How to Build a Successful Doula Business: Tips and Strategies for New Doulas

By: Care Messer | Birth Doula, Community, Doulas | March 28, 2023

There was one lesson in particular that was burned into my soul during my birth. And that was, I was more powerful than anyone had ever told me. I did the impossible(at least for me). I pushed a baby out of my body, med free, in a birth center and I survived to talk about it. Not only had I survived, but I enjoyed the challenge and the entirety of the experience. To date – it was the hardest, physical thing I have ever done. I remember turning to my husband and saying,” No one can ever tell me “no” again. Look what I just did? How did that happen?

Why hasn’t anyone told me that we had the power to do that?

We’ve been lied to.” In that moment, I had walked away from the old me although it would be years before I recognized that.

Six months later, I came out of my doula training in August, only to attend my Hypnobirthing educator training the next week in Florida. I met amazing, inspirational women and mentors and I was ON FIRE. My mind was racing with the information it had stored and I could not wait to share it with anyone who would listen.

I went to work on my certifications and had Hypnobirthing done first. Luckily, the births I needed for my doula certification came quickly through two other doulas that I had met a few months before. But there was A LOT of downtime. I was ready to teach and go to all the births – but CRICKETS. How do I meet people?

Where do I find students and clients?

I was anxious, overwhelmed and not sure how to make this business work. I was also at the “beginning of the end” of my marriage and knew I would have two daughters to support. Failure was not an option and I was scared.

When I first began my business in 2008, the internet was still blooming. Only big brands, companies, and government agencies had websites. You were out of luck unless you could hire a website developer because sites like Squarespace did not exist. But – I was old school. I went back to what I had learned growing up in a church that did a lot of community service and city projects.

Build a team(sister and one friend), divide up the work and make it fun. Advertise! Get the word out. Put a flyer on every door or in every hand. Talk to everyone that knows someone who is pregnant. And guess what – that means EVERYONE.

Basically boots on the ground and DO THE WORK.

I made physical rack cards in three different sizes, that I hand carried around to different businesses that I wanted to connect with. I placed free Craigslist ad’s, free Backdoor ad’s(was not aware of what other kinds of ad’s were being placed in here at the time LOL). I bought a tiny little space on a Pancake house placemat that was only good for a month’s worth of printing at a time, and I could only afford one month. The only way people could contact me was through my personal email or phone number. So as you can imagine, those ad’s brought me in A LOT of wrong traffic that I couldn’t filter.

I offered free info afternoons for both Hypnobirthing and what a doula was, which usually became a private consult for one couple who didn’t sign up for either service. But it was great practice. I made goodie baskets for the local labor and delivery nurses at every hospital. I printed yard signs for my house – so tacky but actually effective. I sponsored our High School’s girls soccer team for $40 and got a tiny placement on the awards program.

This was an advertising mistake – these people were way past having babies but – a mistake I learned from!

I went to ANY and EVERY birth related anything and then began hosting events for different businesses so they could have something for their clients to come too. At one of those I found a holistic doctor who was open to ME having classes in his space after hours in order to get more exposure to MY people. I didn’t have any people – YET – but I knew they were coming.

Here is the point – I worked my business. I put time into it EVERY day. I prayed about it, I asked for help from unseen forces. I cried a lot and faced my imposter syndrome and the fears that it wouldn’t work. I was unsure but kept moving forward. I credit my trauma responses for some of this drive but most importantly, I kept myself focused on a result that I had created in my mind.

A key point that helped me in my birth preparation was to focus on what I WANT, not on what I’m scared of.

Our thoughts create our future. What we do right now, in this moment, creates what’s next. If we do not move – we are creating that energy and outcome for our future. Basic life law – what goes around, comes around. Staying frozen or stuck might be our trauma response or simply what has been modeled for us in our life. We can make a different choice once we are consciously aware of that. We always have a choice.

There is no magic thing that builds a new doula business – we do.

It is much easier when we build it together. Build a team(educator by educator, doula by doula), divide up the work and make it fun! When we connect and support each other – that’s what creates the energy for our ideal families to show up. There is plenty for everybody and we do the work together!

Join us next month(April 22nd!) for our Doula Education Series if you are ready to invest your time and money into creating your business and working on yourself with a lot of support and guidance. We will be your biggest cheerleaders and also hold you accountable to build what you envision. #focusonwhatyouwant

Click here to apply and learn more! DoulaEducationSeries

About the author:
Care is the founder of the Birth Education Center, San Diego HypnoBirthing and Cuddle Sanctuary San Diego. She is a Birth Educator, Hypnotherapist, Birth and Postpartum Doula, INNATE Care Provider, Erotic Blueprint Coach and also professional Cuddler. She specializes in connection work between people and increasing self boundaries for a more balanced life together.


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