Becoming a social worker is an extremely fulfilling career path and gives you a lot of flexibility when it comes to choosing your niche. Social workers dedicate their time to improving the lives of adults and children’s in vulnerable situations by guiding them through hardships. More people are dealing with stress and anxiety than ever before and seeking social working services accessible and fit into their daily lives. The demand for virtual therapy sessions means there’s never been a better time to pursue your social working career digitally.
What is a social worker?
Social workers pursue social justice and improve the lives of people who are having difficulty navigating trauma or coping with challenging situations. They work with clients on a more personal level than other medical or school counselors, forming a relationship with the client and becoming someone they can trust. They delve into a person’s relationships, community environment, job, family structure, and anything else that might impact them and use it to help them find ways to tackle their problems and concerns.
Social workers work with people of all ages and from all walks of life. They identify each individual’s unique strengths and available resources and use them to help their clients gain confidence and focus on the good rather than the bad. As a social worker, you might work in hospitals, community organizations, schools, non-profits, or for yourself.
What types of people do social workers work with?
As a social worker, you get to make a massive difference in the areas that you’re passionate about. You can work with kids, couples, entire families, or individuals. You will help people navigate their hardships and empower them to have confidence in themselves and work towards becoming their best selves. You might work with those struggling with addiction, poverty, disability, mental illness, unemployment, physical, mental, or psychological abuse, and more.
How can you become a social worker?
Before starting your online social working business, you first need to obtain the required education. There is some education that you will need, and others that are optional, but the more that you know, the better you will be able to serve your clients. Here are the main steps to becoming a certified social worker.
Get your bachelor’s degree
To become a social worker, especially if you’re starting a private practice, you should have an MSW. Before you can get your MSW, though, you will need to earn your BSW. Getting a bachelor’s degree in social work will prepare you for entry-level, general social work jobs. You will need to get this degree from a college or university accredited by a Council on Social Work Education. Bachelor’s programs will combine classroom training with practical applications, enabling you to put your training into practice before you graduate. It will also help to prepare you for the next step, which is your MSW.
Earn your master’s in social work (MSW)
While you are eligible to get an entry-level position in social work once you have your BSW, you will want you MSW if you’re considering starting your own online business. Once you have a bachelor’s degree, you can still apply to an accredited MSW program even if it wasn’t in social work. The best thing about earning your MSW is that you can do so both in-class or online, allowing you to start working in the field to gain experience simultaneously. Most people complete their MSW in three years, meaning you’ll have three years of experience once you’ve graduated.
When you’re taking your MSW, you will get more in-depth training into your preferred clinical focus. You will have some elective options that will give you specific training in the area you want to develop your career. If you’re passionate about helping those with addictions, you can learn specific tactics and information about working with addiction patients.
Even if you’re unsure about starting an online business as a social worker, it is worth getting your MSW. Employers will always prioritize candidates that have their MSW, so it will help set you apart when applying for your dream job.
Get licensed in your state
Once you’ve finished your education, you’ll want to obtain the required licensing you need to practice professionally. Social work licensing is there to ensure that you are practicing safely, and the requirements vary from state to state. Some states require you to have a license before you even begin to practice, while others allow you to get progressive licenses over time. It’s essential to identify what licensing requirements are necessary for your state to ensure you’re following regulations.
As with any professional field, it’s important to keep your clinical knowledge updated to provide your clients with the best possible service. Continuing education can encompass various things, including taking workshops, webinars, conferences, or online courses. Make sure to note any continuing education you take part in since many states will require this information to renew your social work license.
How to start your online social working business
Once you’ve obtained your MSW and gotten some on the job experience, you can start thinking about starting your very own social working practice. Opting to serve clients online allows you to reach people from across the country, regardless of location. Many people would rather meet virtually with a social worker as it can nerve wreaking for people in crisis to attend meetings in person. Additionally, many people don’t have access to transportation, such as those who are unemployed, suffering from addiction, or those with disabilities. An online social working business provides an accessible solution for you to serve anyone who needs your help. So, how do you get started?
Find out what licenses you need
Firstly, you will want to identify which licenses you will require to operate your online business. It will vary from state to state, but you want to ensure you’ve got all the proper paperwork before you start operating. Here are some of the licenses and permits you may require:
– Business operation license
– Employer identification number
– Seller’s permit
– Sales tax license
– DBA license
Remember that these will depend entirely on the state that you are operating out of.
Choose a telehealth software
Next, since you will be conducting business remotely, you will need to choose a telehealth software. Your chosen software will allow you to connect with your clients virtually, so you want to choose a user-friendly platform. You may have clients that aren’t extremely tech-savvy, so streamlining the process will make it easier for everyone. Since you’re starting a social working business, you should consider an option that uses video chat, as that will help the session to feel more personal. Of course, clients can opt just to have audio sessions over the computer or phone, or even speak to you via email or instant chat.
The video conferencing software market has become very competitive in the last few years, meaning you have lots of options to choose from. You can use Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Zoom, GoToMeeting, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, etc. When you’re first starting, you might choose to be adaptive and use a platform that each client is comfortable with. However, as you scale up, it’s much easier to stick to one with calendar integrations, like Zoom and GoToMeeting. That way, you can plug appointments into your calendar to keep your schedule organized.
Obtain business insurance
All businesses, whether online or not, should have some form of business insurance. While this will vary from business to business, you should have some general liability coverage considering the career path you’re entering in to. The only equipment you’re likely to be operating is your computer, but you still will want that covered if it breaks down. Additionally, professional liability insurance is vital for anyone doing any form of consulting or providing advice. Although it’s not legally required for you to have business insurance, it’s an extra layer of protection and may also help you get approved if you need financing.
Build your website
You need a virtual storefront to showcase your services and attract new clients. Since you’ll be operating online, your website is the most important way to represent yourself. It’s your opportunity to show why potential clients should pick your services over someone else. You may need to enlist a web designer’s expertise to help you build an attractive, user-friendly, and effective website, which can be a substantial upfront cost. That said, you won’t have many other large expenses compared to other business models, and it will lay the foundation for your entire business.
You might also want to invest in a copywriter who can help you craft engaging content for your website. You’ll need a genuine but professional copy, which showcases all your services, a bit about yourself and your background, and why clients should work with you. Since your field is very personal, it helps to give your website some personal touches as well.
Set up your social feeds
There are currently 3.8 billion people worldwide using social media, making it one of the most effective marketing channels at your disposal. You must set up social media feeds for your business, and while you don’t need a presence on every platform, you should have a Facebook business page at a minimum.
Using social media will allow you to connect with new, potential clients through both paid and organic reach. You can use targeted Facebook ads to reach your target audience, providing them with social work-related content that will resonate. Many social media marketing strategies
will help you gain traction, especially as a new business.
Launch your marketing campaign
Your first marketing campaign will help establish you as a business owner by getting your name out there. You should always start by reaching out to your network, letting family, friends, and past colleagues about your new business venture. Reach out to your professional network and those who also obtained their MSW, as often you could receive referrals. Referrals are the best way to get your business off the ground and start gathering some testimonials that you can use to attract more clients.
Your first marketing campaign might be using targeted Facebook ads or an email campaign out to all your current contacts.
Why should you launch your own online social working business?
Launching your own social working business allows you to follow your passion for helping others, while also having the earning potential and freedom of being a business owner. While it takes time to build a reputation for yourself in the industry, with some hard work and perseverance, you can get a loyal client base that you can work with long term.
Starting an online social working business gives you the flexibility to build your own schedule. You can work as much or as little as you want according to your preference and maintain a good work/life balance. It’s a great option if you’re going to start a family or have the freedom to travel when you want. When you begin, you might want to take on as many clients as you possibly can, but after a few years, you may decide to scale back. Being your own boss gives you the flexibility to do that.
You can also earn much more running your own social working business than working for a company. The more experienced and knowledgeable you get, the more you can charge for your services. You control your wage based on what you know your time is worth. Since you can take on as many clients as you want, there is untapped potential for financial earnings.
Low startup costs
If you’re going to start any business, then social work is one of the best choices. There are minimal startup costs involved since you don’t need any equipment, staffing, materials, or merchandise. As long as you have a computer with a webcam, then you can start your business.
Starting an online social working business will allow you to help and change many people’s lives throughout your career. The more experience you get, the better you will serve your clients and provide them with the support they need to navigate challenges and struggles in their lives.
Laila Azzahra is a professional writer and blogger that loves to write about technology, business, entertainment, science, and health.