As part of our Meet The Freelancer series of blogs, we interview many freelance professionals from a range of industries.
This month we meet Coventry based hypnotherapist, psychotherapist and body language expert, Nick Davies.
Nick has been a self-employed therapist for the last 15 years. Over that time, he has developed his own training academy, The Warwickshire School of Hypnotherapy, worked with GB athletes and featured in the media, in publications like Men’s Health magazine and on news channels including ITV.
He shares with us his journey to finding a fulfilling career, how PR and networking can significantly impact business growth, plus tips for overcoming knock backs and improving self-esteem.
For Nick, hypnotherapy was a second career after working as a manager at a multinational telecommunications firm. In his previous role, Nick describes working tough 60-hour weeks to keep up with the demands of his corporate career.
With factors in both his personal and professional life taking a toll, things came to a head when his mental health started to trigger physical symptoms.
Explaining the circumstances during that period in his life, Nick says: “I was moving to a new house at the time after my relationship had broken down. I got gazumped on the house I was going to move to and on top of that, I was getting bullied at work.
“I didn’t know how to deal with it; it was a new experience for me. I went through this mindset of thinking that I was indestructible.
“I was under so much stress, I actually had a fit and collapsed. I was suffering from panic attacks and I had chronic fatigue syndrome. I had counselling and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy), but I still had the panic attacks and anxiety.”
It was during this time that Nick embarked on his own journey of self-help. Over 18 months, Nick spent time studying psychology, anxiety and mental health.
Nick says: “I had to go back to work with these panic attacks and my boss was really unsympathetic. When I healed myself and got back to normal people were saying ‘you’re so positive, you’ve got all these coaching skills now, why don’t you do it for yourself?’ and I thought, actually, that’s a good idea.”
In 2004, Nick took his exams in hypnosis, hypnotherapy and neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). After passing his exams, he set himself up as a self-employed therapist and hasn’t looked back since.
Nowadays, along with treating clients, Nick juggles training other therapists with writing for the press.
He’s also created his own method for treating PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), anxiety and trauma, named the BLAST technique (Bilateral Analysis Stimulation Treatment), which is currently the fastest technique that exists for treating PTSD and trauma.
Since creating the technique, Nick has shared it with doctors, psychiatrists, university professors and students worldwide.
Over his career, Nick has worked with a number of sports professionals.
Nick uses hypnotherapy and psychotherapy to help athletes overcome mental obstacles like performance anxiety and losses. This helps them to achieve peak performances and gets them in the best mental shape for competition.
So far, he’s worked with GB boxers, discus throwers, pentathlon athletes, ice hockey players, gold cup male jockeys and premiership footballers.
Nick specialises in working with athletes in boxing and kickboxing and has even worked with one of Anthony Joshua’s coaches. To help him understand the sport, Nick trained to become a boxing coach. Initially, he began working with junior clubs to gain experience which years later has led on to working with elite athletes.
Explaining more about the power of the mind in sports performance, Nick says: “I worked with a guy named Jamie Bates just before lockdown in Holland. He’s a kickboxer and he is ranked number nine in the world. He was fighting a guy who is number two in world and he was struggling with his sleep.
“Because he was fighting away from home, there was lots of challenges. I used hypnosis and a few other techniques to make sure he was as calm as possible and on his game. He went on to beat this guy and is now ranked number four in the world.”
For small businesses and self-employed individuals with a limited marketing budget, PR can be an effective way to promote your business. Being mentioned in the media can increase awareness of your services and help you to reach new customers.
If you’re self-employed and want to implement a PR strategy, contact a freelance PR professional or a PR agency. They’ll be able to create press releases that gain traction, liaise with the media on your behalf and help spot opportunities.
In some cases, self-employed individuals may choose to do their own PR, as Nick does. This option can save money, however you must be prepared to put the time in and educate yourself on how PR works. Managing it yourself will require an eye for a story, writing skills and media contacts.
Over the last two years Nick’s PR efforts have seen him feature in Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, The Sun, The Telegraph and regularly in the Daily Express as a body language expert. The coverage has helped Nick build his reputation and presented new work opportunities in new locations.
Nick says: “I asked a PR company for advice and they mentioned that you need to buy a list of press contacts. I learnt it quickly and started doing my own PR.
“In 18 months, I’ve been in around 120 articles by being prolific and putting press releases out again and again. The Daily Express and Women’s Own will email me directly now and ask for me to comment on a picture, reading the body language.
“It’s 1-3 hours work every day on top of what you already do but I was prepared to invest that as it helps your position and the hard work does pay off.”
While more exposure is great for any business, it also comes with extra risks. For self-employed individuals especially, who don’t have the same safety net as employees of large firms, keeping your business and your future protected is incredibly important.
Nick says: “Insurance and voluntary regulation are extremely important for me so my clients and I are both protected. I don’t mind paying for insurance because it’s essential just in case anything ever happened. I prefer to err on the side of caution.”
Insurance for psychotherapists and hypnotherapists protects them from damaging legal action in an increasingly litigious business arena.
Whether you’re out and about visiting clients in their home, providing therapy from your own premises or offering online sessions, health and wellbeing professionals are exposed to a number of risks.
A client might feel unsatisfied with your services, hold you responsible for an injury they’ve suffered or accuse you of breaching confidentiality. In these scenarios, business insurance covers compensation claims against you, pays for your defence costs and buys you peace of mind 365 days of the year.
When Nick first started practising as a hypnotherapist, he found that offering free talks helped to build his client base most effectively.
Initially, Nick did free 90-minute talks for groups of people at cheese and wine evenings, businesses, sports clubs and in schools. His talks would include a hypnosis demonstration, hypnotherapy, NLP and an introduction to his services.
At the end of it, he offered a discount so that anybody who booked in as a client within the next seven days would receive a 25% discount.
He says: “The best way to get customers without a shadow of a doubt is free talks, that could be a free webinar or a free face to face session.
“Start your talk with an interesting angle, like ‘did you know, one in three people are going to suffer from mental health issues as a result of coronavirus and the lockdown’. Anxiety is the number one searched term on the hypnotherapy directory so doing a free talk on anxiety is a great idea.”
Essential to building your client base over time, is continuously developing your own knowledge.
Nick says: “I’m always reading, watching videos, listening to audios and learning from people. That’s the way to be. We always need to be learning and adapting.
“When you’re working as a therapist, it’s important to ask yourself these questions: am I giving the client 100%, is this a good client fit for me (and them) and am I enjoying it? When all those things are right, the success follows.”
In the world of freelancing, knock backs are rife, particularly at the beginning of your career.
Throughout your career, you’ll likely be pitching to prospective clients regularly and a lot of the time, you won’t hear back.
It can be hard not to take any kind of rejection in life personally, but it’s something we can’t avoid, especially when you’re self-employed. That’s why it’s essential for you to keep your wellbeing in check and your self-esteem topped up.
Nick says: “If you think about it, the mind runs everything. What you feed your mind is what you’re going to get out of it.
“Your self-esteem needs to be filled up every day. If you imagine there’s a bath and the plug is always out, you have to keep the taps running because your self-esteem will naturally go down.
“Occasionally someone will put water in there by saying ‘you look nice today’, and that adds to your self-esteem, as does a bit of luck or a bit of success.
“I’ve learnt that when you run your own business, you’ll have so many no’s or negative experiences when you’re trying to build it. That’s why you have to keep filling that bathtub, which I do every day.
“I’ve got a little goals book in front of me today with things like exercise, meditation, socialising, fasting and reading. I tick those boxes most days to make sure I’m filling that bathtub and feeling successful.
“I also recommend keeping a success journal and a gratitude journal. If you’re feeling low, go in and read those successes again and again to remind yourself of all the great things that happen. Write 10 things your grateful for each day, even little things.”
You can find out more about Nick at https://ndhypnotherapy.com.
We hope that reading the stories of other self-employed professionals can inspire you and provide you with some useful tips.
Working in the health and wellbeing industry can be highly rewarding and fulfilling. You have the opportunity to shape your own career, while helping others to improve their lives. Whether you’re a hypnotherapist, psychotherapist or other type of wellbeing professional, it’s important to protect your business like any other.
For more information on how you can stay protected with freelance insurance, call our friendly team of experts today on 0333 321 1403, or click to get a quick online quote in minutes!