Self-employment has its ups and downs. You can enjoy a flexible lifestyle with work hours that suit you, you have total creative freedom over your service and what you want to specialise in, and there is strong earning potential. However, this comes with more financial uncertainty, fewer employment benefits, and a 60% risk of failure within five years for a new business. As Hypnotherapists, a great deal of us will be self-employed, so we want to give you some tips for how to stand out and stand strong amongst the others.
Keep it simple. This is a popular technique for presenting information to others in a way that will keep their attention and make an impact. If your advertisements or website feature a small essay on the history of hypnotherapy or the underpinning theories on your particular modality, a potential client’s eyes are going to gloss over it almost immediately. To grab someone’s attention, you need to keep things punchy and to the point. The very first sentence that they see or hear should be able to tell them exactly what it is that you offer. The details can follow. Furthermore, images can draw in the eye of a potential client, so put a lot of thought into what your website looks like. Lots of fonts, different and bold colours and pictures dotted around will make your service look jarring and unpleasant. Keep things light, similar, and with subtle, complimentary colours that draw attention to your content rather than draw their eyes away from it.
You cannot expect your clients to find you, not at first anyway. You absolutely must get out there and get people's attention. Is there a wellbeing fair or event being hosted nearby? Can you invest in advertising? Perhaps a local shop or wellbeing centre would allow you to place brochures in their waiting rooms. You can draw people in with a free consultation, or, if affordable, offer a discounted time slot or two for people in need, and let the local charities and organisations know about it so they can tell their clients about you. When word of mouth starts to spread, you may not need to put so much effort into bringing clients to you, but first, you have to plant seeds for anything to grow.
When the clients start coming in, you can start reaping the benefits of word-of-mouth. Allowing previous clients to leave reviews on your website can show new potential clients that your service has helped others, perhaps in specific ways that they are looking for, too. Talking about your services from the point of view of a client can also speak to others in a way that you may struggle with from the therapist’s standpoint. While your own words about the effectiveness of your practice are one thing, the words of your satisfied clients will bring an entirely new power.
Avoid wild claims
Snake oil is a term for something that sounds (and is) too good to be true. If a potential client reads about this magical, mystical cure-all that can solve all of the world’s problems, they’re going to lose faith in your service very quickly. You need to choose your words and claims very carefully, not only to keep your clients interested but also to toe the line of advertising standards. Avoid flashy words like “cure” and “permanent,” and avoid making bold claims of that nature. It is important to make the distinction that hypnotherapy itself won’t cure addiction or make someone’s excess fat melt from their body. Hypnotherapy is a powerful tool for creating change, but work still needs to be done by the client. You must also be careful not to claim to treat physical illnesses, and absolutely must encourage people to seek appropriate medical advice to help with a problem when relevant. For more information on this, take a look at the ASA advertising guidelines at https://www.asa.org.uk/advice-online/health-hypnotherapy.html
Back yourself up with research
If you want to sing to your clients about the many things that hypnotherapy can help with, backing yourself up with evidence can be a brilliant way to reassure a potential client. There are hundreds of clinical trials out there that have tested the effectiveness of hypnotherapy, and people will be reassured when you can support your claims of all of the brilliant things that you can do. While some clinical trials cost money to access, some are open access and can be viewed for free. If you look through the Directory of Open Access Journals at https://doaj.org/ then you can browse from a huge selection of free-to-access scientific articles, some of which are focused on hypnosis and hypnotherapy. Furthermore, members of The National Hypnotherapy Society have access to a growing series of booklets which provide plain-speak summaries of different trials on various topics with links to them, such as stress or irritable bowel syndrome. Here are some examples of freely accessible clinical trials that could be used on your website:
- Anxiety: https://doi.org/10.2147/COPD.S267019
- Smoking cessation: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.abrep.2019.100220
- Irritable bowel syndrome: https://doi.org/10.1002/jgh3.12770
Of course, we would be remiss to go without saying that obtaining an accredited membership within a nationally recognized society is also a fantastic way to reassure your potential clients of the quality of your service. To belong to, say, The National Hypnotherapy Society would show that you adhere to a strict ethical code, have been vetted by the brilliant and meticulous staff there, and have dedicated yourself to continuing your professional development. By being a member, you would also have access to support in anything that you needed help with, discounts, and some fantastic member benefits.
All in all, the sky is the limit on what you can do to tell the world about your skills and the wonderful work that you can do. All it takes is some creativity, perseverance, and hard work.