Untold Stories

frontuseUntold: 12 Stories of Successful American Acupuncturists in the New Millennium which I put together with Jason Stein, LAc is now available on Amazon and other major retailers. It has it’s own website, Untold, which includes the raw video interviews that the acupuncturists gave to Jason.

The goal of the book was to bring hope to acupuncturists. Many people chose the field of acupuncture because they want to help people. They’re looking for ways to do this that get to the root of the health problems people have or they’re looking for a holistic medicine that sees mind and body as one. Upon graduation they have huge student loan debt and making a business successful feels overwhelming.

Starting a business is hard. It’s hard to keep going and it’s even harder when you are struggling to feed yourself and feel like no one is listening to you when you search out patients. Stories come up of how many acupuncturists don’t make it. The numbers are probably not so different from those in any small business but acupuncturists are healers, not business people, so as a profession we don’t have those numbers. Further, the debt taken on adds a further burden. The business of wanting to be a healer feels hopeless.

I wanted to remind people that there were practitioners who had made. There were people who were acupuncturists doing what they loved with acupuncture and making a living. The book branched out and talked to people who had moved on from the profession, from a place of success and not one of failure, to give practitioners ideas about retirement and ending their practice. Jason and I also found people who were inventing their own products and creating new paths.

Over all, I have hope that this book can reignite hope to those working so hard to further the profession.

New Book: Points to Ponder

kindlefrontFinally got my newest book Points to Ponder for the Acupuncturist in Business finished. It wasn’t that it was a long time to write. It’s been done for some time. But getting it edited and then formatted and published while moving took longer than I expected. But it’s finally here. It’s in ebook and print and available at your favorite retailers. Check it out.

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.

Traditional Publishing Changes

I’ve been working on my series on fat and have been researching a few things so it’s slow going. I didn’t want to miss posting an article from the Book Coach about changes in publishing and includes some numbers on advances.

This is important to acupuncturists who want to write about book, because they are talking about non fiction advances and the changes that are happening. Most practitioners wouldn’t use a “big” publisher, but if you were wondering what kind of money you might make, this is a helpful article.

Target Your Audience

When you write your book, make sure you know how you’re writing for and stick with it. I recently read a psychology book where the author stated in the introduction that he originally planned the book for professionals but it was so useful that they toned down the language so that it could be for either lay people or professionals. I think that was a bad decision.

The early language that introduced the idea was appropriate to both groups.  Neither group had a lot of information about what he was speaking about unless they already knew his technique and philosophy.

The next section was written simply, more for lay people with some added notes that would be appropriate for professionals. As a lay person, the notes were annoying but not bad.  As a professional, I might have been tempted to skip the book because of the simplistic way this was written.

In the final section he promised to talk about how to help each of these categories of people. This is where it clearly became about the professional.  He took one of his categories  and wrote a long and specific treatment plan based on all the expanded knowledge he had on this particular constellation of problems.  After writing several more chapters going more in-depth with the same category of person, he then talks about ways you can generalize for all the other categories.  This is fine for a practitioner, but for the lay person who might have been hoping for some personal insight, this was a let down.

Both categories of readers were ultimately let down by the book.  Understand that no matter what you write, it’s not for everyone.  It targets an audience.  This author, who thought his ideas would be appropriate for lay people and professionals was right. However, the idea that one book would work for both was not.  He’d have done better to write two books. One for lay people and one for professionals.

The most important thing you can do as a professional writing a book based on your knowledge is to target your audience. Stop worrying about the people who don’t fit that category.  You, or someone else, will write the book for them.

When You Need a Professional to Help

Acupuncturists, myself included, seem to have this issue about doing it ourselves.  We think we can create our own websites, our business cards, our own marketing materials our own office decorations. In some cases we don’t really have a choice. Those of us who have practiced for a number of years may have had to create some of these things on our own because they weren’t available.

When it comes to basic marketing messages, Acupuncture Media Works does a good product. Jeffrey’s background as a graphic designer means he has some very professional looking items, including some good looking websites.  But you do have to pay him for his work.

As small business owners, it’s easy to think about cutting corners when trying to work on our own marketing materials. We think we know what looks good, not even realizing how much change a couple of small tweaks by a professional can make.  A couple of weeks ago I was working on the cover for my first fiction book, struggling because it just didn’t look right. My friend Debbie, who is a graphic artist, spent about five minutes, found a font that spoke to her and dashed it off with another tiny little change that I probably wouldn’t have thought about, making the whole cover come together.

I’ve written before about hiring someone who knows websites to design your website. If you do decide to try and do it yourself, at least get someone professional to do graphic design. And have someone on hand who can help you with the technical details.

When it comes to promotional materials, consider getting a graphic artist to do the work.

If you are writing a book about your topic, get a graphic artist to do the cover for you. People really do judge a book by it’s cover.

If you aren’t sure where to go, there are a lot of good graphic designers out there. Remember my friend Debbie who just popped off a design for my novel (which I ended up changing a font because she might have owned it, I didn’t and it had a commercial license that was more than I wanted to pay)? She does freelance graphic design work at Glogirly Design. I know her through blogging about our pets. In the last two years she’s become well known in that community for clean designs with distinctive colors. She’s easy to work with and her prices are very reasonable. She works quickly.  If you need something personal for your business, consider contacting her. You won’t regret it.

If you don’t like her style, then find a designer whose style you do like. Just find someone who knows about graphic designs. These images might be your first contact with a potential client. Make them look professional.

I Want to Write a Book. Now What?

So you’ve decided to write a book.  Or you decided you wanted to write a book three years ago and are still thinking about it.  The problem is, every time you think about it, you start wondering where to start.

Start with your audience.Who is the book for? Are you sharing your expertise with other professionals or are you sharing health tips for your patients? If you’re sharing health tips, will they only be for your patients or for anyone who wants to feel better or has a certain disease?  These questions will help you as you make notes that you can turn into a book outline or, if you are more free spirited, you can work from directly as you write your book.

Knowing your audience will help you with your writing voice.  A book targeted at other practitioners will have a depth and use language that would not be appropriate for lay people.  It’s important to keep that in mind as you write.

Make some notes about topics within your book topic. What sorts of things do you want to share. If you are writing about acupuncture and insomnia, are you going to talk about diagnosis or how to make a diagnosis? This could be one section. Of course another section or within those subsections, you might also have point prescriptions and herbal prescriptions and adjunct therapies that you hope to use.  Finally, you might be talking about the definitions of insomnia. Of course, looking at the notes, you might think it would be smarter to write about insomnia and how it manifests first and then talk about diagnosis second.  This would be a good call.  Notes and outlines are helpful that way.

Looking over your topics and ideas, you can get a feel for what you want to write. How many sections. How many notes to do you have within each of those sections. How much do you think you can write about each subtopic?  This will help you plan out your time for writing.

Now, consider how to set aside some time for writing.  Even if it’s only an hour a week, plan to sit down and write something (no matter how bad) once a week for that hour. Make more note, make an outline, write some chapters or even just write a sentence, no matter what you do during that time, make that time about your book.  At some point you’ll actually have a manuscript.  After that, you can decide what to do next about publishing.

Do You Have a Book Inside?

I realized that it’s been over twelve years since I graduated from Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. Those who graduated with me and shortly after me are becoming masters at the profession of acupuncture.  Many have specialties.  It’s not only possible but even likely that some of my peers have knowledge that should be shared with others.  Some may chose to do it via writing a book.

Writing a book may not be any easier than it ever has been, but publishing a book has never been easier.  Amazon’s Kindle direct and Barnes and Noble’s interface for the Nook make publishing an e-book easier than ever.  Create Space on Amazon allows for easy publishing of print work.  In both cases, you’ll be listed with all the other books on the appropriate websites. It’s like getting your book put in the bookstores immediately.  This is a huge help.

Okay, getting people to notice your book among all the others can be an issue but that once you’re in the store, you’re definitely getting somewhere. Like everything else, knowing your target audience is important.  Are you writing for other acupuncturists or lay people? Knowing that you can more easily target the appropriate people via appropriate marketing strategies.  If you are writing for lay people, the best marketing strategies might be the same ones you use to market your clinic.

In addition to marketing strategies, make sure you have a good looking product. In this case you need a professional looking book. A professional looking book  has a good cover that makes the author and the title stand out.  The print quality of the image is good.  The inside copy is correctly formatted and reads easily with a standard typeface.  Images are professional and well laid out.  The text has quality editing.  There are few typos.  No book is ever completely free of typos, but you want yours to have as few as possible.  An editor is an invaluable resource.

As the profession grows, anyone who has a specialty or success with certain conditions owes it to the profession to share their knowledge.  Don’t hold back because you think you don’t know what you’re doing.