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A Guide to Really Good Copywriting for Therapists

Let’s talk about copywriting for your therapist’s website. You might be sold on why having a website is so important – trust, credibility, and branding, amongst other things. But the actual words you use on your website? Those are also super important!

Your holistic online presence can make the difference between connecting with the people you set out to help and getting lost in the sea of open tabs. But if you’re like most therapists, counselors, or coaches, you know exactly who you are and what you do until the minute you actually sit down to write your copy.

Sound like you? We created the Write Your Damn Website Workshop because this is such a common hurdle for therapists when they DIY their website. But if you’re just looking for a little nudge in the right direction, here’s a look at what you need to do to write really good copy for your therapist website.

Know who you’re writing to.

Client persona, avatar, dream client, whatever you want to call it. The best copywriting should feel like a conversation between you and them. So to start, I’d like you to get clear on whom you’re writing to!

Your ideal client should be a fictional client that is based on one or more of your dream/actual clients. You should aim to have two or three, depending on the size of your practice and the range of services you offer.

Some of the factors I identify when creating an ideal client avatar are:

  • BACKGROUND ◍ What’s their job? Career? How did they grow up? Do they have a family?
  • DEMOGRAPHICS ◍ How old are they? Income level? Level of education? And if relevant, what’s their gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion, etc.?
  • IDENTIFIERS ◍ What’s their personality like? Their demeanor? What about their communication preferences? Where do they hang out?
  • IDEAL OUTCOMES ◍ What transformations are they hoping for? To feel more confident? Less anxious? More purposeful? Choose two.
  • Frustrations: What are the things that keep them up at night? Financial stability? Relationship challenges? Parenting styles? Addiction? Choose two.
  • COMMON OBJECTIONS ◍ Why wouldn’t they buy your service? Is it cost? Alternatives? Negative emotions? Concerns about value or effectiveness?
  • NEXT ACTIONS ◍ What work will they need to do to reach their ideal outcomes?

The purpose of this is to move your abstract view of a client into a more complete one. Make them real. You’ll start to see your clients and their needs more concretely and understand how to create a message that is inclusive enough to appeal to different needs while creating the feeling for each persona that it was written for people like them.

If you need more guidance, we cover this in-depth in the Write Your Damn Website workshop!

Define your brand

It takes two to converse! With a better understanding of your ideal client, you’ll be easier able to speak to them in a way that connects. Some of the questions to ask as you go through this process are…

  • WHO ARE YOU ◍  What do you call yourself or your business?
  • WHAT DO YOU DO? ◍  What type of business do you do and what are your 2-3 core services?
  • VISION ◍ What future do you hope to create for your clients, your industry, or the greater good through your work?
  • MISSION ◍  What are you actually doing to create this future?
  • REASONS TO BELIEVE ◍  What do you specialize in? Why are you different from other businesses that do this work?
  • BRAND ADJECTIVES  ◍  I describe my brand or services as…
  • BRAND VERBS  ◍  I _____ my ideal clients so they can reach their ideal outcome.
  • BRAND PERSONALITY ◍  How do you want people to think about your brand? Take this short brand personality quiz to find out.
  • BRAND TONE OF VOICE  ◍ Your brand tone of voice is defined by how your brand communicates with your ideal client. Are you casual or more formal when you speak? How funny do you want to come across? It may change depending on your message, but your tone should be relatively the same across your written content.

By getting clear on your brand, you’ll be better able to set yourself apart from other clinicians and write copy that connects with your ideal client.

Make a plan for your website.

Through my work as web designer and copywriter, I’ve worked on websites in literally every state of completion. Starting a website from scratch. Designing a new website around old copy. Freshening up an old website with new copy. You get the point. But I’ll tell you that having done this dozens of times, my first step in every project is the same.

Every project needs to start with a content plan. A content plan is basically a rough version of what content will go where when your website is finished. You can do it on a sheet of paper or using a design tool like Figma or Adobe.

You can (and should) use placeholders like “This is a header”, “Lorem Ipsum”, or “Call to Action”. But the purpose of the exercise is that before you ever start logging hours copywriting or building a functional website, you’ll have a basic structure to guide your copywriting You’ll know what type of information you need and roughly what format it should take (header, paragraph, button, etc.).

Doing this not only ensures you don’t skip over any major topics on your website, but it will save you tons of time down the road.

Copywriting 101

  • Direct, not dithering.
  • Sales-focused, not informational
  • Clever, not confusing
  • Specific, not generic
  • About “you”, not you.

Write to “you” rather than to the 3rd person.

Perspective makes all the difference in copywriting. Rather than speaking about yourself in the third person, adjusting your perspective to “I” or “we” will make your website infinitely more personal and conversational.

This also applies in how you address your prospective clients. Rather than addressing them as the generic “they”, “everyone”, or “some people”, find opportunities to speak to them directly using “you” and “yours.” Second person has been shown to be more impactful and higher converting in copywriting.

 

Write shorter, more impactful sentences.

When you first attempt your own copy, you might notice yourself using repetitive sentence structures or starting too many sentences in the same way. It’s first most important that you get it out there, so don’t worry too much about this in your first draft! But as you begin to edit, here are a few ways that you can make sure your sentences are more interesting…

  • Rewrite sentences that use the same starting word. You can do this by rearranging the sentence, changing perspectives, combining two sentences, or starting your sentence with a verb.
  • Make your sentences short and sweet. Copywriting differs from other types of writing because your sentences should be short, and to the point. Shorter. Good.
  • Avoid passive voice. Passive voice is when what is passive voice? More impactful copy is active

Create feeling (thoughtfully)

The role of impactful copywriting is to create emotions that compel the reader to take action. Retailers use this technique all the time, but I recommend that mental health professionals are more thoughtful in their approach.

You might approach your copywriting in the same way you’d approach your first conversation with a patient. It’s perfectly reasonable to allude to your areas of specialization or ask leading questions, but that should stop short of calling out or dredging up fear or worry. You want them to feel comfortable rather than interrogated.

Benefits, not features.

One super common mistake people make in copywriting is that they spend too much time highlighting features of their service when they should be sharing benefits. You can think of a feature as a “what” and a benefit as a “why”.

For example, let’s say you’re a trauma-informed therapist that offers EMDR. A feature might be that it’s a 90-minute session, while a benefit is that they may experience a noticeable reduction in their panic and anxiety levels in 90 minutes. A feature is that it relies on eye movement rather than talking, while a benefit is that it may provide a path to healing for clients who have struggled with talk therapy in the past. Are you catching the difference?

It sounds simple, but moving past features to uncover intrinsic benefits can take a couple of rounds of asking “why?” The best copy connects the benefits and features for the client in as few words as possible. I encourage you to try this out for yourself.

 A head start on benefits.

For the most part, there are three key messages that most therapists’ copywriting should have: Trust. Understanding. Experience.

How you communicate these things ultimately comes down to who you are as a therapist. Some therapists build trust through no-nonsense directness while others offer understanding through validation and warmth. Where one might convey experience through education or years of practice, another can highlight their own recovery as a way of getting that point across.

After you’ve written your copy, go through and read it out loud. Does it sound like you? Would a prospective client understand what it might be like to sit across from you in your office?

WRITE YOUR DAMN WEBSITE WILL HELP WITH YOUR DIY THERAPIST WEBSITE PROJECT

Write Your Damn Website is a 3-part video workshop with easy exercises and fill-in-the-blank prompts. It makes writing the homepage for your mental health website uncomplicated and high-impact. Get access here ( $79).

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