Updated: Dec 27, 2021
If you hear the term personal branding and cringe a little, I feel you. When I started my Doula business I didn’t have a clue what branding meant outside of a name, logo and a few favourite colours. The thought of building a functioning website (let alone a beautiful one), tackling social media, and sharing all my birth nerd knowledge without sounding repetitive or boring had my head spinning! But how else would I ever build a brand that would be recognizable and actually convert my audience into clients? Sure enough, two months of hard work, creating content, building a website, answering the question “what is a Doula anyway?” almost daily with CRICKETS for clients, I was fed up!
If you’re anything like me, you understand how incredibly frustrating it was to put so much work into something and have few people take notice. I knew I had to be missing something. Now. Call me crazy, but my biggest inspiration and “Ah-Ha!” moment came while watching the movie Kung Fu Panda with my children. In the scene where the unlikely hero laments to his dad about how he just doesn’t have what it takes to be “The Dragon Warrior”, his father unwittingly clues him into a life lesson (and the moral of the story)
“The secret ingredient in my secret ingredient soup is….. Nothing! It’s special because people believe it's special!”
– Mr. Ping (The Dragon Warriors Dad)
Now if you’re wondering what that has to do with branding your Doula business, I’m getting to it! Once I realized that what made other brands stand out wasn’t their killer website, on-point Instagram stories, or colourful and informative info-graphics, but the personality behind them, everything clicked! You don’t have to have the fanciest website, be a tech mogul, have majored in graphic design or even know how to navigate Instagram to create a beautiful Doula business brand. The “secret ingredient” is YOU!
Within a year of shifting my mindset from “what is everyone else doing?” to “what do I have to bring to the table” my whole business was transformed and I went from having a few loyal fans (thanks Mom and Grandma) to have the opportunity to love on, encourage and help not only my target audience but fellow birth workers who found themselves exactly where I was.
Here are 5 simple steps you can take TODAY to start building a beautiful and unique personal brand that draws your favourite clients in.
1. Stop Comparing!
It's true what they say; that comparison is the thief of joy. If I’ve learned anything over the years its that when I create from a place of comparison, I have a hard time finding joy in my work and it ALWAYS comes out either half baked (cause I only have half a clue about what I’m doing) or looking and sounding like I’m trying to be someone else. When building a personal brand you want people to see and associate you and your services with, the first thing that has to go is trying to look, sound, and act like every other Doula in the space. Make a list of all the things that YOU are good at/are an expert in. Use them as a jumping-off point to help you stay in your lane and avoid feeling “not as good as” the hundreds of thousands (and there are hundreds of thousands) of Doulas you’ll see in the maternal care space.
2. Think of how to become a “Your Name First” Doula.
If you were to introduce yourself to a room full of potential clients (and I mean your ideal pregnant person that’s eager to hire a Doula) what would you say? Would you say “Hi! I’m a Doula named __________.” or would you say “Hi! My name is ______________ and I’m a Doula.”? It's important to make the distinction even though it does seem like an insignificant one. On one hand, you lead with your title. We do this sometimes in our messaging when we only create content around the benefits of hiring a Doula, birth facts, our services, or other content that probably appeals more to other Doulas than our target audiences (who may or may not be pregnant yet by the way)! On the other hand, you lead with your name. Who are you? Where are you from? What are your interests and skills outside of a killer double hip squeeze, and how do you relate to your audience on other non-birthy levels? It’s important to remember that people have interests outside of birth and babies and even though we want our potential clients to think of us when considering their birth support team, we also want to be top of mind in other areas of their world-building trust and connection BEFORE they even need us.
3. Find Your Voice.
Now I’m not talking about posting 5 times a day with long, poignant posts, or going live 3 times a week to give some inspiring Doula TED Talks. I’m talking about leaning into your inner voice; the one with the personality (and maybe a little sass). Any time you write a blog post, share on social media, create a graphic or write copy for your website, it's important that the language, message and voice be unmistakably yours! The shift from copy like “Doulas offer emotional, physical and informational support through the childbearing year” to something like (and this is my own voice) “A Doula is like your pregnancy and birth BFF! Experiencing weird symptoms? Avoid Google; ask your Doula! Feeling overwhelmed by the changes to your body? Let’s chat about it! Want an extra support person to help you cope during the labour and birth process? I have all the tools and tricks!”. Notice how one sounds like a person and the other sounds like a textbook? Try to infuse more of yourself and your unique voice into everything you put out there! The people who really connect with it are that much more likely to recognize and subsequently hire you down the road!
4. Start with Why.
A business without a solid why, mission, vision and direction are not only forgettable but bound to stay stagnant (or completely fail). Sometimes we make the mistake of leading with what we do, then how we do it, then why. Interestingly enough, people connect better with why you do something than they do with what exactly it is that you do. The saying “People don’t care what you do until they know how much you care” comes to mind. Ask yourself “why do I do what I do?” Seriously! Why on earth do you commit to going on call for two to four weeks at a time, potentially getting up at unreasonable times, the emotional labour of caring for childbearing families, and the clearly harder than it sounds Doula business grind? If you answered anything along the lines of “because I’m passionate about birth!” you need to dig deeper. What’s more, if your current mission statement sounds something like “To empower, educate, and support families through pregnancy birth and postpartum.” DIG DEEPER! Why, though? I promise you that if you start sharing content that connects people to WHY you Doula, they will be way more likely to not only remember you but to reach out and hire you when they’re ready.
5. Don’t Give Up.
I see you. You feel like you’ve tried everything and no matter what you do, nothing seems to be moving the needle in the right direction. This can feel SO frustrating and even make you question whether you chose the right career path. Be encouraged that half the battle is simply showing up! Don’t give up before the win! It helps to join a community of other Doulas in business for encouragement, brainstorming ideas, and to hear that you are not alone! It might feel like everyone and their dog is doing what you’re trying to do! Just remember that no one can do what you do quite like you. The world needs your unique magic! Keep showing up as the real, authentic Doula that you are and I promise, one day you’ll wake up to find your services completely booked up!
Breathe. You CAN do this.
Whether you’re an aspiring Doula, newly trained, or have been in the birth workspace for some time, there is room for exactly your brand of awesome! If you need support in finding out what exactly that is, don’t be afraid to reach out to other birth professionals you admire! You can do this! Know that I’m rooting for you and happy to be a part of your birth biz support team! You’ve got this!
xo – Rebekkah Traptow