If you’ve ever wondered whether blogging is a worthwhile use of your time as a PT clinic owner, the answer is almost certainly “yes.” After all, creating a blog for your PT clinic has countless benefits. In addition to providing valuable information to your current, past, and future patients, a blog helps keep your website fresh and relevant—as opposed to looking like nothing more than a digital brochure for your clinic. Furthermore, blogging allows you to promote your team’s expertise on a number of relevant topics—and even helps improve your website’s rank on search engine results pages (SERPs).
At the same time, starting a clinic blog can sound overwhelming. If your staff is small—or if your clinic is busy—then the thought of finding the time to launch (much less maintain) a blog probably gives you insane anxiety.
That’s why we put together these six golden rules of running a PT blog: to help you make the most of the time and resources you do have available in order to create the best possible blog for your clinic’s needs.
Rule # 1: Understand your “why.”
Understanding your “why”––or your end goal(s) for your blog––will help you make many important decisions, including who writes the articles, which topics they cover, and how frequently you’ll publish new blog posts. Some clinics run blogs to attract new patients, while others wish to build a sense of community or cultivate thought leadership.
Let’s look at a few examples:
Case 1: You are trying to attract more active older adults.
In this case, the end goal is to increase the number of senior patients who schedule appointments.
You’ll want to write plenty of blog articles on topics that speak specifically to active seniors, such as avoiding overuse injuries, dealing with arthritis, or preventing falls.
Case 2: You are trying to attract rock climbers to your climbing clinics.
In this case, your end goal is to spread community awareness and attract a certain subset of patients to specialized clinics.
Don’t waste your therapists’ time by having them write about unrelated topics (cycling, for example)—even if they know the topic well. Instead, focus on your target audience (and your end goal of attracting those folks to your practice), and create content about proper climbing warm-ups, treatment and prevention of climbing injuries, and general news about climbing spots around your clinic’s location.
Your strategy will really depend on your end goal, so you must know why you’re blogging before you do anything else.
Rule #2: Consider how your articles will be accessed and disseminated.
Depending on your end goal, you might want to focus on patient retention, patient acquisition, or community engagement. Each end goal will necessitate a different approach to how you get your blog posts out there.
The three main ways your articles will reach folks outside of your established audience are:
- Forwarded emails,
- Google and other search engines, or
- Social media shares.
Let’s look back at those same examples:
For case 1 above, keep in mind that seniors aren’t quite as active on social media as Gen Xers and younger. For this reason, you’ll want to focus on sending your blog posts to your current email subscribers—and encouraging them to share the articles with friends. That being said, you can certainly share articles via social media to local seniors’ groups.
For case 2, you’re looking for local climbers, so not only can you post articles in climbing-related Facebook groups, but you can also optimize your articles for search terms related to climbing in your locale (e.g., “Phoenix rock climbing”). You can even ask to guest blog on local climbing gyms’ websites (if possible, be sure to get a backlink to your own website, which improves the power of your site and thus, its search engine ranking).
Rule #3: Establish who “owns” the blog.
Giving someone ownership of the blog dramatically increases its chances for success, because that person will prioritize consistently posting high-quality content that supports your end goals.
Trying to train your entire staff on the nuances of running your clinic’s blog will likely lead to chaos. Instead, make blog management part of the job description for one or two members of your staff.
Chances are, at least one of your therapists is looking for a creative outlet. Blogging enables your therapy team to build thought leadership, and it sets them up for non-clinical physical therapy job opportunities down the road should they choose to leave the clinical setting for any reason. While you might allow numerous staff members to contribute blog content, one person (or two at most) should typically own the editing, uploading, and publishing processes.
These things do take time, so we strongly recommend providing a raise, bonus, or consistent break in the schedule of those staff members who take on this project, depending on your resources and your staff members’ availability.
Rule #4: Have PT professionals write the articles.
Depending on the size of your clinic, you may or may not have the option of featuring your own PTs as blog authors. If you can, though, just know that having actual PTs and PTAs create your content is so helpful. There is a very clear difference in the quality of articles written by trained PTs and PTAs and those written by non-clinical copywriters.
If you and your therapists are unwilling or unable to write content for your blog, consider posting your writing jobs in a free Facebook group like Non-Clinical Job Postings for Rehab Professionals. You can find plenty of PT and PTA bloggers who are eager to hone their skills and move outside of direct patient care.
Rule # 5: Set a tone of voice for your articles.
Serious or light-hearted? Youthful or mature? These are serious considerations as you develop the personality of your blog. If you treat a certain type of patient, try to write articles in a tone that speaks to that type of reader. For case 1 above, you will want to take a more kindly, serious, and informative tone. In case 2 above, you might want to project a more fun, youthful vibe.
Marketing experts recommend creating your ideal “customer avatar”––someone who would be your ideal client based on factors like age, gender, socioeconomic status, interests, and activity level. Is it the 40-something mother of a 12-year-old soccer-playing phenom? Is it the 12-year-old herself? Once you establish who your target audience is, you and your writers can adopt the appropriate tone of voice.
Whatever tone you settle on, be sure to keep it consistent across all writers and all articles. If some of your writers are casual—and others are very formal—your blog will lack cohesiveness, which will convolute your brand and make it difficult for you to establish a loyal readership. This is yet another reason why you should have one or two people “own” editing and publishing your blog; it helps with consistency in tone.
Rule # 6: Post regularly.
Speaking of consistency: As with most worthwhile endeavors in life, when it comes to blogging, consistency is key. Be realistic about how frequently you can post, and commit to doing exactly that. If you initially decide to produce one post per week—but you’re expecting your therapist-authors to do that on top of treating 13 patients per day without allowing them to block off any writing time—then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Instead, consider posting once per month.
By posting regularly, you’ll cultivate loyal fans; plus, you can use online marketing to further disseminate your content so as many people as possible can learn from you.
Many of you run your own clinic blogs. What are your suggestions for getting the most out of blogging?
Meredith Castin, PT, DPT, is the founder of The Non-Clinical PT, a career development resource designed to help physical, occupational, and speech therapy professionals leverage their degrees in non-clinical ways.