, you can start with a variety of free website templates that come with your domain host.
That’s what I did and eventually paid for a website template from Elizabeth McCravy.
Pitfall #9 : “I work for a group practice”
More and more group practice owners are asking their 1099s to generate their own leads aka market their services.
Why? Because they know how hard it is to promote a business that offers a variety of services aka has more than one niche.
By asking a 1099 to generate buzz, they’re diversifying their efforts to keep their business going.
There are group practices that do not expect contractors to do marketing, but more often than not, unless they are a huge corporation, they are unable to generate enough buzz, leaving the therapists with a slim caseload and slim pockets.
If you have the best of both worlds, where you’re working for a group practice that gives you enough clients and doesn’t require you to do marketing, but you know that your long term plan is NOT to stay at that group practice forever, I’d recommend starting a mental health blog at least one year prior to your departure so that you can start warming up Google for your big debut.
Pitfall #10 : “I use social media to market my practice”
The burn + churn slog of social media makes even the most savvy content creators say “it’s not sustainable to only rely on social media platforms to market your business” AND expect your followers to leave the platform & buy your products and services.
You hear a lot of people complain about the dreaded algorithm as if it’s their arch nemesis and that’s where the slippery slope starts.
Trying to keep up with the constant changes of each platform is exhausting. With a website, you have the luxury of guiding people through your process without having to reinvent the wheel every week and with fewer distractions fighting for your ideal client's attention.
Pitfall #11 : “My practice is too small, maybe I’ll create a website when I have more to offer “
You’ve heard the term “ the long-game” before, right? Well, if you haven’t let me briefly explain how this applies to our laundry list of why every private practice therapist needs a website.
In a nutshell, the long-game refers to the time, energy, and effort it takes to not only run a profitable business, but to be known for what you do.
When you’re first starting out, this is the most ideal time to create a website because it takes time for people to learn about what you do and who you serve.
You won’t be able to offer “more” down the road, if barely anyone knows that you exist.
Tons of therapists have aspirations to diversify their income by offering clinical supervision & case consultation, offer workshops & professional development training or leave private practice all together and venture into creating a digital course or starting a coaching business.
All of those aspirations are great and yet those ideas won’t get off the ground or last very long, unless you make it easy for people to find you.
And the easiest way to get the word about the existence of your skillset is through your website.
Pitfall #12 : “I don’t know what to say”
When I ventured into creating my first website, I had no idea what to say, so I just started writing.
Now, I know that sounds easy coming from someone who LLOOOOOOVEEES to write but it was a bit intimidating UNTIL I found my copywriting teacher, Ashlyn Carter.
She not only has a way with words, but she’s taught me pretty much everything I know about writing website words, or as we call it in the biz, copywriting.
Ashlyn is hella business savvy and has helped me in so many ways and her copywriting tools & techniques are out of this world. If you don’t believe me check this out.
Pitfall #13 : “I hate writing”
You can’t expect to have a profitable business without marketing your practice and marketing requires a LOT of writing. You don’t have to wield a quill pen to craft a clever marketing message but to make it easier and less time consuming, you at the very lease need to have a niche.
And sure you could outsource your writing BUT most digital marketers these days, at least the ethical ones I know, will not take your money or waste their time taking on a project without you putting in some sweat equity first.
Let's sum this all up, shall we?
By having a website, you make it easy for ppl to say yes to working with you, easier for your network to refer clients to you and in the long run you make it easier on yourself.
Marketing is less about you and more about your ideal client population. Having a website bridges the gap for people who may feel intimidated to engage in a vulnerable experience like therapy.
Want to promote your practice without having to be on your laptop all the time then you need to create a website.
There’s no shame in letting the internet do its thing.
If you have a website that’s in the works, keep going, I promise you it will be time well spent.
And take it from me, someone who has created not one, not two, not 3, not 4, not 5, BUT SIX websites, yes, it’s work but it’s worth it.
If you have a website and it’s starting to collect dust, give it new life by consistently adding new content and telling people to visit your website or else Google will stop telling people that your website exists.
If you found this list helpful, let me know in the comments or send me a note. And if you’re still not convinced, I’d love to hear from you too.
Want to learn how to avoid even more pitfalls? Join the 400+ therapists that are committed to learning how to keep the private practice they worked so hard to build without working around the clock and subscribe to my weekly newsletter – where you’ll receive transparent and curated guidance and more delivered to your inbox.