This is a guest post by Michael Curtis. He is a blogger for his own website: MichaelCurtisPT.com. It is a patient centered blog with amazing tips for both PTs and patients alike. I was honored to write a guest blog for his site last week. Here he is returning the favor for Jetset! We did a podcast on this same topic last week. Part 1 is available now and Part 2 will be up on our website next week.
Please take a look at our upcoming con ed classes and see what we are all about. Enjoy!
- Randal Glaser PT, DPT, OCS, CEAS I
It was August 2016 when I asked myself the question - "Should I start a Physical Therapy Blog?"
I knew I wanted to reach beyond the walls of the PT clinic and make a difference in more people’s lives, but didn’t quite know what would work. I thought about writing a book, which is still a dream for me, but it takes time - a lot of time. I wanted to get something going sooner. I started listening to podcasts and researching information on creating blogs and came to the realization that I could do it. So I did - and after launching MichaelCurtisPT.com in December 2016, I’ve been overwhelmed with the results.
Perhaps you’ve considered starting your own PT website or blog. Even if you haven’t, I encourage you to keep an open mind to the possibility. Yes, it’s a lot of work and can be time consuming, but a blog can open up opportunities for connecting with others unlike anything else. That said, I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned on my journey to save you some trouble with yours.
Why Start a Website?
A website is your home base. There’s a lot of options out there to release your message into the world. You can start a Facebook Page, an Instagram account, tweet 15 times per day, or even write articles via LinkedIn. I have no problems with any of these avenues. In fact, I’ve tried them all and continue to use them to supplement my blog posts (more on that later). But without a home base, your words quickly get drowned out in the noise. Without your own platform, you’re simply setting up camp on a rented lot.
Your own website is a platform - a springboard for your ideas to spread from. Lets say you write a blog post on your site. It’s there. Forever. Then you can share it on social networks and in groups. Whenever people click on your blog post to read it, they are now on your site.
This may not seam like a big deal now. But imagine the opportunity a few years from now. Maybe you’ve thought about launching an online course series? Or writing a book? Or starting a podcast? Maybe you currently own a PT clinic or are looking to start one soon? Without a home base, how will all of these people learn about - and potentially buy - your products and services?
Enter the email list…
The Necessity of the eMail List
With all of the social media outlets available today, people’s attention span can be measured in milliseconds at best.
The best way to capture people’s attention and gain their long-term loyalty is via an email list.
Believe it or not, I still open every email I get. And statistics show that a lot of people out there do the same. Therefore, to get your message read, rather than skimmed past in a feed, email is the most reliable medium.
To get people to subscribe to your list, you need to create an incentive for them to give you their precious email address. Because, let’s face it, no one wants another email every week. You must create a lead magnet.
Create a Lead Magnet
What is a lead magnet? It’s anything that incentivizes someone to sign up for your email list:
an ebook (you can check mine out here)
an instructional PDF of exercises
a weekly workout plan
a healthy recipe booklet
It could be anything. The point is: it doesn’t have to be extravagant, expensive, or take you a year to make. That being said, the more valuable it is, the more likely people will want it.
The idea is that you give the lead magnet away for free. Yes, free.
Without something of value that your visitors can get for free, they likely won’t stick around too long.
Put in the time up front, create your lead magnet, and you’ll be glad you did.
The eMail List Provider
There are services out there that help make email list management extremely easy. Mailchimp is what I use. Others I’ve heard are comparable include AWebber and ConvertKit.
What Mailchimp does is allow you to embed a signup form - with the free lead magnet - on your website and schedule mass emails to the group. It’s free for up to 2000 subscribers.
How To Start A Website
Honestly, starting a website can be a technically overwhelming process, but it doesn’t have to be. My goal here is to make it as simple as possible for you.
First, you need a hosting provider: Bluehost.
There is, of course, the option of using a hosted website such as Wordpress.com. But then you’ll have to use a website domain name with .wordpress.com at the end (mine would be www.michaelcurtispt.wordpress.com) - this screams amateur. So make the small investment and use your own hosting provider. Bluehost is the most widely used and the one I use myself. By being your own host, you can have a professional website domain (www.michaelcurtispt.com) without the excess clutter.
Before you sign up, Bluehost allows you to search for a domain name you can use for your site. It will instantly let you know whether the domain is available or if it’s already taken. Go ahead, try a few out, see if they’re taken or not.
Check it Out here at Bluehost.com
Now that you have a self-hosted provider and a domain name, Wordpress.org is where you will set up your website (Wordpress.com is the free one with the cluttered domain, Wordpress.org is for self-hosting).
Wordpress powers something like 25% of all websites across the internet. Therefore, it has the most support, themes, and plugins to make it easy to use.
Choosing a theme is like designing your house. What colors will you paint the walls? What features will you install?
There are a ton of free and payed options available. Choose what’s right for you.
Plugins provide even more customization to your site.
They are downloadable for Wordpress and can do any number of things, many of which can be valuable.
Be careful not to download too many, as they can slow down your site.
Here are some free must-have Plugins I recommend:
All in One SEO
This allows you to add descriptions and keyword tags to make your “Search Engine Optimization” the best it can be. In other words, it helps Google find your posts more easily.
A similar alternative is called Yoast
Jetpack has a ton of tools built in to keep your site secure, to improve your SEO, and increase your traffic.
As described earlier, once you set up a mailchimp account, you’ll need to integrate it with your site through the plugin.
Take the First Step
All of this may seem overwhelming and I get it. I was in the same boat a few months ago. What I found to be the best advice that I’ll pass along to you is to just start. When viewed as a whole, it appears insurmountable. But the only way to achieve your goal of starting a website/blog is to take the first step.
For me, the first step was to begin with my lead magnet. I took a month or so - during my kids nap times and late at night - to write a short eBook about posture. I wrote it, edited it, took photos, and had it designed (on Fiverr.com) as a free PDF download for anyone who signs up for my email list. Mailchimp makes it easy to integrate this feature into your list.
After that, I made the investment in Bluehost, signed up for Wordpress, bought a theme that worked for me, customized with plugins and got rolling.
The good news is that, once you get going, you can easily make adjustments over time - and you will, to be sure. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect from the beginning, just get the basics out there and iterate as you go.
The Next Steps
The sky is the limit once you have your site up and running. Now you can share your content with the world.
A couple pieces of advice once you get started:
Make big goals - set the bar high for what you want to achieve a year from now, 2 years from now, and so on.
Break your big goals down into small achievable steps. how can you get X done by doing Y and Z?
Don’t expect much right away. These things take time to gain traction. It takes time and effort for Google to rank your site to appear higher on search engine pages.
Write everything down. The best thing I ever did from the beginning was keep track of all of my ideas. Every idea for a blog post, every useful tip I read, I list them all out. The best tool I’ve found for this is Evernote. It syncs with all of your devices and has a Website Clipper as a Chrome extension so anything you find on your browser you can easily save in Evernote.
Create great content
Be consistent: post often
Engage with your audience: respond to comments, stimulate discussion.
You’ve been thinking about it. You’re on the fence. Take that first step - start your PT website today!
A great first step is to secure your domain name by signing up for Bluehost now! Full disclosure: I am an affiliate for Bluehost, which means I get a small commission if you sign up using this link. The cool thing is, the price is the same for you, so it’s a win-win!
Question: What questions do you have about starting your website/blog?
Michael Curtis PT, DPT, OCS is an experienced blogger and author of Why you have Bad Posture and How to Make it Better. He runs a patient centered Physical Therapy blog focused on Health, Wellness, Fitness, Pain and Injury prevention: michaelcurtispt.com. He was recently on the Jetset Rehab Podcast.
2 Part Podcast
On itunes now!