As counselors we rarely think about business, marketing, and what other fields are doing. We are missing out on growing our client base, income, and career choices by not focusing on some very simple tactics. When you write a blog post for your counseling website, how many people share it? Here are 7 tips you have to do to create highly shareable content to grow your private practice!
Tip #1 | Have an audience
It seems like something I should not have to say this, but in order to have people share your amazing counseling content, you have to have people reading your content. As counselors, we have traditionally focused only on using our websites to gain clients in private practice. Our expectation is that a website will act like an online business card.
Yet, if we think about a sales funnel, today’s consumers are very savvy. Clients will research clinicians on Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and read their blog. Building an audience that follows you as a counselor, beyond just scheduling a first appointment is a mental shift for most of us.
Tip #2 | Foster the audience
By “audience” I don’t mean you need thousands of people. Growing a private practice can happen with just a few great referral sources. In creating articles that are highly shareable, you have to build trust. This comes through fostering a relationship. That doesn’t mean that you need to personally engage with every single reader, instead, they should have multiple opportunities to hear your voice. So it’s essential to think about how you help someone go from being a passive reader, to an engaged fan or follower, to a client, to a client referral magnet.
Tip #3 | Keep the audience around
Before you can get your audience to take action, they have to have a reason to help promote you. In counseling, this is a delicate issue. However, creating an automated email list is one of the best ways to get and keep people thinking about you. Automated emails are set up to send an email to people in a specific order. So if you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll get a series of emails from me in order. If a friend of your signs up next week, they will start at the beginning. This is great, because you can create a flow of engagement and introduction to you and your practice. I use Aweber (affiliate link) and it is super awesome! Also, it integrates really easily into PayPal so you can charge for email subscriptions, create pop-ups, and embed forms into your website.
Tip #4 | Know your shareable keywords
If you haven’t created a Google Ad Words account, you really should right now! Once it is set up you can use it for creating ads for the internet, but one amazing tool is their Keyword Planner. If you know what words people are searching for, it makes it a bazillion times more easy to have people find you.
Tip #5 | Writing Content that is shareable
People tend to scan more than read. They are busy and want information quickly. Great content is useful and interesting. Andy Crestodina from the Content Marketing Institute talks about this in his article “Great Content Meets 2 Criteria: Does Yours?” As counselors, we often make very useful and important content. However, making it funny or interesting, is really hard. It’s a balance where we don’t want to ruin our professional reputation over a dumb comment, but we have to stand on that line. If we don’t, no one will find us or let others know about the work we’re doing.
Take this video of President Obama being interviewed by Zach Galifianakis. This video has been circulating the internet and intantly went viral. Ultimately, the president wanted to reach young people about the March 31 deadline for signing up for health insurance on www.HealthCare.gov, but he did it in a way that engaged people where they are at. In fact, Funny or Die, who made the video, is now the #1 referral source for www.healthcare.gov!
Tip #6 | Have a shareable title
I follow this guy, Pat Flynn. He’s always writing amazing content to help people like me learn more about building income online. He recently wrote an article 5 “Five-Minute or Less” Blogging Tips That Yield Big Results. I’m Using Tip #1 in This Title. In his article he talks about using numbers and giving clues that engage the reader. For example, in this post I said “you’re going to hate #5” I’m fairly sure that it might be hard to swallow as a counselor, and maybe you hate it. Either way, it’s hard not to want to know what tip #5 is for creating highly shareable articles.
This has been a hard one for me, because it feels really manipulative. People should just want to read what I write for the content, not because of some kitschy title. Yet, I started looking at what I was clicking on when I’d go through my facebook news feed. It was usually something funny, interesting, or that had an engaging title. For inspiration you should check out Upworthy, they’re amazing at titles. From looking at these titles, all of a sudden I care about cartoonist’s and wealth, a fight against some enemy, sanitary pads, and Barbie. Look at this screenshot from their home page.
Tip #7 | Make sharing easy!
You may have noticed that at the bottom you’ll see a bunch of large social media icons. Since I use Bluehost (affiliate link) for my hosting and WordPress for my design, it’s really easy for me to make updates. WordPress has these things called “plug-ins.” A plug-in is like an app for your website. So I downloaded the plug-in Sociable, which is totally free and makes it really easy for others to share what I’m writing.
There is so much more you can do, but these seven tips are bound to help you get started in creating highly shareable posts.
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Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC has the #1 podcast for counselors in private practice. He is a private practice consultant and helps other counselors to be more awesome! Also, he helps angry kids, frustrated parents, and distant couples at his private practice in Traverse City, MI at Mental Wellness Counseling. Also, he is the author of Mental Wellness Parenting | A remarkably simple approach to making parenting easier. To link to Joe’s Google+ .
Image by mkhmarketing