I get many people asking about my internet advertising and what they need to do as therapists to start an online presence. An online presence means what people can find out about you online andwhat comes up in search engines.
Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn– all these are free. They are great for finding colleagues, friends, family and networking. They each have a different interfacing, which means you get to chose what you like. Also, you can link them together. Example: My twitter is linked with both my Facebook and LinkedIn so when I post a link to my webpage, all of them get the link (and I don’t have to log into each one to post it). Just remember to post something either once a week or once a day to get noticed. Add local businesses and business people to get your name out there.
Sign up for Google Places. They’re also free. They send you a postcard with instructions. It’s important because it’ll come up higher on search results and it may get you business. I’ve had someone tell me that it’s the only person listed as an art therapist in my area, even though there are many others.
A little more Advanced
Sign up for free listings, i.e. Patch.com, alltherapy.com, wellness.com, allaboutcounseling.com, healthgrades.com, etc. There are probably many in your area that you can find by looking up your colleagues names.
Sign up for low cost listings, i.e. PsychologyToday.com. Be warned. PsychologyToday charges a low cost for their listings; however, their billing is not in the U.S. and you may get an extra charge every month called an International Fee.
Webpage. Each website needs a domain (.com, .org), servers, and web design. You can get them all in one spot or choose to buy a domain from one place (cheapnames or godaddy) and have it on server/hosting somewhere else (but that’s more complicated). For web design, I love WordPress’s interface. It’s so easy for me to use. Other people use WebSite Tonight or others that come with their domain/server.
Lately, I’ve noticed that websites like blogspot.com are creating more of a webpage design for their hosted blogs. This is free– but it’ll look like: yourchosenname.blogspot.com. However, this is offered through google and easy to set up, especially if you have a google account. And you can set up as many as you want!
Google also offers GoogleSites, which is what my supervisor uses (here’s the link– it’ll open in another window: Schaperow’s Google Site)
Business cards: people still use them. They want your email, phone number and web address so that colleagues and clients can find you.
If you are a part of a group practice, make sure that you are added to their group website, if there is one. It makes it easier to find you. Plus, if they are a well established group, it’ll be good for you to make sure you are connected with them.
If you want to understand the flow of your traffic and where the visitors of your webpage are coming from (i.e. search engine or Facebook link) then sign up for Google Analytics. It’s another free service.
Make sure to use only your business address when signing up for anything.
Make sure the companies don’t sell or give your info to other sites, including your billing address. Example: Hipaaspace.com including my billing address and cell phone number. I had to change it through the NPI website so that those are no longer listed.
Do a google search of your name or last name OFTEN. You are allowed to remove anything from any website that includes your name and address. If you are not sure how to remove your info, search for a guide, sometimes it’s articles about removal are hidden in the FAQ. There are lots of people who do not want their personal information out there.
This has to be done every few months so your personal info is kept off the internet
Luckily, people have compiled a list and opt-out links– GeekoSystem.com
When you are on Facebook and other sites, post some professional pictures and very few non-work photos. When I first started, I checked with a friend to make sure that pictures of me painting were OK to post, just to make sure I had a professional presents online. And for art therapists, yes, pictures of some paintings or you painting are completely fine. Avoid anything too personal that you would not want your potential clients to see.
Some professionals have chosen to keep personal social networking profiles under other names (such as nicknames or maiden names). This is something to take into consideration if you want to keep your friends and family members away from clients and colleagues.
Get the free social network sites first, link accounts, and connect with people in your area.
List yourself free on websites. Get a website with a domain and server/hosting abilities. Get a website design platform that you like.
Buy cards. Make sure to link with other people who are in your practice.
Take your online presents and personal information to heart and make sure you appear as professional as can be.
Next, I’ll write about what to have on your site as a therapist.