Websites: the basics

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The following guest post designed for brand new therapists is written by Jenny Hartill. Jenny is a qualified therapist running her own private practice called Cloud9 Therapy and a room rental service in Essex called Chelmsford Therapy Rooms.

A website is the most important tool you have in your marketing arsenal. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a website.

About 8 years ago I suffered with generalised anxiety disorder. I was a mess, a quivering wreck, and after 5 panic attacks on the way to work I finally called a counsellor and begged for an appointment. I chose the counsellor whose website I liked the best, the one that I felt “spoke to me”. That is how powerful a website is. It can reach through all of those horrible things your potential client is going through and say “hey, call me, I can help”.

When I first decided to set up in private practice, the first thing I did was research other counsellors websites. That was an interesting experience. I remember one in particular that made me feel slightly ill! It looked like green and yellow highlighter pens had thrown up all over my screen.

When setting up a website, you have two main options:

1: Get a free website from a ‘website builder’ – just a page or two

2: Choose a website designer – you’ll pay a few hundred quid

Website hosts

I’m with 1 and 1. There are loads like Go Daddy, 123 Reg etc. They have different packages you pay for monthly and most include email. This is great as it looks professional for your website to match your email address. Many website designers will help you to decide which hosting company to go for.

One thing I will say is that I highly recommend WordPress. This is a web software that allows you to create a website. It’s very well known, easy to use and if you have any issues just search Google and you’ll likely find a squillion answers to your question. WordPress can be used by web designers (raise the subject in your initial discussions) and is great because you can make as many changes as you need in future yourself should you wish.

Domain names

Before you build your website, you need a domain name – that’s the www. address. You will likely choose a web host to buy this from. Mine was just £2.99 for the first year or so. It shouldn’t be too pricey. Once you have your domain name, something will happen. It’s annoying, but inevitable. You will receive many, many, many phone calls, emails etc about building your website, increasing your SEO etc. I recommend you DO NOT go with these companies. You cannot guarantee their validity and some use a technique called “phishing” where the call seems innocent but they’re selling something. You will also receive messages from people trying to sell you other domains. I own www.chelmsfordtherapyrooms.co.uk so I’ll get an email from someone selling me the .com version. Your web host might offer a service where your details are hidden so these calls happen less often; I suggest you check.

Next time we’ll discuss Advertising. This is my background so I’ll give you a few pointers about where to advertise, whether to make sales calls and so on.