Have you recently realized word-of-mouth and yellow page advertising are not bringing in the clients they used to? While these marketing methods have traditionally brought in enough clients, today’s therapists need a website.
A website not only lists important information about you, such as your credentials and specialty services offered, it gives you credibility and offers insight to prospective clients on what it would be like to work with you. Think about it, people today won’t trust their car to a mechanic unless that mechanic has a website; they’re certainly not going to trust their mental and emotional health to someone who has no online presence.
If you’ve never created a website before, chances are you feel a bit overwhelmed.
Domains? What’s that?
Content Management System? … Umm…
Yeah, I know you’re catching my drift.
Rest assured, the process is more straightforward than you think. And getting a website up and running really only requires five crucial decisions.
1. Determine Its Purpose
Before you do anything else, you’ve got to determine what you want your website to do. Will it be used simply to provide more information to potential clients about your services and credentials? Will you host informative articles? Will you start a blog to engage the community as part of your social media strategy?
Determining the purpose of your website is a crucial first step and will help you develop it moving forward.
2. Register a Domain Name
You’ll obviously need a domain address for your website. To register a domain name, you’ll need to visit a registrar such as GoDaddy.
You’ll most likely want a domain name that reflects your own. Be aware, however, that at this time, unless you have a very unusual name, your first (and potentially second) choice will already be taken.
GoDaddy will make recommendations should your first choice not be available. Most of the time you will want to ignore these recommendations because they will be in other extensions such as .biz, .info and .co. The saying is “Dot Com is king,” and for that reason, it is recommended you try and secure a .com domain name.
Should you try several variations of your name (BRogers, RogersBarbara, etc.) you may want to switch gears and think of a domain name that focuses on a keyword search a potential client may do.
For instance, “Arizona Therapist” “Rochester Therapy” “Youngstown Therapy.”
Having a keyword domain name can actually help you rank in the search results and be found easily by potential clients.
As you can see, at the time of writing, this domain cost $11.99 through GoDaddy. You can expect to pay a similar amount every year to renew your domain. You also have the option of choosing to pay for multiple years at once, which can often save you money in the long run.
PSST – Included in your Brighter Vision plan is one free domain name.
3. Purchase Web Hosting
Your next step is to determine where you will host your website. If you’ve registered your domain name at GoDaddy, you may want to keep things simple and host your site with them as well.
If you registered your domain with another company that does not offer hosting, you’ll have to host somewhere else such as Hostgator, Bluehost and 1&1.
What does that even mean – hosting a website? Hosting simply refers to the remote location where your website, and all of its related software, will be securely stored and made available to your web visitors.
When choosing where to host your site you’ll want to consider a few things:
- The Reputation of the Company – Check feedback from customers.
- The Bandwidth – How many visitors do you expect to receive on a daily or monthly basis).
- Costs – Often you will pay less if you go with a shared bandwidth package. This means you are sharing bandwidth with other websites. You can always start off with a package like this and, if need be, step up your service in the future and pay for dedicated hosting. However, it is unlikely a therapy website, servicing a targeted, local area of clients, will require much bandwidth.
- Easy and Automatic Installation – In the next step we’ll discuss choosing a content management system (CMS) to organize all of your pages and posts. For now, it’s important to note that, if you’re setting up your website yourself, you’ll want to find a hosting service that will allow you to easily and automatically install your CMS software and update it in the future.
- Backups – Does the hosting company provide backups for you? If not, how will you handle backups?
- Customer Service – Do some research to see what kind of customer support a few hosting companies provide. Is it 24/7? Are representatives based in the United States or oversees? Is phone support available or will you have to open an online ticket to receive email troubleshooting?
PSST – Brighter Vision includes complimentary hosting with your account. We keep 3 backups of your website at all times and have a team dedicated to ensuring our web hosting is fast and reliable.
4. Decide on a CMS
This is a biggie, because choosing the wrong content management system can make building out your website easy or hair-pulling-difficult. There are numerous CMS systems out there, but some of the more popular ones are WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.
WordPress is definitely a popular CMS choice with many small businesses and individual bloggers. Because so many people use this particular system, many developers create visually-pleasing and robust themes and plugins, which can elevate the look and functionality of your website.
Another popular option is Square Space, but there are major limitations since the software is not open source and you are not able to use any plugins.
PSST – All Therapist Websites at Brighter Vision are designed and built on WordPress, so you have the ease of use and flexibility of the best CMS in the world!
5. Develop Your Content
Developing compelling content that conveys information your visitors find helpful and relevant can be challenging. That being said, you have a very good chance at creating awesome content when you follow 3 simple steps:
- Define Your Target Audience – You can’t begin writing until you know exactly who you are writing for. What kind of therapy do you offer and who is your ideal client? Married couples? Teenagers? Baby Boomers? Once you know who you are targeting, you can be sure to use verbiage that speaks directly to them.
- Make Your Content Action Oriented – Your visitors should be encouraged to take action when they read your content. Ultimately you want your phone to ring and appointments to be scheduled, so be sure to include calls-to-action throughout your copy. If you want them to call, include your phone number where they’ll be sure to see it.
- Oh, and Make It Visually Appealing as Well – Be sure to break up chunks of text with visually appealing images. You’ll obviously want a professional and inviting headshot on your home page. Consider including images of the interior and exterior space where you hold your sessions. Also, you may want to have a video or two of you speaking directly to potential clients. This is a great way for people to get a sense of your personality and what it would be like working with you.
As you can see, while work is definitely involved in getting a website up and running, the work is manageable and can be accomplished by following certain logical steps. Of course, if you don’t want to do all of that work (and we don’t blame you!) we can do all of it for you, and the expenses of getting a site up and running are included in your Brighter Vision plan.
If you’d rather focus on helping your patients, get in touch with Brighter Vision today and we’ll get your website up and running in just two weeks.