I recently published an article about passive income ideas for mental health professionals to make extra money in addition to their private practice. This post titled “eCommerce Guide for Mental Health Professionals” will focus less on the what and more on the how to. Selling online is awesome because it can be set up to be almost 100% automated, meaning, you barely have to touch the business while it makes you money. I wrote this to open mental health professionals’ eyes to new revenue generating ideas you can do to compliment your private practice.
Why Sell Online?
So before we jump into the how, let’s answer the why. Why should you be selling online? The truth is we only have so much energy and so many hours we can work each day. Burnout is real, and it can hit mental health professionals especially hard. Selling online allows you to make money while you recover from working tirelessly with clients in your practice (such as on a vacation, at night, during the week, etc.).
Selling online can open up ways for you to make more money than just having a practice alone and can help stabilize and/or increase your revenue each month.
What Products Can I Sell?
Many products that you can sell online (or ideas to make money online) are considered “passive income”, or income you don’t need to be actively involved with to make. A recap of some of the ideas from our article on passive income:
- Books and E-Books
- Workbooks and other Digital Products
- Online Courses
- Recorded Meditations
- Website Memberships
- Branded Merchandise
- Handmade Creations
- Paid Sponsorships on Social Media
- YouTube Ad Revenue
- Website Ad Revenue
- Affiliate Marketing
- Physical Products
Platforms to Sell Online
If you haven’t noticed, there are quite a few different places you can sell products online. Let’s review some of those places:
Public marketplaces are websites that you can join to sell products on. In a sense, you don’t own anything on the site, you agree to a company’s terms and conditions and usually share some of your profits for products you sell on their websites.
Some examples of owned marketplaces include:
- Facebook Marketplace
There are many many more options for selling, depending on what you’re selling. There are some major advantages and disadvantages to every public marketplace to sell on. Let’s review a few:
Public marketplaces certainly do provide value for you selling products online, including:
- A large number of customers / visitors to the site
- They often handle marketing for you (i.e. ads, email marketing, etc.)
- They handle website updates and can help you if something goes wrong with your products or store
Public marketplaces also have big disadvantages, such as:
- You have to pay a percentage of product sales, and/or membership fees
- Each public marketplace has a right to cancel your store at any time, for almost any reason
- With public marketplaces, you will fight for SEO placements on search engines (typically a website only gets 2 placements in search engine rankings for a specific search)
These are quite severe disadvantages for relying 100% on public marketplaces to sell your products.
I like to call your own website an “owned marketplace” meaning, you get to call the shots.
Some examples of owned marketplaces where you can build your own website include:
- WordPress (.org)
I personally like WordPress, but we’ve certainly heard great things about selling on Shopify.
Let’s review the advantages and disadvantages of having your owned marketplace for selling products:
Owning your own marketplace via a website has several advantages including:
- Having control of everything including branding, what you’re selling, and any other thing you can think of
- Opening the doors to massive SEO benefits (allowing you to rank for an unlimited number of ways customers can find your website)
- You can build any marketing strategy you can dream of (more on that below)
Some of the disadvantages of having your own owned marketplace include:
- Time, effort, and sometimes money to set up a professional website that functions well
- It’s Complex to set up an effective strategy
- You will have to do your own marketing
- You will need to track your own performance (having a high-functioning eCommerce dashboard is a valuable tool)
Sell On Public Marketplaces or Owned Marketplaces?
Now that we’ve reviewed both public and owned marketplaces, you may be asking “which one should I sell on?” Glad you asked! I highly recommend owning your own marketplace as your primary strategy. One main reason is because of the vast amount of marketing strategies you can implement on your own to boost your owned store. Owning your own store will pay dividends later on once a strategy has been built.
Having said that, I would join as many other public marketplaces as possible, as long as it makes sense financially and from a product / brand standpoint. For instance, Amazon doesn’t allow TherapyByPro to sell our digital products because they don’t allow downloadable products. However, Etsy does allow us to sell on their platform. (Here is our Etsy store!)
To summarize, I’d highly recommend that you build both an owned marketing strategy and a public marketplace strategy, especially if your products are digital in nature (no inventory, no shipping).
Who to Sell To
An important question you need to ask before jumping into an eCommerce strategy is, “Who is my target customer?” For mental health professionals, there are two very strait forward customer types in my mind: Other mental health professionals and non-mental health professionals.
Mental Health Professionals
Who better to sell to than to people just like you? You understand mental health professionals’ needs better than anyone. Think about this audience and what they want/need.
Non-Mental health Professionals
As a mental health professional, you also know this audience type very well since you serve them. Is there a physical or digital product you can sell to people like your clients? Maybe you’ll sell online courses for specific mental health conditions, maybe candles, maybe online meditations? There are an unlimited number of opportunities for you with this audience.
Other Targeted Group
The 2 above ideas are simply just that, ideas. Maybe you’d like to sell to an audience not related to mental health? This can certainly be done. I’d recommend making sure that you fully understand this audience type and what they want / need, as well as if they can afford what you’re trying to sell them.
eCommerce Strategies You Should Incorporate on Your Website
When it comes to eCommerce, selling as many products as you can while keeping costs as low as possible is the formula for success. I’m going to review some strategies you could incorporate to sell more products.
1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is far and away the most important strategy for your eCommerce website if you choose to pursue having your own owned marketplace. The process of SEO is to get ranked as highly as possible on search engines like Google, for as many different searches your ideal clients are searching for. For example, TherapyByPro sells Therapy Worksheets. While we can rank for the hundreds of different worksheet types we offer, we can also come up with tons of other ideas to get our ideal client, mental health professionals, to see the site. Here are some ideas for your SEO strategy:
- Rank for your product categories, such as these categories: DBT Worksheets, EMDR Worksheets
- Rank for descriptions of your products, such as “Lavender Aroma Therapy Candles”
- Rank for very specific product names that you sell
- Rank for topics that your customer searches for related to your products
- Rank for topics that your customer searches for not necessarily related to your products – For example: If you sell products to therapists, you could create all types of content they care about, such as accounting tips or marketing tips for their practice
We’ve only scratched the surface of possible things you could rank for organically, that is, with SEO. SEO is completely free, so learning basic SEO strategy would give you a major leg up when creating an online eCommerce strategy.
2. Remarketing Ads
Remarketing ads are a smart strategy when you’re selling products. Remarketing, also known as retargeting, simply means to track when a visitor visits a specific page on your site, in the case of eCommerce a product page. You can then deliver highly targeted remarketing ads to that person if they haven’t completed a purchase on your site.
Some places you should consider running remarketing ads are:
- Facebook / Instagram
Remarketing ads have the benefit of other ads typically by offering a lower cost to sell products on your site. This is because the people receiving the specific remarketing ads have already shown interested in a product on your website.
3. Email Marketing Strategies
Email marketing is a great way to get more sales in your store. There are tons of different types of campaigns, so we are only going to mention a few of our favorites:
A monthly newsletter is a nice way to keep your customers in the loop each month. Some companies send out many different emails, but when starting out, having 1 monthly email is a manageable way to build more loyalty with customers while softly selling them products in your store.
Review emails are awesome because after a customer purchases a product of yours, they automatically go out to prompt the customer to review your product. More reviews equals more social proof, helping you better sell your products to new customers. These types of emails usually offer an incentive for your customer to review their recently purchase product, such as a coupon code.
Checkout Page But No Purchase Emails
Steve loves your product. He adds a product to his cart, starts to fill out his name and email address, but then leaves. This is more common than it sounds in eCommerce. You don’t want to lose out on these sales, which can be a sizable amount of extra revenue each month. This powerful type of email will help you close the deal with potential customers who don’t quite pull the trigger. We have a series of 3 emails that go out when someone on our site doesn’t quite complete a purchase, with the final email providing a coupon code to seal the deal.
Another great type of email is called cross-targeting emails. These emails go out when a customer purchases a product. Included on these emails are similar products to the products purchased, helping you sell additional products to already loyal customers.
Final Thoughts on eCommerce for Therapists, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, and Counselors
ECommerce is a powerful medium for mental health professionals. Because service-based businesses like therapy, counseling, and psychiatric treatment require your physical/mental/spiritual labor to accomplish day in and day out, having a business that works for you can be a major breath of fresh air. Owning a marketing business (also a service-based business), I know what burnout feels like. There are quite a few ways to make money online. It starts slow, but like anything, if you keep at it, you can make a substantial return and have automations work for you.
Thank you for reading this eCommerce Guide for Mental Health Professionals blog. TherapyByPro is an online mental health directory that connects mental health pros with clients in need. If you’re a mental health professional, you can Join our community and add your practice listing here. We have assessments, practice forms, and worksheet templates mental health professionals can use to streamline their practice. View all of our mental health forms, worksheet, and assessments here.