Blogging An Authoritative Guide with Five Blog Templates

An Authoritative Guide to Blogging

Blogging is the best way to quickly grow a private practice. There are two main reasons for a counselor to blog:

  1. To build authority and trust with clients.
  2. To rank higher in Google.

That’s it. It’s not to find yourself, become a great write, monetize your blog, or get a bunch of passive income from affiliate links (although some of this can help).

The bottom line: Blogging helps you find the right kind of clients.

How people feel about blogging

When I ask people that have joined my free Five-Day Blogging Course, “WHat’s one word that describes how you feel about blogging?” the most frequent answers are:

  • Overwhelmed
  • Time-consuming
  • Difficult
  • Tedious
  • Frustrating

Then I have another group that replies with something like this:

  • Exciting
  • Inspiring
  • Creative

Blogging tends to create a fear that has to be overcome or a sense of excitement that has to be contained.

Let’s start with why you should blog. Then we’ll look at overcoming obstacles to blogging. Lastly, I’m going to give you five templates to use to make blogging easier.

Why you should blog

People decide to see a counselor for two main reasons:

  1. Someone they trust recommends the counselor
  2. They build their own trust, usually online.

Networking, referrals, and being known in the community is how most private practitioners get referrals in the first category. A doctor knows you, so they refer to you when appropriate. An insurance panel says, “Yup they’re on our list.” Or a pastor says, “This is beyond what I do, you need to see this marriage counselor.” That’s how counseling refers often work.

But what about when someone knows they need help and they don’t have someone they trust to guide them? They turn to the web. How do websites rank higher in Google? Through something called SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Most potential clients go through this process:

  1. They Google [their issue] + [counselor or therapist] then Google adds the town.
  2. They click on the #1 or #2 website
  3. They decide within 10 seconds if they are in the right place. They base this on website design, ease of navigation, and whether the person looks like they will solve the problem.
  4. They take action. This might be clicking back to go to another website, emailing you, or reading more. They will always take some action.

What does blogging do:

  1. It increases how high you rank in Google, especially if you have articles 600-1,500 words that are each focused on one keyword.
  2. It shows that you know what you are talking about.
  3. It helps you figure out your ideal client or clients.

Next, let’s look at some of the common reasons why people don’t want to blog.

Why counselors don’t blog

A lack of blogging falls into one of four categories:

  1. I don’t want to self disclose
  2. Is it worth the time to blog? It’s too time consuming and I don’t know where to start
  3. I have too many ideas
  4. It’s all already been said

Self-disclosure in Blogging

In 2008, Dr. Ofer Zur wrote this for the APA Independent Practitioner: “There are five different types of self-disclosure: deliberate, unavoidable, accidental, inappropriate and client-initiated.” All therapists evaluate their level of self-disclosure. Here are some reasons why counselors are apprehensive to blog regarding self-disclosure:

  1. They will reveal or impact therapy in a negative way if they blog.
  2. They may reveal something that they later realize is harmful.
  3. They are worried they may discuss something personal that their friends or family see

Here are a few quick tips to think through:

What stories would I be willing to tell from a public stage? (Example: That broken shoulder story from 6th grade)

What is off limits? (Example: Talking about my kid’s failures or client details)

How will this impact past, current, and future clients?

Is it worth my time to blog?

I’m a numbers guy who also likes art. Here is an example of when blogging is not worth it: If you are totally full, expect to remain full, and have no reason to expand or reduce hours. Also, you plan to never make more money than you currently make.

If that’s not you, let’s talk about why it’s worth your time.

As you probably know, I advocate for a private pay private practices. It allows more flexibility and autonomy. It allows my client and I to discuss their therapeutic needs. Yes, it excludes some people, but overall it’s best for me, my mental health, and my business.

I have a multi-clinician practice. So let’s look at how one hour of writing a blog might help my bottom line if I do that once per week.

If I write one blog post per week for six months, I will most likely start ranking high for the keywords I focus on.

  • Over six months, that would be 26 weeks, so 26 hours. At $195 per hour that’s $5,070 in lost work (if I’m full).
  • If your average client comes 6 times at the rate of $195 per session
  • Your counseling client is worth $1,170 (obviously they have human worth too)
  • That means that your blogs need to bring in 4.3 new clients

So, do you think that demonstrating your expertise will bring in 4.3 clients?

If your posts are “evergreen” meaning they aren’t about something that’s trendy now and not later, then you’ll continue to get benefits from those posts years into the future! (Here’s my walk through on How to Create a Blog Post)

So yes, it’s worth your time.

But where should you start? All that it takes to blog is:

  1. Start a website
  2. Find keywords (optional)
  3. Write content and upload them to your blog
  4. Create an image (optional)

Here are a few videos and posts to help you get started with the technical side of things.

How to set up WordPress: A Step-by-Step Guide

Free Five Day Blogging Course

But what if you have too many ideas?

If you have too many ideas, that’s a really good thing! Currently, Google likes longer articles, but that could change overnight and change back the night after that.

Focusing Blog Ideas Tip #1: What’s your main point?

When writing a blog post, stick to one central theme. Start with sketching out your main point for the blog post. For example, this blog post is all about “Why and how to blog.”

Everything I write needs to support that theme:

  • How people feel about blogging
  • Why you should blog
  • Why counselors don’t blog
  • Five examples of blog posts that rock

Before I gave the examples, I wanted to make sure that I covered why someone should blog and what stands in the way of it.

Focusing Blog Ideas Tip #2: It’s just a list

When I discovered that books, blogs, and other info products were just lists of lists, it made everything so much easier!

Think about these blog posts:

  • How to reduce anxiety in the summer: It’s just a list of a bunch of things that reduce anxiety.
  • Seven things Principals need to know about ADHD: It’s just a list, framed around education
  • Nine ways to show you love your spouse: It’s just a list of nice things, framed around marriage

They’re all lists!

Focusing Blog Ideas Tip #3: Stay focused

With counseling blogs, you really want to serve a function. Don’t get too deep into your own storytelling. Stay focused. Be short-winded if that makes sense. Huge authoritative posts are great, but function is most important.

If you work with young parents and kids, get hyper into those topics. Don’t talk about play therapy, toys, fair-trade shade grown butter, and a paleo diet all in one post. Take each topic one bite at a time.

But it’s already been said?

Someone going through my blogging course recently asked me:

“There are a zillion and one blogs out there. Why would anyone want to read mine? What could I possibly have to share that hasn’t been written, or at least written about, already? I just want to do counseling. And yes, I feel as whiney as that sounds. Sheesh.”

This is how I responded:

There are a billion women out there, why would anyone be friends with you?

Because you are you! You have amazing and interesting quirks, things that no one in the world does. You have unique opinions that are different and framed uniquely based on YOUR experiences. Your voice, adds a color to the conversation that never existed.

Your opinions on parenting

and marriage

and anxiety

and depression

and family

and boundaries

and sex

are totally unique!

That is why you need to blog!

Now that we’ve covered how people feel about blogging, why you need to blog, and what gets in the way of blogging, let’s dive in!

Five Blog Templates for Counselors

Blogging does not have to be difficult. These five blogging templates will help you learn to structure your thoughts around specific topics.

The five types are:

  1. An authoritative post
  2. Comment on a video
  3. Description of a diagnosis or treatment
  4. Alleviating a symptom
  5. Interview

There are numerous other types of blog posts, but for someone just getting started these are the essential five.

Authoritative Blog Post Template

This post is a great way to show authority in a specific topic. It might be a larger topic you cover like anxiety, depression, DBT, or marriage. These posts are usually 1,500+ words.

Here is the structure:

  1. Introduce the Topic
  2. How do people feel about this topic?
  3. What stands in the way of progress this this topic?
  4. How can people solve this problem?
  5. What are next steps?

Include your bio with picture and links to other pages on your website

Authoritative Blog Post Example Structure

  • Introduce video game addiction
  • History of people’s feelings about video games, benefits and cons of it.
  • Several things stand in the way of getting help: generational divide, a lack of communication, lack of research, and newer treatments.
  • There is diversity in treatment of video game addiction, some of the experts say this, here’s a video one of them made, and here is some research from…
  • Ten questions to ask yourself, son, or daughter are…

Ways to build an authoritative blog article are to:

  • Get quotes from researchers or counselors that treat video game addiction
  • Embed videos about video game addiction
  • Embed infographics

Blog Post about a Video Template

This blog post is great for quick hit posts that don’t take much time. It shows you have a sense of humor, know what’s trending, and that you have valid opinions.

Here is the structure:

  1. Why were you drawn to this video in 3-5 sentences?
  2. Embed a video you find entertaining
  3. What are three truths that this video touches on?
  4. What is the take away from this video that someone can take action on?

Include your bio with picture and links to other pages on your website

Video Blog Post Example Structure

  • I love this video about parenting because it’s hilarious and it also touches upon several truths.
  • I’d then talk about how this video touches on connection through hardship, art and music transcending daily life, and the important of play in a family.
  • The big take away is to find something common to work on with our spouse and kids.

Ways to build a blog post with a video:

  • Look for trending or popular videos on YouTube
  • Think about how you’d talk about this with friends
  • Write notes as you watch it a few times

Blog Post on a Diagnosis or Treatment Modality Template

These posts are great for internal and external linking. This is similar to an authoritative post, but usually shorter and specific around one diagnosis.

Here is the structure:

  1. What are common symptoms people notice about the diagnosis or treatment
  2. How is the diagnosis officially give, cite appropriate research/diagnostic manual
  3. In your own words, how does this diagnosis effect daily life?
  4. What are typical treatments of this diagnosis?
  5. What are actions someone should take with this diagnosis

Include your bio with picture and links to other pages on your website

Diagnosis Blog Post Example Structure

  • There are three main reasons for seasonal depression, it’s often labelled “SAD” or “Seasonal Affective Disorder.”
  • SAD has often been dismissed or has been said to “be in your head.”
  • Progress is not made because of family influence, friend influence, cultural and work influence, and a feeling of “I should be able to overcome this.”
  • Effective treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder is: full spectrum light therapy, exercise, socialization, a mild SSRi, and individual counseling
  • Here are ten questions to ask yourself about Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Ways to build an authoritative blog article are to:

  • Get quotes from researchers or counselors that treat this
  • Embed videos about SAD
  • Embed infographics

Alleviating a Symptom Template for Blog Post

This type of blog post is focused less on an overall diagnosis like depression and more on something specific like, “How to socialize more” or “Change your diet, change your mood.”

Here is the structure:

  1. This symptom is often a part of the follow diagnosis, but doesn’t have to be.
  2. Some reasons this symptom pops up
  3. A handful of ways to change this symptom
  4. One small step someone can take today to move toward something healthier

Include your bio with picture and links to other pages on your website

Symptom Blog Post Example Structure

  • We all have bad day, but being in a bad mood is a reality for a number of people. If you change your food, you can change your mood.
  • Research says three things about food and mood: certain foods cause inflammation (cite research), it gives you a sense of control, and it can be social.
  • Here are five quick shopping lists and recipes to get you going on improving your mood with food.
  • One small step is to eat an additional fruit today.

Ways to build your blog post:

  • Write a blog post for each symptom of the authoritative post, then link from and to the authoritative post
  • Think of all the things going wrong and right in your ideal client’s life
  • What is something that can help your ideal client today?

Blog Interview Template

The purpose of a blog interview is to spotlight someone doing great work that will give good content to your audience. If they are in your private practice, this spotlights them. If they are not, they may drive traffic to your website.

Here’s the structure of an interview blog post:

  1. Who is this person, what’s their business, and website?
  2. Why did you go into this field?
  3. What are you finding interesting right now?
  4. Who do you serve?
  5. Where are you headed, what are you working on?
  6. Write about why you love this person’s work

Include your bio with picture and links to other pages on your website

Interview Blog Post Example Structure

  • Meet Jill, she’s an acupuncturist and Chinese medicine expert I’ve seen over the past year.
  • Jill then tells the story of why she went into acupuncture.
  • She discusses some new things she just learned when she went to Tibet.
  • She just got accepted to take veteran’s insurance and she’s excited about that.
  • She’s now working on expanding to offer more massage options too.
  • I love working with Jill because…

Ways to build this blog post:

  • Do an actual interview
  • Send an email with questions
  • Create a Google Form for people to complete

Get started blogging!

The best way to start a new habit is to set a micro-goal. A micro-goal is something that is so small, it’s easy to do but it’s part of a larger goal. If your goal is to blog more often to grow your private practice, then what is one thing that would be the smallest step forward to go from nothing to something? 

Join my free Five-Day Blogging Course 

 

consultant headshot JoeJoe Sanok is a speaker, mental health counselor, business consultant, and podcaster. Joe has the #1 podcast for counselors, The Practice of the Practice Podcast. With interviews with Pat Flynn, John Lee Dumas, Chris Ducker, Rob Bell, Glennon Doyle Melton, and JV Crum III, Joe is a rising star in the speaking world!

Joe is a writer for PsychCentral, has been featured on the Huffington Post, Bustle, and Yahoo News. He is a keynote speaker, author of five books, and is a top­ consultant.

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