Do you like writing? Are you interested in having a blog on your website? Is blogging included in your marketing plan?
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 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.
First, 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.
You’ll also want to decide on the frequency that you post. I recommend one of three options. And just because you choose one now doesn’t mean you can’t adjust in the future.
1x per month
2x per month
1x per week
Currently I do my best to post once per month for Mountain Practice Journeys. 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.
Posting weekly would be for the serious writer, who has identified blogging as a major part of their marketing strategy. This can also be a viable option, but be ready to put in the work.
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 month frequency!
As I mention above 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.
Length & Word Count
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.
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 in this section and just write about your topic until you feel pleased with the content and message, and let the word count be whatever it is.
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.
Try to be as consistent as you can – but also be forgiving of yourself too. For example, I write a post for this site monthly, but you may (or may not) have noticed that there was no post for January.
I took a break from work between Christmas and New Year’s. I vegged out on the couch, binge watched 5 seasons of Vikings, was pretty useless, and it was great. So, coming out of what was like a hibernation vacation, it took some time to ease back into the new year – hence no January post.
There can be so much pressure in the New Year to get off to a running start, so skipping a January post was partly intentional and partly what I needed to do.
And there’s something to be said for starting your new year in February. I can get on board with this!
What To Write
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.
Vlogging, or video blogging, 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. I know that video can be really intimidating. You’ll notice that I don’t (yet) have any video content, but it’s something I’m working toward because I know the great benefit.
You may not be ready to vlog now, but don’t dismiss it all together.
Go Easy On Yourself
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. 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!
I Want You To Be Successful In Private Practice!Starting a private practice is a big deal. It’s super-exciting and super-scary all at the same time. I created Mountain Practice Journeys to support you through the difficult and muddy terrain, and to celebrate with you when you have reached each summit of the many mountains you will conquer on your journey.
Happy Climbing, Cindy