Some of you may have noticed that I’ve really slowed down blogging over at my website for my private practice (counselingwithmarina.com). There’s a reason for that. This blog (yep, this one! ) has long been a collection of lessons learned while I’m learning them, with the hopes that those of you starting out can avoid my mistakes. I hate to say it, but having a blog for my private practice may have been one of those mistakes.
When I first started my other blog, I had two goals. One was to give any prospective clients a taste for what it would be like to have a session with me. People often ask what your style is, which by the way, is probably not something that’s easy to describe in one or two sentences. This way they could just read a blog post and get a taste for what it’s like to have a session with me. I’d say that goal was definitely met, so that’s one positive thing I did get out of it. The next goal was for the blog to be a marketing tool, to get my name out there, to generate leads, etc. Now that’s where I’d say the blog became a victim of it’s own success.
When I first started out, I was blogging 2-3 times per week and generating massive amounts of content. There are a lot of relationship and mental health keywords that if you search for it, one of my blog posts will be on the first page of Google. Once that happened, calls and emails just started pouring in. I actually spend a couple hours every day just responding to these calls and emails, especially on Mondays when they pile up from the weekend. Most people would say that this is fantastic that I’m generating all these leads and that this is great, but I have to disagree and it’s why I’ve pretty much stopped blogging on the other site.
The problem with having a blog is that people come to see you as a free resource, a type of free internet therapist. This makes sense since a blog is free to read, so I understand why people would feel this way. The problem is that they then think it’s okay to call or email me to try to get free phone or email therapy. Everyday I receive long emails where someone writes out their whole life story and then ends the email with “What can you do for me?” I also get the phone version of this where I essentially get steamrolled before I can even ask if they are calling to make an appointment. But the person has no intention of ever making an appointment. They live on the other side of the country, or even the other side of the planet. I have offered to set up sessions via telephone or Skype, but they don’t want that. They want free sessions, like the blog.
I usually respond with a few sentences where I thank them for reading the blog and explain that although I feel for them, it would be unethical for me to give them advice since I’m not their therapist, but I wish them the best of luck for the future. Sometimes that’s it, but more often than not, the writer responds with an angry attack of how I’m a hypocrite, phony, or one of those “bad therapists” they’ve been warned about in someone else’s blog. I’ve thought about just not responding in the first place but I still think that’s just too rude, although I now understand why so many professionals do that.
I think that the problem with blogging is that it gives the impression that your time isn’t valuable. If you have time to blog, surely you have time to respond to this one measly email, right? And besides, they can’t find a therapist like you in their area. You wouldn’t happen to know a therapist like you in France, would you? What about Miami? What, you don’t have a world wide referral network? And what’s with all the typos in your blog? You don’t have time to proof read or hire an editor?
At some point I just had to accept that the number of “leads” I was generating was taking away from the time I could be spending with my real clients. Besides, the best leads come from former clients that recommend their friends to me. And besides that, I really was not in need of any leads at all. My practice has been full (and I mean bursting at the seams full) for the past two years. I had to concede that I really didn’t need to be blogging anymore. Since I’ve cut down, so too have the phone calls and emails, which has been such a relief for me. Now, some of you may decide that what I described is a good problem to have. And that may be true, but I wanted to offer the other side of blogging since there seems to be only stuff out there saying “Do it! Do it! DO IT!!” You may want to reconsider.