I used to think that marketing meant advertising.
Or being fake.
Like reaching into someone’s environment and saying, “Come, buy my shit.”
Or offering something for free under the guise of, “Take this, and then come buy my shit.”
So when I set up my art therapy practice, I decided not to do any marketing. I focused on basic things. I created a website, let people in my community know I was open for business, and listed myself on Psychology Today.
The majority of my referrals came from existing clients and therapists/counselors in my community.
Without much effort, I had a steady stream of incoming clients and a full practice.
In May of this year, I began restructuring my business to fit my needs for emotional, mental, and financial balance (which I write about in my essay "What is Success When You're an Art Therapist? more about that here).
As I implemented changes, my stream of incoming clients trickled down. This was understandable. I no longer had night or weekend availability. I stopped seeing adolescents. My fee increased.
I decided it was time to dive into marketing. As I did more research about different ways to market, I realized two key things.
1. I had been marketing all along
I had mistakenly equated marketing with advertising.
They’re not synonymous.
I now like to think of marketing as, “All of the stuff I do that connects me with people as an art therapist.”
For example, I created a consultation group because I wanted to receive great case consultation and share lived experiences with other therapists. Many of those therapists referred clients to me.
Turns out, the things I enjoyed doing and did for my own personal improvement as a therapist (education, sense of community, fun, etc.) were also marketing my practice.
2. I can market in a way that fits who I am
Originally, I was overwhelmed by all of the marketing choices. Should I pitch to podcasts? Get on Tik Tok? Submit more quotes to HARO? Write more blog posts? Create YouTube videos? Run workshops? Start some groups?
With time, I learned that the answer was to focus on the things I enjoy doing.
That’s why I’m here, writing this essay. I like writing and it’s relatively quick for me.
I love one-on-one conversations, so I invite local therapists to virtual coffee.
I enjoy tinkering with my website, and I continually update my copy and visuals.
I crossed things like Tik Tok off my marketing list because I do not enjoy making videos or using social media.
I decided not to run workshops because I find groups to be very energy demanding for me.
I’m sure that six months from now, my perspective of marketing will evolve even more. And that's a good thing. That’s one of my favorite parts about running my own business, I’m constantly growing in unforeseen ways.
Building a thriving private practice can be challenging. If you need more support, I provide consultation for therapists to create their ideal private practices.