Since it’s all too common for therapists to graduate with little to no marketing training, there can be a lot of lingering questions about what you’re “supposed” to be doing to get yourself out there.

If you’re considering private practice, it’s likely you already know that a website is a necessity. Your therapist site is the core of your practice marketing, after all. But when is the right time to get your practice website?

That’s the question I want to explore more in depth. Just because a website is important doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best idea for you to start one right now — and just because you’re not tech-savvy, it doesn’t mean you have a good excuse to keep putting off such an important part of your business. When should you get your practice website when you’re just starting out? And when shouldn’t you?

Before you read this article, it’s important for me to point out that I’m probably a little biased on this topic. I work for Brighter Vision, the world’s best therapist website service (and Time2Track readers can get a free month here).

I’m genuinely passionate about my little company and I wish I could introduce every one of you to the people I work with or the clients we love so much so you could see why. However, I’m going to make every effort to remain unbiased throughout this article and letting you know about my leanings up front is an important part of that.

Since it’s nice to end on a high note, let’s start with the reasons that getting your practice website right now might not be the best idea for you.

You Should Not Get A Website Now If…

You’re a student + You don’t have the time + You don’t have the money.

The good news is that with enough technological know-how and elbow grease, there’s nothing stopping you from building yourself a great therapist website without paying anyone to help you. The bad news is that building a website yourself takes a whole lot of time — both during the building process and managing it afterwards.

As anyone in school knows all too well, studies can eat your free time. We’ll talk in the next section about why you can still benefit from a website as a student, but for the moment you have the luxury of not necessarily needing a website yet. And your time table while you’re still in school or finishing up your training often doesn’t mesh well with a project as big as building and maintaining a website.

If you don’t have the budget to hire a website service or freelancer to help you and you can’t spare a fairly consistent 30 minutes a day for multiple weeks (until the build is finished), then building a therapist website on your own probably isn’t practical for you right now.

You are joining a practice that is already well established and successful with old school, pen-and-paper marketing.

I believe that every single practice can benefit from having a dedicated website. I’ve seen a fresh website revitalize private practices that have had flagging client lists for years. However, the truth of the matter is that whichever way you do it, acquiring a practice site will take your time, your money, or both.

If you’re joining a practice that has already established a successful business through more classic, boots-on-the-ground marketing that primarily occurs off-line, then you may simply have no need for a website right now. In fact, if you have a pretty full client list and work schedule as things stand, trying to split your attention by taking on a website build on your own will probably see your website final product suffer for it.

You are joining a practice or network that already has a website.

If you’re joining a group practice or other established referral group (for example, working in a hospital or school), it’s likely that they will already have a spot reserved for you on their existing websites. Unless you plan on also taking on a number of private clients, you probably don’t need a website and online business identity separate from your larger network.

You Should Get A Website Now If…

You’re a student + You want an extra edge.

Why would you set up your website before you’ve even finished your schooling and training? For the exact reason that you hesitated when I asked you — it’s not how everyone tends to do things. And that’s what’s going to make you stand a head above the sea of internship and practicum candidates.

Imagine applying to an internship or postgrad placement with your therapist website URL included on your CV. You already know a professional appearance at an interview can impact your chance of being selected or matching, so imagine the effect of a completed website that makes you look like you’re ready to start seeing clients yesterday.

Not to mention, spending the time or money to complete your professional therapist website while in school shows a level of career dedication and forethought that internship and practicum directors will appreciate.

However, because of the very possible time constraints we talked about earlier, getting a therapist website as a student or therapist-in-training is most realistic and stress-free if you can put aside the monthly budget for a service that will do the actual site building for you.

You’re a new therapist + you haven’t started your practice yet.

If you’re even thinking about starting a practice already, you should be giving just as much thought to a practice website. Something that you don’t often hear talked about openly is how long it takes to make a quality therapist website.

If you’re building the site on your own, then it’s going to eat up a fair bit of your time unless you happen to have a strong background as a professional developer. Depending on your skill level, I would expect it to take you 1-2 months to complete.

Even when it comes to services and professionals that will build the site for you, you’ll find that any service that actually customizes the site from your specifications (as opposed to handing you a cookie-cutter design and expecting you to complete all the changes and customization on your own) can take days, sometimes even a week or two (or more!) to get back to you with your new website.

If you’re thinking of launching a practice in the next couple of months, now is the perfect time either to start working on your site yourself or to reach out to a company that can help you with that. Get ahead of the curve and have a finished website ready by the time your practice launches, and you won’t be sorry.

You’re a new therapist + you already started your practice.

Is it too late to hop on the online marketing train if your practice is already in business and seeing clients? Heck no!

This is arguably the best time to set up your practice website. Once you know your ideal client and practice specialties like the back of your hand, your site will be the easiest to build. That isn’t to say that it’s incredibly difficult to build one before your practice is open; it’s simply easier to build one after you have that information.

(And hey, if you need help nailing down your ideal client, try out this Ideal Client Quiz by Brighter Vision.)

Having an existing practice means you’ve already done most of your self-research footwork to find that extra information. It’s important to know who your clients and your practice are in order to theme your website design and copywriting into a client targeting machine. The more familiar you are with where you want your practice to go, the better your website will become.

Remember, there’s a right time for every step of your journey as a therapist! It’s up to you to decide what’s right for yourself — putting off your website for now, or jumping in feet-first. Whatever choice you make, as long as it puts your practice first, it’s always the right business decision.

Lynn Lochlynn
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