How I Booked Births... As a New Doula!
I have been working towards building my doula business since January. Which, as far as businesses are concerned, is a very short amount of time. Especially when you consider that I still have to work my day job. A lot of the women, not all, but most, who start their birth businesses have husbands who work, which makes it easy to throw themselves into building their business. I don't have that help, so it's gonna take me a while, I think to get my business to a place where I don't have to work my office job.
But, that's neither here nor there. It just is what it is. Besides, I am really lucky to work with people who are super supportive and really cool with me coming in late, or leaving early, or taking a long lunch so that I can build this business that I hope ultimately gives me the ability to quit said day job job.
So, as a new doula, who's never attended a birth before, and doesn't have any children of her own, in a city that is full of wonderful, experienced doulas, starting my business, I felt like, "what do I really have to offer to clients?" What is my worth to a client. When they inevitably ask me, "How many births have you done," how do I make my answer of, "none" matter less?
Here's what I worked out and hopefully they'll work for you too!
Before I can show other people why they should hire me, I need to understand my worth personally first. No, I hadn't attended a birth, but that didn't negate what I already had in me. I have compassion, and a love for people, I am a natural caregiver. I already lean toward natural living when it comes to pain management and personal care. So, naturally, those of us who want to be doulas ALL have characteristics in us that help us be good at birth work. That doesn't even include the trainings you take for your certification, if you decide to go that route. So, believe in what you have naturally! Be confident, and present yourself in that way. Go into any client meet, or childbirth education class, or expo with that confidence.
Which leads me to my second very real concern. Once I figured out what I am worth, and what I bring to clients. How do I find them? I didn't have any friends who were pregnant, I don't have kids, so I can't join any of the mommy groups, how the heck do I even find clients? I can't very well walk up to random pregnant strangers and hand them my card, or maybe I could, I don't know.
Get involved in the birthing community that is already around you. Go to local childbirth education classes at hospitals or midwifery centers, find any expo even mildly birth or baby related. If you can afford the cost of a table at an expo, even if you don't book any clients, it's worth it because you are meeting people in the birthing community, and getting your name out there. Get cards made for cheap and hand them out everywhere and to anyone who will take them. "Oh, your neighbor is pregnant, here take my card." Get to know your local doulas, midwives, yoga instructors, OBs, and chiropractors. Give them your card too. Ask if they have a display where you can leave a stack of your cards. I have left a stack of my cards at my local taco place bc they have a display. There is some statistic that says people see your name three times before they call you. It's something like that. So, put your name everywhere.
Build a social media presence. Buying a website isn't always financially feasible right off rip, but you know what is? Social media. Facebook and Instagram are free and wonderful resources. I share blogs, and articles. I follow so many people, especially local doulas and midwives. That is another connection you can make with the birthing community. I have joined so many doula groups, local groups and groups that encompass doulas and birth workers from across the country and internationally. When you post on your Facebook or Instagram, ask open ended questions, to get people to interact with your page. Also, I am not above begging, and so I begged, and pleaded for my friends and family to share my page. That was probably how I got my first 50 followers. You never know what tiny interaction will get you a client.
So, after months and months of going to events, and assaulting my friends and family on social media, I booked my first clients. I met them at a childbirth education seminar for parents. I asked the host if it was okay if I went, and she was great about it! It was the first time I felt like a childbirth authority and It was a really wonderful day!
I have booked, and attended two births. My business is not where I want to it be yet, but I know it'll happen for me! So, I'll give you the advice I give myself every morning! Work hard, be you, and put yourself out there! It'll happen for you! It has to.