Now that I have advanced from solo-practitioner to employer, I’m having to do a lot of training.
But although it adds more work to an already crazy schedule, I’m making it my mission to document as much of that training as possible so I’m not constantly having to repeat it all with each new employee.
I just finished the first draft of one such training document: guidelines for writing blog posts that actually benefit the practice.
Blog posts and videos have been a key to success in my cash-based practice in Austin, and I want all my employees to reap the rewards of creating such content (FYI – they are on incentivized pay-per-patient compensation plans … not salary).
I require at least one blog post or video to be created each month and I pay employees per piece of content they create. But if I’m going to make paying them “worth it” to my practice, I need to ensure everything is being produced in a way that has the best chance of creating business for the practice.
As I go through the next few years of documenting everything about how I’ve built and run my practice, I’ll be sharing a lot of it here with you!
So below I have pasted the first draft of my employee blog post guidelines … this will certainly change and adapt overtime, but I think many of these concepts/approaches will stand the test of time and be useful to you no matter when you are reading this.
CarterPT Blog Post Guidelines and Procedures
Before listing the specific guidelines, here are some overarching principles that shape our blog post writing …
Many healthcare professionals want to sound super intelligent and end up talking over the heads of those prospective patients who may be reading the blog post.
People tend to have extremely short attention spans and are likely to not finish really long articles AND they usually won’t read more than 10 seconds if you haven’t hooked them with something in that short timeframe.
The primary goal of any blog post on our website is to develop a relationship that leads to business/revenue.
Here are the guidelines …
- Title needs to be catchy and make them want to read the first few sentences.
Ex: Instead of “What research shows about different types of back pain” … “The Top 5 Reasons Your Back Hurts and What Recent Research Says You Can Do About It”.
- The first few sentences need to hook them and make them want to read the rest of the article.
Ex: Tired of relying on painkillers to get through the day? Unable to play your sport or be as active as you want because of back pain? Well, recent research has some insights into what really works when it comes to relieving back pain, and this article will quickly spell out the top 5 causes and their solutions.
- Keep it simple and anytime you need to use a non-lay word, define/describe what it means. It’s quite unfortunate, but research shows that the average reading level in the US is at the 8th grade level :-/ so writing something that would be difficult for a high schooler to easily understand is actually not doing us much good.
- Paragraphs should be short … big blocks of text make the average person cringe (consciously or subconsciously) and click away. On average, keep it to 1-3 sentences per paragraph. Yes, a single sentence standing alone as a paragraph is totally fine, especially if you really want the sentence/statement to stand out.
- If a post will take more than 2-3 minutes to read, create a multi-part series (part 1, 2, 3…) rather than one longer article. Those who read to the end will likely click to see the next part and this is very good for SEO.
- If doing a multi-part series, “ – Part [#]” should be added to the end of each title.
- And, there should be a bold (H3 tag) sentence placed separately (and centered) one line below the last sentence that says “Click here to read Part [#]”.
- You can also add to this clickable sentence something like “ … and Learn More About [insert topic]”
- This point may seem a little vague, but there’s a difference between giving didactic information (which some select people are certainly looking for) and giving information that is not only educational about the topic at hand but is truly useful in that it can be used to improve a person’s situation.
If a blog post is informative for, but not necessarily useful to a prospective/current patient, that’s fine … but it’s not great, and we are in the business of great.
Those who feel like they were given something truly useful from the clinician-author are the most likely to choose that clinician to provide their care. Make every blog post as useful to the reader as possible.
I’m not saying every post needs to be about self-treatment or injury prevention techniques, but if an article is focused on a certain type of syndrome/injury it should definitely include some tips on what they can do to help the situation (which should include seeing a manual physical therapist who is highly trained in identifying and resolving all the causes of their problem 🙂
- Prospective patients don’t care about you/us … they only care about themselves.
Most people in healthcare are extremely proud of their education and credentials (and rightfully so) but when it really comes down to it, prospective patients care far less about that stuff than we think they do/should.
They want to know “will this person be able to get me running again” far more than they want to know “does this person have a doctorate or advanced training in the xyz treatment method.”
For this reason, most clinic websites are full of a bunch of info and accolades about providers and they are losing to the websites that connect with readers by describing their symptoms in an empathetic way, being helpfully informative and useful, and skillfully getting them to focus on the things their pain/injury is limiting/keeping them from doing.
- On a similar note: People care much more about what pain keeps them from doing than they do about pain itself.
People learn to live with differing levels of pain, but it’s almost never the pain itself that causes them to book an appointment with a healthcare practitioner … it’s the fact that they can’t run more than 1 mile when they want to run 5; it’s that they can’t lift their grandkid up in the air; it’s that they can’t concentrate and be effective at work for more than the first couple hours of the day; it’s that they can’t work at all due to pain; etc.
So when we are writing about a painful injury, syndrome, etc., we of course talk about the pain patterns, their causes, what we do to improve the situation, etc. but we must always get the reader thinking about the things they need/want/love to do that their pain/injury is limiting them from doing. That’s what gets them to act.
- Calls to Action (CTA)
Every post must have a CTA… but only one CTA per post. That CTA can be a variety of things though we ultimately want it to lead to that prospective patient booking an appointment.
(FYI – we don’t offer the free discovery sessions on blog posts or other publicly available forums/media … those are offered to people who opt in via our direct response ads and landing pages to get our free reports)
Examples of CTAs:
Click here to get a Free report on even more tips for relieving with running injuries (pop up with email opt in for the report)
Call us at (512) 693-8849 if you have any questions about knee pain that weren’t answered in this article.
Click here if you’d like to learn about the 5 most common causes of headaches (pop up email opt in for free report on headaches)
Click here if you’d like to schedule a time to talk with one of our back pain specialists (Calendly link)
Obviously, over time, we will be creating more and more free reports and article series for which people will exchange their contact info. Then they are led through a series of emails and follow up calls trying to get them to schedule a discovery session and we will likely convert 80% or more of those to paying customers.
It’s far less likely that someone (who just found our website and read a blog post) would be willing to call right away to set an appt than they would be to give their email so they could be sent more information on their injury/pain. So in general, the majority of your CTAs should be about them getting more information rather than to trying to get them to book an appt in that moment.
- Images – Every post needs an image.
- We may have credit at bigstock if nothing good is already available in our images folder.
- People can also find their way to a website via an image search which has to do with the “Alt Description” you give it in WordPress. You can simply insert the post title here, but change it up and/or add related keywords that are more likely being used in searches whenever possible.
For Example, rather than the above title, I’d use “Back Pain research, treatment, and relief” since “back pain” and these other terms are likely much more searched than those in the title.
- Video – Every video you make should have a blog post associated with it.
The video is uploaded to YouTube, transcribed with our admin assistant or with SpeakPad.com, then you do a little editing to the text and insert it below the video (which is “embedded” into the blog post).
Above the embedded video, you can give a 1-2 sentence description of what they will see in the video (worded in a way to convey why they should watch it).
Ex: In the video below, Ben describes the 3 most common issues with feet that can lead to painful, disabling, and costly issues in the future.
So I think that’s a good start to guide my employees and as they have questions or I have feedback on what they produce, this document will definitely grow and improve.
Interested in the cash-based private practice model?
Anything you would definitely add to this set of guidelines? Please let me know in the comments below!