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How To Grow Your Doula Business "One Bite At a Time"

One day 5 years ago, I remember looking out into the great big world of birth work thinking “Oh my gosh. There is SO much I could be doing! Where the heck do I start and how do I choose what will be beneficial to my business!?”. On top of that feeling of being overwhelmed by the possibilities, I also had a bad case of impostor syndrome! With all the amazing people already making waves in the maternal care space, I had no clue where I fit or if I truly had anything of value to offer my audience. To say I felt stuck is an understatement as I spent the majority of my office time making minor and unnecessary tweaks to my website, half-writing blog posts, scrolling mom and Doula groups, and wondering “How the heck do you even do that?!” while admiring (and sometimes envying) other successful birth biz bosses. If this is you, good news, you are NOT alone!

It wasn’t until I sat in on a Q&A for new and aspiring Doulas hosted by the organization that I trained with that things finally “clicked”. Someone asked “What's the best way to go from getting no inquiries and having no (paying) clients to a thriving Doula business? It just feels like there’s so much I need to do to get there and I haven’t a clue what that looks like!” Natasha Marchand, Co-Founder, and COO of Bebo Mia Inc. answered with another question: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” This really stuck out to me and the conversation that followed was the catalyst for everything my Doula business is today! Following her advice about goal setting, planning, and sharing my imperfect journey, I soon found myself reaching and surpassing the goals that I set one step, one day, one project, and one client at a time!

Whether you just completed your training and are feeling overwhelmed, or have reached a point in your business where you want to grow but aren’t sure how the “what do I do next?” question can feel impossible to nail down. I want to share with you the exact steps I took to get my business moving forward! My hope is that this will help you to feel confident and equipped to serve your market in new and outstanding ways that are truly unique to you! Let’s get growing!

Step 1. Set Some Goals

A postpartum doula thinking while working on her laptop

Setting goals, writing them down, and being accountable for them are habits of some of the most highly effective people!! Make them small enough to be attainable, bold enough to be a little scary, and practical enough to move your business forward (whatever that looks like for YOU). Ask yourself what you want to achieve this week/month/period/year. Maybe you want to increase your blog traffic, increase brand recognition in your community, fill the spots in your upcoming workshop or class, create a webinar, increase your followers on social media, or start a Facebook Group. Truthfully, thinking up goals for your business isn’t really the hard part. The hard part is picking ONE and focusing on it for long enough to see results! Take some time to think intentionally about these and write some down that aligns with where you see yourself in the future! If it doesn’t fit in with the plans you have for the future or will fit better once you have reached some other goals, you can safely focus your attention elsewhere!

Step 2. List The Steps

Once you have a clear goal/project/target, make a list of everything you need to do to make it happen. I call these “action items” because they are tangible things I need to do. A “to-do list” as it were. Listing them out and writing them in order of what needs to happen 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. is a great way to stay focused, track your progress, and make sure that you are managing your time efficiently. In order to get from A to B, to achieve your goal, what needs to happen?

For example, if I wanted to create/offer a breastfeeding guide to my audience and potential clients (which I have done by the way using this process), here is what my list would look like:

  1. Collect/Find research and information to put in the guide.

  2. Create a plan or outline for the guide

  3. Write the guide (section by section, nothing has to be done all in one sitting!)

  4. Figure out how I want to share the guide

  5. Figure out landing pages (I spent time watching YouTube videos and other “how-tos”)

  6. Research email marketing/landing page platforms

  7. Create a landing page and link the PDF file.

  8. Share/Launch live landing page links

  9. Announce the completion of my project and LAUNCH!

Set times during the day when you work down your list! If it's only 15 minutes a day, that’s fine! At least you took steps and got closer to your goal! For reference, I put 2-3 hours in a day (sometimes more), every day, for 3 months. The truth is you get out what you put in… Eventually. In all honesty, you are not likely to gain momentum without putting a significant amount of time and energy in. Make sure you have clear priorities and commit to the process.

Step 3. Share Your Journey

Ok. I know that for some of you, sharing on social media is new, scary, or maybe just not your favourite thing. I'll be honest, It never used to be mine either!! One thing I have learned over the past 6 years is that there is so much power and freedom in vulnerability which takes away the pressure to look or do everything perfectly! It's OK not to have it all together or to know exactly what you’re doing! Sharing that side of you and those parts of your business will make you more real and relatable to your audience. That’s right, people are INTERESTED in you and your world outside of being a doula! People want to hire “(your name here) who is a Doula”, NOT “A Doula named (your name here). As Doulas, we work with PEOPLE in REAL LIFE! It's not enough to have something amazing to offer, you have to build a personal relationship on a foundation of trust and mutual respect.

A woman in a striped shirt takes a selfie wearing yellow headphones around her neck

Sharing what you’re working on creates curiosity in your audience and deadline accountability for you! It also helps your audience to feel like what you are working on is for THEIR benefit rather than just for your business. It's OK to brag a little! What you have to offer is valuable and when you share your confidence and excitement, people have the opportunity to get excited with you! As I plugged away at my breastfeeding guide, I would share my progress, my excitement, my knowledge, and relevant personal experiences. By the time I got to “launch day,” I had established myself as a reliable source of valuable content making clicking through and agreeing to be part of my personal community a much smaller leap for my audience!

If this feels like the biggest challenge for you, I see you! Remember, “Eat the elephant one bite at a time”. You don’t have to go from not sharing at all to all of a sudden sharing twice a day plus IG or FB stories! Start with taking one little step outside your comfort zone at a time and adding more as you get more confident and comfortable!

The Ultimate Secret to Doula Business Growth

Are you ready for this? The secret, my friend, is YOU! While I’m sure you were expecting a “magic pill” of sorts to get clients busting down your door, I’m sad to say there really isn’t one. Rather, I would say that it's a series of consistent behaviours and diligent practices that leads to success in any business, whether is a Doula business, freelance work, or selling a physical product. The “secret sauce” is YOU. That being said, here are a few things you can do, and if you do them well, with passion and consistency, you WILL see results.

  1. Show up daily.

  2. Set goals, take steps, and stay focused.

  3. Commit to ONE project/big(ish) goal and work at it every day until you finish!

  4. PERSEVERANCE wins the race so KEEP GOING!!

What would it look like if you did this for 3 months? What progress or things might you achieve if you did? Don’t forget to celebrate your small victories/achievements! I am speaking from experience when I tell you, THIS WORKS!

A woman sits at her computer with her toddler smiling

You may have heard the saying “Every journey begins with the first step” before. I love that because it means all I have to do to be farther ahead on the path to success is take ONE step forward! I truly believe that if you make that decision, take the step (or the leap), and KEEP STEPPING even when it seems like the needle isn’t moving, one day you will wake up with a full client list, completely booked classes, and enough amazing referrals and recommendations to make you cry (tears of joy of course). I hope this guide is helpful to you as you go on to do all kinds of amazing things for your community that only you can do!

Happy Business Growing!!

xo – Rebekkah

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