Therapists Corner Series – Why Substack With Expert Sara Tasker

 

In this episode, I had the pleasure of introducing Sara Tasker, a business coach, bestselling author and renowned expert in content creation and social media. Our discussion revolved around the potential of Substack for therapists as an additional revenue stream.

Have a look around Sara’s Substack here – Sara Tasker – Substack.

We started by acknowledging the changing landscape of social media and the increasing need for therapists to have a broader platform to share their knowledge and expertise. Mental health services face accessibility issues for many people, and having a wider-reaching platform can help address this problem.

Sara Tasker shared her remarkable journey, transitioning from the NHS to becoming a successful Instagram influencer, bestselling author, photographer, and now a Substack writer. We delved into the power of authenticity, emotional connection, and storytelling in creating compelling online content.

Our exploration of Substack focused on its unique combination of blogging, newsletters, email lists, and community building. We highlighted the advantages it offers therapists, such as the ability to share resources, provide valuable information, and cultivate a global audience. Additionally, we discussed the revenue potential and scalability of Substack, enabling therapists to generate income and reach a larger audience beyond traditional one-on-one sessions.

To wrap up the episode, we provided practical steps for therapists to get started on Substack. These included creating an account, exploring existing Substacks for inspiration and emphasizing the importance of creating valuable content for subscribers. We emphasized the organic growth and human-centred nature of Substack, urging therapists to prioritize meaningful posts over adhering to strict posting schedules.

Overall, our conversation shed light on the immense potential of Substack for therapists as a platform for sharing knowledge, connecting with a broader audience, and creating additional revenue streams.

Listen to the episode here.

ATT63 Transcript – Automated 

SPEAKERS

Sarah Rees, Sara Tasker

Sarah Rees  00:10

This month Ask the Therapist is going weekly, as I introduce you to my new Therapists Corner Substack community, a space for therapists to get together and discover how the business of therapy can thrive. 

Sarah Rees  00:22

Hello, and welcome to the second episode in the Substack series. So in the last episode, you got to know more about me and Sophie and the creation of Therapists Corner over on substack. Today you’re going to meet the secret sauce behind us making the decision to build the community for therapists in private practice on substack. She’s a renowned expert in the world of content creation and social media. It’s Sara Tasker, author, business owner, photographer, business coach, Instagram influencer and Substack expert. I’m very excited about sharing this episode with you. Because I believe there’s a lot about social media that we are just fed up with, and things are changing. I also believe that therapists have knowledge and expertise that deserves a far wider-reaching platform than just the therapy room. And in an unusual turn of events, I think that these worlds are colliding and the answer to our frustrations might just lie within substack. Trust me; this is an episode you don’t want to miss. 

 

Sarah Rees  01:30

Well, hello, Sara; welcome to ask the therapist. It’s really such a privilege to have you on. I’ve followed your work for absolutely years. I started by listening to your podcast Hashtag Authentic, and I’m sure Letters from a Hopeful Creative. And then I did the Instaretreat, which I think was five years ago. And then, in March of this year, I got an email from you to say that things are changing for your business Me&Orla. And that was the very first time that I heard about substack. So I joined your Substack. And then that opened up some coaching with you in April, and in May, we started Therapists Corner, and two months later, my business looks completely different. So I don’t think I’ve said thank you yet.

Sara Tasker  02:18

It’s all my fault, then. [laughs]

Sarah Rees  02:21

I wasn’t thinking about building another business that I have. And it’s just I absolutely love it. And I think one of the things I mean, obviously, you’ve given me just amazing advice and stuff, but you were like you can do it. This is gonna work. And I was like, really?

Sara Tasker  02:37

Oh, well, you are so welcome. I’m so glad and like you’re doing such amazing work in the world, but substack so how lovely that I get to be a part of that little, little part of that journey for you. 

Sarah Rees  02:46

Oh, thank you. And for those who don’t know your work, can you tell us a little about you and about what you do?

Sara Tasker  02:53

Yeah, I have one of those very rambley job titles that I haven’t still haven’t niched down to a clean, a clean elevator pitch. But I am a writer, I’m a content creator, I’m a photographer, I’m a podcaster. All my work centres around helping people to tell their stories online and to find an audience and usually, along the way, kind of find themselves a little bit too. So that’s mainly on Instagram is now also an awful lot on Substack. But it could be anywhere on any of the platforms.

Sarah Rees  03:22

and you’re an author. 

Sara Tasker  03:25

Yes, I’m a best-selling author. I should drop that in there, shouldn’t I? I wrote a book about photography and storytelling on Instagram called Hashtag Authentic like my podcast on my podcast is an iTunes business number one, which I always think sounds very impressive.

Sarah Rees  03:38

It that is really really impressive. That is just amazing. And you have a real clarity, I think with from working with you about seeing through things and just, you know, I know you could it’s sometimes easy to do that when you are outside looking in but you do have a real clarity about kind of seeing through businesses and helping, you’ve helped me make sense of a lot of things. So I was gonna ask you how do you go from an NHS role to an Instagram influencer? But I just want to read something out of your book because I I’ve been immersing myself into your world. And I was reading the introduction in your beautiful book with beautiful photos, but I just want people to hear this because it just blew my mind. So you say “I set myself a challenge on the first of January that I would post daily on Instagram and find 1000 followers by the end of the year”. Within a month you’d exceeded that target. And by April you’d been featured by Instagram and was approaching your first 40,000 followers. You quit your job, you moved your family to the countryside, you found your real passion, you were featured on Mary Claire, Cosmopolitan, Stylist, and you exchanged a string of DMs with your teenage celebrity crush. I’m mean, How does that feel?

 

Sara Tasker  05:02

I felt amazing. Like it felt like the validation, you kind of always dream of the external validation you always dream of. And in that moment was fantastic. But then, of course, on the other side of that all the work comes back to you that you have to do to process it. But I do think for me, without kind of that initial boost of other people around me going, Hey, we like what you do, I don’t think I’d ever found the courage to take up space in the way I now do, like on the internet and in people’s inboxes. And that’s why like, I always think it’s quite a nuanced thing, this whole. There’s a lot of narrative around social media isn’t there, that it’s bad for us that it’s negative, that, you know, this generation, and they’re all about just trying to get likes. But actually, I do think it’s something really human is that like, we want connection, and we want community and it’s very hard to find in our daily lives, it’s very hard to find in our localities as kind of COVID showed a lot of us. And the Internet is a way that makes it really accessible to lots of people like I was a new mom, stuck at home. Instagram was my lifeline. 

 

Sarah Rees  06:04

Yeah, yeah. So that’s two sides of the coin isn’t it can be used for almost good. And for for the dark side as well.

 

Sara Tasker  06:11

Yeah, like anything really? Yeah.

 

Sarah Rees  06:14

And I think it’s great the community side of it’s really growing, which is amazing. If you were to name a few of the things behind your growth, what would you say it is? Would you say it’s the authenticity, your consistency? You create such an emotional feeling with your beautiful pictures when I when I look at your work. You know, it does I know you’re in the insert retreat, you talk about creating moments, not things which I’m still working on,

 

Sara Tasker  06:40

well remembered!

 

Sarah Rees  06:41

yes. I’ve done my all my lessons on my homework. And you know, when I see a picture of like, I’ve never really wanted to live in France. But when I’ve seen your French house, I connect with my future French self, that I didn’t even know I had,

 

Sara Tasker  06:57

We all have one. We all have a future French self in us. One of the biggest bits of feedback I’ve got is that it’s it is the emotion and the authenticity, which I’ve learned this lesson again and again, not just for myself, but for so many of my clients, that the things that we think we’re going to be rejected for a generally the things that make people love us the most. And I’m sure that’s true in real life. But it’s definitely very true online. Even just yesterday, in fact, I was having a really bad day with my health. And I wrote a Substack post, before I put a bit of an introduction saying hey, just so you know, I can really struggling today. And there might be mistakes in this post, but I wanted to get it out. And I got so many beautiful comments and emails. Some people signed up to become paid members, which I know we’ll talk about in a moment with Substack . But people invested in me and sent me messages to say it was because I spoke about my health, and was just showing up as a human and that made them feel like they were allowed to be a human too. So I think that right from the start, but 

 

Sarah Rees  07:55

I was just gonna say how scary it is to do. 

 

Sara Tasker  07:57

It’s terrifying, because really, it’s the bits that we reject about ourselves. So we expect everyone to reject them, too. But I think the internet is such a noisy place. And there is so much glossy perfection on there more and more, right? With all the face apps and photoshopping and everything like it, you don’t really go on social media or most of us don’t anyway, to just see a glossy catalogue of someone’s life. We want something in the middle. Like we don’t want the worst bits either, necessarily, we don’t need the cat sick and the dirty pots in the sink. But we want a real human, we want a real connection. And so I’ve always tried to kind of blend those two of like, I love beautiful photography. So taking the pictures of the moments in my day that are the most beautiful, but then also trying to tell the truth about the rest of it. That like sometimes it’s great. Sometimes it’s not so great. And yeah, just sharing everything I’ve been learning on this insane journey from NHS to here.

 

Sarah Rees  08:54

Yeah, it’s just and I think you’re right, in that the way you write, you see that you feel the person behind your words. Whereas especially with ChatGBT now can almost guess when it’s aI that’s written that authentic.

 

Sara Tasker  09:09

Yeah, and that’s only I think it’s only gonna get harder to tell, right? Like it’s gonna get they’re gonna get better and better at faking it. But I do think there’s something there. Like we can tell when someone’s not being their true self. You can pick up on it, can’t you? And you can even pick up on it usually on social media, like there’s just a bit of a disconnect. And it gives me hope that the robots aren’t coming for all of our jobs.

 

Sarah Rees  09:32

Fantastic. Fingers crossed. So we are new on Substack. And it’s still quite a new platform. Can you tell us about Substack, what it is and what it is about?

 

Sara Tasker  09:45

Yeah, it’s a really difficult one to completely summarise without referencing lots of different other social media platforms. So the way I describe it to people is it’s like the golden old days of blogging, if anyone remembers that. That was pre social media. Lots of people had a blog. And some blogs were super successful. Some blogs were a business, they had a really dedicated reader base. And people just went to that blog to check if there were updates. And then there was a network around it. And there was a lovely sense of community. And it’s got that energy, it’s got that audience and the appetite for long form content. So lots of people are writing long posts on there, but it also blends itself with an email list. So then one of the main ways it delivers those blog posts is people put their email address in to subscribe, and it lands in their inbox whenever you send an update. And then they’ve added other features like chats, which is kind of like a private Whatsapp group, if you can imagine, just for you and your subscribers. And then they’ve added notes, which is basically just Twitter, but within Substack. So it’s now kind of becoming like a whole holistic social media network. And then the really big thing is, you can add a paywall, so you can then ask people if they want to invest and subscribe. Initially, it can be quite a low cost. And then you can make any part of that content, the chats, some of the posts, you can put podcasts up there, any of it can become for members only paid members only. So kind of like a Patreon model in the mix as well.

 

Sarah Rees  11:12

Fantastic. And how did you first hear about Substack? Because I know I heard it from you. But where did you hear about it?

 

Sara Tasker  11:18

It had been on my radar for a couple of years, I knew people who were writing on there. But initially, it really heavily launched as a platform for journalists primarily to make money from their writing without having to go through an editor, through a magazine. We’d seen all those layoffs in journalism for like BuzzFeed and the Pool and all sorts of places. So everyone I knew who was using it was a journalist who kind of already had their own audience and wanted to just make their writing pay. So it was like a newsletter platform, I suppose. And it’s only really as it started to evolve. And I’ve kind of kept my eye on it, that it started to sort of feel like it had a different type of momentum in a different direction. And funnily enough, I went to a sort of Substack writers meetup in London and met there someone who works with this Substack UK team, Hannah, she was the person who do you remember you said I was featured by Instagram way back? She was the person who picked me to be featured by Instagram back in the day, and she remembered me and she recognised me. And she mentioned that like lots of people on the team, especially in the US are from those early days on Instagram. So it doesn’t surprise me that it has that energy of kind of something’s growing, the goals they’re chasing are really aligned with the kinds of platforms people are looking for. And it feels like it’s got something. 

 

Sarah Rees  12:36

Yeah, what is … Is that pulled you into it?

 

Sara Tasker  12:39

Yeah, I think it was, I think it just was the, I mean, it’s such a woolly word, but the vibe, there was just an energy around it. And I’ve you know, I experiment with social media all the time, it’s kind of, it’s my job, as well as my hobby. And nothing for a very long time got me excited in a way that Substack has, I’m still very excited about it and seeing seeing the rewards for myself in my own business man community. And also, you know, hearing from people like you who, who have taken my word for it a little bit and found the same thing. So

 

Sarah Rees  13:08

Yeah, it has got an energy around it, hasn’t it? Because I mean, obviously, I’m two months in, it’s a really small followship, really, but the energy in the comments, and there’s it’s injury, it just feels very different, like are such a relief from like, talking about kind of chasing the algorithm on Instagram and going drop an emoji in the comments, if you like this, which feels somewhat so bored of saying that just so that I might be bumped up, I just don’t want to be chasing the algorithm.

 

Sara Tasker  13:36

And well, that’s it begging for acknowledgement, versus like writing a whole long post, that’s gonna take someone that maybe 10 minutes of their day to read which, who’s got the attention span for that anymore? But they do. And then they leave really thoughtful comments, and then people will reply to other people’s comments. And this whole ecosystem of community springs up. I mean, I’ve written blog posts over the years, I have a big audience, but I don’t think I could get comments on my blog, but I can get them on my Substack.

 

Sarah Rees  14:04

Absolutely. And this brings us nicely on to how do you feel Substack is different from other social media platforms?

 

Sara Tasker  14:12

I think primarily, the biggest difference is that their goal is still to make writing pay for writers or to make people’s work pay for them. Like that is actually the passion. The people right at the top are really genuinely enthusiastic about that. As opposed to if you look at something like Twitter, or now Instagram or Facebook, you know, Zuckerberg. I think it’s safe to say that they have slightly different objectives in mind. And it shows you know, it shows because if you’re racing to use your user base as kind of a way to make, to make advertisers happy, or to kind of manipulate the data or whatever it is you need to do with it to make the shareholders happy. You’re gonna create a very different product in the end, versus if your shareholders are your users, right? Like keeping them happy is the main thing with Substack and that’s literally Like you can buy shares and sub site periodically, they will release a load of shares and invite people to buy them.

 

Sarah Rees  15:05

Yeah. So if we do well as being on Substack, if Substack do well, right, they will be well from us doing well.

 

Sara Tasker  15:13

Exactly. Yeah. So they take a cut of any paid purchases through it. So you know, if someone subscribes they take, I think it’s about 20%. It’s a decent chunk. And so that’s how they monetize it. That’s their only plan to monetize it, not to do ads not to do anything else. Which means yeah, if you do well, sub sect as well, and if you’re invested in Substackcontinuing, then the best thing you can do is write on Substack.

 

Sarah Rees  15:35

So I’m really excited about this question, how would you think that therapists could use substack? And could they add it to their private practice?

 

Sara Tasker  15:43

Yeah, I think it’s a tricky one to imagine sometimes from the inside, if you’re not seeing other people using it in that way. But there’s so much potential even if you just want to use it as a free platform, imagine it as a place where you can share any resources or information or guidance or even just inspiration for your not only for your current clients, but for prospective clients. Like for people who are considering working with you, it’s a really nice place for you to write about books that you would recommend or videos or podcasts, or for you to share, like worksheets or testimonials. Or just kind of, you know, you digging into topics that you think actually that will really help people and show them the kind of help I can do even more if they come work with me. And then if you add the paid tier, you can start to think about okay, well, if I’m cultivating a bit of a private gated community, how can I encourage people to kind of, you know, use that in a way that supports their mental health and supports the work they’re doing? And like, you know, we know group work works really well, but often is a difficult thing to get people to attend. So you’ve got these options, then of kind of building up this platform that people can access at a low price point, if they can’t afford to work with you one to one at the moment. People can access as kind of a taster of the kind of work that they could do with you. And people can access while they’re working with you. For extra information to go extra deep to go extra detailed in the work you’re doing. 

 

Sarah Rees  17:03

Yeah, I mean, I’m so excited about it, because I think there’s so much that goes on in the therapy room, and therapists have so much training often are so passionate about what they do. And that information can reach more people, you know, one to many, instead of just one to one, we can have such a bigger impact. And we have to have more choice in the way we deliver mental health therapies. Not everybody is ready for therapy. Not everybody can afford it, lots of people are on long waiting lists, you know, or don’t have the time or for many reasons, this might be a way that’s really accessible and you know, getting the right information to the right people in a different way. So

 

Sara Tasker  17:45

exactly. And then for you as a therapist, it changes the model from you being quite geographically specific, because it’s who can come into your office to literally worldwide like, obviously, there’s boundaries around where you’re allowed to practice. But if you’re giving general advice and guidance, like you can reach anyone who needs you anywhere in the world, and really kind of build up a specialism or build up a reputation for the things that you do beyond just your local area. 

 

Sarah Rees  18:10

Yeah, absolutely. And as much as I love my one to one work, but it is exhausting. And you are the tool, the only tool in your business. So it requires you to be on top form and firing on all cylinders every day. And we have to really look after ourselves. And I think this could add another revenue stream, which means that it takes the pressure off financially in running your own private practice, make it more sustainable, so that you can show up in the best way possible for the clients that see you one to one.

 

Sara Tasker  18:43

Exactly. And it’s so much more scalable, like you say, because there’s a ceiling for what you can charge for one to one. But there’s no limit to the number of people who can come and subscribe to your Substack. And for a lot of people, it becomes almost passive revenue, you know, if you can get ahead and get a stack of kind of written posts that are going out for your paid people or written resources or however you want to do it. It only requires you to show up maybe for an hour or two a month, but you’re getting a steady income in your in your bank account without having to do that one to one work. So also it means you can take time off, and you still know there’s money coming in.

 

Sarah Rees  19:18

Yeah, and I think there’s a few tirrs isn’t there. So we have the founding members and when we started we wanted to attract founding members that I think pay about £397 for the year but actually it’s the eight pounds a month the kind of that is really really building. I kind of hadn’t expected that to be that actually I can see that. That’s the scalable part isn’t it you were talking about.

 

Sara Tasker  19:42

Yes, exactly. So there’s there’s kind of three or four payments as I suppose the first one is free people can subscribe for free and you can choose to give them everything nothing or anything in between you choose individually every time you write your posts like who is this for so it’s really flexible. Then the next level up is people can pay monthly. Or they can pay a lump sum, which covers them for 12 months of monthly payments, and is usually a little bit cheaper. So they’re your kind of annual subscribers. And then the next thing is this founding member, which is generally people will add a few extra perks, you’ll get access in different ways. But mostly it’s about people saying, like, I really believe in what you’re doing and want to support you, this is an exciting venture, like, I’m going to invest in you that little bit extra. So founding members are great, obviously, like, that’s a really nice injection of immediate cash. And that gets them a year’s access, like it would for an annual membership. But even just people signing up to pay monthly, like it’s there, it’s regular, and Substack do a very good job of kind of analysing your income as they call it. So they kind of project what you’ll get, if everyone stays subscribed for the year, and you suddenly realise Whoa, like this adds up fast, it doesn’t take that many eight pounds for this to be worth your time. 

 

Sara Tasker  20:11

It really doesn’t. And I don’t think I’ve done the maths or the sums on it. So yeah, it’s just, it’s fantastic. So somebody was thinking about, I’m going to give this a try what would be their first few steps.?

 

Sara Tasker  21:05

So first of all, just head to Substack.com. And start an account, I recommend to most people to just call your account, your name, your full name, maybe even don’t put the word therapists in there. It depends what your goals are. But I always like to say just online in general, to give yourself scope to change and evolve. Because you don’t necessarily know you might decide to become like a child psychologist or something 10 years from now. So future proof it, call it your name. And then I think the next logical step is to look around and find some people to subscribe to. So follow your one, of course, Therapists Corner, you’re very welcome to come and follow Me. And then what you’ll see is as you follow people, there were recommendations popping up a subset kind of goes, Oh, you might like this one as well. You might like this one as well. You can go in and search and kind of type in like therapy, find people who are doing things, interesting things that you kind of think, Oh, I could do that, but about my topic and just absorb some for a little while. There’s an app. And what I love about the app actually is, instead of reading like the BBC News, or whatever people do in the morning, you can go into Substack, and it’s like a bespoke curated magazine of things you care about, like all these amazing articles about everything I’ve got, like diet culture articles, and AI articles and coaching, and it’s all there in one place. So that’s where I think people should start to just get a feel for the energy of it. But then the next step is to just write. And it doesn’t have to be long form content, like obviously it was, it was built with that in mind. But you could send out a photo and a caption like an Instagram and send that out. You could just do a voice note and send that out to everybody, which again, like for therapists, I think could be amazing. If you could say, hey, like, it’s Monday, and we’re feeling this way. But I wanted to remind you, so powerful to get someone’s voice directly in your inbox out of the blue. You could send out videos, you could just do a list, it doesn’t have to be like a huge, lengthy blog post every time. But also it can be if you’ve got lots to say. And don’t worry if no one’s reading straightaway, or if only your mother’s subscribed. That’s how it’s meant to be. And I always say there’s a lot of freedom in that. Because when no one’s watching, you get to try on different things and play around and figure it out. But very quickly, if what you’re writing is valuable, you will see it started to grow.

 

Sarah Rees  23:20

Fantastic. And that I was going to ask that if somebody was starting out and didn’t have an audience, no email list, starting from absolute scratch. What are the tips with getting kind of building that readership?

 

Sara Tasker  23:31

Yeah, so it starts with the content. Absolutely. And if you think back to that model of the old days of blogging, that was what made or broke people’s blogs was like, did people love it and come and see and want to check in and see what was new. So if your content is valuable, that’s gonna get you the furthest, because people will share it, word of mouth will spread and people will come and subscribe. But you can also encourage that by commenting on other people’s Substacks. So that you start to become a part of someone else’s community. And then people will be like, Oh, I wonder what she writes about and come over. And then what happens is, as people subscribe to you, they start to be that recommendation for your publication so that when people sign up to them, you pop up as the recommendation. And you start to get new subscribers that way. And then the other really powerful part of it is Notes, which is the Twitter, the Twitter alternative, if you remember, that’s within Substack. And that’s really the only part of Substack where what you write could go in front of absolutely anybody who’s using Substack. And it can be short, like a tweet, but it can also be longer, it can be photos, it can be kind of pretty much anything you want to put up there. So the value thing still applies. And you can also reply to people like you can reply to Margaret Atwood, and she’ll read it. She’ll see what you said like it’s amazing. 

 

Sarah Rees  24:46

It is incredible that because I’ve done that and made connections with people I’m like, Oh my gosh, because it’s quite small at the moment.

 

Sara Tasker  24:54

Yes, that’s it. It’s small, but it’s got some really talented high profile people on there. So yeah, it’s a very unusual opportunity. And I’m sure that won’t be true five years from now when it becomes so much bigger and busier and noisier. But at the moment, there are no algorithms kind of determining all of that. It’s, it’s still very human centred, like the recommendations are based on other humans recommending things. So it’s a really beautiful time to get in there. And that’s how the growth is happening in that very organic, genuine way. You don’t need to game the system, the system is write good stuff, and people will come.

 

Sarah Rees  25:29

That’s really nice to hear. And my I was going to ask how often should we be posting or do but that’s my Instagram head, isn’t it? And do I need to have that head on now of how often?

 

Sara Tasker  25:41

I mean, it’s tricky, isn’t it? I know Farrah, who is head of writer partnerships for the UK Substack team, I think she recommends maybe twice a week. And she definitely recommends trying to pick one day of the week that’s like your day to be in people’s inboxes. So they’re like, oh, it’s Saturday, I wonder what she’s got to say. So there are obviously like strategies that they’re noticing the data that seems to help people. And that’s, I guess that’s true for any platform. But in the end, it’s write as often as you have something that’s worth saying, right? Like, there’s no point going, Oh, it’s Tuesday, I’ve got nothing to say, but I’d have to write something. Because in the end, that’s only going to lose you people’s attention, it’s not going to gain you anything. And then of course, once you’ve got paid subscribers, that pressure feels even more, because you think, well, I’ve got their money, like I have to give them something in exchange. But what we’re seeing is, people have got enough content, like you don’t have to send them an email every day to justify that the eight pound a month, it can be enough to just send them one really valuable thing a month, or it can be enough to give them instead of more written content or recorded content, maybe live access to you or so one of the things I do with mine is these co working hours where we just all hop on a Zoom call, and I go go. And we work. 

 

Sarah Rees  26:56

I was talking about that yesterday, because I did a quarterly planning call with therapists. So we’ve planned out the next three months of our business, very organised. So we had a structure we had to template, but I mentioned them about these co working sessions. Because I was like when you mentioned I was like, how’s that gonna go? It’s a bit ridiculous. And you literally we come on a zoom call, you go right, I’m gonna mute you all. And it goes quiet for an hour. And I get loads done. 

 

Sara Tasker  27:20

It’s insane. It’s just like a brain hack of some kind, but it really works. 

 

Sarah Rees  27:26

Were you nervous about doing a zoom call and doing nothing for an hour and how that was gonna pan out?

 

Sara Tasker  27:32

I had already done it, I trialled it in some of my classes, because I was you know, and I’m sure therapists will relate to this, that you kind of you give people all the tools and you give them the homework and then they come back the next week and go, I didn’t do it. Sorry. I just couldn’t, I couldn’t get myself into gear to do it. And I understand that myself as well. So what do people need? And I thought, well, what really works for me is another nervous system opposite me going, I’m working, are you going to work? And you kind of go Okay, I’d better hand. 

 

Sarah Rees  27:59

So when your calendar goes out at the start of the month, I’m just putting it in my diary, these co working sessions. And I know that I’ll get a solid hour done. Now if I’m on my own, I’ll do 10 minutes, and then I’ll dust and then I’ll put a load of washing on. But I don’t know.

 

Sara Tasker  28:15

Yeah, and then check Instagram and then oh, that’s been 30 minutes. It’s so easy to do. Yeah, so it works. And that’s a really good example like, what am I, I’m charging people for want me to sit on zoom in silence for an hour? That doesn’t seem like the kind of thing you should be charging people for. But actually, we charge for results. Right? So if someone can say actually, I’ve got all the things I’ve been putting off my to do list done by the end of the hour. How much would you pay for that? I think I think mine is like £6.50 at the moment. In my eyes, that’s a bargain. I would pay someone £6.50 to help me do that any day.

 

Sarah Rees  28:48

Absolutely. And it’s yeah, it’s accountability isn’t? And it’s lovely. You asked everybody share their work at the end of their hour. And there’s often the I always feel like a fraudulent creative because they’ve made something…

 

Sara Tasker  29:02

Oh, yeah, they hold up like bracelets and dresses, don’t they that they’ve made me and you were like, here’s my to do list that I’ve crossed off!

 

Sarah Rees  29:11

Yeah, I’m holding up my to do list.

 

Sara Tasker  29:13

But it all it belongs and that’s like, yeah, I target my business like creatives, but absolutely the work of therapists do is creative. Like it’s problem solving.

 

Sarah Rees  29:22

Yeah it’s intimate, because I always felt like oh, it’s not I really resonate with the community. I’d love to be a creator, but I get to, you know, my writings really grown. And actually, I think running your own business as a therapist, you are creative. So I’m owning my place in the creative community.

 

Sara Tasker  29:38

And you’re creating change and you’re creating results with people and like it’s creative problem solving. It’s so funny, isn’t it? This whole idea of gatekeeping around creativity and you’ll find most people think they’re not allowed that word that it must belong to like full time artists and nobody else. It’s everybody really.

 

Sarah Rees  29:54

That’s what I thought for years. Yeah, yeah, but no. Yeah. It is absolutely it’s everybody. That’s, that’s absolutely right. So I suppose the nervous thing that I had I don’t actually have it now. But where do you see Substack in a few years time because we’ve not long had Clubhouse and I’m sure people are already saying what the hell is Clubhouse?

 

Sara Tasker  30:17

And BeReal that had a moment and, and other so many we could list. Yeah, I mean, I will say I think the last year has taught me that you never know the future of a platform. I did not foresee Twitter doing what Twitter is now doing, which is circling the drain, and AI and everything else is kind of coming to change every landscape. But I think Substack has got legs, I don’t think it’s going anywhere. The way it’s growing at the moment is, is just mind blowing, and the enthusiasm and the passion of the people on there to me, that’s always the biggest determiner of success over everything else. And also, it’s worth remembering. So with Substack because people subscribe with their email address, you own that list, you can export that as a CSV, you could take that to MailChimp, you could take that wherever else you want to send emails, and that audience is still yours to contact so you’re not tied to the platform in the way that we are with things like Instagram and Twitter, where if you don’t post on Instagram, you can’t reach those people. With Substack you’re building an audience that’s yours to keep. And I think that that’s like the safety net that hopefully we will never need, but the other platforms kind of deliberately didn’t offer us.

 

Sarah Rees  31:26

Yeah, so you’re still in control. It’s something you still own. So you’re building it, you’re putting some all your energy into it. And you can move it if if ever you want to

 

Sara Tasker  31:34

exactly exactly which you know, I’m sure a lot of people wish that we had that flexibility with things like Instagram, Facebook,

 

Sarah Rees  31:41

Are there people that kind of Substack is their job now?

 

Sara Tasker  31:46

Oh, yeah, there are a lot of people making like, high six figures on Substack. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. I’ve seen like the they are the dashboards of some of these accounts. And yeah, people who not even have huge audiences, I’m not talking people with like, you know, massive Instagram audiences or journalists with with a big following people who who have got a niche following who are really invested in what they do, and who just Substack kind of full time. And I think when I spoke to Farrah, I think the number she gave me was, if people are doing it part time they look for around, did she say like 3-4% of your list will be paid. And if you’re doing it full time, you’ll get around 10% of your list will switch to paid. So if you think if you if you have 100 subscribers, you’ll get 10 paying members, if you get 1000 subscribers, you get 100. Is that right? My maths is so bad. But you can see it starts to scale up. So yeah, so some people actually they’re like, this pays so well. A good example, I think is Emma Gannon, a lot of people will know her she had the podcast, Control Alt Delete and she’s got the Multi Hyphen Method book and and she actually has folded her podcast and stopped doing it because Substack has now replaced the money that she was making from the podcast. So she was able to stop that when she felt it was time and now makes six figures from writing on her Substack.

 

Sarah Rees  33:05

Gosh, that that is just incredible. 

 

Sara Tasker  33:08

And it’s so flexible. It’s so freeing. And you know, you mentioned my French house, it means I can I can you could be anywhere in the world and do less decide of your work. It is it’s the future, I think for so many of us, and especially for people who are having to build businesses around other commitments of like caring and health problems and children. And, you know, we’ve all got those things going on in our life. So having something that’s really flexible, and that literally you can do from your phone, if need be, I think is a really sensible thing to build into most people’s businesses. 

 

Sarah Rees  33:37

Oh, absolutely. Yeah, it makes total sense. And so that I know, I’ve asked you this a few times, because as I’m learning Substack I think I’m getting my head around it. But everybody listening, I want you to get a pen and paper. And Sara’s gonna give us answers to some of the basic functions. And now we’ve touched on some of them, but I want to know, give us a quick overview of posts.

 

Sara Tasker  34:01

Okay, so posts are like your blog post. They are the main chunk of content, it’s mostly text, you can put pictures in, you can embed videos. And that’s what when people land on your page, that’s what they will see your posts.

 

Sarah Rees  34:13

Okay and tags. 

 

Sara Tasker  34:15

Tags then are a way of categorising your posts. So for example, I have tags for business, for social media, personal, you could have multiple tags on one post. But what it means is if someone reads a post that I’ve written, say on Instagram, they’re like, Oh, I’d like to read more things she’s written on Instagram. Instead of having to dig around and search, they can just click the Instagram tag and they’ll see everything I’ve tagged with that tag in one place.

 

Sarah Rees  34:38

Okay, and notes.

 

Sara Tasker  34:40

Notes is the Twitter alternative. I don’t think Substack would like me calling it that. But I don’t know how else to express it. And that’s the place if you remember where you will be seen by people who maybe don’t follow you yet who are not already subscribed. So it’s a good way of kind of connecting with other Substack users, either just for a conversation, or for something more than to get them to come along and value. 

 

Sarah Rees  35:04

Okay, and chat?

 

Sara Tasker  35:06

Chat is that kind of private Whatsapp group esque space, so it’s within the app, you can only access it, I think at the moment within the app. And so the way I would use it is sometimes I’ll go into chat, and I’ll say like, show me a photo you’ve taken this week that you would normally post on Instagram, but you think nobody will see. And then everyone can reply and share pictures. And then we can all reply to each other’s pictures. And it’s just kind of a cool, nice little hangout. Wouldn’t have made that a post because that doesn’t feel like something I need to live permanently on my sort of blog ish homepage. But really nice way to build community. And even there, you can pay wall that, so you can start a chat, that’s just for paid members. And then the replies as well are hidden so so there is that kind of nice, safe space where only people who are invested both financially and emotionally in what you’re doing are going to be there to talk to you.

 

Sarah Rees  35:57

Fantastic and sections?

 

Sara Tasker  35:59

Sections, I have a feeling sections may be phased out, don’t don’t, don’t hold me on that. But I have a feeling that they’re confusing more than they’re helping. But imagine you were a therapist, but you were also very passionate about supercars, and you wanted to write about both, but you were aware that they probably have slightly different audiences, you could start a different section within your newsletter, and people can then decide whether to subscribe to the supercars, to the therapist, or both, to neither. And you can add sections in that way. So they kind of build separate lists. But don’t, don’t mistake it for the functionality that tags is doing. So don’t use it as just a way to organise. I recommend people really hold back on that and see it more as like a way of establishing almost like two different publications, because I think otherwise you risk splitting your growth and confusing people.

 

Sarah Rees  36:53

Okay, that’s really useful. You’ve passed your Substack exam. [Laughing] 

 

Sara Tasker  36:59

Thank you, 

 

Sarah Rees  37:00

One hundred percent! So where do you see your business going? What are your plans for Me&Orla?

 

Sara Tasker  37:08

I really want Substack to become a big integral part of it. Because of the sustainability of it. You know, for a long time, I’ve sold classes, that’s been my kind of main income source, classes and one to one coaching packages. And the problem with the classes is it’s very boom and bust cycle. You’re like, oh, it’s time for a launch. And then you have to do all of the launching activities takes a lot of energy, it takes a lot of nervous energy as well, like, you know, you’ve got to hold your nerve and think, Is this the one where no one buys it? And we’re not going to pay the rent? Oh, okay. Actually, no, it’s blown my mind with how much it makes, and it’s a roller coaster that has been fun. I’ve loved riding it, but I’m kind of ready to get off. And Substack you know, the idea of just a sustainable monthly income, that’s there, you know, regardless is really, really nice. And it’s I really love the idea that I’m getting to build a community space that I think we’re all really hungry for like Instagram. The one of the biggest reasons I’ve taught and recommended Instagram for so long is because it has that amazing way of cultivating community and I think for a lot of people that’s that’s dying, that’s lost. So for me, it’s how can I make a space where we can still connect in that way and find like minded people and support one another because I know firsthand how valuable it is. And it’s just really fun. Like so one of the things I’m just writing for my Substack today, it’ll be up probably by the time people hear this episode is I’ve tried to recreate some of my Instagram photos using AI software, like just typing in words. And it’s just like, wherever else would I put that? Where else would anyone wants to see that?

 

Sarah Rees  38:43

I can’t wait to see that. I’ve not tried the images yet.

 

Sara Tasker  38:47

It’s mind blowing. Wait till you see it. It’s like almost scary. And then I was like, wow, well, I need to show people how to do this. Because even though it is just typing words into a box, most people are exactly where you are where it’s like, I’ve not tried it. I don’t really know where to start. But it could answer so many people’s problems with their content creation. So then I was like, Oh, well, I’ll just make it a workshop. I’ll do an hour’s live teaching it for my paid subscribers. And that will make more people go okay, actually, I want that it’s worth it. I’ll, I’ll sign up and subscribe. So it’s just this really nice, organic way of me getting to be creative in my business again and play and be generous. And yeah, show up in different ways and kind of figure all of that out. And like I said, I think that temptation is there, like, even in my own brain to make it very, oh, it’s all very informative. Every post has got to be super useful. But it was when I wrote about my personal stuff, my health, that people really rallied around me and reminded me actually that it’s humans we connect with and it’s human connection that we are craving and so the space for all of it, you get to play around.

 

Sarah Rees  39:52

And for therapists and especially in private practice, but actually, you know, therapists often say to me, do you feel isolated in private practice? I felt isolated in the NHS because I was working in a room without a window. And everybody was so busy. I didn’t see anybody then. I see so many more people in private practice, because I can structure my time. But I feel like I’ve got a team again. One of the aims of Therapists Corner is to make it like a place where you can come and grab a coffee and, and answer a few questions or ask a few things and, and just getting together online is just brilliant. I feel like I’ve got community. I’m so excited about it. So a huge thank you for saying, Do Substack because, you know, I was kind of came to you thinking, how can I pivot my Instagram to be just therapists because I’m writing the book and stuff. And you were like, Substack. And I’m so and now as I’m doing coaching with therapists, I think the one to one coaching, I’ve been doing, all of them, I’m saying you could be adding another revenue stream to your, your private practice. They’ve got the knowledge and the skills and the expertise. It needs to be out of the therapy room. We all need to hear it. I mean, I think a lot of it, we should be taught at schools. But it I’m so excited. And so as part of that, for anybody listening that is listening to this thinking, I need more information, where do I start? Which I know you’ll be thinking, you’re gonna come and do a q&a for my paid subscribers on Substack?

 

Sara Tasker  41:23

I am I’m really excited about it, actually. So people can just come and ask literally anything, throw anything at me at us. And I think it’s really good having you there as well Sarah for the obviously the kind of the therapy angle, because I know somewhat about how your business is working. But there’s always kind of nuances to every individual. So yeah, I’m really excited to talk about it and hopefully get some more people converted to my Substack cult. [laughs]

 

Sarah Rees  41:47

Absolutely, yes, I’ll put links to your Substack because everybody who comes on that call, really go and have a look at Sara’s insta, amazing Instagram, and Substack. And I think they should check out Letters from a Hopeful Creative as well. Because for therapists and private practice, you’re talking really openly about marketing. And you know, you answered my question the other week. And one of the things that I said I thought was really useful that you said it I’ve kept it’s kept popping in my mind is that sometimes when you’re starting something new, you have to be it feels like you’re the only person dancing on the dance floor. A few people kind of turn away and might leave, but then people start joining you. And that’s exactly you know, when I moved all my email list to Substack people dropped off, and that feels a bit scary. And people started to join me dancing on the dance floor.

 

Sara Tasker  42:42

And who’s going to start the dancing if not you right? Like someone’s got to be first.

 

Sarah Rees  42:46

Yeah, yeah. And then my final question that I asked all my guests is, if you could go back to your 15 year old self, what would you say to younger Sara?

 

Sara Tasker  42:57

So interesting that you say 15 as well. I wonder why you pick the age but um,

 

Sarah Rees  43:02

I think that was tricky for me. 

 

Sara Tasker  43:03

Okay. 15 was pivotal. 

 

Sarah Rees  43:05

Yeah, yeah, it was. Yeah. Yeah.

 

Sara Tasker  43:07

I mean, same. I definitely remember it being tricky. And I think as long as I could convince 15 year old me I think what she needed to hear was just that she was worthy. You know, that I could see her and all the things that somewhere like I had an awareness that I was capable of, but there was so much squashing all of that down and just, you know, someone to say, Hey, you are good at these things. And I see you and you’re good enough, was would have been transformational for me.

 

Sarah Rees  43:37

That’s lovely. And if people want to find out more about you, where can they go?

 

Sara Tasker  43:44

So my business is called Me&Ola are loving my daughter that I was I had as a baby when I started my business. So the name stuck around. You can find my podcast called Hashtag Authentic. And my other podcast called Letters from a Hopeful Creative, Letters from a Hopeful Creative is on Substack as well. So you can subscribe there if you want and get the episode sent to you that way. I’m also on Instagram at Me&Ola and I am on Substack search my name Sara Tasker or the name of my subset which is Entre nous which is French for between us.

 

Sarah Rees  44:14

Oh that’s lovely. Thank you so much for your time. It’s so nice to to have you on you know, it’s a bit of a dream for me and keep creating. You do beautiful stuff. And I’m sure you know, it’s just lovely to have you on the internet.

 

Sara Tasker  44:27

This has been so fun. Thank you so much, Sarah.

 

Sarah Rees  44:34

Thank you for listening to today’s episode of Ask the Therapist. I’ll be discussing all you’ve heard in this episode and more over in the Therapists Corner community on Substack. To join me that just click on the link in the show notes. Until next time, take care of your mental well being as you continue on the path to becoming the best version of yourself. This episode was written and presented by me Sarah Rees and edited by Big Tent Media, produced by Emily Crosby Media.

 

 

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