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Your Journey From Clinical To Online Income

“Don't be afraid of your fears. They're not there to scare you. They're there to let you know that something is worth it.”
― C. JoyBell C.

Hi there! Welcome especially if this is your first time on the Selling The Couch blog.

You're in the right place if you're an aspiring or current mental health private practitioner and want to learn what's working for successful private practitioners.

 

You're also in the right place if you're ready to expand your career beyond the walls of the therapy room and create multiple income streams(courses, books, podcasting income, etc) while serving on a larger scale.

And you’re most definitely in the right place if you want to build a career where family, relationships, and self care are equally important as business success.

My goal is simple:

  • Share valuable wisdom from successful practitioners
  • Share my successes and failures as a psychologist innovating beyond the therapy room to podcasting, online courses, masterminds, writing online, speaking, etc.
  • Do this ethically and with kindness, sincerity, and respect to our profession and those we serve.

I shot a video in a fancy coffee shop a few years ago (before the gray hairs!) to share my dream with Selling The Couch.

 

watch the fancy coffee shop video

changing the definition of private practice

“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”
― Stephen King

STC is a place where we can expand the definition of what it means to be a mental health private practitioner.

Most of us as therapists don’t have formal business or marketing training.

And those of us who go into private practice are brought up with the idea that we must work “in our business” to make income.

In other words, we see our clients, we get paid. We don't see our clients, we don't get paid.

And, even if you’re a group practice owner, there’s a certain space that your employees and admin stuff fills in your mind that can still make it feel like “trading time for income.”

While trading time for income is a great way to get started, it depends on several things we can't always control:

  • Our health
  • Weather
  • Cancellations and terminations

AN INCREDIBLE TIME TO BE A THERAPIST

Fortunately, we live in an amazing time in history. We can use the internet to create products and services to help others on a global scale.

I'll be honest.

These products take planning, hard work, and time especially at the beginning.

And I’ve learned that there are no “shortcuts” to success (I know that differs from the advice we often see online, but just wanted to be real as someone who's in the arena doing this).

But they are “scalable” meaning that, long term, they don't require us to trade time to make income.

Examples include writing a book that sells on Amazon or an online course that brings in sales while you’re in session, resting, or travel.

Thinking of our careers in this way leads to more of our world being helped.

It creates multiple income streams, minimize burnout, and invest deeper in the clients we work with in the therapy room.

And most of all, it allows us to prioritize things that equally matter like our loved ones and time for self care.

Below you’ll a step by step roadmap to go from clinical to online income and impact.

step 1a:  Build a website

 

As therapists in private practice, most of us know how important having a website is.

Think of a website like a digital business card.

But the truth is you can get away without a website in private practice especially if you have an insurance-based practice.

But having one is absolutely essential once you start going from clinical to online income.

There are a few reasons for this.

First, we want people interested in our products and services to land on digital real estate that we own vs rented real estate like a social media channel.

This way, we’re not at the mercy of an algorithm.

I learned this the hard way in 2018 when Meta changed the reach of Facebook groups.

At 5000 members, the STC community  went from every post being seen by everyone to a 62% drop on engagement literally overnight.

I kept thinking about the hours and hours I had put in to built the community only to get impacted by something I had no control over.

Instead, build a “good enough” website.

I put together a free guide to help you build your website.

I would recommend SiteGround for website hosting and Divi  for the website builder (it’s what I use for both this blog and my private practice website).  If you like this “Squarespace” look here on this blog, I'm using a theme called Phoenix (you can find it in the Divi store)

Step 1b: Create an email list

I’ve found that our most loyal fans (and best buyers) are on our email list.

So my humble recommendation after you build your site is to create an email list as soon as possible.

There are 8 million options out there for email marketing, and there are two main paths you can go down thinking about this.

The first is to piece meal it together and keep costs low.

If that’s you, I would recommend ConvertKit for your email list and Teachable for your online course.

If you’re thinking, “Mel…I know I want to build an online course, membership site, do talks, write a book, etc. and don’t want the hassle of different pieces of software,” I would recommend going with an all-in-one platform at the start.

It’s a tad more expensive, but you can have everything for your online business in one place.

And you can avoid the hassle of moving everything over.

We’ve been using Kartra since 2019 and have generally been happy with it ( use the word generally because I'm learning that there's no perfect platform – all have their quirks).

Basically, we can send emails, create membership sites, online courses, etc. all within Kartra.

Check out kartra (free trial through this link)

Step 2: thoughtfully Pick a social platform

Now you might be wondering, “Mel..why do I have to pick a social media platform?”

Ramit Sethi talks about “going where the fish are.”

Simply put:

We want to go where people are already hanging out especially those interested in your online course, book, membership site, or services.

Before I make some recommendations, I wanted to share two terms that are helpful to know.

Discovery platforms: These are social media channels but also include Google search.

Relationship deepening platforms: These are platforms where people hang out with you and get to know you at a deeper level.

Having sold over $600k of stuff online since 2015, I found that your fans on relationship deepening platforms are often your future buyers.

My favorites are podcasting, Podcasting, YouTube, blogging, and email list.

The goal: Use discovery platforms for people to find you.

Take loyal fans to relationship deepening platforms.

Take the most loyal fans from both to your email list.

Be helpful first, but also invite your most loyal fans to products and services.

Photo by Alexander Shatov on Unsplash
LinkedIn-Screenshot

Step 3: Start With LinkedIn

Why LinkedIn (vs. Tik Tok, Instagram, etc)?

First, I find the audience there is wanting to learn and invest.

Second, I find it a kinder place compared to other platforms.

Third, you can create a variety of media there from writ a kind place compared to other platforms.

Second, I find it a kinder place compared to other platforms.

Third, you can create a variety of media there from written content to video that let’s you practice your skills.

Fourth, there are companies and employees of companies there (for future partnerships)

Finally, in early 2024, LinkedIn opened up their platform to Google.

In other words, posts that you make on LinkedIn show up in Google search results.

CONNECT WITH MEL ON LINKEDIN

Step 4: Add A Podcast

Next, add in a relationship deepening platform because we want to take our most loyal fans from “I know and like you” to “I trust you and want to buy from you.”

A reminder that podcasting, YouTube, blogging, and an email list are what I consider relationship deepening platforms.

The one challenge with deepening platforms is that they’re not great for quick traffic.

That’s why I suggested starting on LinkedIn first so that you have a place to share your relationship deepening content.

I would recommend podcasting for most therapists especially if you’ve built a successful therapy practice and are moving toward being a thought leader (e.g., future speaking, books, courses, retreats, etc.).

First, podcasting is a natural extension of what we do in the therapy room and an extension of our skillset.

Second, podcasting is platform agnostic. This basically means that a podcast is distributed to Apple Podcasts, Spotify, etc. so you’re not at the mercy of one platform.

This, most podcasts are around 20-30 minutes long.

That’s a long time to spend with one-person (imagine how many LinkedIn posts someone would have to read to reach this level).

Put another way, if you listen to podcasts, think about the connection and trust you feel with your favorite podcasters.

Fourth, you can run replays of old episodes on your podcast to take breaks from the content creation treadmill (I only release new episodes 6 months of the year, and the podcast is build around our daughter’s school schedule).

You can also run ads on your own podcast when you need clients or when your online course stuff launches (more on the course stuff below).

Finally, a recent survey by Acast Media found that podcasters are the most trusted media personalities online.

On a personal note, launching the Selling The Couch podcast has been the best decision I’ve made for my career.

It’s allowed me to expand my referral network, build some crazy SEO (as I write this, over 200 websites and 4,300 articles have linked back to the STC blog – to be honest, the STC website was a pretty janky looking website for most of it!).

It’s also allowed me to provide valuable information to help others.

Through a combo of course sales, podcast sponsorship, and mastermind, I’ve been able to exceed by “in office” income (I still see 1-2 clients per week that are very good fits).

We created a free podcasting workshop that’s full of tips and strategies to use podcasting to grow your business.
It’s pre-recorded so you can can sign up for this at a date/time that works for your schedule.

SIGN FOR FOR THE FREE PODCASTING WORKSHOP (HOW TO USE PODCASTING TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS
Melvin Varghese

Step 5: Drive your loyal LinkedIn and Podcast fans to your email list

At this point, we want to invite our most loyal fans to go from “rented” real estate to “owned” real estate.

The email list is that “owned” real estate.

I once heard internet marketing OG Jeff Walker say that, in terms of revenue, an email list is worth 8-10x the number of social media followers.

I’ve found this to be as well for STC.

93% of anything we’ve sold online has come through email.

If you love what you’re reading so far, I would love to have you in our weekly newsletter as well.

It’s trusted by over 3,400 therapist to grow their impact and income beyond the therapy room.

Mel, I’d Love To Sign Up For The STC Newsletter

Step 6: Build Your Online Course

If you’ve built a successful practice, I would highly recommend looking at creating an online course.

This will let you add a scalable asset to your clinical tookkit, one that doens’t require you to trade time for income.

A course can also be helpful for:

  • Someone who’s on your waitlist
  • Someone who’s note quite ready to work with you (or can’t afford your practice fees) but wants a flavor of how you work.
  • Someone who is searching online, wants help, but has no desire to step inside the therapy room.

We’ve worked with over 50 colleagues to launch their online course and have put together a free 7-day email course to validate your course idea (so we can be reasonably sure that it will have buyers).

I think, once you sign up, you’ll be blown away by the quality.

CHECK OUT THE FREE COURSE KIT
picture of Melvin holding his daughter in the NICU

Thanks For Being Here!

I know that there are a lot of options online to learn and grow, and I'm grateful that you would take the time to stop by.

Please consider me a colleague, and more importantly, a friend. I'm all about treating everyone with equal dignity and respect.

Please feel free to email me with your victories and struggles in private practice and entrepreneurship because I want to continue to create quality tools and resources to guide you.

You can also connect with me and over 9000 colleagues from around the world in the STC community and receive support 24-7 (just a heads up, we're a fun and silly bunch =P). It’s an honor to support your private practice journey and wishing you nothing but success =).

~Mel