Starting a private pay practice is tough. The internet is an amazing tool, but it is also a virtual avalanche of conflicting information promising to make everything “easy” while actually just making you feel ashamed and confused.
If everything is so “easy,” then why does it feel so hard?
It’s not uncommon for the excitement of jumping into private practice to turn into total overwhelm and analysis paralysis.
I GET IT.
What you need in place of that information overload is someone who has done all that reading and taken all the courses, sifted through the nonsense, and come out the other side with a clear understanding—plus a track record of success.
May I offer myself to you for this purpose?
I’ve had a private coaching practice for many years now. Because I’m an obsessive learner—it’s the only way to get a PhD!—I’ve been reading the blogs and listening to the podcasts, I’ve invested $20,000 in online and in-person training, and I’ve hired a very expensive coach who taught me a TON about the sheer mechanics of self-promotion and selling. I’ve learned a lot about what works for building a coaching practice, and—this is important too—SO MUCH about what just doesn’t work. And most interestingly, I’ve figured out WHY things work, and why they don’t, so I always know exactly why I’m doing everything in my marketing plan.
This has been a huge relief to me. Yes, there’s still a lot of work to do, and of course, I still make mistakes, but the ship has been righted, and my practice has grown. In this post, as I’m preparing to open the doors to the Build Your Practice Accelerator, I’m sharing five things that I’ve learned through this process.
This is the second most common question I get from the coaches and therapists I meet. (The first is “What am I doing wrong?!”).
Most people want to know how they can write copy for their website, profiles, and social media that will really connect—because, truth be told, most of what therapists and coaches write doesn’t do that.
It all comes back to the curse of understanding! When you are an expert at helping people to solve a complex problem, then you tend to talk about that problem in a complex way, because you know so much about it.
But when they are still in the throes of a problem (“Why do I cry myself to sleep every night?”), they really don’t want to hear the nuts and bolts of your researched, clinical expertise (‘You have a referred trauma that asserts itself when you relax before sleep”).
What they want to hear is that you GET IT—that you can help them to feel better. And, also incredibly important, you can make them believe they can feel better.
To do this, you must speak the language of your ideal client (here’s a workbook that I put together to help coaches and therapists to get into the minds of their potential clients. It’s a great place to start!)
Remember: This is a learned skill and one that you will get really good at in the Build Your Practice Accelerator!
Yes, you need a few professionally designed marketing materials. Your top priority is a “lead magnet,” which is an exercise or resource that gives your potential client an idea of what it would be like to work with you. What’s your philosophy? Are you funny, or serious? Are you experiential or theoretical?
Your lead magnet gives your potential client a shortcut to learning those things about you, and also—if they take your advice and do what you suggest—a genuine win.
Aim to have at least one lead magnet that you feel really good about, one that is thoughtfully put together and professionally designed.
It will serve as a way to reconnect with people you’ve met at networking events or conferences, and it can be a great thing to send to potential partners so they too can get a quick sense of who to send your way. Win-win!
FYI: Everyone in the Build Your Practice Accelerator will be supported to create a lead magnet, including step-by-step instructions on how to use it once you’ve got it.
The whole world is NOT wrong, you really do need to network!
But here’s the silver lining: you will be shocked by how different networking feels when you are doing it with a clear purpose and a plan!
Remember that your goal is always to meet 1-3 people who could be potential clients, potential partners, or friends to support you on your journey.
Networking can be overwhelming at first, especially if it’s been years since you’ve tried to mix and mingle, but it will be so much easier—and so much more rewarding—if you network with
So here’s what I suggest: Write down a clear intention in advance and put it in your pocket or bag before entering the networking room.
Here’s an example:
“I am open to the opportunities in this room; I won’t prejudge others or feel inferior. I am confident that I will find the 1-3 people that I’m here to meet and I know that they will benefit from my presence and my interest.”
ProTIP: If you find yourself losing your focus, go to the bathroom and read the intention again!
This is one of the most powerful things that we learn in the mastermind.
Many of us believe that when people need help, they will ask for it. But think about your own life—is that always true? Or is it perhaps truer that the easiest thing to do is nothing, so that’s what we often (usually) do?
My experience is that people need help clarifying what they want, as well as acknowledging that they could use some help to get there.
When you are the person who helps them get to that clarity of purpose, you are the person they want to work with.
A proper discovery does exactly that! I have an entire protocol that I share with my clients, but the arc is this:
Sounds easy, right? It is simple, but it’s not easy!
It takes confidence to deliver this protocol from a place of power. We’ll practice together in the mastermind, and before you know it, you’ll be converting potential clients right and left.
Usually, 4-6 months after starting our work together people’s practices begin to pick up. They start to realize that their 1:1 time is much more limited than they originally thought, so this is about when people start asking how they can make more money in other ways.
Usually, this becomes a conversation about either becoming a thought leader, designing an online
The first step to becoming a thought leader may seem like a no-brainer, but it isn’t: You need to figure out what you think. What’s your flag in the sand?
This goes beyond your niche; this gets into your beliefs. What is your personal and unique take on the controversies in your field? How do you advocate for your tribe?
To get clear on this, both for yourself and for everyone you want to reach, you need to create regular content. Blogs, podcasts, videos—it doesn’t matter what you create, but you need to start the process of honing a voice.
Once you have that, the work begins on getting quoted, guest posting, and getting on stage to share your message.
Now, some people have no interest in being a thought leader, but they would like to leverage their work to help more people at one time. This requires a program.
The first step to creating a program is to run a pilot.
I ran a pilot a few years ago on the skills and material included in the Build Your Practice Accelerator. I learned SO MUCH about how to explain these ideas, and I created materials and copy that I still use today.
It was a great experience, and it prepared me to run the first full length, cohort, where I learned even more. And the program has never stopped improving! It’s because of all that pre-work and improvement that I feel so completely confident in the Build Your Practice Accelerator.
So don’t start by designing a huge online program to sell to 100 people; let’s start by getting 3-5 people in a room to hash out the most important aspects of your program.
This isn’t the end, but the very beginning. There is so much more to learn, and I can say with great confidence that I can help. If you are ready to take those next steps in your practice, check out my new program, the Build Your Practice Accelerator and let’s work together!. You got this.
Amanda Crowell, PhD is a cognitive psychologist obsessed with how people make change. She is best known for translating cutting edge research into practical strategies that can be used right away.