This post talks about how when counselors dare to create a specialty and a podcast, they can create passive income and opportunities for marketing outside of their therapy practice. I'm interviewing Cyndi Doyle about she successfully developed a specialty that led to her podcast, Code4Couples.
Kate Walker: Hi Cyndi.
Cyndi Doyle: Hello, Kate, how are you?
Kate Walker: I am fantastic. I am only on my second cup of coffee, so we’re going to caffeine it up.
Cyndi Doyle: We need more coffee!
Kate Walker: So, this is the amazing Cyndi Doyle, and that is her real, true name, because it’s always prefaced by “the amazing.” So, TACD, the amazing Cyndi Doyle, and you are watching hopefully in the Step It Up group, which is our membership for those of you in The Texas Counselors Creating Badass Businesses, or maybe you’ve taken a Kate Walker Training course, or who knows how you found this. But you just want a little bit more and so that’s what this is. So, Cyndi and I are going to talk a little bit more about how to add to your practice.
Because Cyndi, what I tell people is, you know, you seeing clients can only go so far. You’re going to run out of steam, you won’t have that influence. And then of course, we’re going to plug the free workshops at the end and throughout this so that folks know. So, if you’re watching on a replay, thanks very much, but you’re going to hear about something coming up in June, so if it already happened, hopefully you were there.
So, Cyndi, talk a little bit about your practice. Talk about you. What have you added to your practice? Because it’s just so much. Wait, hold on – this made me think of something. I’ve had a lot of caffeine. This is not about getting busier. I want to put that right there. This isn’t about being busy. This is about being productive. So, Cyndi, tell us what all you have added to your practice.
How to Add to Your Practice
Cyndi Doyle: So, I have a group practice in Denton, and I realized that as I was working with clients one-on-one that I wanted to make a different impact as well, that was really my original motivation, was impacting more people, and how can I impact more people? I think I did make the mistake initially of being more busy rather than thinking about it strategically and kind of thinking about, okay, it’s trading that time for money kind of a situation.
So, to answer your question, what I’ve added is a lot of things that help me market which have then added a lot of opportunities for me to increase not only my reach, but my income for sure. My podcast leads to connecting with other people. So, my podcast is Code for Couples. I specifically wanted to build out a niche working with law enforcement. And initially, I was really scared, like, oh, I’ve just got to do first responders, and then I started thinking about how many law enforcement officers there are, or correction officers, and there’s plenty – there’s plenty. So doing the podcast was my first step, it really got me out there. And so, what I’ve added is I have a book, and yes, that takes time – you add work when you do this.
How Do You Market as a Counselor?
However, I will share with your audience that this month has been my highest book sales, and I also don’t mind sharing…some people are like, oh, you just make $2 a book. I make like, $5.40 a book and I don’t do squat. Then, I publicize it, I promote it, I’m on other podcasts. I was telling you, Kate, I got interviewed for a podcast this morning, and so I’m talking about law enforcement mental health and relationships a lot. I always say emotional and relational wellness, is what I talk about. Of course, I’m also hitting a wave, too, when it comes to law enforcement mental health. I think of Mike Michalowicz talks about surge – there’s a surge and jumping on that wave. So that’s helped a whole lot.
And it’s just something that runs in the background. And it gives me, as Kate once told me, it’s the best business card you can ever have. She’s the one who was like, you really need to write a book. You really need to write a book. Then other people were like, you’re going to write a book, Cyndi. And I’m like, I’m going to write a book. I can tell you, for me, it was nervous and scary to kind of – it was that next level of, shit, I’m putting this in writing and people are going to be critical of it. And I’ve never had anybody be that critical of my book, let me tell you.
Kate Walker: It’s so vulnerable, isn’t it?
Cyndi Doyle: It is! I’m just like, I’m going to puke. And then you’re like, oh no, it’s fine. It’s fine. It’s like publishing that blog for the first time and you’re like, oh god, it’s on the innerwebs. I was all ready for the criticisms and everything to come, and it was like crickets.
Kate Walker: Nobody could find it. Where is it? Okay.
How Do You Find Your Niche as a Counselor?
Cyndi Doyle: So, speaking is really something – that’s really where I’ve added a lot, and not just in my law enforcement niche, also in my mental health niche. People see what I’m doing and they’re very interested and curious about me stepping out of my comfort zone, and how did you get out of the comfort zone? I have several workshops that I do. One is around ethically stepping out of your comfort zone and how you have to take care of yourself. But stepping outside of my comfort zone, people are always interested in, how did you do that? What gave you the courage? Being a Brene Brown facilitator, I have a lot of that knowledge too, and that was part of what I did. I used to offer workshops; I don’t do that anymore.
Kate Walker: Well, not yet. Not the Brene Brown – but I think a lot of people wonder how. It’s always interesting to do these interviews. I’ve interviewed a lot of people and it’s always like, yes, I was here, and then the next day I was here! And it’s like, what is that bridge? I mean, that’s pretty fascinating stuff, too. You’ve got a process.
Public Speaking to Make Money as a Counselor
Cyndi Doyle: Yeah, that’s what I love talking about. Let me finish the original question because we will go all over the place. The other things I’ve done outside the therapy room – speaking, a lot of speaking. I put value on what I do as a speaker and I do not do things for free, as far as speaking. Even recently, I had a request in Washington state, and they were like, oh, wow, this is a little bit more. So, I negotiated with them a little bit but they’re also meeting me a lot a bit. So, those kinds of things.
I talked about having a train a trainer curriculum before I ever wrote the curriculum. That’s really important. That’s actually something that Miranda Palmer actually taught me, from ZynnyMe. She’s like, you don’t write it unless somebody is going to pay you for it. So, I would talk a lot about oh, I have a train the trainer curriculum. And I had a police department that said, wait, you have a train the trainer curriculum? I’m like, yes, I do, let me tell you about it. I mean, I had it in my head, right?
Kate Walker: That counts.
Cyndi Doyle: It’s all based upon this stuff, but I had it outlined in my head. They said oh my gosh, that would be amazing, can you send us an outline? I’m like, yep! Got on the computer, wrote an outline, sold my train the trainer curriculum. And now I have other PDs – now it’s produced. Somebody paid me to do it, so now it’s there, and it’s 14 modules, 14 hours’ worth of training that a police department can get trained to do and initiate within the department or their community or however they wanted to use it. But now I have other departments, because this one department is very big, they’ve been letting other people know. And I have departments writing grants so they can pay for my training.
I don’t mind telling you because your group – I want to be honest with your group. My training program, just the curriculum is $4500. And then they have to pay for me to come in and train. I have an upper version of that, like if I get the demand, then I’m going to have trainers that are going to be able to train for it.
So those are kind of some of the things I’ve added. It definitely started with stepping out of my comfort zone and doing a podcast and talking – speaking was my first step to having something paid outside of the therapy room and kind of grew from there. I don’t mean to just shrug my shoulders, it’s a lot of work. But I was seeing 32 clients a week in my office, and I’m now down to around 17 to 20, is what I see in my office, because my income – and I have a VA that works for me. So, I have income, outgoing help, and it’s grown in a way where it works because I have help, I can make money in my zone of genius.
Kate Walker: So, I almost want to skip the second question, which is why did you add, right? I’m going to ask it – why add? What was your why?
Cyndi Doyle: Well, initially my why was because I wanted to impact more people. I felt like I had a message and other messages to share and that was really – it still is my why. When I get down to it, my why is because I want to throw not just a pebble into the ocean, I want to throw a freaking giant, I don’t know, glacier-sized boulder in the ocean and make those ripples to change things that are going on. I mean, we all know – for me, especially personally because my husband is now retired in law enforcement, but I know the impact of mental and relational wellness for the law enforcement community because that bleeds over into how people interact with them and how they interact with the public.
So that’s a big part of it. For me, it’s making the impact. When I go and talk to mental health professionals, or as I’m growing out my mental health community and sharing what I know and my experiences with them, I want them to go and throw giant boulders into the water. I want to help them make the ripples. And I think everybody connects with other people. I think we’re all relational. And people connect with people, and so if it’s something that you’re willing to get outside of your comfort zone and do, I want to give you injections of what I’ve experienced to be able to go and do the thing, right? Go do your thing! So that’s really my motivation.
Kate Walker: So, what would you tell someone who needs to get started? And we’ll cover this more in upcoming workshops and things like that. It sounds really, really hard. If I were talking to ten years ago Kate, she was still just like, I don’t know if I can stand up and give my one-minute elevator speech at the Chamber of Commerce. What would you tell that person who’s got all these big dreams and/or – I’m going to give it a Part B, if they think they’re immediately going to make a ton of money from it. You knew what I was going to say.
Cyndi Doyle: Yeah. It’s work! You know, and it really wasn’t that long ago for me; 2016 is when I decided I have to do something. I can’t just stay in my office and hide because that’s what I was doing. Seriously. I hid in my office. It’s way easier to stay in that little comfort zone of my four boxes where nobody really knows what you’re doing. I mean, there’s that element. People are like, “I know you’re a great therapist!” You have no idea what I’m doing behind that door. I mean, I am a good counselor based upon my clients. But it was way easier for me to stay in my comfort zone.
And part of just what I was conditioned to do too, as a kid, was don’t make waves, stay under the radar, don’t get attention, for many, many different reasons. So, a lot of it was going against what came naturally to me but that motivation, like, okay, well – it’s that pivot point. When we’re doing therapy, it’s that pivot point for those clients who come in and it’s like, this pain is greater than the pain of change. And you have to hit that because this is not easy. It is not easy moving into something that is uncomfortable.
I have a couple of different thoughts on this, one of them being purpose, like you have to have a purpose and you have to have that motivation, and that’s a big part of it. You have to be willing to go into the uncomfortable, for sure. I kind of have two different models in my head right now. I have an intro way to approach it, which I’m going to talk about that, if that’s okay.
Kate Walker: Absolutely.
Cyndi Doyle: Okay, so we’re going to talk about the intro way, and then we’ll talk about the secondary way, which is moving through all the uncomfortable. So, the first part is you have to be clear on who you’re working with. Who are these people that you’re wanting to connect with, target? What are their pain points? What is it they want and need? And I made huge mistakes there because I thought my law enforcement community wanted to have better sex. Why not, right? So, oh, let’s have greater intimacy, and by intimacy I meant connection and sex and things like that.
My audience does not connect with the word “intimacy.” They’re like, intimacy? We just need to communicate better. So, my language was off. I didn’t know what I was doing. So, being clear on who your niche is and how you want to impact them, what is it you see as their pain point? Narrowing that down is a big part of that as well.
The second part of that, I would say, is researching. What is it they want and need? You may have an idea of that. I always think of our niche as being some younger version of ourselves. Normally, it is. So when I work with people to develop their ideal client, narrative or whatever they’re going to put out there for their marketing message and I’ll break it down and break it down and I’ll work with them to break it down, and all of the sudden, then they have this “aha” moment and they’re like, shit, this is me five years ago! And I’m like, go figure, really? Huh.
Yes, it’s all some younger version of ourselves that we were in pain, we were struggling, and now we’ve had our epiphanies and our aha’s and we don’t want people to have that same struggle. So, I’m going to share it with the world, right, because it gives purpose to the pain. That’s resilience at its greatest – purpose to your pain.
So, niche messaging – being clear on your messaging is really important, I think. One thing that I did not do initially was be clear on my messaging and have those three to five messages that I repeat over and over and over and over again. I can’t tell you how many times, in an interview with law enforcement people, I say, “officers are trained to react and not respond.” That is one of my messages. What keeps you safe on the job spills over at home and impacts you negatively.
I have my messages and I know what they are, and so by having this messaging, I have my key points every single time. Now, I can unpack those in many, many, many different ways. Even today, this morning, I was talking on a podcast for law enforcement, and he wanted to focus on affairs in law enforcement and how that impacts cultures. What did I use? Well, unfortunately, officers are trained to react. They want those hits. They want that oxytocin/serotonin hit because of what’s in their brain. What? Tell me more about that. And there I go, starting down that path.
So, I have my speaking points all the time. I repeat the same speaking pints in every single thing that I do, it’s just that I do it from different angles.
Kate Walker: Let’s hold for a second because I want to make it really clear for our audience, this is not just a marketing trick or some kind of a schtick or spiel, this is literally from your research. This is why research comes before messaging, right?
Cyndi Doyle: Yes, that’s exactly right. And that’s why you have to research what’s going on. That was part of it, and that’s one of my elements that I think of too that you have as essential. The research is – I always say I’m a nerd because it’s not just about reading books, it’s about we had to go look at those stupid research journals when we were in school, right? I hated that. I hated those – “read these research articles.” Blegh! Or, if you’re going for your PhD, you’re doing this research, and we can be a conduit for that research.
Kate Walker: Can I get an amen?!
Cyndi Doyle: So, bringing that research into the public, but it gives you insight into what’s really happening and going on. It gives you legitimacy because now you’re saying, if I’m backing this up, it’s not just something I’m pulling out of my butt; it’s something I’m saying, hey, this is backed up by this person or, or by this group here. And doing your own research then helps you understand what’s going on with your niche, with your population. Now, some of that we already have. Some of that – we’ve been trained by research, right? One of my areas is working with couples. So, I had gone through five different trainings from John Gottman – most of them were from the Gottmans that I went to, and so I had all of the research and all of the information, that was part of the way I had researched.
But I was missing the research on my specific niche. So going in – one of my favorite articles I pulled out in 2019. There’s a statement in there about compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction. I have built a whole training around that statement because that statement was my inspiration. There was a research article that I read about spillover. I didn’t have the word, and in finding that word, I’m like, holy cow. And when I researched all of that, here’s all of this backup for the thing that I’m experiencing personally as a spouse, but now I can say, and here’s what the research shows. The research shows that officers that have a stronger home life are safer on the job. I can take that and go share that with the police department and they’ll go, well, holy crap, get in here and teach us relational wellness then.
So, these research points help us to sell ourselves. It’s not just a marketing gig or spiel and it’s not something that’s made up. It is something that is helpful when you’re serving your clientele. If I cannot connect, if I don’t really know what’s going on, then I don’t have that connection. So not only do I – it provides me connection, it provides me a resource for material, it provides me speaking points, it’s a way of deeper understanding. Of course, the other part of research too is to poll your audience. Talk to the audience yourself. But people don’t do that. If you’re putting something on Instagram stories and saying, hey, would you prefer this or this? Do you prefer this title or this title? You can tailor what they want and need, which then gets you Googleable. So, there’s that aspect.
Kate Walker: So I want to talk to the folks – if you’re watching this and you’re kind of in that pre-contemplative stage, or the contemplative stage, you’re thinking about, thinking about, thinking about, I hope that you hear that this is not something – you’re not going to give somebody something they already know. You’re the professional, and I think as professionals we think well, everybody already knows that. They already know about stress. They already understand the difference between action and reaction. In your saying no, you’re already the conduit – when you have the blog or the podcast or the speaking gig, you’re the conduit for this information to them in a way that they’re going oh my gosh, finally, a way that we can use this, and there goes your impact, that glacier.
Cyndi Doyle: Right, right, right. And then you’re throwing out the giant stones to make those amazing ripples out there. Totally. There’s a couple other elements that I would say are a big part of it which then are things like your story. Sharing your story, like I said, it’s always another version of yourself, right? So, if you have a story – and I know, because I experienced this, as a clinician, and it was before I did this, it was my very first podcast.
It’s my very first blog. I wrote my blog first and I thought hm, and then I just read my blog for my podcast. It’s my story. But as clinicians, we’re taught to be blank slates, right? We’re taught, don’t bring yourselves to the therapy room – which, I actually train my associates a little bit differently, but there is that aspect of oh, you’re putting too much information out there, they’re going to know about you. It was quite conflictual for me to put out, hey, I’m a law enforcement spouse. Because I’m no longer a blank slate.
It’s actually really amazing to me how people know nothing about me when they get to the therapy room. I’m like, really? Because you can Google me and find me everywhere. Cyndi Doyle, it’ll come up. But putting our story out there, if you’re going to go outside of the therapy room, people connect to story. Kate says this all the time, and I learned this from her – she said: people want you. They want more pieces of you. They don’t just want your information. That was something that I had to learn, that connecting my story connects them to me. Once again, it’s not a marketing thing. It’s not my spiel, whatever it is. It is not a gimmick. It’s the fact that you show up differently outside of the therapy room than you do in the therapy room. It takes courage to do that.
Another aspect that everyone’s probably familiar with is mindset, imposter syndrome, comparisonitus, all of these aspects that just mess with our head. I have a whole other model for how do we get through that. But the mindset is a huge one. And being willing to – I mean, everyone says now “do it scared.” I say, “fear is my love language.” If I feel scared about it, then it’s something that’s meaningful, because my body is like, no, that’s scary, don’t do it! So, I’m like, great, let’s go do that thing! I must go do that thing. My fear didn’t necessarily go away, I just have learned to live with it and have meaning behind it.
I was working on something on Monday, and it was something I was uncomfortable with, and I could just feel my head vibrating, like no, back away, don’t do this. But I’m just like, no, stay in it! Do that thing! It’s the wise mind, in that wise mind is like, no, I need to sit here. But that amygdala is like, run! That’s not comfortable.
Kate Walker: I have to tell the story, though. You told me about – you’re the reason Texas Counselors Creating Badass Businesses exists. Because I just thought it was a bunch of people who liked asking me questions and I didn’t really know what to do with it. You were this voice – you were my safe space. And you were able to help me kind of work through what this could look like and for you to be my community and for me to create a community. It’s just people who can, I don’t know, do scary things. I mean, that’s what it’s kind of become.
It’s just this place where we can do scary things and then come back to the community and say, okay, tell me, can I course correct this? Look at this. Take a look at this. Because that’s what you’ve been for me and I’m so grateful for the Texas Counselors Creating Badass Businesses because I think it has been this safe space. But that’s huge, to be able to do it scared, right, and live in the discomfort.
Cyndi Doyle: Yeah, and I think you and I have a mutual admiration society.
Kate Walker: I think so too.
Cyndi Doyle: I love that. But that’s the whole point of the group, is the idea of being able to reflect towards each other, right? If somebody sees somebody else and it’s like, wow, that’s amazing, and it’s that reflection – because all I did was reflect how I saw you on the outside. I’m like, Kate, everybody things you’re a badass, and you’re like, huh, okay. It’s so motivating. One of my other elements here is network. Do we have to have a network? Clinicians are notorious for staying in their little therapy room and going home, right? We don’t talk to anybody throughout the day unless you work for a group practice, and even then, it’s small. I think we’ve been changing as a community, especially during the pandemic. I think it forced us to reach out and to figure out what was going on with each other.
Why is it Important to Network?
But you’ve got to have a network – like if we’re talking about your niche, you’ve got to build outside of that community. It would be easy for me to stay in a mental health/law enforcement community, but I reached out to the girl who is the biggest blogger for law enforcement spouses. And I didn’t do that strategically. I reached out because I wanted her on my podcast because I’m like, oh, can I do the thing? She’s one of my best friends now. And we partner together, we have a course together. She lifts me up, I lift her up. It’s a no scarcity situation. Scarcity exists within our community, there are people I’ve tried to reach out to and they’re like, ugh, no, I’ve been copied. Contrary to popular belief, people copying your content is not flattery, it’s BS and painful. So, there’s that.
But getting outside, finding the network, finding congenital aspects of networks – so it might be people who provide products to your community. What other consumptions does your niche have, or do they need? Network one. Network two is your community of some kind, you’ve got to have a squad. I feel like I’ve talked a lot, so I’m going to pause.
Kate Walker: Well, you’re my squad, so there. The workshops that we have coming up, Cyndi is going to appear – again, if you’re watching the replay, thank you, but you may have missed it. I’ll post the link for the workshop in the thread. We’re going to dive deeper into these things. We’re not going to go five hours, but we’re going to dive a little bit deeper into the nuts and bolts of this.
You’ve talked about the why, you’ve talked about the how, you’ve talked about sort of doing it while you’re scared. What else – what parting words would you say to someone who is maybe pushing past contemplation and they’re like, okay, I’m going to do the thing? Where should they start? Okay, should they set aside – let’s take two weeks and go to the Mojave Desert and just write in some kind of Jackson Pollock, like Brene Brown says, or you like you talked about, well, don’t do the thing until somebody wants the thing. What are some final words you would give someone as they’re commencing to do whatever?
Cyndi Doyle: I think the most important place to start is writing out your story and why this is so important to you. What happens if you don’t do this? What’s your motivation? Because in there, you’re going to find your messaging. In there, you’re going to find your purpose. And that is going to be core and central to everything you’re going to have to push through. And so, I would say take some time to just do a little writing project. It doesn’t have to be a novel or ten pages. But why is this important to you? What’s your motivation for doing it? What’s your story or connection for doing this? What happens if what you have doesn’t get out there?
Kate Walker: That’s cool. That’s a neat statement: what happens if you don’t do it?
Cyndi Doyle: Yeah. For me, that’s my push. That’s my push, is that I have to push past my comfort zone. So, I think about, well, what happens if I don’t do this? Who do I miss out on impacting? Because one of the mindset issues is oh, this feels like it’s all about me, because I’m talking to a podcast about myself. But it’s not – it’s not about me. I would say if you’re wanting to build out your niche, it’s not about, oh, I want to be seen. Many times, that’s not what it is. It’s I have a message to share. I want to impact. And so, what happens if you don’t share it?
Kate Walker: I think that’s the crux of it. It’s what if you don’t? And you’re going to get better – you’re going to get better at it. I mean, at first, you’re going to suck a little. You told me to go back to the way back machine this morning. We were having another conversation and, in your polo, you’re like, have you ever heard of this? And I’m like, yeah, and I think I went back and looked at my first website, and I’m like, ugh.
Cyndi Doyle: I’ve done that before, too.
Kate Walker: I’ve taken off all my early videos and early blogs, they’re all draft, draft, draft, set to draft, because it’s cringy. But that’s just part of the process – you’re going to suck at first.
Cyndi Doyle: And it’s your journey, right? It’s your journey. I mean, I can tell you so many beautiful parts of my journey – my business partner and I had a YouTube channel called Forgetting Freud and you can go back and look at those and you will laugh your butt off. Kate’s writing that down right now. They’re still there and I’m going to leave them there. And it was kind of crazy because during the pandemic, our grief videos went through the roof, even though we did those in 2016. It’s crazy.
Kate Walker: That is so cool – they have legs, don’t they?
Cyndi Doyle: We have to be willing to do this imperfectly. And unfortunately, as clinicians, what do you have to do? You have to be perfect because there will be an ethical complaint. Somebody is going to come get you, you better not get this wrong. So, it’s not intuitive to be like, well, it’s good enough. Oh well.
Kate Walker: Well, and that’s what we’re here for, also. I want to throw that out too. If you’re watching the replay, part of this is Cyndi and I are very committed to being that tribe – we want to be that tribe for you. And I really appreciate you, Cyndi, for coming on and talking with me today. If you’re in the Step It Up group, you will see a transcript of this for those of you who don’t like to watch videos, that’s fine, or like to read along, that’s cool too. And this will also appear in a blog and probably on my YouTube channel. Thank you for joining us.
Blog post by Kate Walker Ph.D., LPC/LMFT Supervisor
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