Beware the 10-Minute Therapy Site! Why You Should Avoid the Cookie-Cutter Route to a Private Practice Website
When you’re just starting out as a private practice therapist, you’re on a budget. You know you need some type of website, but you just can’t see shelling out thousands of dollars to have a site designed and written from scratch. And then there are the hosting fees.
I’d be willing to bet that you’ve caught yourself Googling “free therapy websites.”
Hey, no judgment here. But if you happened to click on one of the first results, following a link promising a free trial of a quick and easy therapy site builder, I hope you’ll think twice before signing up.
I won’t be giving you a list of 10 reasons, or 5 reasons, or even 3. There is only one reason to stay away from this type of site-building service, and it’s a really, really good reason:
A website that looks and sounds like every other therapist’s website is a waste of your time and money.
Your therapy website needs to be tailored specifically to your practice. Why? Because your site has to accomplish these goals:
Convey your unique therapeutic voice, so that prospective clients quickly feel comfortable with you. (This requires your own words, not a pre-written text about “how therapy works.”)
Speak the language of your clients. (Instead of long lists of modalities and credentials, your site must address the specific needs of your clients in the language they use.)
Be memorable by making your clients feel something—relaxed, reassured, or hopeful. (It’s likely that they looked at the websites of a dozen other therapists that day. If those sites all had similar words and generic designs, your website has to stand out, both visually and emotionally.)
It’s understandable that you’d be tempted by the ease and convenience of a template therapy site. It takes time and energy to build a website yourself, and it seems like a pretty good deal to just select a site off the assembly line and let the hosting company handle the details. I get it. But I really don’t want you to take this route. Here’s why:
If you spend 10 minutes selecting a prefab template with auto-fill therapy text, and all you change is your name and phone number, your ideal client will not be able to find you. You’ll be lost in the swamp of so many other therapists who have fallen into the convenience trap. And at around $59/month for hosting (after that free initial month), you’re not getting much of a return on that investment.
You’d be better off paying half that monthly amount to GoodTherapy.org, spending a few minutes completing a profile there—or alternately, paying for a Psychology Today profile—and then linking from that to your own site. You can set up an easily-tweaked template at Squarespace.com for a few extra dollars a month, with your own unique text and images, and still come in under the $59 monthly price tag.
Did you already set up a prefab website? Here's what you should do next.
Other than checking the fine print on the agreement you signed, here’s what I would advise. Spend more than 10 minutes customizing the text on that site. Talk directly to your ideal client about the pain he or she is facing right now, without hype or fear-based manipulation, and how you can help. Say the things to that prospective client that you would say in person.
Every extra minute you spend in thoughtfully crafting your website text will result in an extra minute or two that a new client spends on your site—and that’s relationship-building.
Put at least as much thought and care into your website as you’ve put into setting up your therapy office. I’m willing to bet that you’ll see a difference in the quantity and quality of self-referrals.
Want more writing advice for your therapy site? Go back to the full list of articles.