By Joe Borders,
Marriage and Family Therapist
January 17, 2023
Hello! As you have likely guessed from the title, I am closing SacWellness.
As you probably know, I’ve been at this thing for a long time. I was thinking about it last night, and I’m coming up on the end of my fifth year of SacWellness.
Its been A LOT of work. I’ve made friends along the way, established some valuable connections with people, and feel like I really helped the community, but its time for me to be done.
I’ve spent the better part of the last year evaluating the site, trying to figure out exactly what value it has to me and to others, and I’ve really decided that it just requires too much from me.
I honestly think what really happened was that I spent a majority of my time building this site during the pandemic and that now that things are returning to normal-ish, I’m finding myself wanting to have a life again, and the site just doesn’t fit in with that.
- My kids are getting older and I want to have more time to spend with them.
- I need to work on my health after being so sedentary during the pandemic.
- I have a thriving private practice and want to focus more on it.
- I’ve spent so much of the last 3-4 years carrying an ambient sense of urgency, like there is always something I need to/should be doing. Turns out trying to run two major businesses simultaneously can be stressful and taxing ;-p.
- I’m just tired, there are always little fires to put out, and it will never be “done”. I can’t carry this kind of energy without it feeling toxic, nagging, and omnipresent.
I’ve actually been mulling over this decision for several months and finally made the call in the last couple of days after having my first real significant “time off” in the last 5 years. I’ve been working so much for so long that I really just needed to step off of the treadmill to see what was good for me. I think this is some of the value we provide our clients in therapy. Sometimes when we’ve been in survival mode for so long we really need to step out of daily struggles to see what we truly need/want.
I know many people will have questions about this and I will do my best to address them here. Personally, I’m doing well. This isn’t the result of something terrible happening in my life. If anything its a reflection of me growing and confronting some of my life issues.
Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or any of this effects you in any kind of negative way. I know some people use Psychology Today as their proxy website, if anyone is using SacWellness in a similar way I can create a temporary workaround.
The following goes into more details about this situation. There’s a lot more to it that I could never fully explain, but this should explain most of the story.
For those who don’t continue on, I’ll say this here. Thank you to all of those who supported me on this journey. One of the best things about SacWellness has been the connections it helped me establish and/or strengthen with local therapists. I have had so many people encourage me on this journey and support me with kind words of encouragement. There have been times when creating this site has felt so lonely and I have found myself socially isolated. Hearing kind words of support from others always made a world of difference and kept me going in hard times. Thank you ^_^
It’s taken up way too much time
In all honesty, creating SacWellness has taken at least 6 to 7 thousand hours of work. I had no idea what I was getting into when I started it. I made some mistakes along the way and really should have kept it simple. I wanted it to be the best and kept growing it, adding more features, fixing, and tweaking things, such that to date I have spent $15,000 on custom coding on the site. I spent the better part of the first 3 years working 50-60 hour weeks. It’s been a lot better over the last year, but there is always more to do.
This whole thing has been such a lonely, isolating experience in so many ways. I can tell you here that building the site was challenging…..but no one will ever truly be able to understand exactly how taxing, difficult, confusing, and occasionally maddeningly frustrating this thing has been.
- One time Google changed things around in the way it ranks sites and I found myself spending almost 50 hours providing descriptions for 2,500 images on my site.
- One time the site function that processes new payments stopped working and it took me 2 months of contacting 3 different tech support departments and digging through code to figure out how to fix it.
- Another time, everything new that was added to the site was not displaying. Again, two different tech support groups spent a month trying to figure it out, could not, and I ended up wading through thousands of lines of code to find the problem.
- One time something randomly broke on the site and all of the active subscribers received two daily emails, one saying their listing was cancelled, and one saying it was renewed. It took a month to figure this one out and the fix resulted in things still being displayed weird in the back end.
- One time I spent 10 hours trying to figure out how to put a color gradient on the background of my pages. lolol
Its just too much and will never be done.
It’s not profitable
I’m never going to make money on this site. Last year it turned a profit for the first time with $300 above what it cost to run it for the year. I’m pretty sure I made more of a profit this year, but for the time it takes, I could just take on a client or two.
When I first started the site I had big ambitions of having 500 plus therapists listed on the site eventually. I offered listings for free for the first two years. I really wanted to make sure I had something useful for people before I started charging for it. When I started charging for the site I had 180 therapists listed. A couple of months later I had 28. Everyone left when I started charging. To date 334 therapists have listed on the site, but only 57 have chosen to continue with a paid listing.
There are a myriad of different reasons why people may have chosen not to continue with a paid listing, but this was a real blow in the early days. I eventually got my head around the idea and focused more on the parts of the site I enjoyed and the idea of contributing to the community.
I’ve always wanted to charge less for the site, but EVERYONE I’ve talked with about this has advised against it. A couple of months ago I settled on a plan to reduce the fee to $10/month with a yearly subscription, but I could never get myself to pull the trigger on this. I know now, that my heart just hasn’t been in it for almost a year and its just too hard to re engage. I think it could have been good to have charged less in the beginning, but that’s how it goes.
I’m a therapist, not a web technician
I’ve learned A LOT about wordpress, coding, website management…and a whole bunch of other stuff, but ultimately, this is not my thing. I want to be done with this and just be a simple therapist. I have a full time practice in addition to the site and it has felt wrong on many occasions, to be limited in my ability to take on clients because of the time the site required.
Some mistakes were made along the way
Looking back, there are several things I probably should have done differently.
- I really should have kept this thing more simple and not added so much to it. This was a hard one though because there were SO MANY issues with the software I based the site on that really needed to be fixed.
- I flip flopped with my fees at first. I first offered 6 months free, then added another 6, then just made the first 2 years of the site free. I needed to do this to get ranking in search engines, but looking back, with what I know now. it would have been a lot better if I would have just done something like charging 5$/month and raise it by a dollar per year until I got to my goal of $17/month….or something like that.
- I started charging for the site right in the beginning of the pandemic when everyone was afraid and unsure about their advertising budgets.
- I don’t know if you can do something like this on your own. Maybe if I had kept it simple, but it was too much by myself. There was always more I wanted to do but couldn’t due to time constraints.
What happens now?
SacWellness was a passion project for so long and I’ve gotten a lot of really good feedback from people about the site. Honestly, at the end of the day, 99% of the time, stress, and difficulty with the site has been related to the therapist directory. Because of this, I will be phasing out the therapist directory over the next month,
-but I will be keeping all of the other content up in some way-
I will be cancelling all paid therapist listing subscriptions. This will keep these listings published until their paid period has come to an end. Once all of the paid listings have expired, sometime by mid February, I will be phasing out the therapist directory portion of the site.
After the therapist directory is phased out I will replace the home page with a page explaining the situation and directing people to therapyden.com and the local resources still contained on this site. At this point I will begin the possibly long process of moving key pages to my personal site and creating redirects for them so any established links are not broken
A year or so from now I will completely close SacWellness down and redirect all visits to it to my own personal site where I will continue to host all of the other local resources I’ve compiled so that people may continue to benefit from them. I’m also planning on moving all of the old SacWellness blog posts to my personal site.
Thank you again for all of your support over the years, and again, please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you might have about all of this.
About the author
Joe Borders is a marriage and family therapist located in Roseville and Sacramento. He is primarily a sex positive gender therapist, but also specializes in working with couples, teens, addiction, and the LGBTQ community. Joe is also the owner and founder of SacWellness. You can find out more about him by visiting his sacwellness listing or by visiting his website: therapy and counseling in Roseville and Sacramento