This morning I had an amazing meeting with Aaron Carpenter from Legendary Lion Web Design. For a long time, I’ve tried to learn how to run and design my websites completely on my own. I still think this is the best approach for counselors just starting. Over the long haul, having a working knowledge of how to create pages and content will help you save a ton of money.
When a counselor first launches a private practice, it is essential to have minimal expenses. That is why it is so important to negotiate rent, have very little debt, and pay as you grow. For example, paying another counselor for use of their office, while you grow, is a great way to avoid the on-going expense of rent.
With this said, their is a breaking point, when it is worth shelling out the money for the added web design help. So, recently I asked myself, “When should I hire a web designer?” My answer is “NOW!” and this is how I figured it out.
Question #1 | Are you growing quick enough?
How is my current growth? For this I looked at my Google Analytics which is how I get the basic numbers for Practice of the Practice. From January 2013-March 12, 2013 I had 2,519 visits, with 1,705 unique visitors.
Early 2013 Website Analytics
Early 2014 Website Analytics
Is a Plateau Coming?
When I look at the stats over that entire year, there was huge growth between August and October, however, I have not seen that same growth in the months since 2014. All of this is despite increasing the frequency of content, improving quality, and doing more keyword research. Also, when I evaluate last year this time, compared to currently, people are:
- Staying on the page the same amount of time (engagement is not going up)
- They are visiting the same number of pages
- I have almost the exact same number of new visits (building an on-going audience is not happening)
All of this points to a growing plateau, and I don’t like that!
Question #2 | Is it worth your hourly to hire a website designer?
Early on, it is a smart idea to keep costs really low. As you can see in my monthly income reports, I continue to grow as a business. In February 2013 I made $2,685 in February 2014 I made $6,483. That a 141.45% increase! So yes, my bottom line is going up, but since I believe in what I write about I want more people to grow through Practice of the Practice.
My current counseling session rate is $175 per 45 minute session. That means that if I am working on website updates, learning how to change something, or get stuck, that theoretically I could be seeing a client instead. If something takes me 90 minutes, that is $350 in lost income. If I pay a website designer less than that amount, I come out ahead. So for me it is worth it!
Question #3 | What can a website designer do that I can’t?
As I have grown in my skills, I have learned about plug-ins, HTML code, how to find a WordPress theme, how to build pages, and how to increase SEO. With that said, I can build a website that meets most counselor’s needs. As I sat down with Aaron Carpenter I learned so much in that 60 minutes! For example:
- My theme is not responsive
- When you click on pictures, they don’t link
- Some of the plug-ins I have installed have a “provided by” and make my site look less professional
- The colors are not easy to read
- Aaron can do most of this in 5 seconds
- These are all easily fixed!
Aaron can work quickly and make powerful changes, so check on that one too.
Question #4 | Is your time is valuable?
I am fairly sure that Aaron will be able to do in one hour, what would take me 5-6 hours to learn. There is a time when we each need to know our own limits and know when to hire a consultant. Families, individuals, and couples come to use to be a consultant to them, yet often we’re the worst at doing the same. We make crappy marketing materials and then wonder why our practices don’t thrive.
Even though this ties into #2, it is a mental shift. Yes, my time is valuable.
Where to now?
So I’ve decided to hire Aaron. In fact, we’re meeting again tomorrow. He’s going to help me with a logo, redesign, and updates.
You will see some major changes in the coming weeks!
Tell me what you think. When the new site goes live, what do you hate? Like? Love? I love being your researcher to find out what works and what does not work. As I go through this process, I’ll keep you posted on the highs and lows of contracting out some of my website design.
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+ .
What do you like about the website?
Image by angsthase