By Beverly Young-Reed, Advisory Board Member,
Madriella Doula Network


You have finished your doula training, you may even be certified, you have your business cards, your Facebook and a web page…

You are ready to go out and “Be” a doula.  The clients should start rolling in any time…. Any time…

I mean walking in…

I mean crawling in…

I mean where have all the clients gone?

If you listen to some people out there if you just have the right logo, business name, and good web copy (the stuff that goes on your web page) then you should have clients knocking your door down, and if you don’t then you have not taken the right class, or joined the right doula organization.  I mean we can “Fake it until we make it” has been hear more than once in some circles.

So where are your clients?  Why is it that your phone is not ringing off the hook? You did everything they said to do, and yet you sill are not getting clients… why?  Well there could be a couple of reason, let me explain.

  1. • You are new.  This could be that you are a new doula or you are new to the area.  I have moved all over the USA and every time I moved I had to start over again as if I was new to birth doula.  No one had heard of me before so why would they refer me to their clients.  Or during an interview I have to admit I don’t know the Doctor or the hospital that they are using, so why hire me when the other doulas have a relationship with the Doctor or the staff at the hospital? 
  2. • You have priced yourself out of the market.  This could be that your price is too high, or too low.  When I first moved to San Jose, I had set my price low because I was new to the area, and had not bothered to get certified yet.  But I had been attending births for around 10 years at that point.  It was the doula community that asked me to raise my price to be more in line with what the community charged.  I thought I would price myself out of births, but what I found is that when my price reflected my experience I got more births. 
  3. • You have not networked enough.  It is important to get your name out there and not just to birth people.  I mean it is great if you go to the OB’s and Midwives in the area and say “Hi”.  But it is good to think outside the box like the Chiropractors, massage therapists, and lactation specialists.  But then there are organizations you can belong too such as Chamber of commerce, or birth circles.  Then you have health fairs, and carnivals, and county fairs, oh and don’t forget education opportunities such as schools, or libraries, or so many other options. 
  4. • You have not put enough time or energy or money into your business.  It takes energy and time to go out and do the marketing, networking, creating web pages, and all that stuff.  And then you have the money side of things, each membership, each fair, card all cost money.

So how do you work around the above obstacles and get clients to ring your phone off the hook?  That is a good question.  Let me first say that there is no shortcut, it may look like something might pay off, but in the long run, it is still going to take time and energy to make it work.  So let’s look as some ideas with each obstacle.

  1. • Get to know your local area, maybe find a doula that has connections in the community that might take you under their wing.  If you cannot find that then go out and meet the Doctors and midwives, chiropractors, massage therapists, and others in the health field.  But don’t stop there, you want to always have a 3 min elevator speech ready to go for when you bump into someone and they ask you what you do.  You want to have a quick and informative answer ready to go (you may even want to practice it in the mirror). 
  2. • First off you may want to ask around and see what the other doulas are getting paid in your area, and then base your price off of that.  One of the things I did when I moved to a new area is I would send out emails and go to doula gatherings to talk with the other doulas to see what they were charging and offering for that price.  If a doula is charging 1500 and they are also giving CBE classes, a Reiki session, and 10 hours of postpartum for that price and all you are going to offer is just the birth doula package I would not even think about charging the same price.  With that being said, if all the doulas in your area are charging about 850 a birth and you come in and charge 350 but you are all offering the same thing then people may wonder why you are so low and think they are getting less because of your price (not to mention you may not be as welcomed in the birthing community for undercutting them).
  3. • Networking is important, but it does not only have to be with birth people.  You can find a pregnant woman just about anywhere so get your information out there.  Some of the places I have put my info is in the PTA newsletter, at the Chamber of Commerce office and welcome packets, Community fairs, and events and in parades.  Wear your name badge in public.  If you have a shirt with a logo on it then wear when you can.  Put magnets on your car (only if your car is clean and says good things about you).
  4. • The cost of all of the networking, advertising, merchandise, and pieces of training can get pretty costly.  You want to create a budget and a plan of what is important and needs to be done now, or can be put off until there is more money.  A good example would be a baby fair, you can get in for $300 but you only have $350 to spend that year.  Can you get your cards, handouts, banners, and anything else you might need for the event and still have enough money to do what you need for the rest of the year if you don’t get a single client from the fair?  So maybe you chose to do the $150 for a room sponsorship and still get your name out there, but have money for the other stuff to do for the year.

I myself like to find another doula or two that I can partner with on events and stuff so that I don’t have to man the table all by myself and I can split the cost.  Having a good group of doulas that you can share ideas with, and split the work of getting your name out there is important.

Getting your doula business going is not easy or fast, but if you invest time, energy, and money into your business then I have found being a doula to be very rewarding.  Don’t give up, just put a little more elbow grease into it.

The great part about Madriella is that we offer business training that has this type of information at no additional cost to our Professional Doulas.  With most organizations out there, they either don’t offer a business class, or you have to pay extra for it.