How a Premium Coaching Program Takes Therapists from Acing Exams to Building a Thriving Practice

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Launched on Mighty Networks in August 2019, ZynnyMe offers online courses and community for therapists running private practices.

Miranda’s Mighty Moment:
“I realized community is the cornerstone of our program. It had to be central to what we offer.”

Miranda Palmer has come a long way since launching her first free Yahoo Group in 2005.

Back then she was an aspiring therapist who had just failed her licensing exam by one point, and she wasn’t alone. Many of her grad school classmates were in the same boat.

So, when a handful of her students at a local university showed her how they were using a Yahoo Group to study together, a lightbulb went off.

What if I created a study group for aspiring therapists for us to pass our exams together?

That’s exactly what she did and ZynnyMe was born.

From Passion Project to Online Courses

A few months after starting her exam study group, Miranda got quite a shock. The licensing board told her they had made a mistake. She had actually passed!

She no longer personally needed her study group, but she was hooked. She’d seen how the group sparked valuable conversations well beyond the exam itself–from grad school to licensure:

“I went, ‘Wait, this is really important.’ It became my passion project. I spent hours and hours every week for months and years cultivating and growing this community. Then, at a certain point I realized, ‘Oh wait, I can't sustain this without an income.”

Miranda went on to consult with other therapists, sharing what she had learned about running a profitable private practice, and in 2010, she connected with fellow therapist Kelly Higdon. Together they shifted from coaching to launching online courses and programs that help therapists run successful businesses.

These were early days for online courses, and they tried a range of platforms, from various learning management systems to WordPress and Facebook groups.

Miranda Palmer and Kelly Higdon

Community and Mobile Apps Are Non-Negotiable

As their business grew, Kelly and Miranda realized that the conventional online course combo recommended by successful instructors–Wordpress plus a Facebook group–was failing them. The breaking point came after developing a custom WordPress site:

“We'd spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to sit down and go, ‘This is not working.’ Every update broke the software. It was taking us away from serving our clients. Painfully, we had to start from scratch and ask: ‘What is the cornerstone of what we want?’ It was community and an app in everyone’s pocket. These two things became our must-haves and touchstones.”

As they looked around at available course platforms, only one seemed to make community and native mobile apps core to its offering. That’s when they got serious about Mighty Networks.

In August 2019, Miranda and Kelly began moving their online courses and Facebook groups to a new Mighty Network.

3...2...1...Launch

To start the move, they invited a set of existing members over to try their new setup and give them feedback. They wanted their members to love it, and they did. Kelly and Miranda tweaked all the customizable options available on a Mighty Network–the design, the course set up, and messaging–based on what they heard and were ready to go wider.

Next, they announced the move to Mighty in their Facebook groups and via email, sharing that their courses and additional resources would now be found on their new Mighty Network.

That opened the floodgates. Today, they are at 3,100 members and growing.

To help onboard new folks who continue to join daily, Miranda and Kelly set up a drip email campaign that goes out on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The same guidance is also available in their Mighty Network’s topics dedicated to support. Course members get onboarding emails specific to their course on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They feature a welcome video in their Welcome section and they recently offered an orientation webinar that was recorded and shared.

ZynnyMe group

Bringing Everything–and Everyone–Together in One Place

The biggest surprise for Miranda and Kelly in bringing their courses, programs, and community together on one platform is just how much easier it is for them to manage and how much more their members are getting out of their offering:

“Whether members are pre-licensed, licensed, or in our bootcamp, they are all learning from each other. Members in the paid course sometimes end up helping people in the free communities. Some people have been in the program for three, four, five, six years and they'll answer 365 days a year. With community and courses together in one place, it’s way easier to connect people to the right resources. For example, if someone has a question, the resource is right there in the same place, versus when we were on Facebook and other platforms, it's here’s this link, follow over here, etc.”

This has proven especially valuable since ZynnyMe has amassed a rich library of free resources (i.e. lead magnets) over their decade in business. Says Miranda:

“Organizing all of our resources in one searchable place has made our lives so much easier. Even better though is that our members see the value of our offering much more quickly. They regularly say, ‘Oh my gosh, there's so much here.’ Plus, this gives our early members fantastic free stuff to work on until they are ready to invest more deeply.”

In Miranda and Kelly’s experience, giving resources away has led to course sales, and with everything in one place, the path to purchase is even clearer:

“When people are members of our free community, it's way easier to move them into our paid offering. They can more clearly see the value we offer. Even better? Every member of our Mighty Network is now on our email list because they give it to us at the time they register. This was impossible on Facebook. ”

The Power of Native Mobile Apps

Soon after launching their Mighty Network, Miranda and Kelly confirmed their instincts: making ZynnyMe accessible via the native Mighty Networks mobile apps were getting their clients better results (and making their own lives easier too):

“Now people listen to our training when they’re working out or driving. They can do bite-size pieces of the course and not worry, ‘Oh, I have to wait till I'm in the office or I have to wait till I have this set aside time. On my end, I used to feel very tied to the desktop. But with the mobile app, it’s now a better way for me to manage and communicate. I can go out and be with my kid at the park and answer a few things if I need to. It’s a better quality of life. ”
ZynnyMe Miranda and Kelly Higdon outside

The Power of Our Own Space

Miranda and Kelly are strong believers in the power of a dedicated space for their community that isn’t part of a larger social network. Says Miranda:

“Our members responded to the message, ‘Are you spending hours and hours on Facebook and still not getting anything done? Here's your professional place you can get your needs met and then go and live your life–without distractions or merging your personal and professional worlds together.’”

They’ve already seen the results in the quality of people’s interactions inside the community:

“People are way more focused and strategic about why they're there and what they need to get out of it.  Now our ZynnyMe community isn’t just something that randomly pops up on Facebook while they're doing other stuff. They’re thoughtful about what they're posting.”

Delivering Relevant Resources

Another benefit of a platform offering more structure and a better search function? Members easily find what they’re looking for. Miranda explains:

“These are business owners who have real issues that come up all the time. Our course is this huge Wikipedia of everything related to private practice. So if they’re having an issue with phones or you have a question about HIPAA, they can go in and search and get access to that lesson from anywhere easily. And it's a huge value add to the community that they feel like, ‘Wow, I can get what I need at any point.’”

ZynnyMe members can also tailor what they see in their main Activity Feed that serves as the home base of their Mighty Network experience:

“On a Mighty Network, each member can customize their experience to get exactly what they need. It’s great to be able to say, for those of you who have exam anxiety and don't want to see these fail stories, just unfollow that Topic. Or if you’re like, ‘I'm offended by everything humorous,’ then unfollow.”

There’s a clear theme that runs through everything that Miranda and Kelly create with ZynnyMe. While they’re running a successful business, they also want to help their fellow therapists’ businesses thrive and make their lives easier, before they even pay for a thing:

“We've had people who've grown really great practices that make them a lot of money just from our free resources. That makes us happy, even if it also leaves money on the table.”

3 Key Takeaways From ZynnyMe’s Story of Awesome

  1. Be cautious with custom development.I can’t say it enough. If you really like working with people and you want to do great work, choose hosted software. There’s no reason to go and cobble something together.
  2. Put free valuable content inside your community. “Start creating content that is really powerful, put it in the community, and let people know about it via your email list,” says Kelly. “Tell them, ‘Here’s amazing information: download this worksheet, check out our challenge, come in here, and also meet great people.’”
  3. Don’t underestimate the power of mobile apps to keep both you and your members engaged. “Our clients say, ‘Wow, I didn’t realize how responsive you would be. This is fantastic.’ They feel so engaged and we don’t feel locked in. As soon as I’m done with a yoga class, I’m sitting down answering questions, getting responses, and moving on to something else,” says Miranda.

Miranda Palmer started her journey by failing a licensing exam by 1 point. This moment was the catalyst for helping thousands of therapists around the world, and today she inspires and teaches therapists in private practice to build profitable, happy businesses. Miranda is a co-founder at ZynnyMe, a co-creator and business coach of the Business School Bootcamp for Therapists, a guide and educator for pre-licensed therapists at MFTGuide.com, and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

Kelly Higdon is a former private-practice psychotherapist, current business and lifestyle coach, and a recovering workaholic. When burnout landed her in the ER, she recognized the wake-up call. Now it’s her mission to help other business owners find alignment with who they are and break through the barriers that keep them from creating the life they want. Kelly co-founded ZynnyMe and the Business School Bootcamp for Therapists, provides clinical consultation and coaching for private practice owners, runs webinars for therapists, and spends lots of time with her family.

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