Rebel Therapist
Rebel Therapist
Annie Schuessler
Rebel Therapist is the podcast where you'll get support in being a therapist entrepreneur. I'm Annie Schuessler, therapist and business coach and strategist for therapists. I'll support you in taking your work beyond the therapy room to make an even bigger impact. I interview Rebel Therapists who are already doing work beyond the therapy room, from running workshops to writing books to creating online courses. You'll hear about how they created their unique businesses, the mindset work they've done, and the mistakes they've made along the way. Get the inspiration and information you need to be a Rebel Therapist, starting now.
The Best Niches Beyond Private Practice
This week I shared my thoughts on niching beyond private practice and at the end I gave you a small list of niches I think we need more of you to create programs and services around. Keep reading for a summary of what I talked about. Niching beyond private practice is SO different from niching to fill a practice. You CAN fill your traditional private practice without a narrow niche. Once you move into the global online space, you are likely to need a narrow niche. What's a niche? A niche is a problem your person is trying to solve. An identity or community is not a niche, but an identity or community can be a huge ingredient of a niche. Here's why: Even if you came up with a group for 49 year old white cis queer women who are parents by both adoption and birth, live upstairs from their sisters, and are Elton John fans, I would not join until you told me what problem you're helping us solve. (That describes me, if you didn't guess.) That said, identity can be a HUGE part of what goes into your niche. Just look at the amazing work of Dr. JaNae Taylor, who helps Black entrepreneurs create wellness in community in her company: Minding My Black Business. Here are a small number of real niche examples from folks who have been through Rebel Therapist programs: Tia Hackett has a couples workshops for people who need help with communication and may not have access to or time for couples therapy. Monica McClain-Reese helps couples learn to manage their money together. Maureen Cotton helps couples plan unique and powerful ceremonies without succumbing to the Wedding Industrial Complex. Liz Adams helps women with ADHD who have dreams they're not living yet. Kelsi McMartin helps parents of kiddos who have recently come out as nonbinary or trans. Caitlin Olsen helps progressive mormon women figure out their path. Staci Boden has a group coaching program to help recovering type-A change makers and leaders to follow energy instead of pushing and controlling. Valerie DiLuggo has a program helping straight single women create joyful whole lives as they take a break from dating for a reset. Samantha fox has a program helping women who are coming out as lesbian or queer later in life. Katie Nasherson runs a program helping people rebuild their lives after a tragedy or devastating event. Jesse Kaufman helps private practice therapists overcome visibility barriers to authentically market their work with video. I'll be sharing more examples soon. Here's why you should have a narrow enough niche: So you stand out and come to mind in a global online space when that niche is talked about, even if your audience is not huge yet. If you've got a huge audience already, you don't need this advice. Hey Oprah, Brene, and Glennon. What's up?! Some fears may come up for you around niching, and what I want to tell you about each one. Fear: I'll choose the wrong niche. Tell that fear: You are not making a permanent decision. Fear: I'll be bored. Tell that fear: When you go narrow, you get to do some deep work. You'll still be doing a lot of different things with your participants. Fear: There's too much competition. Tell that fear: You can't actually take that niche on all by yourself. Also, some folks would prefer to work with YOU. Fear: Niching doesn't feel like freedom to me. Tell that fear: Try using a vague niche and see how it goes! Choose a narrower niche when you're ready. One possibility for people who hate niching: Start with a broad niche and sell your program based on your reputation with your network. Then narrow your niche so that you can sustain your business over time. Here are some filters to run a niche through to see if it might work: The people with this problem know they have this problem. You're not trying to convince them that this issue is a problem. They have already tried things to solve this problem. Perhaps they've done other programs already, read books, or paid money in some way to solve it. You have talked to actual people who have this problem. It's not based on a made-up avatar. You can easily describe this niche in one sentence. If you need to go on for several paragraphs, you're not there yet! This niche passes the "cousin test." When you tell someone about your niche, a particular person comes to mind, perhaps their cousin or neighbor or friend. You hear "I know who will hire you" rather than "Oh that sounds really cool. I bet everyone needs that." This niche brings you joy, at least some of the time. If working on or talking about this problem causes you pain or harm, move on. You have a LOT to say about this niche. You could sit down and think of 50 topics, tips or ideas to share with the people who deal with this problem. Bonus: If solving this problem is on your person's to-do list, that's even better. Let's look at some fictional Niche Makeovers as examples: vague: I help women through transitions more viable: I help women through breakups vague: I help people who are dealing with difficult problems at home or at work. more viable: I help parents who are struggling with their 5 to 10 year old kid's behavior. vague: I help people use intuition to make better choices. more viable: I help people use intuition to manage their feelings and choices around money. vague: I help women be their best selves. more viable: I help white women stop behaving in racist ways. Your first step in figuring out your niche and turning it into a business: Listen to real people within this niche. You can talk in real time or through surveys, email or by mining your memory bank. If you're thinking about past therapy clients who are within this niche, mine your memory bank instead of directly asking them. That would be unethical. Some of the questions to ask: How would you describe the problem? What do you think the solution looks like? What have you already tried to solve this problem? What happened with those attempts? What (besides price) would make a program a no brainer for you? Listen. All of this listening will help you create your pilot offer and your marketing. Don't half-ass this niche research. It is the most important foundational work for creating a great offer. HOWEVER, don't fall into procrastination or perfectionism. This world needs your ethical micro business. Just a few niches I'm not seeing enough (not even nearly exhaustive): Please create a program around one of these topics! I'm only naming big rough niches here, so there are many specific niches possible within each one. Sex Parents with kids who have specific issues Managers and bosses Blended families Friendship Housemates Business partners Show notes at:
Nov 30
25 min
High Priced Offers With Cate Stillman
I love bringing you behind the scenes of successful businesses so that you've got lots of examples of different ways to build YOUR business. In this week's episode of Rebel Therapist, I'm talking to a healer and entrepreneur who has built a robust ecosystem with high priced offerings. I asked her about how she's developed her offerings, her sales and marketing processes, and how she's scaled back her work hours. Meet Cate Stillman. Cate established in 2001, and Yoga Health Coaching in 2012 for wellness professionals. Her books include Body Thrive and Master of YOU. Here's some of what we talked about: Creating a business around yoga health coaching Developing a second branch of her business around business coaching How Cate listens to her people in order to create her curriculum and offers Starting a 2 hour workshop that became a year-long course Using an "intense" sales process Setting high prices Working 20 hours per week outside of her book writing time Her webinar process, from idea to delivery Here are some takeaways that particularly stand out to me: Takeaway #1: Information doesn't equal transformation. What people need and will pay for is a process to help them implement. Cate started with a 2 hour workshop and over time she developed that into a year-long course teaching and practicing habits. Takeaway #2: Think about how long people have to wait to work with you. When developing a program or course, if you set it up that folx can only start once or twice a year, you may be losing a lot of opportunities to work with people. Please don't worry about this when you're creating a new offer. This is something to consider further down the line. Takeaway #3: When you're ready to hire, choose people who are different from you and who have skills and interests different from your own. I'm in my own hiring process right now, and I'm paying attention to this. This means I have to acknowledge what I suck at as well as what I'm great at. It's humbling! Show notes at
Nov 16
38 min
When Your Program Doesn't Fill
If your program doesn't fill, first of all, welcome to the club! This secret club includes me and almost all of the people you see running successful programs right now. On one level, when your program doesn't fill, it means absolutely nothing. It means nothing about your future success, your brilliance, or your ability make this business fly. In this episode I'll share how it felt to me when my own program didn't fill years ago, a mindset process you may go through when a program doesn't fill, and then some questions to help you analyze what might have caused your program not to fill so that you can make changes for next time. Here's some of what I talk about: The stuff I told myself when my own program didn't fill Nancy Jane Smith's helpful approach to an anxiety producing situation like this How to know when you're ready to do a post-launch analysis (hint: don't do it while you're still in free fall!) Specific questions to ask yourself about your launch An argument for creating a 1:1 replicable offer first How to decide when you're ready to launch a group program My pep talk about why this wasn't just a failure How you can get my help with your pilot program Here are the questions to help you analyze post-launch (but only when you're ready to be kind to yourself): Question #1: How viable was your niche? Did you choose a niche of folks who were invested in solving a clear problem? Did you choose a niche that's specific enough? Did you go through a thoughtful process to clarify that niche? (niching is the MOST important element of this whole analysis. without a viable niche you're gonna do some HEAVY lifting from here forward.) Question #2: Did your offer clearly help to solve the problem for that niche? Question #3: How clear and effective was your messaging? How well did you communicate in your sales page and all of your messaging about how your offer helps solve that problem? Perhaps you didn't talk about your offer and the problem from your participant's point of view. Perhaps you focused on the approach you use, or you wrote or spoke with your colleagues in mind. Question #4: Did you get the word out to everyone you know with enthusiasm? Or did you hide a little bit? If you're not speaking with excitement about your offer in all the places, and you're just hoping people will find it...they won't. If you don't love the hell out of your offer it's hard for others to. Question #5: How big is your audience within this niche? (This part is really just math.) If not enough people know about your work, you can't fill a program yet. (Emphasis on yet.) It's often not possible to fill a small-group program with less than 100 or 200 people on your email list, unless you're already well known in your community for this particular work. Question #6: How many people were you expecting or hoping for? (Maybe it wasn't a realistic expectation yet!) When deciding whether to start with a 1:1 program or a group program, figure out what level of risk you're comfortable with. Starting with a replicable, structured 1:1 program beyond private practice is a GREAT option. Show notes at
Nov 2
21 min
Carve Out Space For Your Next Thing With Sarah Buino
When you step into a big project or a big pivot, you've got to carve out some space, time and energy. Meet Sarah Buino who has been doing just that. Sarah had a very full time job as a group practice owner with 12 staff people, and knew there was something else she was meant to do with healers on a larger scale. She talked to me about how she set her group practice up to require much less of her so that she could step into this new work without overworking or burning out. Here's a bit more about her: Sarah Buino, LCSW, RDDP, CADC, CDWF is a speaker, teacher, therapist and the founder and president of Head/Heart Therapy, Inc. She’s a member of the adjunct faculty at Loyola University Chicago and hosts the podcast Conversations With a Wounded Healer, which examines the role of one’s own healing while being a care-giving professional. Sarah is obsessed with her 10-lb chihuahua named Batman. Here's some of what we talked about: Building Head Heart Therapy, a therapy center for weirdos with a staff of 12 Hosting 2 podcasts and making that manageable Podcasting tools Sarah and Annie both use Figuring out what she needs to do less of so that she can create new things Finding her role as a mentor with her staff Moving into the work of helping therapists and therapy organizations Balancing her agenda with responding to what's happening in her organization Managing different people differently Creating The Ordinary Trauma Project and writing a book Taking a month-long sabbatical to make progress on the book Emotionally preparing for the publication Here are some takeaways that particularly stand out to me: Takeaway #1: Sarah has built a team and handed over the day-to-day of the group practice so that she can step into her life's work of helping therapists heal. "What I want to do is help therapists heal and I can't help my staff heal because I'm their boss. And so there's a place that I love mentoring and I love supervising, but it's not the same as helping them heal. And so throughout the sabbatical, I was really thinking: how is it that I can create space to make this shift so that I can really step into what I truly think is my life's work." Takeaway #2: You've got to carve out time and energy to work on new projects. You can't necessarily just pile them onto what you've already got going on. Sarah took a month-long sabbatical to focus on her book. "I could wake up and be like, what do I want to do? What time do I want to start writing today? Right. What chapter do I want to work on today? So. Yeah. So I took a month to focus on the book." Takeaway #3: In addition to carving out time and energy for a big project, we've got to gather enough permission and safety. When we do brave and visible things and ask more of ourselves, we need to set up more support because it's hard and it's vulnerable. "(When the book comes out) I think it will be an extended period of wrapping myself in love and comfort and care, and definitely not reading reviews." Show notes at
Oct 19
45 min
Why You Should Create A Pilot Program With Annie Schuessler
So why am I so sure your first step to creating a business beyond private practice is to create a pilot program? This podcast episode answers that question. First, here’s what I mean when I say “pilot program”: A high quality offer delivered live (usually online) to one person or a small group of people, which may or may not be offered at a lower price than it will be in the future. Some formats of pilot programs: 1:1 coaching programs Retreats Small group coaching programs Training or consulting packages for organizations Hybrids between 2 or more formats I’m not usually a one-size-fits-all kind of business coach, so why am I so convinced that this one thing is true for just about everyone? Here are 5 of my reasons why you should start with a pilot program: Creating a pilot program fights perfectionism. Perfectionism will get you stuck for months or years getting ready to create something perfect. It might just slow you down so much that you won't deliver ANYTHING. Excellence doesn't come from waiting. It comes from iteration. So start iterating. When you need to create something excellent and important, you’ve got to start delivering it soon. Charlie Gilkey said this really well in his book Start Finishing: “We often falsely assume that the more it matters, the better the start should be. The reality is much humbler and more accessible. the more something matters, the better it is that we start finishing sooner.” Creating a pilot gets us feedback fast. We create our best work in relationship with the people it is for. You’ll get way more information from delivering your pilot than you could any other way. You'll know right away what's working and what changes you'll need to make next time. Creating a pilot forces you to get clear on where the value is. Creating a simple and live version of your offer forces you to clarify what matters most instead of piling it up with lots of features. Delivering more content will not necessarily add more value. Sometimes adding more content clutters up your offer. Creating a pilot tricks you into doing the important foundational work that you need to do. The project of creating your pilot gets you to do foundational things like clarify a truly viable niche, create a solid marketing plan to get that pilot to the people who need it, build a simple website, and more. (Breathe. You can do all this.) Every program you’ve ever benefitted from began as a pilot. Ask the founder or creator of any excellent program and you’ll find out it started as a simple pilot program. Show notes at
Oct 5
8 min
Fine Tune Your Program With Dr. JaNaè Taylor
As you get ready to move beyond private practice and create your signature program, you might believe you’ll need to run many many programs in order to stay interested. I’m gonna tell you to start with one. Usually boredom is not what happens. If it does, you can add more! I’m on round twenty (!) of my core program right now, which had a few different names in the beginning. It’s been called Create Your Program for quite a few minutes now. I’m having fun making changes to improve it every single time. We just added a session with an attorney who answers legal questions and a systems expert to help with setting up tech. Of course I’m always fascinated by the participants and what they're creating. There’s just very little boredom happening around here. This week's Rebel Therapist podcast guest is positively obsessed* with her program as well. You’re about to hear from someone who loves fine-tuning her signature program. Therefore she’s created an outstanding program that her participants love. It’s called Mindful Moguls. Listen to how Dr. JaNaè Taylor thinks about the needs of her Mindful Mogul participants, as well as her own needs, to craft an excellent experience. You might even discover that you want and need to jump into the next round of her program. Dr. JaNaè Taylor is a Licensed Psychotherapist in Virginia Beach, VA, where she owns and operates Taylor Counseling and Consulting Services. She specializes in providing mental health services exclusively to the Black Community. JaNaè’s expertise has been featured in Money, SHAPE, Refinery29, Cosmopolitan, NBC, and CBS among many others. As the Founder of Minding My BLACK Business, Dr. Taylor has created a digital space that provides resources, workshops, programs, and a podcast for Black Entrepreneurs to check in on their mental health and each other. She was on Rebel Therapist back in November of 2017 so go listen to that one too to see where she was 4 years ago. Here's some of what we talked about: Creating her 8 week program for Black Service Oriented Entrepreneurs Creating an after-care program How she landed on 8 weeks for this program Using 1:1 sessions within her the program Making changes in the second iteration of her program What she sees as successful outcomes for her participants Her love-hate relationship with social media and which posts gain traction What happened when her IG account was shut down An update on her podcast, Minding My Black Business Here are some takeaways that particularly stand out to me: Takeaway #1: When you set the length of your program, go for that sweet spot where participants are still engaged and excited, and they have enough time to develop as a group and attain their goals. "You definitely don't want to feel like people are rolling their eyes when it's time to join the group on week seven, that they're over it. And at the same time you want to have that kind of natural group development." Takeaway #2: Get started with your program and then be ready to make changes in round 2. In the second iteration of her program, she made a few changes to make it ever better for her and for her participants: bringing in 2 guest teachers, increasing the number of weeks, and adding individual sessions. "One of the feedback points was that they wished that they had had more time with me. And in my mind, I was like, well, what do you mean? We were together for 6 weeks. And I was like: Oh, solo! Okay." Takeaway #3: As you run your business for a number of years and reiterate your program, you don't necessarily have to work as many hours to keep growing as you did in the beginning. "I don't feel like I'm doing it as many hours as I've done it before. There have been months where my laptop is closed on the weekend and that was unheard of for me." Show notes at *"Positive obsession" coined by Octavia E. Butler
Sep 21
51 min
Run Your First Retreat With Christa Harrison
Do you love the idea of running a retreat? This week's guest hosted her first retreat this year, and she's about to talk us through her process, from getting the idea during a meditation to planning it, filling it, running the retreat, and all the way to announcing her next retreat which happens this fall. Meet Christa Harrison, founder of Healing For Queer Healers Retreats, where she holds space for fellow queer folx. Christa is a queer therapist in private practice in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma specializing in PTSD and trauma. She's a secular therapist in a sea of folx looking for someone they can feel safe with after religious trauma. Here's some of what we talked about: How Christa realized suddenly that she wanted to create a retreat for queer healers Clarifying her vision for the retreat Getting positive feedback and making plans for rounds 2 and 3 and beyond The most intimidating parts for Christa: following through with setting up all the systems Leaving plenty of free time in the schedule Helping everyone at the retreat feel cared about Why she enjoyed her own retreat just as much as the participants did Using Squarespace for her website, email service and checkout Here are some takeaways that stand out to me: Takeaway #1: Pay attention to your spirit and listen. Christa was caring for her spirit with meditation during a very painful time when she received a clear message that she needed to create this retreat. Takeaway #2: Consider niching boldly and specifically. Christa's vision evolved from "queer affirming" to "for queer people." Think about what bold and specific niching might mean for you. Takeaway #3: Christa fought the temptation to cram the retreat schedule full, and found that people really valued free time. Imposter syndrome sometimes tells us we need to provide MORE rather than allowing valuable time and space. Show notes at
Sep 7
41 min
Marketing With Live Workshops With Ariana Lloyd
This conversation might open up some new possibilities for you about what marketing looks like. Today's guest is going to tell you about how she uses a free monthly workshop as her main marketing activity. She'll explain how these monthly workshops accomplish a bunch of things at once: raising money for a different anti-racist organization every month selling her coaching program collaborating with guest presenters & growing her audience. Introducing Ariana Lloyd. Ariana is an LCSW and business consultant who helps therapists build liberation-oriented private practices. She proudly hails from the dry lands of Eastern Oregon, where she was raised along with her 9 siblings by her Mormon and Jew-”ish” parents. Ariana grew up farming and fighting and believes these strongly contribute to her approaches in both therapy and business. She now lives in Portland, OR with her two young children and her best friend, a golden retriever. Here's some of what we talked about: Creating her first workshop and deciding to also make it a fundraiser Baking anti-racism into her business practices How she chooses her guests and topics The impact workshop fundraisers are having on her business The systems and platforms she uses to host and market the events How she prepares her guests How her 8-week program works Here are some takeaways that particularly stand out to me: Takeaway #1: The Workshop Fundraisers started as a way to do a couple of important things at once: grow her business by collaborating and creating value AND raising funds for radical BIPOC organizations. Get creative rather than doing what you see everyone else do. Takeaway #2: Ariana used to feel nervous before her workshops, but now she feels excited. She's started focusing on her connection to her guest teacher, her connection to the participants, and what she's there to facilitate. That doesn't leave as much room for anxious thoughts. Takeaway #3: Ariana's advice for her guest teachers is great advice for any person who is presenting: Keep it simpler than you think you need to. "When you're an expert, you're so far ahead of your audience that you gotta bring it all the way back to the beginning and share from that place.Then you can add to it." Show notes at
Aug 24
48 min
Gentle Business With Sarah Santacroce
If you're a kind and gentle person, do you wonder if you can lean into those qualities AND grow your business? Or do you worry that you have to let those things go to be really successful? In other words, do you wonder if you have to be an asshole to have a really successful business? My guest today is committed to doing things gently and ethically. You'll hear some specific choices we've each made in the past that we wouldn't make again because they didn't feel right. You'll also hear what's actually working for her to grow her business and serve her clients. Introducing Sarah Santacroce. Sarah encourages people to bring more empathy and kindness to business and marketing. As a ‘Hippie turned Business Coach’, Sarah hosts the Gentle Business Revolution podcast and works with heart-centered entrepreneurs to question their assumptions when it comes to marketing and give them permission to market their business their way. Here's some of what we talked about: Creating a community or "circle" for business owners Why her 1:1 coaching happens in 3-month chunks Setting up boundaries in her 1:1 coaching Her simple marketing system: her podcast, guest podcasting and her book Automating everything that can be automated! Her approach to pitching podcasts Why she's gotten more discerning about joint ventures Her morning routine, including one hour of writing every single day Here are some takeaways that particularly stand out to me. Takeaway #1: When you're designing a community, you've got to set clear expectations about what kind of communication will happen. In Sarah's community, she's setting an expectation of people sharing their experiences rather than advice. Takeaway #2: Sarah sets up clear boundaries in her 1:1 coaching so that she's not using extra energy tracking her clients. She teaches her clients in the very beginning where and how to communicate with her in order to get her help. Takeaway #3: Sarah does a lot of guest spots on podcasts. For each podcast pitch, she researches the podcast and includes a video in her email. This gives the host a better sense of her and increases the number of invitations she gets. Show notes at
Aug 10
48 min
Corporate Gigs For Liberated Leaders With Dr. Sand Chang
Many of Rebel Therapist's program participants and listeners are brilliant folx who feel intimidated by the idea of consulting for organizations, and yet you're the ones who have the gifts those organizations need. It's part of my mission to help healers, especially those who have marginalized identities parachute into organizations, facilitate real change, make lots of money, and not lose themselves in the process. This is part three in a 3-part series on getting those corporate gigs. If you haven't listened to part one or two just make sure you also listen to my conversations with Femily and Kristen Meinzer. Now, I'm so thrilled to introduce Dr. Sand Chang. They're going to talk about how they've followed their interests and passions to create a robust consulting business which brings in about half of their overall revenue. You'll also hear how they take good care of themselves and stay true to their values in the process. Before we dive in, here's little more about Dr. Chang: Dr. Sand Chang (they/them) is a Chinese American nonbinary psychologist, author, DEI/organizational consultant, and trainer with more than 20 years of experience providing training and mental health services. Through compassionate engagement, they partner with organizations and teams seeking meaningful structural and interpersonal change. Dr. Chang’s work is grounded in social justice, cultural awareness, and humility. Their areas of emphasis include trauma-informed diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), LGBTQ populations, trans health, and body liberation related to racial justice, and eating disorders. Here's some of what we talked about: Why consulting with orgs takes 40% of their time and brings 50% of their revenue Preferring the variety of working in many different ways and with different organizations How going to one conference with a colleague led to many more relationships and opportunities How DEI work has gotten better for them now that they get to decide who it's with and how they do it Why they work collaboratively with each organization to figure out how they'll co-create the best experience Using a set of filters to decide whether a potential project will align with their values. Creating packages rather than using an hourly fee Thinking about redistribution of wealth and how their business fits into it Why they chafe against marketing models that are based on funnels and social media Their reasons for not having a 5 year plan Their intention to be more and more themselves in every situation Some ways they harness rage in their work Here are some takeaways that particularly stand out to me: Takeaway #1: Dr. Chang has built their reputation as a thought leader through leading trainings, writing a book, being on podcasts, their social media presence, word of mouth and more. They don't do much at all to go after these gigs. And that's been true for 3 out of 3 of the people in this 3-part series. Femily, Kristen Meinzer and now Dr. Chang. They've built their reputations as thought leaders in their very particular niches. Now those organizations are knocking on their doors. Takeaway #2: Dr. Chang is willing to say no and walk away from gigs that aren't right for them. They pause and listen to their gut about whether this is the right situation, even if there's a ton of money involved. This takes an ability to feel into their power and let go of scarcity, trusting that a better situation is on the way. Takeaway #3: Dr. Chang has had to learn to raise their prices. They've realized that the value of their work is way beyond the particular hours they're working for an organization, both in terms of the impact their work makes, and also in terms of the amount of emotional labor they are doing. Show notes at
Jul 27
53 min
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