Web design, SEO, and Captivating Content Creation doesn’t always come naturally to mental health therapists in Private Practice.
Hell, we didn’t learn this stuff in grad school, which means that mostly everyone’s content sounds the same, and a lot of websites simply serve as placeholders, without actually helping w/ SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and Google visibility.
During this episode, I talk with Daniel Fava of Private Practice Elevation, about why it’s so important to understand how to create a website that not only stands out but actually ranks in Google searches.
We talk about actual strategies that you can immediately implement that will help you stand out, increase your SEO, and optimize your website and directory pages.
Top 3 reasons to listen to the entire episode:
Understand the difference between a good and bad therapist website and what key things to watch out for when developing your online presence.
Identify ways to make your website a safe space and establish a connection with potential clients.
Learn how to create captivating content on landing pages, utilizing keywords and internal linking, as well as understand the impact of SEO on website visibility and attracting clients.
If you take the time to structure and maintain your therapist website in a strategic, authentic, and ethical way, you’ll be more likely to see your ideal clients finding and choosing you as their therapist while knowing that you’re going to be the best fit.
More about Daniel Fava:
Daniel Fava is a digital business consultant and founder of Private Practice Elevation, a website design and SEO agency focused on helping busy private practice owners attract the clients they love so they can scale their businesses and create the life they desire. After building a website for his wife’s private practice and seeing the impact it had on her business, he became passionate about helping others achieve the same. Private Practice Elevation offers web design services, SEO (search engine optimization), and website support to help private practice owners grow their businesses through online marketing.
Daniel lives in Atlanta, GA, with his wife Liz, and two energetic boys. When he’s not working, he enjoys hiking by the river, watching hockey, and enjoying a dram of bourbon.
I would also like to thank Heard for sponsoring this episode. Doing your own accounting as a self-employed therapist is stressful. I get it because I’ve been there. When I first started my private practice, I wasn’t sure how much to save for taxes or how quarterly taxes worked. I didn’t want to fuck up and get in trouble with the IRS. That’s why I’m so glad I found Heard, the financial back office for therapists. Through easy-to-use software and awesome support, they help therapists manage their bookkeeping, taxes, payroll, and more, with affordable monthly and annual plans. They even help therapists set up a bank account, form a business entity, and open a retirement plan. Schedule a free consultation today at joinheard.com/atpp and get your first month for free.
A Thanks to Our Sponsor, The Receptionist for iPad!
I would also like to thank The Receptionist for iPad for sponsoring this episode. As you prepare for the new year as a private practice owner, one area of your business where you might be able to level up your client experience is from the moment that they enter your office and check in with you. For many private practices, the client check-in process can be a bit awkward and confusing. Clients often enter into an empty waiting room. And chances are you’re wrapping up a session with someone else, so there’s no way of knowing when they arrive. With a visitor management system like The Receptionist for iPad, you can provide clients with a discreet and secure way to check in for their appointment while instantly being notified of their arrival. What’s more, The Receptionist offers an iPad list check-in option where clients can scan a QR code to check in, which negates the need for you to buy an iPad and stand. Go to thereceptionist.com/privatepractice and sign up for a free 14-day trial. When you do, you’ll get your first month free. And don’t forget to ask about our iPad list check-in option.
I am originally from a small town in South Georgia. I am a southern kind of gal, and that is from Valdosta, Georgia. We actually know our town as Title Town USA. I grew up in a wonderful family. I grew up the my two brothers and parents. During my formative years there were some issues that influenced me to become a therapist. I went to the University of Georgia “Go Bulldogs!”, and later went to grad school to get my counseling degree.
Faith has always been important
But that being said, faith has always been an important part of my life. Even as a child, we were taken to church as kids. I grew up as a Methodist and I actually still am Methodist and I just can’t imagine doing my life without faith. I can’t imagine doing my work without faith. I’m gonna guess that you feel the same way or you wouldn’t be listening to this podcast.
It’s a vital part of our lives, and it has been my entire life. I’ve obviously had some ups and downs like most people have, where I’ve questioned my faith. I’ve wondered about the existence of God. I’ve wondered how all these things work, but ultimately, I come back around finding that as my solid foundation.
I grew up in a Methodist church, and then when I went to college, I went to the Wesley Foundation, which is the campus ministry for Methodist at the University of Georgia, and had a fantastic experience being there. That was when I started to question my calling, wondering what is my purpose?
What am I here for? What kind of legacy do I want to leave in the world?
Mentors were an important part of my journey. I realized that I wanted to be a therapist. I actually first thought I was going to be, Like a youth minister or do some kind of ministry. I toured a few seminaries to try to figure that out, and it was through that process, but I was like, I don’t think that’s for me. And my mentor at the time was in graduate school to become a counselor, and that just seemed right in line with my giftings and what I wanted to do. I’d had a lot of people tell me that I had a gift for wisdom and putting things together and words of encouragement.
Deciding to be a therapist
I thought, Okay, I’m going to go to school and become a therapist. And as a therapist I am going to change the world! change the world. Honestly, I probably wanted to give to the world what I wish I had had when I was younger. I decided I wanted to do counseling and had to start picking programs. And because faith is such a vital part of my life, I wanted to go to a program that had a great mix between faith and clinical work.
I went to a small private school called Richmont Graduate University. There’s a location in Atlanta and Chattanooga had a fantastic experience in that program. I took the clinical courses alongside some theology courses, and even in the clinical classes, they intermingled theological concepts focused a lot on our own spiritual growth.
I totally changed as a person in the sense of like the way I thought of therapy, honestly, I thought. I was going to fix all my clients and that everyone was going to find Jesus through me and you know, was going to save the world or something like that. And I really humbled myself. One thing that I really walked away from was this idea that it’s Christ’s work. So that was a great experience at Richmond, and then I moved on. After that and graduated, and I was already married at the time.
We moved to Denver while my husband was in seminary. It is a fantastic place to be. In fact, there’s no roaches, hardly any mosquitoes. The weather’s wonderful, and we had such a great experience there. So, I worked at a psychiatric hospital. It was the only place I could find a job while he was in seminary, getting his master’s at Divi. And so, I worked there for four years.
Talk about hitting the ground running after graduating! I was training hard, earning my hours, seeing all the things, and it was a great experience for me. I felt like it was foundational for my clinical development and ability to take on the hard stuff and move on. I had some great friendships from there.
After that my husband applied for jobs and he ended up getting a job here in Savannah, Georgia. If you haven’t heard of it, you need to look it up. It’s a fantastic place to live. My husband said, “Boy, if we can live in Denver and Savannah in our lifetime, we’re doing pretty good.”
We live in Savannah, Georgia. I’ve been here since 2014. When we got here my husband started working at a Methodist church. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I applied for as many jobs as I could. I thought that having worked at a psychiatric hospital, they have a sister facility here. I thought maybe that would work out. But they never offered me a job. Come to find out they were just disorganized! They did not see my information.
God has a way of working things out
But doesn’t God have a way of working things out. Because I didn’t get a job there. I looked at the other Christian places in town. When I moved to Savannah, I posted on social media. A friend of mine from graduate school was from here and he saw it and he contacted me.
His name is Jimbo. So, Jimbo and I got lunch, and he is an amazing guy and we realized that we both had similar views of clinical work and of our faith-based work. And he was looking for an opportunity to get some separate space from where he was. And he said, “Let’s do this together.”
We opened an office space and I thought “This is great.” We partnered with a church that was right here by our office, and we rented an upstairs floor of a beautiful historic blue building here in a very well-known area in Savannah. It’s in the midtown or in between downtown and midtown area. That’s how I started.
Unfortunately, with the transfer from Denver here to Savannah the state of Georgia did not recognize my license. I applied and tried to get it. They wanted me to go back and get supervision. I had to go back. They required a whole additional year of supervision, even though I’d already met all the requirements for the state of Georgia.
I could not take insurance in my practice. I had to take cash. Which is what I had been doing when I had a private practice in Colorado. It wasn’t all that different, but I was very nervous about living in a new place, not having a lot of connections, and now trying to build a cash pay private practice.
Thankfully Jimbo was a big help to me at the beginning and slowly started building a case. During this time, I had my second child while running my private practice. I was always working very part-time, maybe 15 to 20 clients a week. We weren’t like making bank or anything, but it was enough for my family.
Now the practice is growing
I had my second baby in 2016. Those were my two girls. Then I came back from maternity leave and the practice was just growing. Word of mouth was spreading. I did create my website back then. It was okay. I was always like laughing when people would call and be like, “Oh my gosh, Whitney, your website’s great.” And I’m like, “Seriously?” I made that. It’s not that great. Later, I had someone create a website for me and then that really helped.
So with all the great word of mouth I started running a wait list. I’d sit at my desk and I’d have that post-it note of all those names, trying to fit people in, filling in openings.
It was stressful time. There were so many things going on. I didn’t really know what I was doing. It was at that point I decided I really need a coach. I need someone to help me do this. And around that same time, I started feeling kind of an urgency (or maybe leaning of the spirit, however you want to call it) to start a group practice.
I was nervous, I was unsure. I didn’t know my next steps. I really knew that I needed to start a group practice, and I knew that hiring a coach was going to be part of that process. So of course, I tried to run away from that as much as I could. Just like Jonah did and repeatedly. I ended up hiring a coach. I was looking for someone with a faith-based component to the way they did their coaching, and I could not find that out there. Eventually I ended up hiring someone that wasn’t necessarily a faith-based coach, and it was super helpful in me starting my group practice.
I participated in coaching for two years. This gave me a really good foundation in my group practice. I’m just here to say, if you are thinking about starting a group practice, and if you’ve ever thought about coaching, that is the time to get coaching. There’s a lot of times in your practice you can get it, but when you start a group practice, you do not want to make mistakes and later down the line regret it.
Its time to start a group practice
I knew “I’m definitely going to start a group practice.” So, I hired my first clinician in January of 2000. I hired my second March of 2018. It was a contractor model because at the time that seemed like the easiest thing to do. No one was really talking about W2 employees back then. By the time I got to November, I lost both of my therapists, for different reasons.
But I can tell you that losing those therapists was so discouraging. It made me rethink my decisions to start a group practice and my calling to it. I thought to myself, “If I start a group practice, not only will I financially help myself and my family, but I can provide more quality care in the city, and that is so important for clients.” So in November of 2018, I hired my first W2 employee, Lisa, and she is still with me today. It’ll be four years next month. So, I’m just really grateful for her. She’s so fantastic. She’s really walked the journey with me. Then I hired my next W2 employees. I hired two more employees just three months after that.
I’m sitting at three or four clinicians and it was a lot of extra activity and work! I did not have an assistant. I was taking all those calls myself and that was just craziness.
I’ve learned a little bit about the importance of hiring an assistant. I hired an assistant in July of 2018. She was with me as well and was a huge support for many years for me as I was growing my practice. I started hiring clinicians and it’s really gone from there.
I’ve been super blessed, and God has done so much in my own life through my practice. I feel like being a leader is an opportunity for us to be changed. Serving is just a wonderful experience and it’s very humbling.
So here, I’m recording this podcast, October 2022. Watershed Counseling currently has 11 therapists and two admin staff. I still am a private pay faith-based practice. We are like family. We love being together, and as you join me on this podcast, I will tell you tons about my practice because I couldn’t be happier.
I love all of them. I love the work we do and all the fun things we do. In fact, just in two weeks from today, we’re going to do our murder mystery night where we hang out at our building. Honestly, because it’s a really cool building. We’re going to do different characters and have a dinner, and we have to figure out who the murder is. It’s really fun to see therapists dress up and be silly.
We have expanding our therapy space over the years. At first I was in two offices. And then we expanded to the downstairs of the building when someone moved out. And then recently we expanded to a building next door. I technically have three addresses, but it’s two buildings right beside each other. We have 12 offices.
Whitney Owens Consulting Begins!
As I kind of was growing my practice, I was really feeling a tug, just kind of the same way I did to start a group practice to do consulting for faith-based practice owners. And yet again, it was something that I really ran away from because in my mind there’s so many consultants out there doing this work. And let me tell you what seemed like a lot of work, starting a consulting business. I was not looking forward to creating another website, doing all the things that needed to be done.
In 2019 I ended up started doing some consulting as a contractor under another organization. And I did that for several years and I actually had a podcast through that called The Faith and Practice Podcast, which you maybe have heard me on. So, if you did, well done Gold Star for you. And now you found me on this podcast. So now you get to hear me again cuz I’m back. There’s my shout out for the Faith and Practice podcast.
I ended up leaving that organization in April due to some differences in values and kind of direction that I wanted to go in. And now I am officially Whitney Owens Consulting and doing a separate thing.
I want to share a little bit about that experience of deciding to become a consultant. I was on a walk and just looking at the water, the mountains, and all the beauty. I sensed this grandness and bigness. I don’t even have a good word for it. It was just overwhelming to see this and be humbled by it. And it was at that moment that I really felt impressed on my heart. The story of Mary and Martha, and I am a Martha. I am busy doing all the. And I was reminded of the part where Jesus says, “You know, Martha, you’re doing all these things, but Mary is doing the greater thing.” Now in that story, the greater thing that Mary is doing is sitting at the feet of Jesus.
But I think that the Lord has a way of taking passages, scriptures, things people say, and impressing them on our hearts and new ways for things he has for us. And it was impressed on my heart that I was spending so much time thinking about my practice, that what I really needed to be doing was consulting faith-based practice owners.
I am honored to be a part of the journey with each of you. As I have the opportunity to work with each of you, you have the opportunity to do great things. For example, I know someone who just recently was starting a course for women with anxiety, with faith-based background. There are other faith-based people doing amazing courses, summits, cool stuff.
Moving Forward with Whitney Owens
So let me share a little bit about where I am now. I have Whitney Owens Consulting. I am going to be hosting a summit in October of 2023 for faith-based practice owners. I would love for you to be there. We’re going to have things specifically focused on you. It’s going to be basically business consulting, with a twist of faith. I just think there’s so something so valuable when I’m in a group of faith-based practice owners and we feel comfortable talking about Jesus. We could talk about the ways we see God move in our lives. That’s not always as acceptable in other places. I want to create a community where you feel accepted and loved without judgment to be able to talk about the way that God is moving and the things he’s doing in your life.
I also run a membership community called the Wise Practice Community or Wise Practice Membership. So you can learn more about that on the website as well.
So here it is. And I really appreciate that you’re along with me for the journey.
You could also find me on Instagram, Whitney Owens Consulting. You find me on Facebook. I have a group for faith-based practice owners that’s totally free on Facebook. You can connect with other faith-based practice owners, get resources, and ask questions. I’m active in that community. I’d love to hang out with you in there.
And remember, if you listen to this episode (or reading this blog!) and you’re thinking, “Whitney’s awesome, I want more people to hear about this podcast” please give me a rating and a review. I personally go on there and read those. They mean the world to me, and I would love to hear from you.
In this episode, Lisa Mustard shares the story of how she started her podcast and the importance of connecting with an audience through different channels. Tune in to hear her discuss educator certification, burnout, networking, and staying grounded as she expands the reach of her podcast.
Meet Lisa Mustard
Lisa is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in South Carolina. She is also a wife to Billy, mama to two daughters, puppy wrangler, lover of health, wellness, and fitness, and a personal development junkie.
Lisa started her podcast because she was bored with the traditional modes of continuing education and professional development. She yearned for convenient education that was fun, interesting, inspiring, helpful, and easily accessible anywhere, anytime. And she couldn’t find what she was looking for, so she created it. When Lisa is not podcasting or seeing clients, she is at the gym, on a run or walk, spending time with her family, or wrangling the lovable yet incorrigible Lulu, Australian Shepherd/Pitbull puppy.
Starting Your Podcasting Career
Educating mental health professionals through podcasting is powerful because it allows them to access information beyond a conference setting. At the beginning of her podcasting career, Lisa completed courses through The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Although certification is also possible at the state level, the NBCC is a better option because it allows educators to maximize their impact by reaching a more comprehensive range of audiences.
Making Progress and Overcoming Obstacles
Do not expect your final product to be perfectly polished for the first few episodes of your podcast career. Instead, focus on interviewing people that you find interesting. Although you may hit a wall after 20 or so episodes, if you can push through and remember why you love what you do, the work comes more smoothly. You will learn a lot and improve your work by staying consistent and keeping up your energy.
The Value of Your Network
For Lisa, marketing and web design were significant concerns when she started her podcast because she worked with limited resources. Thankfully, her professional network was able to refer her to people who could help with SEO, websites, and other specialized help. Networking is valuable because it is rewarding to see like-minded individuals with similar goals empower their community by supporting each other’s professional endeavors. Finding a mentor to work alongside is also highly beneficial.
Supplementing Your Podcast by Engaging With Listeners Online
Once you are comfortable producing episodes, you will want to increase your engagement with your audience by diversifying your outreach methods. To build more meaningful engagement with your audience, consider establishing a quality website, maintaining an email list, and offering other avenues of communication. Offering one-on-one coaching and a quiz for listeners seeking individualized growth beyond the podcast makes Lisa’s brand especially engaging.
Protecting Your Priorities as a Podcaster
Instead of striving for a perfect work-life balance, aim to identify your priorities. For many in the field, work may encroach upon values such as health and family. To protect your wellness, come up with three non-negotiable items to incorporate into your lifestyle (such as movement or rest) daily to track your contribution to your priorities. Setting time to reconnect with family, putting down the phone, and remembering what truly matters will help keep everything in perspective.
When your ideal clients search for your therapy services online, are they able to find you?
In this episode of the Private Practice Elevation Podcast, you’ll learn all about The SEO Basecamp Live Training Group – our 7-week class for private practice owners who want to create and implement an SEO strategy that gets them more traffic and clients.
After working and speaking with scores of clients about their SEO, I’ve seen a typical pattern, and it often goes like this:
Your website has been created and you’re ready to market your services to the world!
However, when you look at the analytics (if you have them) you can see that people just aren’t showing up to the website.
So you wonder, “how can I get more clients if no one even knows I exist?”
So, after doing a bit of research and talking to colleagues, you learn that SEO (search engine optimization) is what you need to do in order to attract traffic to your website and create a steady flow of new clients in your business.
So you start learning what you can about optimizing your website through YouTube, podcasts, and blog posts.
And that’s when the confusion sets in.
Which keywords should I use? Where exactly do I put them? What content do I need on my website and how do I even write that stuff so Google finds it?
After some time, you’ve pieced some of this SEO stuff together but you’re not entirely sure whether you’ve done it right, missed a step, or if you’re on the right track.
You’re kinda just doing what everyone is suggesting but you’re not sure how it all fits together.
So you’re left wondering if clients will ever be able to find you and whether getting new clients from Google each month just may be a pipe dream.
Does this sound familiar?
If so, I want to let you know about The SEO Basecamp Live Training Group.
The SEO Basecamp Live is a 7-week, small group training, consisting of video training and live implementation classes.
Over the course of 7 weeks, I’ll give you access to the exact SEO process we use at Private Practice Elevation to help our clients set up the foundational SEO elements that will get them more organic traffic and clients.
If you want to know more about how to create a roadmap for your SEO strategy and how to get more clients from your website, listen to this episode or simply visit the enrollment page here.