Questions to Ask When You Need More Doula Clients
A doula and partner help a birther through a water birth.

Finding new clients is something that every doula has to do. Unlike a traditional business model where you win a client contract and work to keep it, we intentionally work ourselves out of jobs. Sure, people might have 2-3 babies, but in general, we don’t have long-term business from the same people, which means, we are always looking for clients.

There are times when we are struggling to find those clients. This happens to every doula at some point or another, even when they’ve been in business awhile, so don’t despair. This handy list can help you identify what’s going on and give you some ideas to fix it.

  1. Are you charging the right price? There is a sweet spot in the price you charge. You can under and overcharge and it will make all the difference in the world. If you charge too little, then people don’t value the work you do or they believe that you offer inferior service. If you charge too much, they think you are overpriced and not worth it when they can get a lower price for the same quality. Closely examine your fees. What is the going rate around you? It can shift and you may not even realize this – I advise you to mark it in your calendar to look at at least every six months. You may not make a change in what you’re charging, but it will alert you to the market in your area and let you know when it is time to make that change.
  2. Is it a seasonal dip? While babies get made all the time, people hire doulas at different times of the year. When you’ve been in business a bit, you can look back and see when you get hired versus due dates. I’ve found in my business, that I sign very few contracts in July, August, and December. Yet, my clients are pretty evenly spaced out. People are otherwise occupied and tend to hire doulas earlier or later and skip hose months for some reason. (These dips differ from doula to doula and their ideal client.)
  3. Are you using social media to find clients? You can have the best TikTok, Instagram, Facebook – whatever, but if it’s not hyperlocal – you are NOT talking to your potential clients. Make sure you have followed local people if anyone. Otherwise, it trains the algorithm that you want to follow other doulas or businesses. Have two accounts if you need to, but make sure you’re following the right people and using the right hashtags. #DoulaForYou isn’t going to help you find clients in your hometown. #YourHometownNameHereDoula is going to help you find more. Even better, use popular local tags that are not specific to doulas, but specific to your target audience. This will take a bit of research, but it will help a lot.
  4. Do you have a web presence? This can be a social media account, a website, a MeetYourDoula.com profile, whatever – but are you out there? People want to do their research ahead of time. This is not something to spend money on right out of the gate. The low cost gets you the same people as the high price – simple is fine for now. You can always change or add later.
  5. Is your contact information accurate? Do you regularly check that the links and contact information are all accurate and working well? Sometimes people will find out a link is broken and their clients can’t actually contact them. Actually, test them, don’t just give them the once over.
  6. Is your SEO spot on? SEO or search engine optimization is going to help people find your website. You don’t need to pay someone or be a guru, but intentionally using words that you want people to find you with, like doula, pregnancy, YourHomeTown, hospitals and birth centers you frequent, etc. are helpful for getting clients to your site because of how google search engines function.
  7. Are you telling everyone what you do? This isn’t about selling specifically, but by telling everyone what you do it gives you practice which helps you deliver it more smoothly and it helps educate the public. You honestly don’t know who is looking for a doula or knows someone who is looking for a doula. Tell everyone when you get a chance.
  8. Does your area need education on doulas? If you live in a place where there are not many doulas, you have the opportunity to educate them. This means you will have to talk to more people in the beginning. They can’t want a doula if they don’t know what a doula is – so help them understand what you do and why it’s beneficial to them.
  9. Are you listed on Google? This is the Google verified version. They actually prove you are a business and that can help pull you up in the rankings of search. Getting a Google Business profile is free and not too complicated, but you do need to get verified.
  10. Do you have business cards? There are some people who think that these are old-fashioned. And perhaps you don’t hand them out a lot (I think you should.) but imagine you go to a birth and the doctor turns to you and says, “That support you gave was so awesome, I want to share your name with another patient. Do you have a business card?” And you don’t. Use business cards to write notes about everything to people. It often gives you a chance to tell them what you do, even if they don’t look like your ideal client, you don’t know who they are going to share it with. Let’s say you charge $800 for your services. You can get approximately 8,000 business cards for $800. I estimate I get one client for every 100 cards I hand out. So that would be 80 clients for $800 in business cards, which would be $64,000 in client revenue. (By the way, that’s an absurd number of business cards. I’d suggest that you get 200.)
  11. Do you have a resource list for your clients? Have you started to get the names and contact information of businesses that might be good fits for your clients? These are people/businesses like childbirth educators, lactation consultants, massage therapists, prenatal yoga instructors, etc. The process of creating this list is going to help you see what services you have in your area. This will help you be knowledgeable when talking to your clients.
  12. Do you use your resource list for networking? Not only should you have a list so that you know what’s going on – do you use it to meet people and learn about what they offer and share about your services too? One of the biggest mistakes doulas make is that they do not actually reach out to the people on this list. Making the list is the first step, not the last step. Start holding virtual coffees with people or actual coffees – meet them and learn a bit about what they offer. See if there are ways you can help each other.
  13. What do you offer your community? Think about what you’re doing in your community. Could you offer a monthly informational gathering? Bring in some of the contacts you’ve made and let them teach people a bit about what they do for a few minutes each month. You can do this at the library or a local coffee shop. People get to hang out with and meet other pregnant people and learn a bit about perinatal mood disorders from the clinician you bring in or learn about hand expression from the local lactation consultant. Then the pregnant people tell other people and the lactation consultant brings someone. It is something that grows and more people get to know you.
  14. Do you do networking outside the birth world? There are a ton of great places where you can do networking. You can find some that are local businesses only or women only or LGBTQIA+ focused. Join them and attend their functions. It’s a great way to meet other business people, get information about the area, and share information about what you do. You can look at places like the local chamber of commerce, Toast Masters, MeetUp.com, the library, and your local business news from blogs, etc.
  15. Can you get earned media? This is where your local radio, news, TV, newspaper, blogs, or podcasts do a feature on you or your business. Or you can speak about interesting new things like cesarean rates, new services at a local hospital, etc. Sometimes those networking connections can help you get ideas and opportunities. 
  16. Do you attend local health fairs? This can be a straight-up health fair or designed to be parent-specific, like a community baby shower.  These fairs are a great way to meet a lot of pregnant people at one time if you play your cards right. You may find these in local community neighborhood associations, hospital systems, faith-based organizations, etc. This usually means a group of people come together to share information and sometimes do screenings related to a specific health topic. You can get your blood pressure taken at one booth, learn about Type II Diabetes at another, see a healthy cooking demonstration, etc. Start paying attention to when and where these are located and join if you can. If there is a fee associated – see if you can get another similar professional to go in it with you.
  17. Do you ask for reviews? If you have clients, ask each of them for reviews, don’t forget their partners. Ask in your final meeting for a review and follow up with an email to remind them. Send them a link where you can electronically collect them. This can be as simple as a Google form or something like the MeetYourDoula.com review link. (Speaking of which, do you have your reviews embedded in your website?)
  18. Do you get word-of-mouth referrals? The biggest factor in whether or not you get these referrals is going to be if you ask for them. If you have a client and they like your service – ask them to refer a friend. Remind them that word-of-mouth referrals often carry a lot of weight and you’d love to have the business. Always leave the final visit by giving them a business card and reminding them you’d love referrals.
  19. Do you offer a newsletter? Consider sending a regular newsletter to people who sign up at your website. Highlight different happenings in your area related to fertility, pregnancy, and parenting. People will stay on for a long time if you offer good content and they will share it with their friends. You can spotlight your resource list people, and talk about birth in your area. Everything from popular baby names, to cesarean and VBAC rates. This sets you up as the expert in the area.
  20. Do you offer a freebie? Consider something that you could write or do for free as a way to get people in the door. For example, you could do a Doula’s Guide to Packing Your Birth Bag as a freebie for people who sign up for your newsletter. There are a lot of ways to do this – including your Free Consultation. Just changing the wording of what you call your interview can be helpful. “I do a free one-hour consultation on how a doula can help you during your birth and beyond.”

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