If you’re reading this, you already know how long the road is to getting your license. And even once you get your license, it’s really just the beginning. Don’t forget about constantly improving your skills or building and maintaining a business.
If you’re planning on starting a private practice, it’s really never too early to start thinking about how you’re going to do it and start taking some action. One thing you may want to start thinking about is your website. Why? Because it takes a long time.
When a website goes live, even if it’s the best design in the world, it’s really just sitting in the middle of a desert alone. Unless you find a way to bring people to it, it’s worthless.
One way to bring people to your website is through paid advertising. But, as a student, how can you afford to pay for advertising? And you might be better off waiting until you actually have a service to provide.
Another way is by people finding you through search engines. How do you do that? By creating original, useful content. As a student, this is the path I recommend for a number of reasons:
As a student, all you do is write papers. You turn them in, and then they sit on your hard drive, never to be seen again. Why don’t you reuse some of your assignments by turning them into blog posts?
A lot of your assignments have some flexibility to them. If you have a blog, you can keep it in mind when choosing a topic for your paper: “What topic will fulfill the assignment and be relevant to the readers of my blog?”
Time is limited, especially as a graduate student. Make the most of it by killing two birds with one stone.
When someone types a search term into Google, the search engine works really hard to bring the user the best possible information. Google does this by finding content relevant to the keyword and from a source that is trusted.
How do you earn Google’s trust?
First, you do it by having an aged domain. With all things equal, the longer a domain has been in service, the more Google trusts it. Even if you’re not going to build a site yet, buying and sitting on your domain isn’t a bad idea.
You also do it by writing content on a consistent basis. Google loves a website that’s growing.
Another way is by getting links to your website from other relevant websites. This is called link building. When Google sees a link on another website that leads to your website, it’s almost like a job reference. Google looks at how relevant and influential that reference is. If it’s a highly trusted reference, you just got some more trust points from Google!
Just like any relationship, trust takes time. Why not start building it today?
BBS regulations are a big concern to many students, as they should be. And when building a website, you should use caution to make sure you’re not misleading anyone into believing you provide psychotherapy services.
I recommend reviewing your Law and Ethics course material, consulting with a professor or supervisor, reviewing CAMFT advertising guidelines, and contacting a CAMFT attorney to make sure your website doesn’t cross any legal or ethical boundaries.
Also, avoid offering advice on your website. Whether a student or a licensed professional, giving advice online should always be avoided. Instead, keep a research, “this is what I’ve found,” focus to your blog.
If you believe all you need to do when you get your license is throw up a website, and your private practice will be up and running, you might be in for an unpleasant surprise. Start thinking of ways you can maximize your time as a student that will benefit your future business. I think a blog is great way to do that.
I am all for creating a website as a grad student, but I keep going back and forth about wether the content should be focused to one area. For example, do I limit my blog to those considering counseling or can I include a myriad of topics to include motherhood, military spouse topics (I’m a mil spouse), and fellow counseling students. Is having a blog that is too broad or too focused a concern, especially when just starting out?