As of this writing, the world is in the middle of the chaos of a pandemic. I’ve placed myself in a “voluntary quarantine.”
In the last few months, even before all this started, I was positioning myself to help more of my clients spend less time trading time for money via transitioning into time and location independence strategies.
Little did I know how significant this shift might be..
Income diversification for acupuncturists, chiropractors, and wellness professionals
The rallying cry lately has been “income diversification,” which has moved from being perceived as an “ideal lifestyle” that many were not aware could even be possible.. (or even dismissed as unrealistic or irresponsible) ..to almost a necessity for many.
Whether or not this will be a permanent adjustment or not remains to be seen.
I’m seeing a lot of acupuncturists and chiropractors inquiring about and diving into telehealth, which is good.
However, this model is similar to what you are already doing in your clinic or healing space: Seeing patients or clients 1:1 and getting paid at an hourly rate.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Many who focus on courses and creating more passive income streams still return to this model because they enjoy it as their main source of income.
Yet there are still some that think of working from home or creating passive income streams is suspect, shady, and slimy. Unfortunately, there are slimesters on the internet, just like in real life, but it’s silly to avoid the internet and earning money online just because you have seen the dark side.
It’s weird that even Marie Forleo has to remind her potential b-school students that marketing and delivering products or services online isn’t about getting rich quickly, but about earning more money doing what we love, over time.
It’s time to focus on the GOOD side of doing work online, and there’s no better time than seriously, today.
My focus with this blog is to help holistic practitioners find ways that help them stop trading time for dollars.. specifically via online courses, coaching, and value-added packages or product and service bundles that one can create on their own.
Coaching is a word that can sound “less than” for practitioners who spent years in school learning their profession. But the mindset here isn’t about demotion to “just” a coach. A coaching mindset actually sets more patients up for success by offering ways to empower them via education, support, and accountability. You may very well already be coaching your patients in your practice, and I’m guessing, are already a well-qualified coach, but maybe just didn’t know it yet!
We can certainly create own own custom blend of possibilities based on our talents, resources, expertise, and preferences.
I want to help holistic practitioners of all types create income streams that are all about the knowledge and assets they already have, and show them how to leverage them.
This may involve some mindset shifts regarding money, technology, marketing, and how we show up online. It brings up a lot of “stuff,” but the alternatives: burnout, stressing about paying bills, and missing an opportunity to serve and leave a legacy are often the driving force behind many holistic practitioners to dive in, especially as they get older.
I strongly believe that it will be middle-aged women that will be leading this new mindset shift, even if in many cases lately.. it’s been a result of necessity.
The world really does need more people like us online right now!
It’s NOT Just About Slow Periods: The Mindset Behind Income Diversification
Not only in the wake of the pandemic, this new way of thinking will certainly help with:
• Reducing the number of hours we need to work (the time-controlled “income ceiling”)
• Mitigating burnout so that we can continue to enjoy our work and serve others
• Creating some kind of financial stability as we get older, so that we can take time off when we need and want to
• Discovering new ways of work that may be better suited to our personality types. If you are an introvert, now’s your time to show that there’s more than one way (the extrovert way) to serve and lead.
• Leaving a legacy of our life’s work
In this blog, I’ve included steps you can take that range from conceptual and creative to actionable and more “left-brained.” Pick a few to get you started and give you some momentum.
Ready to start diversifying your income and making cash flow stress obsolete?
7 things you can do to diversify your income as a holistic practitioner, acupuncturist, chiropractor, or coach right now.
1. Identify your mindset: Local or Global
The first is to consciously identify whether you have a global or local mindset (or both) when it comes to business. Neither is better than the other, but usually the local mindset tends to be the “default.”
I’m seeing many small business owners who are very used to providing services that require their physical presence. They charge for these services on an hourly basis, and often rely on insurance to determine how these services are billed.
They are so entrenched in the local, trading-time-for-dollars paradigm that it can be difficult to envision what a global or at least partially global business might look like.
This is assuming that they have gotten past mindset barriers like thinking that being online is equivalent to slimy marketing or that “tech” stuff is either super expensive or impossible to learn.
Again, there is nothing wrong with this approach, but some of us may need to go beyond it.
I’ve seen acupuncturists and other holistic practitioners asking questions about insurance, ways to be of service in their local community, how to market via cooperation with other business owners, and what to charge for hourly services if they happen to be online.
These are all great intentions, and great questions. Being of service to your community is a wonderful thing. One could decide to focus on their local area.
I have to wonder though, if holistic practitioners and local service providers are even aware of all of the options available to them, as we move into this next decade.
Global doesn’t have to mean someone from the other side of the globe. Today, (as of this writing) in this time of social distancing, it could be someone who lives a block from where you live or practice.
The global mindset is a bit different, in terms of what you offer, how you package and price your offerings, how you deliver them, and how you promote them.
I’m also noticing practitioners who are adapting to the new paradigm.. and are dipping their toes into global possibilities, including totally re-thinking about their ideal clients, how to package and position their offerings, what to charge, and what systems (platforms) they will need to set up.
Diversification of income for acupuncturists and other holistic practitioners, in many cases, means thinking “globally” instead of focusing only on services you provide locally.
Re-Prioritizing and shifting for those who choose to diversify their income streams and reach more people (scaling).
As I write this in March of 2020, I’m also thinking that for many, everything is happening SO fast, and that right now it feels like there isn’t enough time to deal with everything. This totally makes sense, and this may indeed be the best time to focus on reflection and “going within.”
On the other hand, some may be ready to prepare for a shift in how their work is done, in favor of doing more work remotely or from home. They may also find that they may have less money, but more time on their hands in the coming weeks or even months.
I’m honored to be in a position to help those who are doing some “re-configuring,” because of the recent shift I made.
My main message when I first started T&W was all about getting creative business owners comfortable with all the “tech and marketing stuff,” but a few months ago I decided to pivot.
I made this shift so I can focus on those who are willing and open to doing this work, knowing that it’s not easy, but totally worth it. if it were “easy” everyone would be doing it. I think that more people are informed, and many aspects of digital marketing are simpler than they were even a few years ago, but it’s still not easy to get started.
Know this. If your practice is slow and you’ve now found that you’ve got more time than money on your hands, than money you can get started for under $30 per month. (See #7)
If you’ve got a website, (remember to start out small, but start somewhere!) perfect!
You will also need: a type of client you LOVE working with, a service you LOVE providing, and some extra time to sit down with a journal or piece of paper and a pencil, crayon, recording app, or whatever.
Now that you are open to more than the “default” local mindset, a good next step involves doing some research.
2. Observe the competition
It’s hard to consciously and intentionally stand out from the herd, if you are not aware of what the herd is offering!
This is an important step. What seems to be missing from others providing the same services that you could easily step in and offer?
Here’s a few examples:
• You discover that one of the biggest contributors of weight gain for your female clients is stress. Nobody in your area is really addressing this beyond basic TCM or NADA protocol in a traditional clinical setting, or via fitness classes or personal training. They are all presenting it the same way on their websites.
• You are aware that many people experience adrenal fatigue. Many practitioners in your area address this from the perspective of their modality, such as chiropractic or TCM. However, maybe they don’t specialize in working with stressed-out middle-aged women or athletes or have unique ways to serve these populations. Perhaps some are able to treat this condition, but are unable to offer the variety of tools that you can.
• You learn that people in your community need more support and guidance without having to drive to a clinic or studio.
How can you solve the problems your ideal clients or patients are tired of or frustrated by in a way that nobody else can?
Don’t skip this step!
3. Position yourself
Now that you know what everyone else is (and isn’t) doing, and you have identified what you can start to position yourself in a way that will fill in the gaps between what is currently available and what people want and need. Ideally, you can set this up so that it frees you from having to be physically present 100% of the time in order to make a living.
Using the examples above:
Weight gain and stress: Let’s suppose that you are good at not only acupuncture, but nutrition, guided meditations and teaching yin yoga. Is anyone else creating something like this that can be experienced either in your healing space or at home?
Adrenal fatigue: Maybe you have published a book about TCM nutrition and adrenal fatigue. You could easily create a course to empower the patients you already see in your clinic.. and help set them up for success by offering support and accountability between visits.
Other thoughts that came to me include cooking classes, exercise/yoga videos, VIP packages that include herbs and supplements, and more.
See where you could go with this?
There is a HUGE potential there, that may be untapped.
Even if someone else is offering the exact same set of services as you, nobody will be able to do it exactly the way you do. Seriously.. Some may come to see you primarily because of your relaxing voice, your needling technique, or the “vibe” of your clinic or studio. Or other things that may not be based on a repeatable formula.
Right now, as of this writing, the thing you could offer in the months to come may be an online version of what you currently offer if and when social distancing becomes the “new normal.”
Real-Life Examples of Positioning
A friend of mine is a life coach who focuses on working with people going through difficult times. She’s taken time to identify her ideal client and what makes them tick, as well as set up her basic “infrastructure” for going online: A website, an email list, and a Facebook group.
We’ve also recently added a way for her to manage clients all over the world, via an SaaS (software as a service) called Practice Better, which is geared specifically for those who work remotely with clients and patients.
Because she took the time to do this, she is in a position to offer free and discounted sessions for those “ideal matches” who need some support during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is also able to respond quickly in order to match her gifts to those she can best serve at any given time.
As of this writing, it’s been working VERY well for her. She’s now seeing clients all over the world, and will be adding more bundled packages as time goes on. (You can do this with Practice Better)
For my acupuncture practice, my ideal client/patient was a combination of several women I was seeing in my clinic. They were frustrated by changes in their bodies as they entered perimenopause and menopause.
I dug a little deeper.
I found out that they despised and dreaded going to the doctor, because they would be humiliated by their 20 lb weight gain that happened despite doing all the right things, exercising frequently and intensely, and eating less. They were also hesitant to see a trainer, who would accuse them of “lying and cheating” about what they ate and how much they exercised.
Since I personally experienced this myself and that I know that women are NOT lying when they say they did 6 hours of cardio and weight training this week and are eating LESS, and are STILL feeling helpless about the belly fat that can appear almost overnight.. I knew I had a mission.
So I created something completely new to fulfill this mission. Instead of just hourly visits, my patients had a whole package of goodies designed to help them succeed.
4. Package your new offerings
The package: An 8 week hormone balancing program.
The program included acupuncture, stress relief, coaching and support, a 21 day nutrition plan to help them identify what foods might be causing problems for them, and an online digital course that taught concepts that very few were teaching.
I also added additional support for body image after 50, which can be a mindfuck, and is something not very well addressed. (I made no claims that I could help them have the same body they did at 20 or 30)
Even though I’m sure I’m not the first nor will be the last to offer some kind of hormone balancing program for women, the way I packaged it and presented it was unique.
Here’s the thing: The more tools you have in your toolbox, the easier it is to make it your own.
Packaging ALSO gives people something to actually SHOP for.
Many coaches and practitioners agonize about how they can distill what they do in an elevator speech, which is a useful tool, but when you only offer 1:1 hourly services it can put you in a position of having to “sell” and be “on” all the time.
I prefer to let people browse, like they would in a bookstore. People like to check out your offerings and have a clear idea of what they are buying, especially when they first start working with you.
People don’t always make buying decisions based solely on reviews and referrals. They may want to “try on” your offerings first.
Having these types of offerings available to browse and shop for on your website or landing page is a fantastic way for people to get “beyond the book cover” and get to see your unique “table of contents.” This way they can catch a glimpse of the entire package, and you can show them how the sum of what you offer is much greater than each individual part.
An example: Clicking on Learn More will allow visitors to get very detailed information about a bundle of services.. in this case my Content marketing bundle/plan:
You can also swap them in and out on your website, just like you might with physical products, depending on season, customer preferences, or what works best for you.
For example, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve shifted by positioning from focusing on brand new business owners who are intimidated by “tech” and skeptical of the need for marketing to those who are already somewhat on board with marketing and websites and such, but who want to stop “trading time for dollars.”
Because of this shift, I deleted some of my bundled services and added a few new ones.
As of now, my offerings/packages include websites, email marketing, content marketing/SEO, and now I’ll be adding a NEW offering: Diversifying your acupuncture or holistic practice income with educational products.
There’s more to it than just putting together a laundry list of bundled services. The foundational “thing” I’m presenting to the world isn’t really anything new: Educational products and programs that can be sold online in a digital format.
I could “package” online course creating and delivery as a way to get rich quick (make 6 figures in 90 days bullshit) OR as a way to help holistic practitioners create a win/win by reducing their cash flow stress AND providing more value by setting their patients and clients up for success.
Each package has a bullet list of features and benefits, and is designed to achieve a specific result, and is unique in the way it is packaged, presented, and tailored to my ideal client avatar.
So even if the basic thing I’m selling is “how to create, promote, and deliver an online course” I’m not going to call it that because who would buy it with a boring title like that? Not to mention that in order to be successful at selling this type of thing to anyone and everyone, it will be very difficult to compete in a large generic pool of similar offerings.
I also want to differentiate myself from those who tend to over-promise and under-deliver in this arena, and so do others who spent time really nailing their niche and figuring out the best ways to serve their ideal client or patient.
There still may be some people who would buy a course with the title “Get 6 figures in 90 days with this guaranteed formula for success online” but NOT my ideal clients. They know better.
Now, think about what YOU offer. If you say “acupuncture” or “wellness” or “yoga,” I invite you to take some time with positioning and packaging.
I think that today, more than ever, holistic practitioners are in a very good position to offer online courses, coaching programs, books, and more.
I’ve found that with the right offerings geared towards the right people (ideal client or patient) they get FAR better results than with a-la-carte, by the hour services.
This will of course, affect how you look at pricing, which is a good thing.
Content is part of your packaging and positioning, but so is HOW you present it.
This is where branding comes into play. Which brings me to the next step:
5. Be a rebel
Imagery, trademarks, quirks, humor, and personal voice: Discover and USE them to your advantage!
When I was doing my acupuncture/coaching thing, I did NOT want to position myself as another “wellness coach” or use the word holistic. I was tired of images of women standing in wheat fields with their hands in the air and functional acupuncture sites that had all the personality of a rock.
I started using “real and raw” images for my hormone balancing patients, and REAL pictures of people being active in Colorado. (No stock photos of people pretending to ride a bike, I used real mountain bikers with real gear on real trails)
When I started to get into the world of digital marketing, I got tired of seeing pictures of laptops on white desks with perfectly arranged pens and lattes and flowers. I wanted to present marketing and the “tech stuff” using less sterile and generic imagery.
My target market isn’t young women or busy moms who might be attracted to such imagery. Mine is a slightly older, more experienced and worldly audience. They may also be interested in location independence and can relate more to real images taken in Europe.
Trademarks, in the context I’m talking about here, is something that helps quickly identify who you are. It can be a phrase, an image, something you wear, references to your dog, and more. My trademark became my OWN laptop with a cup of coffee or glass of wine, in whatever location I happened to be at.
If you have a quirk such as a dry sense of humor, a love for dogs, or even blunt talk about sex, don’t be afraid to use it. If you choose YOUR ideal client, (who likes dry wit, dogs, or blunt talk about sex) you will connect with them in a way that feels natural to you.
Notice what cliches are going around. Minimalist shell pink and black sites. Perfectly neat desks. Specific fonts that everyone is using. Buzzwords like “game changer.” Even swearing is in vogue.
Remember: Just because some of the big names out there are using certain colors or site design or buzzwords doesn’t mean that you have to do the same in order to be “credible” online.
In fact, I would go the opposite way and be a rebel (with a cause, of course) Unless it really is part of who you are. For example, I swear, but don’t feel the need to add an AF after every adjective I speak or write just to prove that I’m hip.
Avoid use of certain terms or generic phrases like “We are committed to our clients and passionate about our work.” This type of copy won’t make you sound professional. It will make you sound generic and boring at best.. and at worst.. ironically, a bit “spammy.”
Because if it sounds contrived to you, it probably does to your ideal client or patient as well.
Which leads me to the next step:
6. Tell a story
Once you get to a point where you really know your shit, know how to package and position it, NOW comes the FUN part!
There are several different aspects of storytelling. I’m going to present them as actionable exercises.
Exercise 1: The elevator speech (reframed as a short story)
I know.. Groan. Not that thing again. But I’ve found a great formula that can help you finally nail it. When you finish your “one-liner,” put it on your website, near the top, so that people can get a clear idea of what you do, within seconds.
Are you now wondering: HOW the HELL can I explain what I do in one short paragraph?
Don’t worry if you have several offerings with different complex processes. Just do the exercise.
As I mentioned above, you’ll get a chance to describe in detail what you offer when you display your packaged offers online in a way that makes what you do “Shoppable.”
Doing the previous steps (positioning and packaging) is kind of like choosing to take a closer look at a book because of its cover or title, and then opening the book and checking out the table of contents before buying.
Telling a story is about reading book jackets and watching movie trailers… both of which are an art form.
Exercise 2: The TED Talk
I don’t know about you, but I like to binge on TED talks.
If this is you as well, I want you to imagine that you are going to give a TED talk about a specific problem that people you work with face (and of this writing, we are in the middle of a pandemic that could change the lives of almost everyone on the planet)
You are going to present it as a compelling story, and tell people why your program/package/product/service will help them.
I prefer this over the typical webinar sales pitch formula (Be a rebel, indeed!) because it’s not only informative, but engaging and presented in a way that is about the audience, not the person delivering the speech.
You can record the whole thing at once on your phone, or write down thoughts and phrases that come to mind as you go about your day, or even build a minimalist TED talk style slide deck to help prompt and inspire you. Practice presenting it to an actual audience.. maybe a small group of people, your networking group, or via a live broadcast in your Facebook group. Whatever works for you!
It’s challenging, for sure. I find that the best ideas come if I give myself time to go for a walk or a bike ride. Challenge yourself to get it done, but give yourself enough time and space to develop your imaginary (or perhaps real!) TED talk.
When you start to feel comfortable with how you communicate your message verbally for one offering, you can do this for other offerings.
If the goal/intent is to inform and educate, the same exercise can apply. You can start to refine your message(s) even more by videos, blogs, podcasting, books, courses, webinars.. Etc.
Your story will start to unfold as you go, and you will become a master storyteller.
7: Build Your Platform
In order to do all of this, you will need something called a PLATFORM. All this means is a launching pad for getting your unique offerings to the world out there! These are the basic platforms you will need for income diversification and time and location independence:
1. A website
I recommend starting with a WordPress site, which is likely much easier than you imagined. A GOOD web hosting service (don’t look for the cheapest option) averages around $15 per month. I personally use SiteGround.
2. Email marketing
Even if you currently have NO list, once you have a website, building a list is essential. Think of it in the same way you would consider following up on business cards you collect, so that you can control and manage your own contacts. Without an email list, this is going to be difficult if not impossible.
Cost: Free (MailerLite free plan) to around $15 per month for Active Campaign basic.
3. Communication via social media
Notice I didn’t just say a “presence.” Pick something that feels natural to you and allows you to interact organically with people who consider YOU to be the perfect match for what they need. Post original content, including ways to get people onto your website and on your list.
(Do not rely on or build your business on a platform you don’t own)
Update: Since Zoom has been a bit “funky” lately (difficult to connect, crashing, etc) because of the increased demand, I’m in the process of checking out some new software, including Practice Better and CoachAccountable.
This is is a great idea not only because of Zoom, but it gives you a much better way to book and manage clients and patients. (Acuity is a good choice, for some, but is best left for local businesses)
I can’t predict how this will all play out. I’m all about optimism and feel confident that the empty clinics, schedules, healing spaces, and studios will be fully booked again.
Regardless of what happens, I DO think that there will be a shift from feeling powerless when you go through slow periods or cancellations in your practice.. to having options to enhance the services you already offer remotely.
The situation during the spring of 2020 has been a reminder that for many of us, it’s a fantastic idea to not have to rely on work that requires our physical presence, or those of our clients and patients. This includes telemedicine options.. which still require you to show up for every call and look presentable even when you look and feel like shit (or if you would rather work at odd hours or take a few weeks off altogether) and will still involve trading hours for dollars like you did before. This can limit your income potential.
Again, I want to stress. even if this shift “only” frees you from the more mundane, everyday cashflow stresses, cancellations, no-shows, and inevitable emergencies, it’s a silver lining for these difficult times.
If you have some unexpected downtime in the coming weeks. this may be the perfect time to reset, re-prioritize, research, create, package, and practice communicating the unique things only you can offer, and to start building your “infrastructure for income diversification.”
You can also choose to dive right in and participate in all the rapid changes in real time, and focus on just one thing at a time, like creating a Facebook page or a way to connect with your current local clients on Zoom.
Either way, I know that you will do fine!
I would love if you commented below to tell us if you are making any shifts in your business or practice, and what those might be.
What are ways to diversify your income streams as an acupuncturist, chiropractor, coach, or holistic practitioner?
If everything is “business as normal,” I’m also curious!