If you are just starting up your doula practice or stuck in a rut getting clients, here are three habits you should acquire: persistence, creativity and patience.
Let’s talk about why these three traits are so important to embody and why you cannot do just one or two of them. All three must be done together in order to effectively market your doula practice and get you ideal, paying clients.
Persistence. When you are starting a business, you have to expect that some (or in the beginning many) of the things you try may not yield ideal, paying clients. It’s hard to look around and see all the successful doulas out there doing their thing in what seems like such an effortless way. However, I would bet you my morning coffee that all of those successful birth workers you see on Facebook or at doula meet-ups have had the following things happen to them:
Wasted time on marketing events that gave them zero clients.
Wasted money on marketing materials that gave them zero clients.
Repeatedly checked their email waiting for inquiries to come in.
These are all to be expected when you are first starting out. Months may pass before you get any real bites from marketing efforts (we’ll talk about patience later on). But the reason these birth workers became successful was because they kept at it. They kept going to the networking events. They kept getting out there and talking to professionals who would be great referral sources. They kept working on their websites, blogs, newsletters and social media until they got it just right.
The truth is this: marketing works - but you can’t try things once or twice. You need to keep showing up and putting it out into the world that you are a doula. Or no one will ever know.
Creativity. What if you don’t live in a big city and no one knows what a doula is? Or your city is jam packed with doulas and each family you interview with is speaking to five other doulas?
Getting creative is imperative in situations like this. Here’s an example. When I first started out, a doula who was more experienced than me was on the leadership council of the local doula group.
I asked her what made her interested in holding a leadership position and this is what she told me: when she was a new doula, she contacted the president of the group and asked what she could do to help. She became treasurer. Why? Besides giving back to her doula community (which is a huge reward in itself) it meant the other members of the council got to know her well and she immediately had established doulas with big client loads calling her for back up or sending her referrals for their overflow. What a brilliant idea! Sometimes you have to think outside the box to get clients and this is a perfect example. Get together with some doula friends and have a brainstorming session together.
Patience. It takes time to grow a business. The truth is that most small businesses do not make a profit for two years. Doulas typically can start making money before the two year mark - but it will most likely not be the full income you are desiring. So give yourself the gift of time and make sure you can pay your bills in the meantime (read my blog on that).
Coincidentally, these three traits must also be embraced as a doula AND as a birthing person during labor.
Persistence - To keep going when you are so tired.
Creativity - To figure out new and insightful ways to move the body plus knowing the skills and intuition to get baby out.
Patience - To wait and give nature time to take its course.
I love the quote “The way you do anything, is the way you do everything.” (by Tom Waits or Martha Beck; the internet does not have a consensus on who said this).
To be an amazing, supportive doula during births you must possess these traits. Applying this mindset to your business usually guarantees a practice filled with dream clients.