Many school-based speech pathologists have private clients they see after school. But where do you start to find clients to build a part-time, private caseload? Here are the steps that I have taken that have led me to both pediatric and adult speech therapy clients:
- Business Cards — Business cards do not have to be fancy. You just need to have your name (with your MA, CCC-SLP), your title (Speech-Language Pathologist), a professional email address (your name, not a nickname), and your phone number. VistaPrint offers regular 40% off deals to email subscribers. Hop on their email list and wait for a special to save a bundle on business cards.
- Google Voice — Register and get yourself a number. That way if your business cards are circulating, your actual phone number is not. Google Voice assigns you a phone number that you can have go directly to your real number (but no one knows your real number). Also Google Voice will transcribe voicemails and text them to you. There are so many features that I have not explored, but it’s worth having as a professional.
- Basic Website — Is having a basic website is necessary? Yes! That’s because if someone is looking for a speech path and they type in “speech therapy hometown,” you want a URL to pop up for your side business. Google loves it when you have a physical location. The best free blogging site is Blogger.com, but WordPress is more professional and has more functionalities. Look into both and make sure you have listed “Speech Therapy Services Right Here in Hometown.” Google Business may reach out to you actually! Caveat: make sure that you plan on sticking around in your community because Google will associate your website with that locale for a long time.
- Register on Speech Buddy — SpeechBuddy.com has a huge database of private speech therapy providers. In fact, most of my referrals come from this site (because it’s searchable and Google-friendly). It’s easy to set up a profile — I say go for it!
- The Library, the Salon, the Coffee Shops… — Post your business cards all over the community. At my library a business person can put up a card on the board for one month. They like to keep it fresh, so you just need to come back and ask to repost it. You could ask to leave a small stack of cards in the kids section, too. Also, I’ve picked up interesting cards at my son’s child hair salon. They have a board where people post announcements for child-friendly businesses or events. I saw a card for a local therapy clinic there. Also coffee shops have corkboards that you can post cards. Make sure you find out how often they refresh them so that you can go back and put up a new one. The possibilities of places you could leave a business card are endless: local portrait studio, local children’s museum, local dance/gymnastic studios, etc.
- Local speech therapy clinics — Another source of referrals is speech therapy clinics in your area. I know it sounds surprising, but a local clinic that focuses on children with communication disorders, sent me a referral for an adult looking for accent modification. So send your information (with a business card) to a local clinic so they know about you being in the community and available for referrals.
- ASHA — Register on ASHA’s public search function ASHA ProFind so that anyone who comes to ASHA looking for a certified SLP will see your name. I have not gotten client referrals from ASHA, but I know people who get them frequently.
- Pediatrician Offices and Daycares — Find and call up local pediatricians and daycares to make them aware of your availability. You can send them one of your wonderful business cards!
- Local Schools or School Districts — Many schools and districts keep lists of outside therapy resources that they provide to parents that request information about outside therapy options. Call or mail the local school district (usually the speech manager) your card to say that you are available for after school speech therapy.
- Local Corporations — If you are looking to build an accent modification practice, you can direct mail local corporations that may have foreign workers. For example, there are several large international corporations not too far from my house. I’ve considered sending them information about accent modification services that I could provide (but I haven’t yet sent a thing).
When you think about it, there are many different ways you can drum up business and build a private speech caseload. I hope this blog post helps you think creatively about marketing yourself and your services. It does require a bit of hustle to get there, but it’s so worth it to have private clients. They are fun and rewarding to work with and it’s wonderful to bring in some additional money, too. If I missed anything, let me know!