Whether you’re a social worker, psychologist, or another mental health professional, creating a mental health blog is a great way to take your expertise to a new level. Not only will an online presence help position you as an expert, but your posts or articles will add value to people’s lives – and assist you in establishing trust and rapport with your audience.
By sharing your knowledge online, you will reach more people, make a real difference, and potentially experience growth in your practice. As a busy professional you’re probably wondering how you can fit in yet another task, as writing takes time and commitment. Setting up a blog is not as challenging as you might think. Here are the steps you need to take to start a blog:
How To Start a Blog
1) Where to begin? A great place to start is to identify the purpose of your blog. You might want to establish your expertise in a particular subject area, help people who are unable or unwilling to seek therapy or attract clients for your practice. Writing for clients. If you want to write for your clients, you might focus on practical advice related to specific issues. You can broaden their understanding, share problem-solving steps, and offer advice.
Writing for colleagues. You might share scientific research, your opinion on mental health topics, or summarize current research trends. You can include posts that offer advice on dealing with specific problems.
2) Set up the blog on your practice website. Your online presence should be professional and represent you and your practice – building your reputation and attracting visitors to your website. If you need a website and blog, and you’d rather not tackle it yourself, check out therapysites.com, brightervision.com, or therapistrising.com.
3) Record and research. Keep a notebook handy or use a digital platform like Evernote to write down client questions and issues for future inspiration. Pay attention to the news and listen for topical and relevant issues. Scan the newspaper, professional journals, and online articles. Check out sites like BuzzSumo or Quora to search for ideas, and regularly visit American Psychological Association, PsychCentral, and Association for Psychological Science.
4) Batch time and topics. The more you write, the better you’ll become and the faster you’ll create posts. Maximize the time you have by dedicating time each day to writing. Turn off your phone, eliminate other distractions, and write.
If you focus on a specific topic, you can write multiple articles about a different aspect of that topic, creating a series of posts. Share the posts one at a time in order, and as you complete a post, use a “teaser” to create interest for the next post. When the next post is up, update the original post to guide readers to the next post. This creates a “sticky” site – preferred by Google, helping your online rankings.
5) Take the time. Write thoughtfully and spend time explaining, educating, connecting, and establishing credibility. A solid blog post has between 400-1200 words, and when it comes to SEO, research has shown that posts ranked on the first page contain an average of 1,447 high-quality, useful, and reader-friendly words. Also, spend time creating an attention-grabbing headline to entice clicks because your readers want to learn more.
6) Worried you can’t write? You probably have lots of writing experience – think of all the reports, progress notes, professional letters, and referrals you’ve written. But when you write blog posts, you will use a conversational tone to sound authentic and help people get to know you.
- Be yourself!
- Provide useful tips and insights.
- Connect with your readers.
- Write as you would speak.
- Make complex ideas accessible.
- Establish yourself as the authority.
As you gain more experience, you’ll begin incorporating calls to action in your posts, prompting your readers to interact with your website (e.g., signing up for your email list, purchasing your book, completing a contact form, or visiting a landing page).
7) Repurpose and reuse. Your posts and articles are resources you can repurpose into client handouts, share on social media sites like LinkedIn, submit as guest posts on colleagues’ blogs, or even collate into an e-book. Be sure to respond to comments on social media and in guest posts. You might write for directory websites, but avoid copy and pasting the same article twice because having duplicate material will harm both sites’ Google rankings.
8) Make your posts easy to digest. Many readers will simply scan your posts, extracting the information they need. Many people will be reading your posts from tablets or smartphones. Reading is much easier when text is broken up with sub-headings, numbered lists, images, bullet points, and bolded or italicized words
9). Post Frequently and Consistently. How often should you post? Search engines love new, high-quality content. So, posting regularly is critical for good rankings – weekly is best.
If you’re still not convinced that it’s time to create a blog, here are reasons to start writing today!
· Establish yourself as an expert. If you specialize, a blog allows you to establish your authority on the subject. Discussing your field and offering advice is a great way to establish your expertise. Once viewed as an expert, you can use your blog to help clients online via counseling, coaching, workshops, courses, books, podcasts, and more. Participating in online mental health forums is another way to establish your expertise and direct people to your blog. You can build trust with potential clients and colleagues, spreading the word among therapists who may refer to you.
· Offer support. Your blog content might function as a lifeline for people who can’t afford counseling, or for whatever reason aren’t seeking the professional help they need. Your blog might even prompt people who need help to seek therapy. Writing about issues in a non-judgmental and caring manner while distributing evidence-based information – and helping people feel better! – is incredibly rewarding. You never know how your writing will positively affect others.
· Become a conference speaker. Using your blog, you can apply to speak at conferences. You might get paid to speak, but the exposure you receive might be sufficient. Paid or not, conferences are an excellent way to advance your career
Your skills and expertise are very much needed – particularly during these unprecedented times. There is a mental health crisis, people are struggling, and you have the ability to help by sharing your knowledge and creating educational and informative posts.