Struggling with Finding New Clients? Avoid These Three Mistakes That Most Doulas Make

Ayelet Schwell | March 1, 2020

Are you feeling overwhelmed with marketing your Birth Services?

You’ve taken your training, got your certification, and now you’re just waiting for the phone to start ringing or the emails to come pouring in… and instead it’s crickets.

Like most new (and even seasoned) doulas, you’re probably making one of these three common mistakes.

But don’t worry it’s not your fault, you didn’t become a doula because you love business and marketing, right?!

AND the best part is, you can fix it starting right now!

Let’s dive in to the three mistakes you might be making that are holding you back from getting hired:

1. “Just drop off your business cards,” they said. “It’ll be easy,” they said

It’s a pretty well established fact in almost every modern industry that business cards are out. It’s nice to have them, but their rate of return is hovering somewhere around 1%!

That means you’ll likely get 1 client for every 100 business cards you give out. And that’s if you’re actually giving them out in person!

That number drops significantly when your cards (or brochures, etc.) are just stacked in a pile somewhere without the personal interaction.

And yet, that is still the number one business-building strategy that is taught in doula training programs.
It’s just as archaic as requiring constant fetal monitoring for every birthing person!

The evidence doesn’t support it!

Now, just like CFM catches a few emergencies, you might get a few clients from this strategy – and if you’re consistent then you might eventually build a full practice. But it will take you an average of 3-5 years.

Do you know how long most new doulas stay in the field before giving up?

3-5 years.


2. Birth-Fact Overload

We have so much to share – so much vital information that can – and will – change lives!

All these facts, insights, evidence, recommendations they fill us up like a balloon and the pressure of not sharing the stuff we know can threaten to explode!

So at the first mention of anything birth related we go off like a primip with HG – vomiting all that information all over everyone listening. And you know how it is with vomit, the stuff that went in was great, looked yummy, tasted great, and it was even nutritious – but when it comes out… Well, that’s a different story!

3. Mis-using Social Media – Especially Facebook

Doula Mistakes Social Media - Birth Your BizSocial media is such a fabulous way to connect with people. It’s a tool that can grow your audience, let people know what you offer, and invite them to hire you to support them.

The problem is that most of the social media strategies out there are designed for “business” people. And we just don’t feel like business people.

I’m not going to go into how to shift that mindset right now. But what I have noticed is that so many doulas have a hard time finding the right guidance and strategies because it doesn’t seem to be directed towards our industry and our audience.

So we make a Facebook page and an Instagram account and we put up birth memes and articles, and inspirational quotes.

We join the mom and pregnancy groups and wait for promo day to post our ads.

But it all seems so inauthentic. And it’s taking a really long time to gain traction. And you’re getting lots of likes but not enough inquiries for your service.

So… Now What?

If you’re nodding your head and saying – Yes! All these things are exactly me! (I feel personally attacked, even!) If this sounds like you, then I have very excellent news.

Fixing this is simple. In the next few paragraphs I’m going to outline an easy path to connect with the right people in the right way so that the people who need you most will find you, fall in love with you, and hire you to do what you do best!

Okay, Ayelet. Sounds great! What’s the plan?

The first step is to make a very important and difficult admission: You can’t serve everyone.

I know you want to. You don’t want to limit yourself, you can’t see how you can get clients if you aren’t advertising to everyone… I’ve heard it all. I’ve actually said all these things myself when I was starting out!

But I learned something so important and it changed my life.
You are here to serve a specific set of people. The people who need you most. The people who’s specific needs align perfectly with all your skills, experience, personality, beliefs, and talent.

When you realize that, and you connect to what this means (which I’m going to help you with, too! Who’s got your back?!) it brings everything else together.

Makes all your marketing efforts seamless, simple, aligned – and attracts exactly the people who need to see it!

So the first step is to find out who needs you most, and I’ve created a free worksheet to help you with that, complete with video training to help you fill it out! Click here to get the worksheet.

Once you know who you are trying to reach the next ideas are going to make so much more sense!

The second idea I’m going to share with you has to do with the birth-facts vomit. We want to educate everyone on their options, on the evidence, on their rights.

Knowledge is power, right? And isn’t that our role? To provide emotional, educational, and physical support?

Yes. It is. But here’s the thing – our brains can only take in so much information. And it will choose the information that is immediately relevant.

What this means is that if the person in front of you is not looking for the information you’re sharing, if they don’t have a frame of reference for it, or if it isn’t immediately relevant to them – they’re not going to hear it or retain it.

So what can you do? How can you give over your expertise and help the people who need it?

By remembering this little rule: Engage instead of Educate.

“Engage, don’t educate” is it’s own whole topic. So I’m just going to give you a little bit here so you can get started.

The next time someone starts talking about birth and you feel your pressure gage rising and you just want to blurt out everything you know on the topic – do this one thing instead: Ask a question.

Become curious about the statement they made, instead of jumping in with your opinion or information.

So here’s an example:

You’re at the playground with some other local moms and you’re chatting while keeping an eye on your littles.
Inevitably, the conversation turns to a birth-related topic and one mom says, “I never go into labor on my own. They always have to induce me.”

Can you feel the pressure rising? You have so much to say! (That’s a myth! Due dates are only estimates! Evidence shows that post-dates births are…! That’s not medically indicated! ACOG states …!) And the list goes on…

Okay, so feel all the pressure and then take a breath. Turn to that mom and ask her a question: “Really? What week do they usually induce you at?”
“Is that hard for you? Or a relief?”
“How does that make you feel?”

These questions are value-neutral, validating, and non-judgmental. They let her know that you actually heard what she said and that you’re interested in her experience.

Once she answers you can decide to take it deeper and if she shows real interest (and you’ve identified her as someone who falls into your “Who Needs You Most” category) you can offer to continue the conversation over coffee. And if she doesn’t seem interested in knowing more about her body or the evidence about induction at this time, at least she knows that if she ever has questions, you’re a doula she can ask – without fear of judgment.

How amazing would that be?!

The third idea I’m going to share with you is about social media – and it’s really based on the previous two ideas.

First of all, when you know who needs you most, you’ll know exactly the struggles, concerns, hopes and dreams that they have and you can focus your posts on what you know they need to see.

But also, the “Engage, don’t educate” concept works really well on social as well.
It allows you to be relevant without being overwhelming.

I also have a free ebook about Social media strategies that goes a lot deeper into this, but I’ll save that for a different post!

So go find out Who Needs You Most so you can make the right connections and help more people!

And comment below with the things that you’re doing that have been working for you to connect with the birthing community and get hired! Something you share here might help another doula to reach the people that need her the most!


Success is not optional. You owe it to yourself and the people you serve.​

Ayelet Schwell