Marketing is one of the most essential components when you run a self-pay premium fee private practice.
What do all of those words mean?
Self-pay means that clients pay you directly out of pocket with cash, check, or credit card (I’ve admittedly never had anyone pay me with cash). A self-pay private practice cannot rely on insurance to send them clients. This means it takes a different kind of strategy to get clients.
Premium fee means a fee that is higher than standard in your area. For example, the standard self-pay rate in Tucson is generally $100-125/hr. I charge $200/hr (you can read about why here).
When my self-pay rate was in the standard range, I didn’t have to do a lot of marketing. My clients and fellow therapists regularly referred clients to me and I was quickly full.
When my self-pay rate evolved to a premium fee (you can read about why I did that here), the clients that were referred to me couldn’t necessarily afford me. Furthermore, less people were likely to refer to me because they suspected that the individual could not afford me.
I understand this. I’ve also had to grapple with my own internal beliefs around not being affordable to everyone (you can read about that here). I know what I need to charge to maintain the kind of schedule and life that works for me. I accept that my fee means I have to work a little harder to find clients.
For my own marketing, I prescribe to a feminist marketing philosophy - one that says we do not need to push on people’s pain points and scarcity mindsets to get clients in the door. Instead, I want my marketing to resonate with potential clients and help them feel excited for what is possible through therapy.
That means I market in a way that aligns with my values and what I am trying to bring to my clients. My primary medium for doing this is through essays like this one. In a previous essay about choosing your marketing style, I wrote about how therapists need to pick a marketing medium that aligns with their natural desire and instinct. For me, that’s essay writing.
In the past 10 months, I’ve written close to 400 essays. I do it because I love it. The more I write though, the more work I need to do to get my writing out there. I quickly found myself spending more time getting my stuff out there than I did actually writing. I was editing, designing, adding images, and sharing blog posts. I was then sharing them on Linked-In and Medium. While this doesn’t sound like much, the time quickly added up.
I didn’t notice at first because what I was doing was working. I was excited that new clients were finding me through my writing. It all seemed worth the effort.
But after months, it felt like a lot. I began to refine my systems, such as preparing a week’s worth of essays for publication in one day (they were already written, but I needed to go through the editing, designing, imaging, etc. process) or pre-scheduling posts. This meant I had more time to focus on other activities during other days of the week.
I’ve continued to refine my systems - making ways to easily share my writing on pre-scheduled intervals. I no longer try to do it day to day.
What has surprised me is the impact it has had on me. It does make a big difference. I was surprised when I finally stopped manually sharing two essays every day on Linked-In. It freed up so much mental and creative space in my morning.
These are the kinds of systems we need and have to keep refining as premium fee therapists. We will always need to market and make sure people know we exist. The more we can make that easy, the better we’ll be able to keep up with effective marketing and enjoy the incredible life we’ve created for ourselves.
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