Your private practice website
One of the most common questions asked by new (and, indeed, experienced) private practitioners, is this: "how do I get more clients?"
If you’ve read our other marketing articles, you’ll already have some answers. For example, you could attend networking events, give your details to GP practices and clinics, send out leaflets, or give workshops.
You could also register your private practice online - at Google My Business, with your professional organisations, and on therapy directories (a full list is available in our members’ section).
However, if you don’t have a website, you could be wasting your time. As you know, when someone is looking for a private practitioner, they’re now far more likely to search online than they are to go through the telephone book.
The other marketing activities described above will probably generate some enquiries and referrals, but without a website they’ll be far less effective.
When you give someone your business card, or they pick up a leaflet, or they’re given your details, the first thing they’ll do is go online and see if you have a website. If not, they’ll find someone else, in their area, who does have a website.
It doesn’t matter how good you are, how experienced you are, or how well you’re regarded by your colleagues. It doesn’t even matter if your details can be found online at directories, professional organisations, or Google Maps. If you don’t have a website, you’ll get fewer clients.
A website gives your private practice credibility and is a fantastic platform for your services.
Once someone has found their way onto your website, you can tell them how good you are. You can tell them how you can help with their problems and why they should use you rather than someone else. You can also tell them how they can get in touch and give them reasons to do just that - for example, by offering a free consultation.
There’s no need to have an expensive, complicated website with lots and lots of pages and interactive features. Even a three page website with a Homepage, Treatments page and Contact page will do the job when you’re first starting out.
So, have we persuaded you yet? Here is the traditional way to proceed (but do read to the end before taking these steps!):
1. Choose a domain name
This could be your own name, the name of your private practice, or something else altogether. Have a look at other private practitioner websites for inspiration. Whatever you do, your domain name should be relevant, short, easy to remember and easy to spell.
The next step is to see if the name is already taken, and register it for your use. Several companies offer this service, including 123-reg.co.uk and Domain Check. Here, you can type in your preferred domain - don’t worry at this point about adding the extension such as .co.uk or .com.
The results will show you what is available, and with what extensions. Often, your chosen name will be unavailable with the extensions co.uk and .com but will be available with others such as biz, .uk.com, .net and so on. Finding something with .co.uk or .com is ideal.
Once you’ve found a name that’s available, you will be able to register it for a fee.
2. Find a hosting provider
These are the people who will, essentially, rent you the server space for your website. A hosting provider usually offers several different plans, depending on how much space you need. This will depend on whether you will have lots of pictures, videos or other content on your website, and how many emails you are likely to send or receive. If you’re a small private practice, you won’t need the sort of space that a large commercial business needs, and so you should be able to choose a relatively low cost plan.
There are hundreds of hosting providers out there. It’s up to you how you choose one but here are some tips:
- don’t go for a price that looks too good to be true
- choose a provider who has been around for several years
- if you’re unsure, ask friends or colleagues who they use
- choose a provider with clear, helpful information on their website
- choose someone who is happy to answer your queries before you’ve given them any money
3. Create your website
Now for the tricky bit. There are many ways to create your website, at varying levels of cost. The following is somewhat of a generalisation, but your options will fall into one of three categories:
- Companies that offer website building software, whereby you literally design and create your own website using a number of templates - they usually include the domain and hosting too. These are well worth looking into and usually involve a monthly payment with minimal upfront costs. However, if you’re not careful, you could fall into the trap of your website looking amateurish, which will put off potential clients.
- Companies that offer varying levels of bespoke design as well as the domain and hosting, and allow you to make ongoing amendments to your site. Many of these companies focus solely on the therapy market.
- Designers who will deliver a fully bespoke designed website - but may not offer the ability for you to make ongoing amendments, and you may need to sort out the domain and hosting yourself.
Don’t automatically go for the lowest quote - you get what you pay for. But on the other hand, don’t think that the most expensive is always the best.
Which designer should you choose?
We’ve carried out reviews of a number of companies - you can read them here. You can also download a comparison spreadsheet of our findings when you become a member. We hope you find them useful!