If there is any way you can offer your services online, now is the perfect time to get started.
Even if your area hasn’t been hit hard by closures and social distancing requirements, it is likely only a matter of time. The latest estimates say the government is preparing for the possibility that this could go on much longer than initially expected — up to 18 months or more.
To not just survive but thrive, businesses need to think outside the box. If your profession normally requires in-person contact, are there training or educational resources you can offer virtually at this time? It can be a good way to stay connected to clients (who may have a lot of unexpected downtime on their hands!).
Even if you can’t figure out a way to monetize online offerings right now, there are numerous studies that speak to the importance of continuing to market your services during a downturn. It can help set you up for success once this coronavirus pandemic has passed.
Need help? Have questions? Don’t hesitate to reach out to us at WR Digital Marketing. If you’re on a monthly plan, we can help you achieve your goals within your current budget, so you can keep your business functioning during these uncertain times. If you’re not on a monthly plan, we will work within your budget — please don’t hesitate to ask for help!
If you plan to start providing digital offerings, you should follow these three steps:
- Find a solution that works for you
- Test that solution with a friend or family member (Now is a great time to catch up anyway!)
- Promote the offering
Find a Solution That Works for You
There are so many options available that it can be overwhelming. Here are some basic suggestions and recommendations to help you get started.
For One-On-One Meetings
Zoom – Free
If you only need to schedule virtual meetings between yourself and one other caller, Zoom offers a Free plan that should be suitable for your needs.
For calls with multiple people, the Free plan has a 40-minute limit. If you need longer group meetings, you can opt for their $14.99/mo plan. Or you can end the meeting after 40 minutes… and simply have everyone get on the call again.
This instructional video walks you through how to set up, schedule, and join a meeting.
For Group Meetings
Google Hangouts – Free
Here’s an instructional video on setting up a video call with Google Hangouts.
Zoom Pro – $14.99/mo
You will have to pay a small monthly fee for access, but you can include up to 100 participants on the call.
Even better, you can record the class! That means you can then upload the video to YouTube. Or even sell access to the training.
Before hosting your first class, familiarize yourself with the Host Controls. You likely want to set participants to mute, so they don’t disrupt you — even unintentionally — during the call.
Teletherapy and Telemedicine: HIPAA Penalties Temporarily Lifted
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has announced that they will not be imposing penalties for noncompliance with HIPAA Rules for telehealth — regardless of whether the services are directly related to COVID-19.
That means mental health care professionals and others can safely use the suggestions mentioned in this article. Many have reported to us that a Zoom Pro account ($14.99) was their preferred software solution.
When considering options, be aware that you must still avoid public-facing solutions, such as:
- Facebook Live (Facetime is fine though!)
If You Want to Find a HIPAA-Compliant Solution Anyway
You may still want to find a HIPAA-compliant solution that you can use after this emergency has passed.
Unfortunately, Google Hangouts is not HIPAA-compliant. And Zoom does offer a HIPAA-compliant plan, but it has a steep price tag at $200/mo!
However, there are affordable HIPAA-compliant options for teletherapy and telemedicine available.
VSee Clinic – Free
VSee offers a free option for one-on-one meetings. (Relationship therapists – if the couple is in one location, that would still count as one-on-one.) However, it is limited to 30 one-on-one meetings per month.
Doxy.Me – Free
Their free plan has no limits in terms of call length or the number of calls. And there is no group calling. Also, the service can be a little spotty at times — but for the free price tag, it’s more than reasonable.
The Professional plan is only $35 per month and does include group calling as well as file transfers and other features that may be interesting.
A Note About Your Equipment
If you will be connecting on a laptop, make sure it has a webcam. This is pretty standard on the vast majority of models now, but if you’re not sure, look above your computer screen. Is there a shiny dot there? That’s your webcam!
If you will be using your phone, you’ll want to invest in a stand so you can go hands-free during the call. This stand is a great option for phones or tablets of any screen size. (It’s also handy in the kitchen if you use your device to look at recipes!)
Test the Solution
This is a crucial step. You don’t want to be trying this out for the first time with a client — only to discover your laptop isn’t compatible or your webcam doesn’t want to work.
Reach out to a loved one and run through the steps just as you plan to with a client — from start to finish. (Be sure to take the time to enjoy the chat with your loved one, too!)
If you run into any issues, reach out to the trusted technical guru in your life. Don’t have anyone? We’re happy to help in that area, too!
The final step is to promotion. Read tips for promoting your digital services here.
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