I know you’re excited to create that AWESOME website for your private practice. I would be too. But hold your horses for a sec. Let’s do some planning first.
In this article we’ll discuss 10 things you can do before you even being creating your website that will help set you up for success when your website project finally begins.
The most successful projects are the ones we plan for. The same goes for the launch of your new counseling website (or a redesign of your old one). We have to lay some groundwork and some goals. Doing so will keep you on track, motivated and make the entire process a smooth one.
I don’t know about you, but when I have a huge task (like creating a website) I NEED smaller tasks I can check off to light the road to completion.
In this post, I’ll discuss some of those tasks that you can do BEFORE you ever buy a domain name or set up hosting, to make that path as smooth as possible for you.
Note: If you already have a site, and are upgrading or redesigning it, adjust the tasks below to your situation. You can probably ignore 6 & 7 altogether.
1. Develop or Narrow Your Niche
niche: noun – a distinct segment of a market
In order to be truly effective at getting the clients you want to see, a therapist website should be tied to a specific niche. This is the population that you want to serve the most. It’s also what will set your site apart from other private practice websites.
Think about the people you want to help. Then start thinking about the concerns that they have, the questions they’re asking and the challenges they’re facing. Write them down and reference them as you create the copy for your website.
You want your favorite clients to know they came to the right place to get the help they need.
Your niche may expand and develop over time, and that’s ok, just find something you can focus on presently.
When my wife first started her practice, her focus was pretty general as she gained more and more clients. As time went on she noticed a theme emerging and that she LOVED helping people strengthen their relationships.
Knowing that has helped her create a foundation for all she does in counseling AND what she says on her website.
2. Develop Your Unique Selling Proposition
A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is just a fancy marketing term for “What Makes You Different”. It’s what factors or characteristics of your private practice make you stand out from all the other therapists that one could choose.
Your USP should emerge as the result of the niche work you did in task one.
With your niche or target audience in mind, develop one single sentence that clearly states who you help and the desired outcome you help them achieve. This will be SUPER useful for your homepage and about page.
Entrepreneur.com, suggests 3 steps (adapted for therapists, of course):
- Put yourself in your client’s shoes
- Know what motivates your clients’ behavior and decision to seek counseling
- Understand the real reason clients choose you over other therapists
This may require literally asking your clients or just paying attention as you onboard new ones. Spend some time and dig into it, then write out your USP as one sentence. It can be structured like so:
I help [target population] to [desired outcome]
Some examples of Unique Selling Propositions:
Comb the internet for some examples of therapist websites who have clear and compelling USPs, then write your own.
3. Create A Sitemap
Any task that can be drawn out on a napkin is a task for me! And this is one of those tasks.
Ok, maybe you won’t want it on a napkin, but I find it SUPER helpful to have a map of all the pages I’m going to include in any site I create.
Doing this will help you organize your main navigation, help you determine how many pages your site will have and thus become a checklist for the content you’ll need to create to complete your website. So grab some paper and a pencil and start mapping it out.
TIP: Designate a page for each of the services you offer, you’ll need that later 😉
An example of a therapist website sitemap:
4. Write a Killer About Page
Confession time. When I created createmytherapistwebsite.com years ago, I agonized over the About page. I wrote it, then re-wrote it. Then I’d see a great example of another about page and tweak mine.
“Why the insanity over one page, Daniel?!” you may ask. Well, I’ll tell you.
In following other bloggers and online marketing podcasts I heard it over and over again. Your about page is crucial to selling your self or your services online.
I never paid much attention to my own about page on my personal sites, but it seemed everyone was saying this. So I checked my Google Analytics and sure enough, the about page is the second most visited page on my website after the homepage.
Let me say that again, but BIGGER:
The about page is the second most visited page on my website after the homepage.
This means that the majority of people landing on the homepage want to know about me before they do anything else on this site. So I’d be crazy to NOT do my best to capture their attention. And you should too. Spend a lot of time crafting your story and, more importantly, how you can help the people in your niche.
For some tips and inspiration on creating your own about page, check out these related posts:
- Websites For Therapists: 10 Examples Of Amazing About Pages
5. Write Out Copy for Each of the Services You Offer
Remember when I said you’ll want to designate a page for each of the counseling services you offer? Well, here’s where you’ll need it.
When creating your website, it’s always a good idea to have a page designated for each of your services. It allows you the space and the freedom to really explain to your dream client how you can help them. It’s another way to sell who you are and why you do what you do.
It is also important you do this because Google will like it a lot. It adds relevance to your website for the people who are trying to find information.
If a therapist in Atlanta has one page with a smattering of services vs. another therapist in Atlanta with specific and detailed content around, say, premarital counseling, the engaged couple doing their search is really gonna like the detailed, focused page.
And so Google will want them to see it.
6. Pick a Domain Name
This one is pretty easy and chances are you’ve already got in mind what it’s going to be. It may be your own name or perhaps you have a business name for your therapy practice.
First thing you’ll want to do is see if that domain is available for you to purchase. You can use any website that sells hosting and domain names to do a quick search. I like to use iPage for creating websites and domain registration.
Just go to the homepage, click “Sign Up Now” and type in your desired homepage. Click on “Check Availability” to see if you can purchase it.
7. Choose Reliable Hosting
Hosting means that you’ll be paying a service provider to “host” the files that make up your website on their servers. There are a lot of hosting providers out there to choose from, including GoDaddy, Bluehost and iPage, to name a few. It’s really up to you to determine what is going to work best for you and what you feel comfortable with.
As mentioned above, I like using iPage. I’ve found it easy to use and the setup process is pretty hassle free. But the choice is completely yours. Just do some research.
To learn more about setting up your therapist site with iPage, check out the post How to Start a Therapist Website in 10 Minutes (or less)
8. Get Inspired by Other Therapists
Whenever I begin a web design project I always spend some time searching for inspiration. I like to see what’s possible and get out of my own head to expand the possibilities of what I want to create. I highly recommend doing this before you create your own therapist website.
You’ll probably want to search out some great therapist websites to see what people are doing really well. Take note of what colors, layouts and functionality you like.
Also, keep in mind your Unique Selling Proposition and take note of how other therapists have crafted theirs. You can also use this research to gather ideas for copy and structure of your about page and service pages. Obviously, don’t plagiarize, ’cause that’s unethical 😉
I would also recommend you search out some websites that are not related to therapy. Small businesses, restaurants and photographers can often have very creative websites and offer you some ideas that can really help you stand out when you create yours.
You can also check out the Create My Therapist Website portfolio of practice websites here.
9. Get Headshots and Gather Great Photography
Peoples’ impression of you and your private practice will be shaped by the quality of the imagery on your website. It’s just the way it is. We assign a perceived value or quality to things we see as pleasing to the eye.
I always use the example of a restaurant you want to go to for a very special occasion. When I see a restaurant’s website that is ugly, hard to use and the photos of the place are terrible, I’m only left to assume the food and experience will not be good.
So, with that, I highly recommend that all the photography on your website be high quality. That includes finding a professional photographer to do your headshots. You’ll look uber professional if you do this.
Having beautiful photos throughout your website can draw people in, keep them engaged and evoke certain feelings based on the photos you choose. If you blog a lot, you should constantly be on the lookout for great photos to bring your posts to life.
Here are some websites where you can get FREE stock photos to use on your website and blog:
10. Create A Logo
It’s time for our last task to do before we build a website for our private practice: designing a logo.
A logo is your identity. Your image. Your calling card. It’s a quick way to communicate who you are and what you’re like, and often it is one of the first things potential clients will see when they land on your website.
There are two ways to get a professional looking logo for your therapy practice: design it yourself or hire someone to do it.
Designing Your Own Therapist Logo
Let me assure you, you don’t have to be a graphic designer to create a professional-looking photo. But having an eye for what looks good will help here.
Start with some inspiration by heading over to logopond.com. This is a site where artists showcase the logos they are working on. The logos here are SUPER creative.
Take some time to browse and search some keywords. Take note of what you like and what you’re drawn to. Do you want your logo to be more crisp and classic? Or more down to earth with a hand-written feel?
Now to create some options. You can use Photoshop if you have it, or a free service like Canva. In about 5 minutes, I just created this logo in Canva:
It’s simple, and I’d spend much more time on the layout, but you get the point. (Head to this link in Canva to learn more and use logo templates with their software; it’s super easy!)
If you use Photoshop to create your logo, I recommend finding some really nice fonts and trying a few different ones until you get a look you like. You can use Pinterest to find some great ones.
Please don’t use a font that every computer comes with, like Times New Roman, it won’t help make you stand out!
Paying Someone to a Design Your Therapist Logo
If you’d rather not spend your time on designing your own logo, hiring a professional designer to do it is a great option. Just like getting a pro photographer to do your headshots, it’s worth it to pay for a logo that’s going to make you stand out.
The good news is, you don’t have to break the bank hiring someone to design a great looking logo either. There a number of websites where you can find affordable designers. Here’s two options:
Upwork, formerly Odesk, is a great website where you can post the details of the job you need completed and then hundreds of freelancers can give you an estimate. Choose which one you want to work with and you’re ready to go. The website will even take screenshots of the freelancer’s computer as they work, so you know you’re only paying for the work you hired them for. I’ve used it before and it’s great.
I have not used 99designs before but I’ve seen their name popup a lot lately. Their approach is pretty neat. Post what you need designed, and you’ll get dozens of logos created by designers all over the world. You then pick your favorite one to keep. They have a 7 day turnaround and a 100% money back guarantee. Logos start at $299.
For more details on how to create a great logo for your practice, check out this article: Logos For Therapists: The Ultimate Guide To Designing A Logo For Your Private Practice
Bonus: Write 5 Blog Posts
I told you I had a bonus for you! This one’s for the hardcore peeps who want to round out their website completely before they launch it. One way to do that is by writing 5 great blog posts that focus on your niche.
I believe every therapist should be blogging because it’s extremely beneficial to your business, as well as your growth in your practice. Blogging consistently will likely increase your Google rank, showcase your expertise and personality, and potentially increase the inquiries you get from future clients. Not only that, but it will help you develop your voice, grow your passion and help you be more equipped to articulate your knowledge to your clients.
Writing 5 blog posts, before anyone is looking, is a great way to practice. Take your time, do some research on various subjects and really create valuable information for your readers.
When you launch your website, you’ll have 5 awesome posts already there, which will make your website a wealth of information for your potential clients to see.
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