When you're growing your private practice, it's not long before you realize that your start-up expenses are beginning to pile up.
You've got your larger expenses, like filing your LLC/S-Corps, purchasing professional liability insurance, and furnishing your office, but you're able to shrug those off as non-negotiable items that just come with the the territory. Plus, they're not regular expenses, so once you pay them out you can forget about them for a while.
But then come all of your regular monthly expenses, like rent +utilities, directory profile listings, and your EHR system. Put it all together and it's no wonder why the idea of shelling out even more money for something like professional headshots seems ridiculous.
It's easy to put off getting professional pictures taken and just go with something that can serve as a "placeholder" until you start actually making money.
After all, professional headshots are expensive and not even necessary, right?
I'm not here today to tell you that professional headshots are one of the most important things you need when starting your practice.
I'm also not gonna tell you that a professional headshot is worth the hefty price tag you might pay.
I won't tell you that having professional pictures on your website and directory listing make a huge difference.
Instead, I'll show you.
I recently reached out to some of my students and asked them to send me their old "placeholders," the headshots they were using before they started coaching with me. I also asked them for their professional headshots so that I could show my readers the difference that professional headshots make with your branding, your image, and the way you position yourself online.
Below are 7 case studies of real therapists who took my advice, along with their stories of how investing in professional headshots helped them grow their practices.
Lynn has a private practice in Frederick, Maryland, where she specializes in helping people who struggle with anxiety (so basically, all people), and her approach is pretty...well...badass. She's witty and confident, and I love her Auntie Anxiety brand.
The problem was that Lynn's old headshot didn't reflect her awesome personality at all. Granted, it's not a bad picture (aside from the fact that part of her head is cut off). But look how much better her new headshot reflects her fun (and sassy) side:
In Lynn's Words:
"My 'old' headshot was professional (I’ve been getting professional headshots since I started….long before “selfies” were a thing), but they were just that: Old! Update your photos every few years so that clients don’t walk in and ask where your daughter is!"
Jennifer is a badass EMDR therapist based in New York - and she knows her shit. When I first started working with her, I really encouraged her to get professional headshots taken to replace this close-up selfie disaster. Thing is, a professional photoshoot in a city like New York costs more than some peoples' mortgages, so Jennifer, understandably, put it off.
When she finally decided to revamp her website, a professional photoshoot was at the top of her to-do list. What a huge difference! Her warmth comes right through in her new headshot.
In Jennifer's Words:
"My old headshot was a random selfie in an office that wasn't mine on a good hair day -- now it's an even better hair day photo that looks legit and shows my personality."
If you've taken my free 5-day video ecourse on crafting a BadAss Psychology Today profile, you're familiar with Klarece's before and after pictures. Klarece is a skilled therapist in San Diego who specializes in working with Type-A, stressed-out workaholics, and her old headshot probably made prospective clients feel even more stressed out (just kidding, Klarece. You know I love you).
Klarece's transformation after getting professional headshots is mind-blowing: She looks like a completely different person! I'd call her in a heartbeat if I didn't live 2,000 miles away.
In Klarece's Words:
"I really thought that I looked great in my old picture. It wasn't a selfie, and my son did a great job. But after having a makeover and seeing what a professional can do (no offense to my son), I would never go back to the old picture! I felt the lighting makes my face clear, I look pretty, and most of all - I look professional. Now I stand out."
Adiasha is a couples therapist and group practice owner based in New York. She's also one of the most fearless entrepreneurs I've had the pleasure of coaching. We have this running joke where I inform her that I want to be like her when I grow up (and I'm only half kidding), because she epitomizes what I think it means to be a badass.
Adiasha's old headshot was a little Instagram-y and definitely didn't showcase her strength and confidence. But check out her new headshot:
In Adiasha's Words:
"My old headshot represented, 'I guess I'm a business woman,' but new my headshot is saying, 'I am a business woman; I'm Growth and Transitions Counseling.' It represents the confidence and comfort I have as a practice owner now compared to just figuring out the place I was in then."
You know those people who are just so nice that you wonder if they've discovered some magical drug that takes away all of their fucks? Missy is that person. She has a heart for helping children and teens, and she is one hard worker.
So Missy decided to invest in a professional headshot that really captured her playful side, and I LOVE it! Notice how her photographer was able to incorporate fun into her picture too.
In Missy's Words:
"My professional headshots made my website come to life by having the image appeal to the clients who I want to work with instead just using a selfie."
Elise is one of those therapists who just knows who her people are and doesn't hesitate when you ask her, "So what's your niche?" She works with artists, performers, and bands in Los Angeles, and she does a damn good job (must be that MFT training - I'm slightly biased). So when I first saw her old headshot, I understood why she wanted it to be different from the more traditional "headshot." But I knew she could do better.
Elise worked with a fashion photographer who was able to really capture Elise in a way that she knew would connect with her ideal client. She blew this one out of the water.
In Elise's Words:
"I was always a little embarrassed about my headshot. I felt like the little effort I put into it possibly reflected the little effort I would put into my clients. That always bothered me, but I didn’t take it to the next level and actually change it until I worked with Laura.
Now that it’s professional, I feel like it really represents how seriously I take this work and what kind of service you’re going to get from me as a client. I feel way more confident charging my fee now because the impression is you’re gonna get a professional style service not an iPhone selfie service."
When I first talked to Catherine about her picture, I lovingly referred to it as her "Backpage Ad." I'm sure she wanted to punch me in the face numerous times, but for some reason she stuck around.
Anyway, Catherine is this badass trauma therapist in Arlington, Texas who specializes in working with military & civilian PTSD, as well as first responders. She can hold her own with any top-ranking military general, so I wanted her badassery to show up in her professional headshot.
In Catherine's Words:
"Honestly, I was dreading taking pictures. I obviously couldn't order promotional materials with that selfie and it was just a placeholder, but looking back - just wow. The professional photos are awesome. Not only that, they doubled (possibly tripled) the call volume from my PT profile (same profile, different picture). The photos make a difference!"
Pretty amazing shit, huh?!
Notice how each therapist used their new professional headshots to show off their unique personality while also appealing to their target audience.
Gone are the days where "professional headshot" means boring and stuffy. Prospective clients are looking for a therapist they can really connect with, so it's in their best interests that you bring your own authentic, badass self into your professional pictures.
When my students finally made the decision to invest in professional pictures, they experienced massive increases in conversion rates (Catherine almost tripled her call volume!), improved confidence in their fees, and they began attracting their best-fit clients. Not only that, but they also became more confident in themselves as business owners.
So, are professional headshots worth it?
I'll let you decide.
Leave a comment below and tell me which before & after is your favorite. Then use the links below to share with any therapist you know who's on the fence about professional headshots.