The Best Online Tools to Start and Grow Your Private Practice
If it were not for online tools to keep me organized, I’d be a mess. There, I said it. For me, a big part of getting more clients and taking my practice to the next level has been about finding the right tools to help me get there. I’ve organized today’s posts into two categories. One is the very basic essential tools you need to get started if you’re new or newish to private practice. And in the second category are things to look into once you’ve got the basics down. OK? Let’s get started!
(Disclaimer: This post contains some affiliate links. Only the links that are identified below as affiliate are affiliates. These are services I would recommend regardless, because they are awesome. And, if you like what I do here at Practice Boss, using the affiliate links is one way to help me keep doing it! Thanks!)
The Essential Tools
What it is: Simple Practice is a secure online practice management system.
Why I love it: Because it does all the things:
It keeps an electronic health record for each client. That includes appointments, notes, treatment plans, and paperless intake forms, billing history, etc.
The paperless intake thing is a game changer. The client can read and fill out everything ahead of time and sign it digitally. No more spending precious first appointment time awkwardly sifting through papers!
Keeps your schedule (and you can also allow client’s to self-schedule through a secure portal, if that is something you’d like to do).
Do all your billing, and submit insurance claims and tracks insurance reimbursements to make it easier for you to see if you need to follow-up on a claim.
Send secure messages to your clients.
Send client reminders via text, email or both (I saw a huge drop in missed sessions because of this, which more than paid for how much it cost month-to-month).
Many more things like a blog, trainings, e-learning, a telehealth platform-new features are constantly being added based on user request.
People have thought I worked for Simple Practice (I don’t) because of how much I sing their praises. But I love them because they were made by a therapist, for therapists, and it shows. The logic of the user experience is just very intuitive and it’s pleasing to the eye. Their customer service has always been wonderful. Whenever I have had questions they have been quick, clear, and it always feels like there’s a personal touch, not a robot. There are a lot of other online practice management systems out there at this point, but this is the one that sets the industry standard, and I can’t recommend it enough!
(I am an ambassador for Quickbooks Self-Employed, if you use my link, you get 50% off for 6 months)
What it is: It’s the best way to keep track of all your money. You link Quickbooks Self-Employed to your business accounts, and it automatically imports all your transactions, and then all you have to do is log-in and label them with a click of a button. I usually do it about once or twice a month. And then, come tax time, you are pretty much all set!
Why I love it: When I first started my practice I used the full version of Quickbooks, and it was more complicated, and more expensive. So when I learned about Quickbooks Self-Employed, I was really excited because it’s SO much more user-friendly. Everything you need in private practice, and nothing you don’t.
You can see all your income, and expenses, and easily break them down by category so you can see how much you spent on what (and it has all the categories pre-made, which is great if you’re just learning about what to write-off).
It also will tell you how much you owe each quarter for estimated taxes, so no more guessing (and stressing) when it’s time to make payments. It really took so much anxiety away for me. All I have to ever do is just log in, click a few buttons, and I get a full picture of the financial health of my business. And at tax time, I just have this easy feeling knowing that all the information that my accountant is looking for is right there.
What it is: An online platform to create your own website. It’s how this very website was created, in fact!
Why I love it: I am a sucker for both sleek design and good customer service, and this has plenty of both! They have a customer service live chat feature, that is a lifesaver to me because I can get a fast answer on anything I might be stuck on. Also, it has a bunch of built-in tools (like a checklist, love a checklist!) to help you increase your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which basically just means “do the things on the list, and Google will be able to find you” (more on this below).
Having a website as a therapist these days is a must, but it’s also important that is be a good one! More on that in a previous post.
(I am an affiliate for Brighter Vision. Use this link, or the code MKELLY1 and you get 1 month free!)
What it is: An all-in-one website design and marketing service designed especially for therapists.
Why I love it: This is a service I recommend all the time to my consulting clients. This is for the person who knows they need a website, and a good online marketing strategy, but doesn’t have the time or interest in doing it themselves. Brighter Vision makes this incredibly easy. Here’s some of the stuff they offer:
High-quality and secure website design that resonates with the clients you do your best work with
Collaboration with one of their professional design teams who work with you at your pace and provide design consultations with you via email or phone and allow you to make changes to your site whenever you need to
Help with getting your website to rank high in search engine results by applying all of the latest search engine optimization (SEO) techniques
Providing pre-written client forms and content so you don’t spend hours writing this information on your own
Free & unlimited technical support
A domain name, 2 email addresses, and hosting for no additional cost
Access to the the recently released Social Genie, a social media marketing tool that allows you to schedule out a year's worth of posts in just about 15 minutes of your time!
It’s also insanely affordable for what you are getting. I literally made them repeat themselves when they told me the price of their service because I couldn’t believe it. It usually costs at least $40/month or much more for a social media planning program just by itself. The value of their service can not be overstated.
What it is: A free business listing with Google. You have seen these before if you’ve Googled any business, it usually pops up on the right-hand side of your desktop browser window and it shows information like address, hours of operation, phone number, website, etc.
Why I love it: It’s a free way to make your business stand out. What’s not to love about that! It’s going to help your clients find you and contact you more easily. It also makes your business look more professional and legit. I think it’s a must for any private practice, and it’s one that gets underused.
Taking Things to The Next Level
This category is for the person who has a website, and maybe has a presence on social media, and is looking for tools to help them make the best use of both.
What it is: It’s a free design tool for people who aren’t designers. You can make logos, infographics, social media posts, PDF’s, business cards, letterhead, you name it, they have a template for everything.
Why I love it: This is a great tool for if you are just starting a business, and don’t have a bunch of money upfront to plunk down on hiring a designer. While I think hiring a designer (and paying them well) is really important, it’s also just not always realistic when you are starting out, so this tool is a great stand-in.
What it is: It’s like an index page you can add on to your Instagram account. It’s tagline is “You only get one chance to link in Instagram. Make it do more.”
Why I love it: As the tagline says, you do only get once chance to link in Instagram, but what if you have multiple things on the web you want your followers to see? Linktr.ee allows you to add multiple links so your followers can more easily see all the brilliant content you are creating! Link to blog posts, videos, other social media accounts, etc.
What it is: If you are like “WTF is SEO?” this course is for you. Again, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
Why I love it: This course is offered by Simplified SEO Consulting which is a consulting business founded by a therapist, for other therapists which means they understand your unique needs. The course is tailored to therapists.
HAVE YOUR EYES ALREADY GLAZED OVER BECAUSE I JUST SAID A BUNCH OF BORING WORDS?
I totally get it. But, here’s why it actually matters:
According to the research, 94% of people only click on search results that show up on the first page, AND of those people, most only click on the one that shows up in the first 3-4 results!
Think about your own experience. How often do you click past the first page of search results? So, if your website is way back on page 3, it’s highly unlikely anyone is going to see it.
Once you’ve completed the course, you’ll know what SEO is, and if you are so inclined, you will be able to work on your website SEO all on your own. I happen to get a kick out of learning this stuff and trying to do it myself.
That being said, there are certainly REALLY good reasons why you might not want to do this, for example if it doesn’t sound fun to you, or you just plain old don’t have enough time. Fortunately, you can pay someone like Simplified SEO Consulting to do it for you.
What it is: A way to track the health of your website (and to get into Google’s brain). You can see how many visitors and pageviews your site has, and what keywords people are using to find you.
Why I love it: If you are into the whole DIY SEO thing, it is going to give you some helpful tools, most notably, you can use it to make a request to have your site “re-indexed” if you have new content, which is going to help improve your SEO.
I will say, if you aren’t into nerding out over SEO, this is probably a bridge too far. Usually whatever website building platform you are using (Squarespace, Wordpress, Wix, Brighter Vision, etc.) will have some kind of integrated tool you can click on to see a lot of this same information. So this is not a must, by any means.
What it is: It’s a social media planner-aka, a way to automate posts for your social media accounts.
Why I love it: This is a great way to save yourself time, and also to get your content posted at optimal times.
Did you know that there are optimal times for posting things to social media? It’s true. The amount of research out there is kinda crazy. But that’s because social media can really be such a powerful business tool, and people want to harness that.
Social media is something that needs to be regularly tended to for it to work for your business (you can’t just create a page and then never interact with it and expect it to get results). So using a social media planner, especially if you’re trying to have a presence on multiple platforms, is key.
I hope this has been useful to give you some tools to use for your business. Another tool you might be interested in is my very own Private Practice Start Up Guide which is a free checklist and guide that covers every single detail you’ll need to start a private practice!