You may be reading this blog right now because you are thinking to yourself: “Do I REALLY need a blog for my website? If so, how often do I need to blog to gain SEO benefits?
Acupuncturists need to blog consistently, and they need active and dynamic websites in order to compete in today’s market.. both locally and online. This means that the content of your site, (and social media channels) needs to stay current, educational, useful, interesting, and relevant. Adding fresh content on a regular basis is key. For many, this is done via blogging. Your blog is a powerful tool for getting not just more traffic, but more of the RIGHT patients for YOU.
Blogs are the mostly widely known and popular type of content, but anything you produce and publish can and should be a major part of your marketing plan.
Other types of content include:
- The pages on your website
- Social media posts
- Books you have published
- Case studies
- Online Courses
- Webinars and slide presentations
- Audio recordings (this works well for guided mediations)
Of course, you don’t have to do ALL of these. Aside from your website and social media posts, you can pick 1 or 2 methods that appeal to you the most.
Why is it so important to start building your blog library? Here are my top 5 reasons:
1. It establishes you as the go-to expert.
You may have noticed that acupuncture is becoming more competitive. Gone are the days when you could put up a generic website,with a general description about acupuncture, your contact info, and a token blog and hope for the best. The days of relying completely on a home (index) page full of keywords are also over.
Yet newbies tend to get well-meaning but bad advice.
About 5-10 years ago I was given advice by teachers and mentors that “a website isn’t necessary, and if you do have one, it’s only purpose is as a brochure/method of contact that people can follow up on when they get your business card.” They could get away with this because they had already been in business for years.
From what I see, acupuncturists are becoming more savvy about marketing, despite the previous reputation we had for being clueless about anything having to do with business. I also hope that new grads are getting MUCH better advice from their mentors than some of us did just a few years ago.
But many still lack confidence when they first start out, and sell themselves short.
The truth is, if you made an effort in acupuncture school, you are an expert, and your marketing should reflect that.
I’ve had clients specifically chose my services because I put time and effort into my blog, which turned into a valuable resource for potential patients who didn’t mind doing a little research to see if there would be a good match.
I wanted to attract the kinds of patients who were willing to take responsibility and empower themselves with knowledge. Whether or not that resulted in them working with me was not the point, but often they did. I simply can’t take on the “I’m the magic healer and you’re the patient” mindset. It doesn’t work for me. However, this could be a great match for other acu’s and their patients.
You will find your own tribe and way of attracting and communicating with them.
Don’t assume that since you “don’t have time” to write, your patients don’t have time to read your blogs. The best patients are the ones who take the time to do a little homework. Give them credit. They want to know more about YOU and what YOU have to offer.. not just another blurb about qi or the absolute basic info about acupuncture. They can Google this basic information anywhere now. People DO want more information specifically about what YOU can offer them.
2. Creating high quality content helps you become a better practitioner.
Remember back in school when you had case studies and papers to write? In addition to hands on experience, you did your homework. You took notes, arrived at hypotheses.. applied them, and eventually developed theories which you put into practice.
You discovered what works best based on individual patterns and TCM patterns. You wrote case studies, and read more studies. You were well on the road to becoming a passionate expert. You learned from experience how to think on your feet.
An advanced practitioner shouldn’t stop doing this. The only difference is that now, you are still learning, but you are also becoming a teacher and a leader. At this stage, you must communicate in a way that makes sense to your patients and all types of health care providers.
The more you write, the more effectively you can convert dry, academic copy into a useful library for your patients, as well as marketing tools (content!) that will help you sell. Much like journaling, it’s also a way to help clarify and solidify what you have learned. Teaching is also a great way to help others while creating content at the same time. There are many creative ways to do this online.
3. Your content will do a lot of the work for you.
Do you want to have to convince everyone you come into contact with how effective your treatments are, from scratch? Or answer the same basic questions over and over again.. like “Does acupuncture work for..(fill in the blank)?” It’s a LOT easier to refer people to your website and your blog. When people see that there is a specific blog about every condition you treat, you can prepare them to ask more targeted and specific questions which will address their needs. This will help keep you from burning out.
Don’t just write just one blog about fertility or functional medicine and call it done. there are hundreds of blogs you can write about each of these topics. If you are passionate about what you do, you probably have an ongoing list of things to write (and read) about.
Do tell people that regardless of whether they work with you or not, everything on your website is free and available for them in order to make the best decision for themselves. As a matter of fact, a good blog should also screen OUT.. or yes, REPEL those you don’t want to work with.
Of course I’m not talking about being a jerk, and I am certainly 100% about earning trust. BUT.. patients who were looking for a quick fix were probably turned off by my content, because I was transparent about the fact that it might take some work to treat the root cause of deep-seated back pain. (side note.. It’s surprising how many acu’s treat symptoms and not the root cause!)
My point is.. trying to make everyone happy doesn’t work. (if you don’t believe me, check out this Marie Forleo video)
Providing content is an excellent way to pre-qualify patients. To accomplish this, I created a short video, a New Patients info tab, and a handbook they could download, which was an in-depth description of my process and how acupuncture really works. I kindly asked them to watch the video and go to the new patients page, where they could also download their intake forms, as it would help me serve them better.
The handbook I presented as a “bonus” or a gift.
Almost without exception, the best patients were the ones who did all 3. They saw the handbook not as a chore, but a really cool gift, and were actually blown away by it. The ones who could not be bothered with the video, also turned out to be “less than ideal” patients.. and after a while I used this as a “flag” to determine who I wanted to work with.
It wasn’t a struggle.. I let the content do that work for me. The beauty of it? I only had to do it ONCE, and I was done. If I had to start from scratch for every new encounter, I would have been burnt out within months.
4. Your content is a reflection who you are as a person
Many new acupuncturists make the mistake of trying to be just like someone else, or worse yet, just like everyone else. It doesn’t matter if you are the functional medicine practitioner in a lab coat or the esoteric 5E practitioner. There are so many niches, and so many ways to deliver acupuncture, and you are not locked into one way of doing it.
When you try to be like everyone else, and please everyone, you are much less effective. I’ve witnessed this with recent grads who are stuck on what their teacher or mentor told them to do. This may work at first, but once you have some experience under your belt, it’s time to move on and find your unique style.
Here’s an example of what works:
I had a recent client.. an online coach. Her business falls under the general category of “life coach” but her work is so unique that we had to spend some time defining it. We didn’t stop there. People are not only interested in the service delivered, but in the person delivering it, especially in the coaching and healing industries. What blows my socks off about this client is not just the service, but her entire philosophy and process. I “resonate” with her as a person. This is important for a life coach, or they quickly become lost in a sea of other online life coaches.
The best way to show the world how cool you are? You guessed it.. Content. And it will take more than 3 blogs to demonstrate it.
What unique gifts can you offer your patients? How can you use content to deliver those gifts in creative ways?
This also takes some of the pressure to compete off of acupuncturists, because then we know that there is more than enough room for everyone. This makes for a much healthier ecosystem in the acupuncture industry. (vibe raising.. another bonus!)
5. Consistent content creation is good for SEO
In case you haven’t heard yet.. content driven marketing is is a logical way to get new business from organic online searches.
How does that work? One way is via keywords. Due to constantly changing algorithms, one must be savvy about how keywords are used. The bottom line is that Google wants their users to have a good experience, and the best way to do that is write how you normally would, in a way that keeps visitors coming back and booking appointments, while still “doing your on-page SEO.” As you develop your practice and perhaps speak in public, you will know exactly how to deliver YOUR message to YOUR audience. As far as SEO.. I do training for my VIP level web design pacakages.
Because shelf life is limited, it’s equally important to regularly keep content fresh. I recommend at least 2 blogs per month.
Another reason content is king has to do with backlinks. Remember what I said about being visible as a go-to expert? This is not only a smart move for your business, but it’s what Google wants to see too. This is why there is a metric called Page Authority, or Trust flow (Moz) There is a learning curve for understanding how it all works.. but the bottom line is really the same.. Does your website have good content, or is it boring, irrelevant, outdated, or even spammy? (If your site links to spammy sites, this makes your authority or trust numbers go down)
Link building is about building relationships, because asking a trusted site for a backlink isn’t a technical process. It’s like a job interview.. you need to speak to real humans to get your foot in the door and yes, ask the owner of that website you admire for a link pointing back to your site.
Some of the best ways to build links is by creating EPIC content (The skyscraper technique) or by guest blogging.
In other words, content.
If your website is just a “container” which has no “content,” nobody is going to care about your site, whether it be humans, or Googlebots, visitors, or patients. Have you ever visited a site that looks outdated, has only 2 blogs, a generic blurb about qi, a boring bio, and a bland call to action (CTA) contact/book/subscribe? Assuming that you didn’t know the person behind the website, would you bother? I wouldn’t.
I know what you might be thinking: “What if I don’t have time to create content? What if I HATE writing?
The first question usually gets a blunt reply from me: If you want to get more business and do well in SERPs, (search engine results pages) you have to create some sort of content, there’s really no way around it.
Schedule it, make room for it, put it on your calendar and set an alarm, outsource it, do what you have to do, but it’s important. Reframe it as an enjoyable task, such as journaling. Make tea or coffee, have a glass of wine, bring your laptop outside, whatever works for you.
The second question I can understand a lot more. It makes no sense to do something you dislike. If you only have a mild case of dread, some of these tips might help:
- Consider video as your main source of content. This may change the mechanics of your SEO but it can be an effective strategy.
- Re-work some of your old content. Did you recently do a presentation? Can you find inspiration in the papers you wrote in school?
- Use real life stories and examples, or case studies.
- Keep a list of blog ideas. When you are scheduled for “content creation,” you won’t be stuck about what to write about.
- If you feel particularly inspired to write about something in the moment, consider going with it. This is often when the best content is produced.
- Go for a walk with a recording device, or a recording app on your phone. “speak” your next blog. For some, ideas flow more easily this way.
- Do a FB live video, and base your next blog on what comes up as you “riff” on ideas and get feedback from your audience.
- Ask your audience (FB group, Twitter, etc) what they would like to read or see next.
If you really, truly despise writing and truly don’t want to make the time..consider hiring someone to write your content. For some, this can be a very liberating decision, and is probably not as cost prohibitive as you might think.
What I don’t recommend is using subscription-based sites marketed to acupuncturists that create content for you. Original content is also essential for a good SEO strategy. Your content needs to have YOUR voice behind it to make it effective. A good writer can “sound” like you.
In addition, subscription-based services are seldom cost-effective in the long run.
So grab a cup of Gui Pi Tang and your laptop and get started! If you still feel stuck, I can help. Just click on the burgundy button to schedule a free 30 min consultation.