5 Ways Therapists can Make More Money in 2020 (and not off their clients)

Jeff Guenther on Jan 05, 2020

It’s really tricky for therapists in private practice to make more money after they’ve filled up their caseload. When you have no more open spots in your schedule, how are you supposed to bring in more cash? Well, you could increase your rates, which would give you a slight raise. But let’s face it, we hate doing that. Maybe we should charge clients as much as the market can bear. Or maybe we should provide generous sliding scales so that everyone can afford mental health care. I don’t know the right answer, but I personally don’t feel comfortable raising my rates on clients so what I’ve done instead is create alternative streams of income. Today, I’m here to motivate you to do the same. In this post, I’ll present five realistic ideas that can help bring in more revenue, so you can keep your client rates the same, or even lower them like I’ve done before.

A quick word before we get to the list: While some of these ideas can lead to passive income, they take a lot of work to get started, and may require a lot of work to maintain. So if you try any of these ideas, make sure there’s a good bit of passion behind it that can propel you through the hard parts.

1. Create a continuing education workshop

Don’t skip this idea because you think it’s too hard– it’s not! Especially if you’re at the point where you have a full caseload. Once you’ve been in the business for a while, you start to hone in on your specialty, and I bet with enough focus and determination, you could create a 4-hour training devoted to it. It doesn’t have to be the most unique and awe-inspiring workshop that has ever been created. Don’t put that much pressure on yourself! Start small: Think about the clients that you enjoy seeing the most. What issues do you love to dive into? What unique perspective do you bring to the issue that other therapists could benefit from? Or start even smaller: if you don’t have a unique perspective, could you organize the content in such a way that would make it digestible and easy to understand? That’s good enough! The first step is to sit down and write a brief outline of what your training would cover. Once you’ve got that, go back and flesh out all the sections. Once you’ve got it all written down, contact NBCC or NASW to figure out the next steps to getting your training credentialed. It’s not as tough as you think. Promise.

How much to charge? Between $20 and $25 per continuing education hour.

2. Online course for clients

Does the continuing education workshop feel a little daunting to you? Fair enough. How about taking your specialty and creating an online course for the general population? There are a bunch of online platforms that make it super easy to make online courses; I recommend Teachable. Since we talk to clients all day long, it may be easier to create a course that is directed towards them. It could even lean a little more psychoeducational, which could be fun to dive into. So, again: what’s your specialty? Are you a pro at helping people in relationships communicate better? Are you an expert in guiding folks through the grief process? Do you want to unload all your DBT techniques? Whatever it is, sit down and start figuring out an outline on how to sell your course online. Just like the continuing education workshop, it’s not as hard as you might think. Ultimately, it’s even easier because you don’t have to apply to become credentialed.

How much to charge? Between $99 and $299, depending on how long your online course is.

3. Create an eBook

Alright, so maybe the first two suggestions feel like too big of a lift right now. That’s cool. Maybe you’re more comfortable starting with baby steps. How about creating an eBook? Again, you’ll need a speciality or niche for this one. But this time, instead of creating long lectures on a topic, you’ll create shorter and more digestible content that’s presented in a workbook.

Personally, I think my buddy Gina makes some awesome eBooks. I love the one she created about jealousy. I highly recommend you purchase it if you want some great inspiration on what you could do with an eBook. Think along the lines of providing straight-forward advice that’s concise and gets to the heart of the issue. eBooks don’t have to be long and dense. Really, they should just highlight all the most pertinent information you have on a topic.

How much to charge? Between $9 and $29.

4. Start a podcast

Okay, hear me out on this one! Maybe you should start a podcast. I know you’ve got something interesting to say. We all do! You’re an expert in mental health, so take that knowledge and create a podcast about it. Take it from me: I’ve started two podcasts, Say More About That and Swoon, and podcasting is the best part of my week. It’s fun, challenging, and opens you up to meeting a ton of new people. And once your podcast is listened to by thousands of people every week, you’ll be able to charge companies for sponsored ad breaks. Of course, this business idea can take a bit of time. Sometimes you have to create weekly content for a full year just to see if your podcast will take off. But if it does, it’s majorly worth it!

How much to charge? Between $15 to $25 per ad per 1,000 listeners. So, if you have 5,000 listeners per episode, you can charge up to $125 an ad. And you can sometimes fit in 3 or 4 ads per episode… I’ll let you do the math.

5. Become a consultant for therapists

I feel like this idea is the most natural for more experienced therapists. We have so much to offer new therapists that are just entering into the field. Remember how daunting and confusing it was when you first started your practice? You’ve collected so much valuable information about how to run a successful practice after being in the field for years. Why not put all that info into a 6-week course for new practitioners just starting out? You could open up the class to 8 or 10 new therapists and walk them through all the basic things that need to be put in place when launching a practice. You’ll meet new folks and become a trusted mentor in the community.

How much to charge? $50 to $100 per person per group.

Now what?

Now, go get started! If none of the ideas above resonate with you, go check out the 24 ideas I came up with in the past. Make this year the year you start something new. Diversify your business. Don't solely count on your practice for income. Create more freedom in your life. Challenge yourself to be more creative. Trust me, once one idea works, you’ll be super excited to start the next. It’s a little addictive.

Jeff Guenther, LPC, is a therapist in Portland, OR. He has been in private practice since 2005. Jeff is the creator and owner of Portland Therapy Center, a highly ranked therapist directory. Jeff, and his team, have launched a new progressive therapist directory, TherapyDen.

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