Writing the Short Blog Post

There are people out there who insist that to have a good website and to show up well in Google, that you have to blog. I’m not sure if it’s true, but a lot of people worry. And certainly having a blog can help.  Google likes websites that add and change content on a regular basis. This means that the sites are active. There’s also a bit of weight given to how much content a site has, which means that over the long term, blogging can add a lot of content to your site, even if you just write short notes. But there are a lot of factors in Google’s algorhims and they change regularly. There are blogs devoted to getting your website to show up on the top pages of Google. Many of them disagree with each other. They do agree that a blog helps but so does the length of time you’ve had your domain.

Not everyone has the time or inclination to write long blog posts. Some people find that short blog posts work well.

So what do I mean by a short blog post? Well, let’s suppose John Doe, LAc writes a great blog post on his blog Acupuncture Clinic of the USA about acupuncture and holistic healing. His words reflect my own ideas and I want to share.

What I can’t do:

  • I can’t copy and paste his article in its entirety
  • I can’t use the image that he used, unless I have purchased the same image from a stock photo site or I have permission from him to use his image.
  • I can’t claim his words as my own in any way shape or form.

What I can do:

  • I can write a short article that says something like this, “Check out this article from John Doe LAc on acupuncture and holistic healing (insert link to the article here). I agree with his points but as I am not a great writer, I thought I’d let him say this in his own passionate words. Let me know what you think of the article.”
  • I can also write a longer article that may quote the article by John Doe. If I do this, to be really safe, if I quote once sentence, I probably want to write a bit longer article so Google knows that I have something original to say about this.
  • I can add my own image to my site that goes with my own unique article.

What does this do for me or John Doe?

  • It helps John Doe because he’s got a nice targeted keyword link back to his site.
  • It helps me add content to my site with out the agony of writing a long article on a subject I am interested in but don’t want to write about.
  • The question at the end allows me to open a dialogue with my patients and clients.

Another example might be someone quoting a post about acupuncture and insomnia. Maybe a final note would be something like, “Many of you have mentioned friends or family members who have trouble sleeping. I see a lot of patients with this problem. Jane Doe wrote this amazing article on how it can help.(hyperlink to the article).”

When writing short posts like this, you can always find material via Google Notifications. You can set them to notify you about articles about acupuncture or health specialties that are of interest to you, your patients and potential patients.

Short posts aren’t as good as completely original content. Original content where you might write two hundred to five hundred words on a topic allows you to write longer articles that can get indexed for a particular keyword, which can then bring more traffic to your site. If you are not a specialist, this may or may not be helpful to you. After all, if you are across country, chances are, I’m still going to find someone local.

Short articles like this are a great way for acupuncturists to utilize posts that others have written without plagiarizing  the writing. It allows you to offer something good for them, which is a link back. It means you can save most of your time for marketing strategies that work best for you.

Want to learn more about blogging? Go to the experts at CopyBlogger. They have a blog which has a ton of free useful information. They also have books and seminars and webinars for those who want more indepth learning. Whatever your learning style, they undoubtedly have a way to help you learn. And they’ve been around forever so they understand not just websites and SEO but the unique needs of someone writing a blog to sell their sevices.


Websites for Acupuncturists is Here

websites1front1I finally got Websites for Acupuncturists edited and formatted for publication. It’s available on Amazon in both ebook and print.

I wrote this book to address many of the questions I’m seeing in social media. This is less a how to book and more a should you book. It offers some explanations about what you get with a general easy set up site (like Weebly and SquareSpace), what you get in a profession specific managed site (like AcuPerfect Websites and QiSites) and what you have to do to do it yourself.

I think a lot of people start out trying to do it themselves without having any idea of the options or what it means to be on a managed site and what their options are. I’ve kept the price low and offered as much information as I can to help people determine whether they have the time or the interest in creating their own website. Things are getting so much less expensive that there are many more affordable options out there than there were even a few years ago.

Acupuncture, Business, Marketing and Classes

_MG_6805There’s been a long discussion with fellow acupuncturists on Facebook about the costs of becoming an acupuncturist (way to high now days) and the differences between practicing acupuncture and being a good business person.

I am struck that the vast majority of people who really count themselves wildly successful, beyond the dreams of many acupuncture students, are people who love both the business and the acupuncture side.  Those that are successful and making a living doing what they love may love just being an acupuncturist.  It takes some time to decide who you are and what you want.

One woman that I see as very energetic doesn’t see herself that way but she was bound and determined to be successful as a practitioner and she is.  She got there within a few months of being out of school because she wasn’t going to let anything limit her chances of making it.   Other people took longer.  Still others worked very hard, took some time but made long term plans that included not just working for themselves and seeing one person an hour but figured out ways to leverage their working hours by seeing more patients or by taking on other practitioners.  The advantage of this is clear.  The employer made more money per hour.  The downside, of course, is that the work isn’t all about acupuncture any longer.  It’s a business.

I don’t think there is any one way to run a business. There’s no one way to go about your practice or find a niche or see patients.  There are many ways.  There are certain things the successful people do in one way shape or form.  Eric Grey, who has a successful practice at Watershed Wellness Center is setting up a year long acupuncture business course.  If you are an acupuncturist don’t have a waiting list or are frustrated with things you barely understand in business, consider looking at his offering.  It’s based on Classical Chinese Medicine too, so you can work and live the philosophy which is so important to people.  Check it out.

What are You Offering Patients

What Are You Offering Your Patients?What are you offering your patients?

That may seem like an easy question. Most people will say acupuncture or acupuncture and herbal treatments.  But what does this do for the patient?  What are the patients getting?  Are they getting better health?  Are they getting stress relief. Are they get someone who is present for the experience they are having with their body?

Sometimes it’s good to sit back and stop thinking about how you deliver something and consider what it is, at heart, that you are delivering.  When I had my own practice and practice website my website highlighted that quality of life was important to me.  In my life I can easily get overwhelmed with the need for perfection in how I do things, from doing the right amount of acupuncture and herbs to the right amount of exercise and doing it perfectly.  My perfect is not everyone’s perfect.  As I worked with chronically ill patients I became used to an ebb and flow in their commitment to coming to acupuncture to help their health.  In fact, that ebb and flow of commitment often extended to any lifestyle changes.  It became important to me to meet patients where they were at that moment in time.

This didn’t mean that I didn’t let them know what would work best. It meant we had an open conversation about what they wanted THAT day.  Sometimes they were feeling pretty good and just wanted to feel like a “normal” person who didn’t have healthcare appointments every day.  Sometimes it meant getting into the best physical condition they could.  For me, it meant being there with the patients as honestly as possible to help the get what it was they needed for their best quality of life at the time they sat in my office.

Other practitioners may focus on delivering a pain-free life, or the healthiest life possible.  What do you offer?

Who Owns Your Website?

Website helpI’ve been hearing the phrase who owns your website on non webmaster sites for some time now.  It always sounded silly to me as a web designer.  I host sites and I design sites. I’m paid for both of those things.  I figure that everything belongs to my clients once I have finished and been paid for my work.

However, there are few things to consider.  Some companies offer templates that can be customized.  These templates may belong to the webmaster, not to you as the business owner.  Some of these same companies may offer a certain amount of free content that can be customized.  This content too may belong to the webmaster.  If it is very customized at some point, it may no longer belong to the webmaster but to the writer (which in many cases is the business owner).  This would be an issue for copyright if it went to court.

If something happens to the webmaster, what happens to the site.  This is a good question for any web host or design company.  While I believe my clients owned their sites, I was always a one person show.  Certainly I had a plan for it I needed to go out of business.  I could move sites into the names of the businesses and they could then use any new webmaster or maintain the site themselves with full access.  What happened if something serious happened to me?  What if I fell off a cliff and went into a coma? What happened if I died?  My husband knew about the workings of the business and has enough web savvy to get the company I was using as a reseller host to port the sites to their own hosting accounts with the help of the clients.  Certainly, I would hope that clients would be a little patient given that it might not go as smoothly as I’d like but at that point,  probably wouldn’t be around to care.

Given how many people do this work on their own, what are their plans?  It’s a tough question to ask.  Perhaps asking what sort of assistance they have if they can’t work would be a way to start.   This way you know that your site is safe no matter what happens to the other person.  Yes, it would be hassle to have to find someone else but at least you have a working website and don’t have to start from square one.

Ownership may not be the best way for phrasing these issues, but it’s a good way to think about it.  Who are you entrusting the care of your website to? Will they love it and understand it’s importance to your business? Do they have contingencies in place if they can’t work?

A Picture is Worth Money (to the artist)

copyright on art photos onlineArtwork makes your website look great.  I do acupuncture. I also do art.   I think of myself first as a writer and as a photographer or photo artist.   I make money off the images I create.  I have them online in order to sell them.   If someone were to steal the images and use them on their website, I would lose money.  However, many people think it’s okay to do so.  They would never consider themselves thieves.   They just don’t understand fair use and copyright.

In one online conversation,  someone recommend that practitioners building a website just go to Flickr and download images for use.  Many artists use Flickr to display their images and promote themselves.  They have their images copyrighted.  It is not okay to go to Flickr and download someone else’s images and use them on your website without permission.  Love the image? Contact the artist.  Some newer artists may allow you to use the image with just a link to their website or have their name in the corner and a website link back.

Artists can watermark their images with a copyright.  The problem is that you can’t always see the details of the image when the watermark is there.  For that reason many artists don’t want to do that.   I use a service that I can have people automatically download after they have paid for an image.  I can’t watermark that image or people wouldn’t be able to download it.  This is true for a lot of artists.

Images are not that expensive to purchase.  Fotolia.com, Istockphoto.com, Dreamstime.com are all places where royalty free images can be purchased for use on a website.  Each image has a license attached.  If it says you can use it for commercial use, you can buy that and use it on your website.  If you won’t want other people using the same image, you can pay more for exclusive use.  The downside of sites like these is that the artist gets very little.   If you purchase a $10.00 item, the artist might get twenty cents.  That means they have to sell a lot of photos to make a living.  However, it is a legal use of the image and is better than searching online and stealing from someone else.

What can an artist do if they find you’ve stolen their art? Or will they find you’ve stolen their art? Many artists do image searches online to find if their image is being used elsewhere. If they find you have done that and do not have permission, first they will send you a letter.  If that doesn’t work, they can contact your website host and complain. Many hosts will remove a site with copyright infringement.  This is particularly true of sites that are business sites rather than small personal blogs.  It is a time-consuming process to work out the details of what you need to remove in order to get your site back online.  It’s better to not have this happen in the first place.

Non artists may think this is harsh and that artists shouldn’t be so territorial.  However, images are an artist’s work.  It is what they are paid to do.  Often artists are barely making it.  The artist can’t afford to look the other way when their work is stolen.  Please use images fairly.  Not sure?  Check sites like this one for fair use.


Making that Connection

Creating ConnectionsI started creating my artwork and marketing materials to reach potential patients who had never tried acupuncture.  I started with my midwest relatives in mind.  Not all of them. Some of them would happily try acupuncture.  A lot of them (and read A LOT because the families were big), would never try it.  They have a niece, cousin, and grand-niece who practices acupuncture and can answer all their questions but they would never really grasp it.  There was this attitude of,  “There she goes again talking about that weird stuff she does.”

What I didn’t get until recently, nor do many acupuncturists, is that there are people for whom acupuncture is so far out of their experience and their life that they can’t even imagine it being for them.  This wouldn’t matter except that there are a lot of them.   Those same people are often getting a little older and have lots of chronic health problems that acupuncture could help.

Educating them about how acupuncture works, doesn’t work.  After all, they know the basics of illegal drugs but that isn’t part of their experience either, really.  They’re “normal” people.  They are not a Hollywood star, an Asian immigrant, a university professor, a rich person, a well-traveled person.  They are just themselves and they may not even know the kinds of questions you would ask an acupuncturist.  They don’t know how to form a bond of trust with the medicine.

There is this story that says when the large ships that Columbus sailed to the New World on, the Natives couldn’t see them.  It wasn’t that they were invisible, but the tribes had never seen anything like it so their brain didn’t even register these ships.  I have no idea if this is true.  However, as an acupuncturist, sometimes it feels like people are often blind to the successes of acupuncture because it’s too different for them.

So how to make that connection?  Talking to people in their language is a good start.  This means that they don’t have to learn anything new to understand that acupuncture can help them. It’s not about educating them to acupuncture, but habituating them to the idea.  It’s about reaching them on an unconscious level.  That’s what I seek to do with artwork.  I’m a huge fan of having acupuncturists who see a broad cross-section of people having familiar touchstones in their offices, so that the office isn’t all about Asian beauty and Feng Shui.  Not everyone is comfortable in that setting.  Even one picture or a few magazines that speak a common language can go a long way to making the patient feel more at home.

It’s a tough line to walk to be who you are and embrace all that you are as a practitioner and still make that reach over to the person who has trouble accepting it.  If the profession is to grow then more practitioners need to offer that helping hand, to show people that acupuncture isn’t just for other people but that it can be for them.



Facebook and Your Practice

There are a lot of acupuncturists using Facebook.  There are acupuncture groups where acupuncturists can join in discussions about cases, insurance questions and case-law.  My school has both a general Facebook group and an alumni group that is closed to all but approved people.  I see lots of practitioners with their own Facebook pages.

I find it interesting when practitioners want to share their page with other practitioners.  It’s not that it’s a bad thing but is this really the best use of the page?

A Facebook page can be a quick and easy way for patients for find you.  You can offer quick tips about what’s happening at your local practice.  You can keep updates about the weather. What is happening in your community.  It’s probably far more effective for patients for the practitioner to share with local businesses than with acupuncturists from across the country.

I do follow lots of practitioners. I’m looking for acupuncture news.  I want to find news that’s unique to practitioners and see who is doing something novel. Unfortunately all this following means that everyone seems to be doing the same thing.  I find it ironic given that most practitioners strive to be unique.  While many articles are for the general public and talk about acupuncture, often these kinds of articles get tiresome for patients.  Patients want something that touches their lives.  Finding local news can be a way to engage them and get conversation going.  Conversation on the page can be very helpful in the long run, especially if the practitioner can monitor it.

Moving beyond Facebook to other social media is important only if you, as a practitioner enjoy that.  The best social media advice I ever got was to do only those things that I liked and forget about the others.



Three Reasons To Hire Website Help

Bonnie Koenig, Creative WebsitesSmall business owners, such as acupuncturists often talk about doing their own website.  As someone who runs a small website business sideline, I’d like to point out several reasons not to do that.

First, will you actually create and maintain the website?  Lots of people think about making a website.  They may buy the domain name and look into hosting but never go any further.  If they do create a website, often it is a static site that they then forget to update when things at their practice change.  They may have people listed as being at their clinic who left years before.  Maintaining a website as well as creating one takes time.  Is that what you want to focus on?

Second, do you really know what you are doing?  Many people think they know what they are doing, but really no matter how good the template software that comes with some hosting companies, you can’t make it look as good as a professional.  The longer I’ve been doing websites, the more easily I can pin point those that are done by a hobbyist and those that are professionally done.

Third, if something goes wrong with your site, can you fix it? Do you want to take the time to fix it?  I was reading where one person was certain that an increase in visitors that came from his website was because he changed the name of his clinic.  A good webmaster could have made the clinic name work.  First they would have made sure all the special keyword tags and descriptions focused on the location of the clinic as that’s how someone would search.  Then the webmaster would have made sure there were sitemaps submitted to Google.  Finally, if google was still ignoring the site, they could have found out why–direct from Google.   Sites do get blacklisted.  It’s the domain that gets blacklisted and that can carry over to the new owner of the site.

Say, someone owned mysite.com and it was a spammy site with lots of things Google doesn’t like.  It might get blacklisted.  The spammer drops the site and moves on.  I come along with my clinic named mysite.  I find the domain name  mysite.com and buy it, having no idea of the history.  Google doesn’t know it’s changed hands and it’s going to take a long time and a lot of work  move up in the search engines because of that.  In fact, many people who make money on the web will change the domain name rather than put up that fight.  A good webmaster can think like that. They can advise and work with things like that.

If you’re doing acupuncture do you really want to spend the time learning this and checking it out?

My final issue is this. An acupuncturist trained as an acupuncturist.  A webmaster also studied and trained.  It becomes disrespectful to think that as a hobbyist you are going to do the same job as well as professional.  Both professions are art.  A poor website may not be life and death — or maybe if you have  a service that will save their life and the patient can’t find you, it CAN be. Hire out to people who do the work.   They have the time.  You pay them the money.   Focus on what you are passionate about.


How to Keep a Customer

Familiar makes for happy customersBefore the end of the year, I wrote about three ways in which Adobe lost me as a future customer.   I want to start the New Year off with a post on how to keep a customer.  In the broadest sense, both tips have been said before in many places, but they are worth repeating.

First, exceed expectations.   Don’t think that this means you have to consider everything in the world a patient could possibly want and then give more.  That’s just not possible.  Be respectful.  Show you actually care.   Cascade Windows did this with a phone call that took the person coming to our house about 1 minute and cost him whatever 1 minute of cell phone usage costs.  They had made an appointment to be there at 10.  He was stuck in traffic and called to let me know he’d probably be 20 to 30 minutes late.  Most service people don’t do that so it was so unexpected, I’ve remembered it and told everyone.

If you have a receptionist in your office, if you’re running behind, it might be nice to call the later patients and let them know you’re running 15 to 20 minutes behind and don’t expect to be caught up by their appointment time.  Let them plan their time around your current schedule.  If they like texting, you could even have a sign up sheet to let them know.  Make sure you know how far in advance a patient would need to know so they can plan accordingly.

Calling may not work for everyone.  What else can you do?  Think about those companies that make you feel  like they went the extra mile.  Think about how that can apply to your practice.  Many of those little things are actually easy to do and take very little time.

Second, be familiar.  There’s a reason there are so many conglomerate stores that all look the same from city to city across the nation. People are comfortable with the familiar although they may fight against it.  You don’t have to look like every other office in the area, but try not to be too different.  Offer familiar touch stones in your office.  If you have a primarily Asian themed office and your patients are not familiar with the culture, make sure the magazines there are of general interest.   Have a stethoscope and blood pressure cuff prominently displayed in the treatment room.   You don’t have to use it, but patients should see it.

It’s good to be different and set yourself apart, but it’s also important to create bridges into the world of acupuncture.  It’s helpful to have a clear sense of who your patients are so you can do that.  If you focus on athletes, for instance, you’ll want magazines that they would be interested in.  Likewise, if you treat mostly elderly people for their ailments, find magazines that make them comfortable.  Find chairs that are easy to get in and out of.  They should be comfortable but you don’t want them to sink too far in!  Consider what your patients need in your office.  Consider what is familiar to them and offer touch stones so they feel they belong in your office.