Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Jessica Tappana. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Alright, Jessica thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. Let’s start with the story of your mission. What should we know?
I’m on a mission to spread high quality mental health services and this shows up in all I do. As a mental health professional, I strongly believe that psychologists, counselors, clinical social workers and other psychotherapists do their best when working with their ideal clients. Some therapists are really excellent at helping people who are depressed. Others get the most excited assisting couples to reconnect when they’re on the brink of divorce. Some of us specialize in trauma or OCD. Therapists generally aren’t great at treating every single mental health issue that can exist. And there are some mental health concerns where it’s especially important to find someone with skills, expertise & training in that specific area.
At my counseling practice, all of my clinicians are encouraged to specialize and are given a lot of independence to accept only the clients they really, truly feel like they can help. Then, my other business has a team that helps mental health professionals get their website to show up more on Google, called Search Engine Optimization or SEO. At that business, we work really hard to understand what each mental health professional is really good at. Then, we try to figure out what clients looking for help with that particular issue are searching for on the internet and help make sure that therapist shows up for that particular issue. The idea is that when someone is looking for a therapist, we want them to find the absolute best person for their particular issue. And when the therapist is regularly getting calls from and working with the clients they are the best at treating, they’re also doing their absolute best work.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
Jessica decided that she wanted to be a therapist when she was 12. Her friends began bringing her their problems and she realized that just listening and caring about her friends seemed to help them. Around the same time, she was seeing her own personal therapist for the first time who she credits with essentially saving her life. So, as she realized she had an innate ability to support others she decided she wanted to give others the gift of good therapy just as she received that gift herself.
After spending her 20s getting the right degrees, licensure and experience Jessica first opened her private practice at age 30. She was passionate about her work and her practice grew quickly. However, as she expanded to a group practice, she realized more people were calling for her specifically than for the larger practice and she had some challenges willing the clinicians who she had brought on. So, she started learning about marketing. This included learning to optimize her practice website so it would show up more on Google. As her website started showing up more frequently, more clients started calling. Her practice now has 12 amazing clinicians and has a strong focus on matching each client that calls with the perfect therapist. She credits ranking well on Google as well as the skill and care of her therapists with her practice’s growth and success.
Once Jessica got her own website ranking, colleagues started asking for tips. She began with teaching a few colleagues to optimize their own website like she had. However, she quickly discovered that many people would rather just pay someone else to optimize their website. She often jokes that Simplified SEO Consulting is the business she “accidentally” started because the growth was so organic. But it speaks to the need that therapists have to help get the word out about the power of mental health service. And, the business has slowly but steadily grown the last three years. Simplified SEO Consulting has now helped hundreds of mental health professionals get their website to show up more often on search engines. And it has a team of about 10 employees who feel more like family than colleagues, support one another in both personal and professional pursuits and are committed to helping destigmatize mental health by helping clients and therapists find one another.
How did you put together the initial capital you needed to start your business?
I took out a $7,500 loan to start my counseling practice. This isn’t a popular move for a mental health therapist going into private practice. Most people start very part time while working another job and don’t take out a loan. But for me, a loan felt like the way to go so I could really start in a way I was comfortable with.
I used the money to purchase furniture for my first office that would really create the “vibe” I was going for and would promote healing of the whole person. I also used it to make the first couple payments on some of my systems like a work phone number and electronic medical record. Ultimately, I didn’t use all of the money and ended up paying it off within a year. But having that safety net there really helped with my anxiety about money so I could focus my enerergy on doing great work.
What’s worked well for you in terms of a source for new clients?
What’s been really interesting is that the best source of new clients is very different between my two businesses.
For my counseling business, there is no doubt that showing up on Google (great Search Engine Optimization) has been the key to my success. We get calls every single day from people who found us online. And, we’re able to fill up new clinicians who start at our practice much faster than most private practices. My theory is that this has been so wildly successful, because people are looking for a therapist online. Yes, they might ask a friend or doctor for a recommendation. But many people are still weary of starting therapy. Searching online lets them really explore our website, read our blogs, check out the video introductions of the therapist, etc. Those things help ease their fear about starting therapy so they reach out.
For my Search Engine Optimization (SEO) business, our best form of marketing has actually been connecting one on one with people. Some people do find us through search engines. However, the majority of the people either meet me at a conference or they receive a recommendation from a former client, coach or someone else in the field who has met or worked with someone on our team. SEO is often a practice’s biggest expense other than rent. So, it’s hard to believe it’s “worth it.” And thearpists tend to be very careful about money. So, I think for therapists considering spending that much money hearing first hand either from me or someone who knows us is really important.
- Website: https://simplifiedseoconsulting.com and https://aspirecounselingmo.com
- Instagram: @simplifiedseo and @aspirecounselingmissouri
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SimplifiedSEOConsulting
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jessica-tappana-0578b03a
- Twitter: @AspireMO