Once you establish your online counseling practice, your next step is to attract new clients through marketing. Fortunately, marketing your online practice is very similar to marketing an in-person practice. Here are some helpful steps to consider as you decide how best to spend your marketing time and dollars.
In this technology age in which we live, it is essential for you to have a website for your online counseling practice. The website should be simple, clean, and easy to navigate for potential clients. A website is a direct extension of you as a professional, so it should represent who you are well. Since this is the first impression that potential clients will have of you, it is important that your website helps clients to feel as if they know who you are and what they can gain from working with you. It can be helpful to have a professional website designer such as Brighter Vision who is also familiar with counseling to develop your website for you.
Online Counselor Databases
A tried and true way to market yourself is via online counselor databases. In heavily saturated markets, these may not be as effective. However, in communities that lack therapists, you can gain an abundance of clients by advertising via these databases. Databases range in price from $25 – $49.95 per month. My personal favorite is still Psychology Today. With Psychology Today, you can select “target areas” or zip codes where your profile will be linked. This is a great way to expand your marketing of your online practice since you can practice anywhere within the state(s) you are licensed. Other counseling databases include Online Counselling, Good Therapy and Theravive.
Social media is a great (and often free) way to advertise your online practice. You can utilize Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest to promote your business, connect with other clinicians, and build a reputation. Through these mediums, you can post blogs and videos that highlight your speciality and personality. This is a great way for potential clients to get to know you without ever meeting you in person. Social media can feel overwhelming at first, so I recommend starting with one platform with which you feel comfortable working. Create your business page there, attract friends and followers, and add and manage content until you feel proficient on this platform. From there, you can move onto other social media platforms as needed.
A great and free way to advertise your online practice is through media interviews. Reach out to online, print, and televised news media outlets. Share about your unique online practice, your niche, and ways you are benefiting your local community. Often, the local media will be interested in this positive human interest story and will interview you. This is a great way to share your new online practice with others across your state. You can also link back to this media coverage on your own website and social media pages.
It is still important and helpful to network with other counselors, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists in your area and state-wide. Are there conferences, lunch and learns, or other professional counseling gatherings that you can attend? Can you call a local professional and ask to meet for coffee? Would area schools or businesses be interested in having you present about a mental health related topic? Use these opportunities to talk about your unique online practice, your niche, and what you have to offer to clients in the community.
By incorporating these marketing strategies, you can build a profitable and thriving online counseling practice!
Wendy Galyen, LCSW and BC-TMH, is the founder of Thrive for Life Online Counseling, a solely private pay and entirely online private practice in Indiana. She has degrees from the University of Indianapolis and Indiana University where has also served as an adjunct faculty member. Wendy has over 16 years of experience working with individuals, couples, families, and children. She also has extensive social work research experience. Wendy has published and presented this research in textbooks, journals, online periodicals, magazines and at national conferences. In addition to her work with clients via online counseling mediums, Wendy also provides consultation services to other counselors who are looking to add online counseling as a component of their practices.