When I started writing Clinics in the Cloud, “Presence: Your online business platform” was the first section I wrote. This section includes a discussion of domain names. Prior to that, I’d written a blog post and other articles about choosing a good domain name for private practice.

In the past I would recommend opting for recognised domain extensions, such as .com or country-specific versions such as .com.au. Main reason behind this was their universal acceptance and recall due to their inherent commercial tags (“com” for commercial). Often, businesses would choose other alternatives such as .net or .org, when the more desired .com options were not available. However these other domain types don’t offer the same benefits for private practice.

In response to growing and changing needs, ICANN (the global authority for domain names) has laid out a plan to introduce new types of domain names to increase the pool of available domains and better represent various industries and interest groups. Some of the recent approvals to the domain types (technically known as TLDs: Top Level Domains) include:

There are hundreds of others becoming available (if not available already) and even more under evaluation. Although they are not commonplace yet, the recognition, acceptance and popularity of these domains are sure to grow. Unlike the ubiquitous .com, these new profession-specific domains will provide clarity for their industry and relevance for their clients.

As a private practice owner, you would be wise to grab a new domain name for your business, even if you already have one that your competitors would kill for. A domain with your suburb/town is a great place to start (such as santamonica.dentist or carlton.physio) – since these are typically your most sought after keywords in search engine placements.

Even if you a professional in your field and do not own a private practice, you may (should) want to reserve a domain name (such as johndoe.doctor).

Be quick – if you missed out on a good domain name before, you’d know what it feels like. If you are confused or need guidance, get in touch with your web developer.

PS: When new domain types are added, they typically go through a release process, where owners of trademarks or key organisations are given the opportunity to register their domains before the registration is open to the public. Registrations during this phase can be confusing, but perservere.

PPS: Domain name registration fees can differ greatly from one registrar to the next. Do your research and shop around.

Here is a collection of useful online resources for businesses in private practice. If you have a suggestion, please contact me for addition to this list.

 

 

Tools for your website

These are online tools you can use on your website, or for setting up your website.

Domain names

Here are some recommended domain name registrars. Note that you can use pretty much any registrar you like, but some are easier to work with than others. We don’t like any registrar who tries to upsell dozens of unnecessary features – it just confuses things.

  • NetRegistry is our registrar of choice, especially for Australian (.com.au) domains. They offer great value and exceptional service when you have questions.
  • .physio is the new domain extension exclusively for the physio/physical therapy community. Although not open to general public registrations until 6 December 2014, early registrations are available for trademark holders.

Landing pages

Landing pages can help you make distraction-free offers with focus on visitor action. These can be used separate to your website, so they are great for trialling campaigns and sales spiels.

Surveys & forms

Surveys can help you get feedback and information from your clients and leads. These can be integrated into your existing website.

Email marketing

Email marketing is a cornerstone of online marketing. PracticePulse websites already have email marketing built in – the services below can be used in conjunction with any website. They also offer tools to collect and grow your subscriber list.

qr code

QR codes

QR codes are similar to barcodes, however can hold a variety of information. These codes can be scanned with a smartphone to take the user to your website, save your contact details to the phone, offer special deals, show driving directions and initiate a text messages. Note that the smartphone needs to have a freely available QR code app installed to be able to scan them. Here are some places where you can learn more about and generate QR codes for your own use.

Video web-presenters

People often prefer to watch something than read about it. Video web-presenters are professional recordings of, well – presenters. These can engage your visitors with important information and a unique ‘Call-To-Action’. However, remember that it is not a good idea to use auto-play audio or video on your pages; let the visitor pres the play button.

 

 

Tools for your practice

These are online tools to help run your practice

Practice Management Systems

Practice management software is very useful for automating many aspects of your business. It can help you keep patient/client records, manage appointments and even handle basic communications. Note that there are industry-specific slutions around. So ensure you weigh your options and trial them in depth before committing – it can be difficult to change over to another provider later on. Here are some examples:

Timetabling & appointments

These tools make it easier for you to manage your timetables and bookings. If you are using some practice panagement software, you may already have access to such features. In any case, you should look for a solution that can be integrated into your website, so people can book directly.

SMS / Text messaging

SMS reminders for appointments is useful for reducing no-shows. Text messages can also be used for sending special offers. Just ensure you have permission to send messages to a user’s phone. Some practice management software has this feature built in. If you are planning on using an external service, check that they can send messages within your country.

Accounting

Online accounting software can really help organise your business, inventory, tax reporting, income and expenses. However, before you decide on one, discuss your options with your accountant. It will help you and your accountant, if the data you maintain is compatible with your accountant’s software.

Online sales

Now, I’m generally against practice owners selling physical products from their websites. So much effort has gone into getting visitors that it wouldn’t make sense to distract them from your core services with products that promise to leave you a few bucks profit. However, selling your core services is another matter; if you want to sell gift vouchers for an hour of massage, Pilates classes and the like, by all means – go for it. Look for a solution that can be integrated into your website.

 

 

Tools for social media

Scheduling

You can schedule your social media posts to cut down teh work needed to maintain a lively presence. It’s common for many businesses to schedule a week’s worh of posts across a variety of social platforms and then simply monitor the activity.

Facebook apps

Facebook’s features can be extended with the use of Facebook apps. There are many apps out there to do things like grow your newsletter subscriber base, get more likes and even claim special offers.

 

 

Useful software

Video editing / creation

Use these to create / edit your videos. But remember – videos are large files – so it may be difficult to get your original files uploaded first. You may then experience delays in using these systems due to bandwitdh requirements. These are recommended only if you don’t have suitable software installed on your computer.

Photo editing

These tools make it easy to touch-up or perform minor edits on your images. Most users will not need full-blown Photoshop type software, which is not only expensive but also have steep learning curves.

Website graphics and charts

 

 

Working with service providers

When working remotely with web developers, SEO professionals or anyone else for that matter, there are tools that help you get your point across.

Communicating

  • trello.com is great for sharing to-do lists, assigning tasks and checking that things are being done by other people.
  • jing.com is great for capturing your computer’s screen and your voice into a video – that can later be played back by someone as though they were there with you in the first place.

Getting help

You can also use live screen sharing tools, for real-time help from someone.

 

I’ve received the first batch of finished books today! Here’s the first box of 50 books. There are 20 boxes like this for my first print run.

No time to celebrate or get excited. I got some help from my 4 year old in packaging and posting all the pre-sale orders that I received since last year. I’m really thankful for everyone’s patience.

My little helper

 

Available from Amazon as paperback and Kindle eBook.

Buy now

Download the first 4 chapters

I’ve found and engaged an editor. No major edits or structural changes. He says that it flowerd pretty well and there wasn’t anything he’d leave out. That’s a good sign I guess (or he was lazy).

Diagrams, tables and cartoons finalised, editor’s amendments made, back cover copy tweaked. Yes, Clinics in the Cloud is off to print!

Thank you for your patience. All pre-orders will be posted on the same day as I receive the courier delivery.

Sign up to the PracticePulse newsletter to receive the first 4 chapters free.

Download the first 4 chapters

I’ve made some major structural changes recently… It is more organised and enables reader to focus on major groups of strategies to better prepare for more detailed strategies once the basics are mastered. I am much happier now and I think readers will appreciate this. I’ve also made some major edits based on changes in technology, social media and search engines.

At first I was daunted by the thought of writing a book. Now I’m struggling putting an end to it. I’m on more than 65,000 words and every time I look through, I have more ideas I want to add.

I’m sure my editor (which I still don’t have at the moment) will cull it back to a manageable 45-50,000 words or so. I’ve considered making it into two separate books but I think the contents flow really well.

Being a dad and writing a book while running a full time business that operates across timezones is quite a challenge! I’m really looking forward to the day when I send out my good-news email to everyone who supported me and pre-purchased my book so far.

Thank you for your patience.

Having taken a much needed break over the holidays, I’ve been dealing with a backlog of work and emails. I’m finally on top of it all and getting back into finishing Clinics in the Cloud. It is now my priority.

Thank you so much to everyone who have shown interest and pre-purchased my book already.

I now have 270 pages and 54,768 words, with still one major chapter to complete. I don’t want to cut any corners with this; I really want to set a benchmark with my first book.

This has been a tough journey, trying to find the time to write regularly. My wife and friends are complaining, asking when my book will be finished. Oh well, there’s only so much I can do. Maybe I was a bit too ambitious with the goal to finish the book in 5 months while working and parenting full time. I also hadn’t thought I’d end up with close to 60,000 words by now.

After revisiting many parts of Clinics in the Cloud, I’ve decided to include some new material and take out others. The final stretch seems as hard as starting to write a book.

I’ve had trouble finding a good editor – someone with experience with businesses in private practice. Still looking, but it looks unlikely.

By the way, thank you to everyone who pre-purchased at the APA Conference in October. It is really cool to see so much interest in my book.

Wow. I’m on 42,365 words, and there’s till more I want to cover in my book. I managed to put aside some solid time each week to write. After hitting a certain wall, I’ve managed to pick up momentum again.

Although I’ve written a ton of articles, eBooks and blog posts, this is my first book. It’s been quite daunting, not only because of the sheer effort required, but also because I would hate to produce something that wasn’t super-valuable. People will be paying for and spending precious hours reading my book and I want to deliver the best possible material I can.

I really want this to be an excellent reference book, as well as helping business owners in private health practice to feel curious, empowered and rearing to take action when it comes to building their practice up online.

I am weary of including everything that I think of; I don’t want to add bulk for sake of it. In the beginning, I was targeting 30,000 words as a nice little “weekend read”, but now I am finding it hard to leave things out. Maybe I should have called it “Private Practice Online Bible”.

Joke aside, I will keep pumping it out and worry about culling back later. The momentum is good. However I am mindful of the Australian Physiotherapy Association Conference 2013 coming up October 17th. We will be exhibiting PhysioPulse during the 4 day event and I would really like to have the book published by then.

The editor will need one week, I will probably work on it for another few days after that. ISBN and book cover design tweaks are going to be simple enough. The printer will take about a week… that leaves me 10 days to finish my writing.

Wow, I have a book cover design! In choosing the winning cover, I asked opinions of two separate groups:

  1. Friends, family, Facebook followers
  2. Actual clients, who are the exact target reader group

Interestingly, each group had a different, but distinct favourites. I’m glad I segmented into separate groups. So I have a clear winner (based on what my clients think!)

Edit 26 July 2014: The final cover design has changed. The back cover especially is a lot neater and easy to scan.

winning-cover

The tagline, back cover blurb and my photo will yet change. But this is the general design.

I’ve started thinking about cover design for Clinics in the Cloud. Took some time to prepare a nice and detailed brief for designers, considering who my readers are and what I want to convey.

I’ve decided to use 99designs.com.au – the world’s largest online graphic design marketplace. I’ve uploaded my design brief and got some good submissions.

Here are my finalists.

By now I’m on 32,855 words – that’s a decent weekend-read. But I’ve only covered half the stuff I want. It looks like this is going to be a bigger book than I imagined.

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