We all want to have a full client load and make an amazing income. But how? Are you twiddling your thumbs waiting for the phone to ring or your inbox to fill up? Do you spend your days longing to be at births but not know how to find clients? Here are my three basic and most important marketing tips for doulas:
Building a doula practice means you are creating long term, trust-based relationships with colleagues in your community. Remember, you're playing the long game here - building a business takes time. A midwife you meet today may not refer a client to you for a year or longer. Once a pregnant family hires you, it is weeks or months until their birth and then weeks or months after that to get referrals from them. Don’t expect overnight success as a doula. Just as babies take lots of time to grow and mature in the womb, so does your business. In the meantime, figure out a different way to make money now, like doing childcare or driving for a car sharing app. Don’t ever be in the position of taking a less than ideal client because you need the money badly (that will almost always backfire). Most businesses take at least two years to make money. Doula work is typically like that as well.
Your ideal client is not just any pregnant person. I once had a doula colleague who had twenty-eight five-star Yelp reviews. I figured she must have a full schedule. But one day at lunch she confessed she was having trouble finding clients. When I asked about all her reviews, she told me that while she gets a lot of inquires from Yelp, it doesn’t actually lead to much hiring. She told me she was going to try a new marketing technique. A few months later, after networking with a lot of acupuncturists, she had a full schedule. Turns out she has a ton of knowledge and great love of Chinese medicine (her parents are both acupuncturists). She realized she adores working with parents getting acupuncture care during their pregnancy. Those clients like her for her knowledge of a shared interest and she had way more personality fits in consultations when she narrowed down her client pool to a specific interest. Similarly, once I started teaching HypnoBirthing classes, my schedule booked up much faster because I had a particular skill that drew like minded people to my practice. Figure out your niche and go to where those people go.
Building relationships in your birth community is key to a successful doula practice. Meet for tea with perinatal specialists in the following fields: acupuncturists, chiropractors, midwives, doctors, yoga teachers, physical therapists, massage therapists, etc. And the most important professionals to network with? Other doulas! They are not your competition, I promise. They are your best allies in creating a booming doula career. I referred out to other doulas ALL. THE. TIME. Often my schedule became full or I would be away on vacation or need back up - other birth doulas were my greatest asset (not to mention my best friends because I have a birth obsession and they get me). Meeting other birth related professionals is the best way to get referrals and also to make an amazing referral list for your clients at the same time. Nervous about a cold email? Make an appointment as a chance to experience their skills so you can build up an amazing referral list for your clients. I promise that most practitioners are super into symbiotic relationships.
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