Hello there, and welcome back to the Mountain Practice Journeys podcast!
I’m your host, Cindy Norton.
Here in Episode 7 I’m going to talk all about blogging, and answer the question “Should you have a blog for your private practice?”
Let’s get started.
Podcasts are growing in popularity and there are already so many great private practice podcasts out there. If you join the Trailblazer community via my seasonal newsletter you will receive a free A-Z download that includes a list of my favorite private practice podcasts.
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See below for the episode show notes links and transcript…
Episode 7 Show Notes Links
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Episode 7 Transcript
Hello there, and welcome back to the Mountain Practice Journeys podcast! I’m your host, Cindy Norton. Here in Episode 7 I’m going to talk all about blogging, and answer the question “Should you have a blog for your private practice?”
Let’s get started.
Have you been wanting to start your private practice, but you can’t seem to take that first step? Maybe you’re afraid of failure or lack confidence, or maybe the idea of running your own practice is overwhelming. I’m Cindy Norton, owner of Mountain Practice Journeys and I help therapists and counselors to love the business side of private practice. I’ll share with you practical skills and advice along with a healthy dose of inspiration so that you can be on your way to the practice of your dreams. Put on your hiking boots, and let’s get going.
If you haven’t yet listened to Episode 6, I urge you to do that. In that episode I help therapists who are overwhelmed with client inquiries to consider how systems and automation can save them precious time and money.
Now let’s get into today’s topic. When I say the word ‘blog’ what comes to mind? How does it make you feel? Some people cringe at the word, and others are intrigued.
I’m going to help you to figure out whether of not you should blog for your private practice.
Do you like writing? Are you interested in having a blog on your website? Is blogging included in your marketing plan? Are you at least intrigued by the possibility of blogging?
Your answer to these questions will determine whether or not you should blog…
If you answered “No,” then don’t blog.
If you answered “Maybe,” then maybe you should consider blogging.
If you answered “Yes,” then you should definitely blog.
There’s more to it than that. If you answered “No”, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a blog. There are other options if you hate writing, but are aware of the SEO benefits and want to have a blog. There are plenty of ghost writers and copy writers out there that will write posts for you for a fee. So, keep that open as an option.
If you think you would like to move ahead with blogging, I want to share some important considerations that will help you feel better about making an informed decision.
The first is location. You’ll have to decide where you will host your blog. It will likely be added as an additional page on your counseling website. If you built your own site, you will be able to add it yourself (or with the help of a YouTube tutorial). If your site was built for you, contact your web designer to see about getting a blog page added to your site.
Second, you’ll want to decide on the frequency that you post. I recommend one of four options. And just because you choose one now doesn’t mean you can’t adjust in the future.
I recommend a minimum posting of once per quarter. This is for the occasional blogger who has important things to say, but only wants to commit a minimal amount of time to blogging.
Posting once per month or twice per month are both great options. These timeframes are manageable for those who enjoy providing their readers with written content on a consistent basis.
When I started the Mountain Practice Journeys blog, I posted once per month until I had 10+ articles, then slowed down to post at least once quarterly. That seems like a good balance for me, and it is sustainable.
Two times per month can also be a sustainable practice if you plan accordingly. You may want to start out with twice per month until you get a certain number of posts in order to “bulk up” your blog page, and then drop down to once per month.
For more serious bloggers, a once per week frequency is common. This can also be a viable option, but be ready to put in the work. If blogging is one of your main marketing strategies then I would recommend this schedule – at least as you are getting started so that you can gain traction and a good following.
I have a confession to make. When I started my blog for AVL Couples Therapy, I was super excited and motivated. I had decided to post twice per week! Yes, you heard that right – 2X per WEEK!
I had so many ideas. I had written several blog posts ahead of time and had been saving them up (this I do recommend, and will talk about next). I would post on a different topic each Monday, and then post about a fun weekend activity for couples later in the week.
My stockpile of posts was quickly dwindling and I didn’t have enough steam to replenish them. I was posting less frequently, and then decided to take a break. I had gone at it too hard and burned myself out.
When deciding to add a blog to the Mountain Practice Journeys site, I remembered my previous experience and that’s when I came up with a more practical schedule – once per month. And that has worked well. As I get back in to a rhythm, I’ll start posting again on the AVL Couples Therapy blog, but it will be at a once per quarter frequency!
As I mention in my confession, it’s a great idea to write your blog posts ahead of time. This is referred to as “batching”. By writing your blog posts in batches, you are able to be more productive and plan ahead.
You’ll want to set aside some time and write as many posts as you can. For example, if you are on the monthly schedule like I am, you could set aside a weekend twice a year and write 6 blog posts over each weekend, and then you’re done for the entire year.
It doesn’t matter what your schedule is, just create something that works for you and doesn’t have you sitting down every week or so to come up with a new post. Even if you like writing, if you’re not batching it can feel like you have a paper due every week and take the fun out of what you are doing.
When you’re done with your batch, it feels so good to know that you have several months worth of content scheduled and ready to go. And another thing about batching – you’ll want to start your second batch before you run out of content from your first batch, so you don’t have that time pressure. I like to have a couple months of overlap so that I don’t feel rushed to put out content.
If you’re wondering how long or short your blog posts need to be – it doesn’t matter (not really, anyway). There are differing opinions on how many words blog posts should be for the most SEO benefit. I’ve seen articles that say the ideal length is 600 words, 1,200 words, and 2,000 words, or more.
I would say to go for whatever your writing style is, and with whatever number of words are needed to get your point across and give your readers the information that they need.
If any of you know me, you know that I can be long winded and I often over-explain things, so my blog posts may be longer than some – and still shorter than others.
Personally, I prefer longer blog posts in the 1,000 – 2,000+ word range. But, if your style is short and sweet, aim for at least 500 words.
It may be best to forget everything I’ve said about length and just write about your topic until you feel pleased with the content and message, and let the word count be whatever it is.
Consistency is important (says the person who has been inconsistent with her blogging). Choose a somewhat consistent schedule to release content on your blog. It doesn’t have to be perfect and, as I mentioned before, you can adjust as needed. But let your readers in on what they can expect regarding content.
Even if that content is put out inconsistently, let your readers know so they are aware. You may be someone who doesn’t like schedules and you don’t want to hold yourself accountable for putting out content every X number of weeks. That’s okay. Just share with your readers that you will be posting as inspiration hits you.
Many people are concerned that they will not have anything to write about. Don’t worry! There’s a wealth of blog topics in the therapy world.
They key to discovering this wealth of ideas is to not put pressure on yourself. The worst thing you can do is sit down with a blank piece of paper to create a list of blog post ideas. Maybe this works for you, but for most people it’s a recipe for a stressed out mind that goes blank.
What I do (and this may work for you) is to create a page in the notes app on my phone called blog post ideas, and jot ideas down as they come. These ideas will arise at the strangest times. Over a few weeks or months you’ll have plenty of topics to write about.
If you’re really wanting have a blog that new potential clients can connect with, take notes of ideas as they come up in therapy sessions with your current ideal clients. Oftentimes you will have several clients who are asking the same questions, or are struggling with the same issues.
You can take these common threads and, while upholding the strictest confidentiality, write a blog post that addresses these concerns. If your clients would benefit from the information you provide in session to help address their concerns, it’s likely that others will too.
Don’t censor yourself, be creative, think outside the box, and don’t dismiss something because it doesn’t sound like a “therapy” topic. Some of the best ideas may not be related at all, but you can often weave them into your specialty in some way.
For example, maybe you are a therapist who specializes in treating anxiety. You happen to be watching your favorite tv series and see that one of the main characters is struggling with anxiety. You can write a blog post that addresses this character’s anxiety symptoms, and then tie that back to your practice and how you support your clients when they are going through something similar, along with offering a few tips for managing anxiety.
The possibilities really are endless, so give yourself the space and creativity to discover topics that are beneficial to your clients and your practice.
Now I want to talk a bit about Vlogging, or video blogging. Vlogging is a great option for getting your content out there. It’s best for those of you who don’t enjoy writing and are comfortable on camera. Some people feel that they express themselves better verbally and enjoy the conversational style that a vlog can accommodate.
Videos are also a really great way to connect with potential clients who visit your site, as your personality will shine through. You may not be ready to vlog now, but don’t dismiss it all together.
And if you decide to vlog, here’s a pro tip for added SEO benefit. Have your videos transcribed to text and add the transcription below the video.
There’s lots more information on blogging out there, but I’ll save that for another time. I just wanted to highlight some considerations that would be helpful for you to know whether to blog or not, and to help prepare you if you decide that blogging is right for you.
Being completely honest, I didn’t always follow this blogging advice when I first started out. I had to learn as I went along. And I’ve shared some of those examples when I wasn’t on point with my blogging game, and that’s okay.
I share this to hopefully inspire you to stop being so hard on yourself. We’re all human. We may look at our colleagues and think they have it all together, but we may only be looking at a small section of what they are doing in their practice. They may be dropping the ball somewhere else – just like we are.
For example, I may be struggling with blogging regularly and compare myself to a colleague who puts out a blog post every two weeks on the dot. That’s not going to help me at all. But what I don’t know is that maybe that colleague is looking at something that I’m doing in my practice that they admire.
Do your best AND go easy on yourself!
During each episode I’ll be giving you one small take away, action step, or mindset shift. I call these acorns. Listen to episode 0 to get the scoop on what the acorns are all about.
The acorn from this episode is to give batching a try. Batching your work, or batching your time, simply means that you dedicate a specified amount of uninterrupted and distraction-free time to work on tasks and projects that are of a similar nature.
Blogging is a great example of a task that can be batched. Let me give you an example of how batching can work if you publish a blog post once per month. You could set aside one day every 4 months and dedicate that full day to writing 4 blog posts. Now, you only have to focus on blogging for 3 days out of the entire year, yet you have a year’s worth of content.
I’m in the camp where I truly believe that multitasking is a myth. Switching your attention and focus from one task to another unrelated task results in lost productivity. When switching tasks you are working harder, getting less done, and you will see a decrease in the quality of your work.
Ditch multitasking, and give batching a try. You can use the method for writing notes, creating social media content, or checking and responding to email. Just pick a task, assign a time, turn off distractions, minimize interruptions, and get to work. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done with a little bit of focused work.
As I outlined in episode 0, I’ll be alternating between a fun fact and ‘what I’m digging’ segment with each new episode. In this episode I’m digging Canva. I remember being so happy when I discovered Canva! It’s a graphic design website that can be used by both professionals and beginners.
Canva has a drag-and-drop format and gives you access to photographs, fonts, and graphics. I use Canva to put together beautiful social media and web graphics for my businesses – including my blog images. Canva’s basic version is free to use, and you can also upgrade to gain access to additional features – which I highly recommend. Canva allows me to make high quality, brand consistent designs for my practice.
For a link to get started with Canva, check out the show notes page at mountainpracticejourneys.com/episode7/
Thank you so much for joining me today on your private practice journey.
For episode 8 I’ll be chatting with Ryan Schwartz, the founder of Mental Health Match. Ryan shares his uplifting and inspiring story of how Mental Health Match came to be. I can’t wait for you to hear it!
Mental Health Match is a new therapist directory that helps to connect you with ideal clients. The goal of this directory is that prospective clients come to you feeling confident in your skills, a sense of connection with you as a therapist, and hope and optimism for positive outcomes.
If you’re already intrigued by this new directory and want to create your profile so that you can start being matched up with new, ideal clients feel free to use my referral code that will get you a full 6 months for free. The code is MPJ2021. Again, the code is MPJ2021.
Join me over on Instagram @mountainpracticejourneys for helpful information and tips for your practice.
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There’s no way you can know how much it means to me that you choose to join me here as I share all things related to private practice. Please subscribe so you don’t miss a step. For more information about this episode, please visit the show notes page at mountainpracticejourneys.com/podcast I truly appreciate you Trailblazers. Your mountain is within reach. Journey on.
I Want You To Be Successful In Private Practice!
Happy Climbing, Cindy