Ok my lovely therapists, we need to have a talk.
It’s about your websites
… and headshots
Don’t worry! I am not trying to criticize or make anyone feel ashamed. I am coming to you with the genuine desire to help your business grow and help your current clients feel confident about sending your info to their friends.
I completely get that we’re therapists, so we’re not walking around with wads of cash falling out of our pockets, and technology can be intimidating. We spend our time learning the delicate inner workings of the human PSYCHE, who’s got time to learn technology? But we need it, we’re being tragically left behind. Our websites look like they were made in 2009 and our headshots look like a photo a friend took on a hike one day when our hair looked kind of nice. Don’t even get me started on the Psychology Today headshots … we can do better than this.
I’ve outlined some steps below that hopefully give you a place to start, and will link to some real website examples at the end plus some great resources along the way.
I know that the world of navigating websites and technology can be super overwhelming. Often times someone put up a website 10 years ago and was so relieved to get it over with that they have barely looked at it since then. Do you really need a great website? No, you’ll probably still get clients and referrals. But if you want more clients or you want a professional presence in your community, a modern and attractive website helps.
You have two options - either pay someone to build it for you, or build one yourself. It does take some time to learn how to do this stuff, but time is the price you’re paying versus money. If you would prefer to spend money, there are tons of great website designers, from solo designers trying to make a living, to giant companies built to design the website of your dreams.
Pay For Help
Humble Design Studio - if you’re looking for great quality but can’t spend tons of cash. She is offering so much value for very low cost.
Marks and Maker - if you’re ready to start taking your practice to the next level, and need some really on-point branding and strategy help, Melinda is your person. She works really well with people who are struggling to find clarity and direction with their branding. Super responsive and smart.
Creative Lady Directory - a great directory in you are looking for anything from logos to graphics to websites to knowing how those high profile instagram accounts got so dang good looking
If you pick build your own, and want to DIY some website action, here are some guides:
You will pick a website host and platform. Likely many of you are using Wordpress or GoDaddy because they’re on the cheaper side. I think Squarespace is far and away the best choice for a build-your-own website. They have a gorgeous platform, easy to learn, and it’s very well organized. Their templates to choose from are modern and lovely. They are only slightly more expensive, around $18/month.
The way to think about a build-your-own website is like being at a restaurant. You can choose something off the menu, and maybe ask them to tweak it a little, but you can’t edit everything. Like if you’re at an Italian restaurant, you can’t order sushi. I can make this heading blue, and this heading green, but I can’t make 5 different color headings. If you pay a web builder, it’s like hiring a private chef. You can have anything you want, but it will cost more.
A domain name is your website name. Like this site is www.becomingatherapist.org. You can buy a domain name from Squarespace SO easily, it’s like buying candy. If you bought a domain off of GoDaddy, or something similar, you can transfer the domain to a new web platform. I’m going to be honest, this is a pain in the ass. It’s possible, but I hate doing it. So just prepare for that. A domain off of a cheap website like GoDaddy is $8/year, at Squarespace it’s $20/year. Buy the more expensive option!!! It’s only $20/year for your SANITY.
Some people fear that if they get a new website and domain name, no one will find them easily. Here’s the harsh reality - unless you have a banging website, no one is finding you anyway. Just get the new domain. If you love your current domain name, just set aside some time and patience to figure this out, or pay someone to do it.
I could spend a week talking about website content. There are several different approaches. Some take a polished, professional approach. Some take a more casual approach. I like a casual approach because that’s more who I am. Whatever your approach, it’s a good idea to write in client language, meaning words that will make sense to them. Here are words clients don’t use: interpersonal, relational, psychodynamic. I would even argue that clients don’t use words like healing, journey, path, embrace, or emotional intimacy when they are starting out on their healing emotional intimacy journey. They just know they’re frantic and upset.
Clients are looking at websites to see if you get them, not so that they can get you. Repeat this to yourself. I don’t think any of my clients even care about my education background or why I use EFT. They don’t care that I love dogs and the outdoors. They just want to know if I understand their pain and anger and confusion. An exception to this is if your pain journey relates to their pain journey. I’ve seen people artfully describe some of their own history in a professional way, so clients can connect with them.
Where this conversation really goes is towards branding and marketing, which are topics so deep and wide that there are hundreds of books written on each. It depends how far into this world you want to go. Your visuals and written content on your website are essentially communicating your branding. This is the point where some of you might be feeling really overwhelmed. DON’T PANIC.
I happen to be totally fascinated by branding and marketing so I spend a lot of free time learning about it. But you’ll do just fine if you couldn’t care less about all that stuff and just build a basic, attractive website.
I’ve been relatively chill and flexible up to this point, right? Here is where I get demanding - you need to have an updated, professionally done, high-resolution photo on your website. Your headshot should be updated every 2-5 years. It drives me crazy when I see pictures that were clearly not taken by a professional, or are low-resolution (WHYYY?????). To me it just sends the message - I don’t care about this. Oh wait, you’re a relaxed free-spirit who doesn’t want to look like a stuffy attorney? You still need a professional photo! You can TOTALLY get a picture that captures your free-spirit - and it will look like you put some thought into it. I particularly love Katie K. May’s photos on her website The Group Guru. I also think she’s doing some badass therapy stuff, but besides this point. She’s got cool purple hair! She’s got tattoos! She likes crystals! And she’s got some really nicely done images to show that.
I’d plan to spend $100 - $300 on some photos depending where you live. The hard part is that you won’t know if you like them beforehand. So it is a little gamble. If you google or look on instagram for photographers in your area, you can generally get an idea of what styles you like. I knew I didn’t want anything cheezy or soft-focused-maternity-style, so I found someone whose photos I loved even though he didn’t have much portrait stuff on his page, and reached out.
Ok, I will concede - if you are totally broke and queasy at the idea of spending money on this, get a friend with an iPhone who can take a photo in Portrait mode, and see how those turn out. It might be fine. But if you run your own practice and are making a living, this is a worthy investment.
I know I’m asking you to take in a lot with this. I’ve been learning about website building and branding for a long time now, so pace yourself. My hope is that this post helps you get started, and help it feel more do-able.
Here are some websites to check out:
www.wesleyannelittle.com - this is mine. I’m doing a total website overhaul and re-brand in a couple weeks, but I still love this version. When I designed this, I wanted it to convey the words: Happy, Approachable, Inclusive
www.georgfaller.com - I designed and built this website. I think this is an example of a more professional tone. The words I thought of were Professional, Dynamic, Expert
www.suntiasmith.com - I’m obsessed with her main photo (called a Banner Image in the website world). It’s joyful, beautiful, professional, and seems totally welcoming.
www.wilkmazz.com - This is an example of when you pay the big bucks for something truly exceptional. Also a great example of how to write content and how to brand. I saw this website and immediately wanted to hire them. Why aren’t all lawyers doing this??