When I first took the leap into the world of online counseling, I had one overwhelming fear: What if I don’t get any online counseling clients? This is a fear that many private practice clinicians feel at some point in their journey prior to opening the doors to their practice – physical or virtual. The online part of things made this mountain that much more seemingly insurmountable. I spent a lot of time worrying and not enough time developing strategies to market to my ideal client. In this article, I will talk about 3 marketing strategies that helped me stop worrying and start doing what I love: helping others.
If you haven’t heard this term before, it stands for search engine optimization. As a counselor attracting online counseling clients, you want your website to stand out from the crowd. This means optimizing your site so that, when someone googles “online counseling in Georgia”, your website pops right up. One way to boost your SEO is to buy domain names that include searchable terms related to your niche and to redirect those domains to your current website. For example, if you are a counselor in Georgia, you may want to see if the domain “onlinecounselingGeorgia.com” is available or even the domain “onlinetherapyGeorgia.com”.
Another way to boost your SEO is to identify a keyword phrase for each page of your site. Think about what readers will be searching for when they view a particular page and what search terms they might use. Craft each page according to this keyword phrase. Remember to also use alt tags for all of your images. Alt tags are alternative text descriptions for images that allow search engines to locate your page. This is a vital part of ranking. Finally, content is a key piece to SEO. Blog and blog often. Write blog posts that appeal to your ideal client, using keyword phrases for that page as well as alt tags for the images on that page. If you follow the SEO tips and tricks out there, your site will rank higher and you will get the visibility you need to get clients on your caseload.
Choose one social media platform and work on building connections. Which platform does your ideal online counseling clients use most? Do you work with teens? If so, maybe you can check out Instagram and Snapchat. Do you work with women or men? Would Pinterest be a place they frequent or is Facebook a more likely choice for them? Whatever the platform, choose one and begin to post content that appeals to your ideal client. If you choose Instagram, for example, research Instagram hashtags both locally and statewide. Use hashtags in the comment sections of your posts and be sure to upload videos to IGTV and to your story several times a week, if not daily. Once you have some content, begin to follow influencers in your field.
Connect with your audience by posting on their posts and communicating with them. Many individuals will share their personal stories on social media. Posting words of encouragement or even some emojis that let others know you care is helpful in building connections. Posting live videos on tips and tricks that would benefit your target market will also help you connect and gain more followers. Remember those marketing key words “know, like, and trust”? Posting videos or pictures that give glimpses into your own life will also increase your following. Afterall, our clients want to know that we are genuine and human.
Contact referral sources
You are working online, though you do not have to limit your marketing efforts to online strategies. There are many people out there who don’t yet know about online counseling and who would love to try it. Call colleges, doctor’s offices, high schools, parent groups, etc. in every city and town in your state. Let people know what online counseling is, how it can benefit them, and why they should choose you. There are individuals who would rather just talk on the phone or who cannot leave their home or drive to an appointment. These individuals need our help and it is our job to seek them out and let them know that online counseling is accessible, affordable, secure, and convenient.
It is scary to take a risk and do something new, especially when that something is new territory in an already tentative field. Instead of spinning the wheels of worry, try the three strategies listed above. The fastest way to a full caseload is a concrete, action-oriented, and well-executed formula. If you follow these steps, you can rest assured that you will attract your ideal clients.
Rose Skeeters, MA, LPC, PN2, NCC
Rose Skeeters is the creator of Thrive: Mind/Body, LLC, innovative online counseling, coaching, & consulting practice aimed at helping adults and teens that have experienced trauma heal their inner pain and transform their lives. Skeeters also provides consulting and clinical supervision to like-minded and driven clinicians. Are you interested in learning more tips to grow your online practice? Contact her today at firstname.lastname@example.org.