There are many expenses and items on your to do list as a new doula.
While it's tempting to start with all the top of the line resources with all the bells and whistles available, consider starting small and building up your resources. You'll feel more accomplished by getting items checked off your to do list and not create additional stress by spending so much before you've even started your business.
There are so many free options available now, that you can do almost anything in the beginning stages without spending much money if any at all.
Here's a breakdown of my favorite free resources.
www.Weebly.com is an easy, drag and drop website builder. There is an option to start out with a website absolutely free by using a domain name with www.yourwebsite.weebly.com. You'll be able to choose a theme, add all your information, and even start a blog, all without spending any money up front and you can always upgrade at any point.
www.Canva.com is a free platform to create graphics, flyers, ebooks, and more and is easier to use than advanced graphic design programs. You can pick the correct sized template for your project and add your personalized information and publish.
There is just so much you can do on Facebook! Find support, guidance, a community and promote your new business all for free. Start by creating a business facebook page rather than just using your personal profile. As you grow your business, you may also decide to start a group either for your clients or for the public.
www.Mailerlite.com is an email service that is free up to your first 1000 subscribers. Keep in contact with potential clients, current clients, and past clients separately with this service. There are even templates to use.
Your local library
It's easy to overlook your local library as a resource, but take a second look. You'll find business books galore on any subject you need to learn more about. Need a place to get a way from home and do a little work, your local library is just the place. Some libraries also offer classes, tutorials, computers to use with advanced programs, and more. Check out this post about my favorite business books to get you started.
www.Youtube.com is a free learning platform that you can use to learn almost anything especially if you tend to be more of a visual learner. Can't figure out how to make that flyer in Canva, check out a video on it. You can also start your own Youtube channel to help showcase your doula skills and knowledge.
Instagram and Linktr.ee
Linktr.ee is a game changer if you use Instagram for your business. You only get one link out, but this free resource gives you more options. Put your Linktr.ee link in the bio on your Instagram page and you'll be able to provide a variety of options for people to click. You can put your website information, your DoulaMatch profile, your Facebook page/group, your newsletter sign-up, your most popular blog post, it's up to you!
www.Pixabay.com is a free stock photo site. Do you want a stock photo for your website or a blog post? Don't just "borrow" one from Google and risk getting in trouble. Browse thousands of images to find just the right one. Just read over the licensing agreement to make sure it's acceptable for business use.
www.Grammarly.com is there for you if you aren't a spelling champ or great with basic grammar. Let it check over your work before hitting publish.
www.Trello.com is your planning and organizing helper. It's like an online version of sticky notes that you can adjust and move and you complete projects.
There are plenty of recommended reading lists for new doulas that talk about birth skills. How to do an amazing hip squeeze or when to utilize the "take charge routine". These are important skills we must learn. BUT.....
there are other skills that are also important to a new doula.
These are the books that helped me change my mindset about money and how to successfully own a business without giving up my soul. They taught me practical skills I need for being in business for myself. They inspired me and helped me grow into a full fledged business owner.
Wanna cut straight to the books? Here's the short list linked directly to Amazon. Most of them should also be available at your library as well, though I recommend reading and rereading them all, so owning them is valuable.
Why I love this one. This book was life changing for me. I suggest re-reading it every year as you learn and grow. ANYONE that struggles with money in any way, should be required to read this book.
So many new doulas start in this industry becuase they want to help people and change birth for the better. That in itself is amazing. You can be proud that you are in this business because you have passion and it's not about making money. You probably aren't trying to make six figures a year in your doula business, which is really great because that's almost impossible.
Here's are a few problems though:
When you don't value yourself and your time, other's won't either.
Passion doesn't pay the light bill.
When I started my doula career 10 years ago, I thought that I was WRONG and BAD if I wanted money for my services. I would say, "Here's my rate, but I can always take less if that's too much." That was wonderful for a little while. I got to fill myself up with the feeling of "I changed someone's life" because I could give away my time. Some people truly appreciated it and were grateful. Some people just used me because they didn't VALUE what I had to offer. They valued a new car, a $600 stroller, or a beautiful piece of jewelry that was a "push present". I was an afterthought, an added bonus because my time, effort, knowledge, and giving nature were free or very low cost. That eventually made me feel taken advantage of which in turn made me angry. This book helped me value myself and let go of my negative money mindset.
What this book taught me was that I could still change birth for the better, give to the community, and charge a fee that allowed me to pay the light bill on time and take a well deserved vacation.
You are a Badass at Making Money by Jen Sincero
Why I love this one.
Yes, it's about money again! Money is such a hugely important topic that was never discussed at all for new doulas and still doesn't get discussed enough with the caring, balance, and empathy that it deserves. Many of us still buy into the false believe that anyone that ENJOYS making money is evil or at the least does evil things. Jen is able to break those beliefs by sharing how valuable you can be to your family, your community, and birth as a whole while holding on to your values and making an income. Also, Jen Sincero is hilarious!
Here's a little tidbit from this book: "You living your fullest life and making all the money required to do so doesn't take anything away from anyone else any more than you refusing a ham sadwich because someone, somewhere is starving, helps them."
I suggest reading this one all the way through because it's so entertaining and then going back to read it again and do the exercises.
They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan
Why I love this book
It's about blogging for your business in a way that non-writers can understand and implement. While some new doulas are actual real writers who can bring out the emotion of pregnancy and birth, many new doulas want to blog, but have no idea where or how to start.
While we can't all be writers we can all write well enough to attract our potential clients to our business. This book helps you start blogging and develop ideas. While it's designed for larger businesses, new doulas can still utilize the information.
Here's a quote from the book: "Consumer buying patterns have gone through a monumental shift over the past decade..... On average, 70% of the buying decision is made before a prospect talks to the company."
While this may sound heavy, all he's saying is that people want to know you, like you, and trust you from your online presence BEFORE they reach out to you for an interview. What are you putting out online that will help potential clients get to know you and see you as the expert in the community?
Think of all the questions, fears, and google searches your potential client might have and write about them. Look at what questions pregnant people as asking online. Keep a list to access when you need ideas. Write about the basics, but also think beyond that. Not everything you write about needs to be researched for weeks and be about "informed decision making". Add in fun topics as well.
I've become quite the Seth Godin fan and his newest book, This is Marketing, is perfect for new doulas. As doulas, you are in the business of sales and marketing. We don't like to admit it, but it's true especially if you are not working for a doula agency that handles your sales and marketing for you.
While that sounds like a scary turn off, there are ways to be a marketer without being pushy, using scare tactics, being too forceful, and without that icky feeling you can get with some marketing/sales books.
First what even is marketing? Marketing is the process of getting people interested in your company's product or service. This book helps you do that in ways that make you feel proud to market rather than embarrased to do so.
Here's an excerpt from the book: "Time to stop hustling and interupting. Time to stop spamming and pretending you're welcome. Time to stop begging people to become your clients, and time to stop feeling bad about charging for your work. Time to stop looking for shortcuts, and time to start insisting on a long,viable path instead."
It's not a book about shortcuts or making a fast buck, but about being sustainable in your business and creating something you'll be proud of down the road while maintaining your values.
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
Why I love this book.
While this book isn't as entertaining or as sexy as the other books on the list, this book is purposeful. It helps you become a better writer, when writing isn't your passion. We all have to write in our business whether or not we choose to blog. There's web copy, rack cards, client information, social media posts, etc and this book has hundreds of tips to help you write better.
Her first chapter is "Writing Rules: How to Write Better and How to Hate Writing Less" which sums up this book.
Here's an excerpt: "Grammar and usage are a bit of a rabbit hole. You start talking about word choice and who and whom and active and passive and the next thing you know you and I are both exhausted and overwhelmed..."
Sound familiar?!? I can spend HOURS on effect or affect! Don't even get me started.....
Read this book all the way through or just flip though it and read sections that are pertinent to what you are writing.
I could go on and on and on about books I love. These 5 will give you a solid foundation in your doula business without mentioning a singe word about hip squeezes or even placentas!
What are your favorites? Let me know in the comments and we can chat endlessly about books.
Do you hear, "You should blog for your business!" but have no ideas on what to write?
Consistently blogging for your birth business will help your ranking on Google, show potential clients that you are still actively in business, and that you are an expert on birth in your area.
There are no magic formulas to blogging consistently. You decide what that means to you depending on how comfortable you are with writing and how much time you have to devote to your blog. Many experts will recommend working towards at least one blog post a week. If you follow that schedule, you'll have over two years of blog post ideas listed below.
Many of these ideas could be written in many different ways or could be expanded into multiple blog posts giving you even more options. For example "Pregnancy week by week" could be one long blog post, 10 blog posts by month, or 40-42 separate blog posts.
4 Tips for Creating Above Average Customer Satisfaction for Your Placenta Encapsulation Clients.
Client Contact Prior to the Service
You've been hired. Now what?
Sometimes clients hire us early in the pregnancy. They need to know that we are still in business and ready to provide placenta services to them when they give birth. Make your after hire/pre-service follow up plan to reasure your clients that they have hired a professional.
Some clients may get concerned and reach out to you if they have not received any communication after the hire.
Here is a sample plan:
Confirm reciept of payment/contract from client and ask any clarifying questions.
Send detailed information packet.
"Looking forward to working with you" card mailed at 30 weeks
Mail cooler to clients at 36 weeks.
Check in email to confirm receipt of cooler after delivery date.
Check in at 38 weeks with short direction email of what to do when the baby comes in case they don't read/have lost the detailed direction sheet.
I do not recommend repeatedly contacting the client between 38 weeks and delivery. The client may be getting multiple emails and phone calls from concerned friends and family asking if the baby is here yet. Don't be one more person the client needs to tell, "I HAVE NOT HAD THE BABY YET!"
Client Contact After the Service
The client has had a baby. You have encapsulated the placenta and the client has the capsules. Now what?
Following up with clients after they have thier capsules boosts client satisfaction. Sometimes people are nervous about taking the capsules. It sounded like a great idea, but now the "EWWW factor" has set in. They may not remember how or when to take them. They could have a potential problem or question about the capsules. Don't be afraid to reach out and check in via their preferred communication method. Your clients will feel valued and potentially boost your future business from referrals.
Here's a sample plan:
Check in 2-4 days after the service is complete.
Check in two weeks after the service is complete.
Email six weeks after service is complete. This is a perfect time to ask for a testimonal.
Send a six month birthday card.
Send a one year birthday card.
Providing the Client with a Cooler
This can be a controversial topic. While providing a cooler is not a requirement, it is one additional step in providing excellent customer service to your clients.
I do provide a new cooler to every client for transport of thier placenta. If the client is birthing anywhere outside of the home, the placenta needs to be transported. The client knows the cooler is clean and new when it's shipped from a supplier like Amazon. Providing a cooler also helps maintain food handling safety by keeping the placenta at a correct temperature until it can be refrigerated or processed.
One word last word of advice on providing coolers for your clients: Make sure the placenta and the container from the hospital or birth center will fit inside the cooler. If you have a small soft sided cooler that is only large enough for a placenta inside a baggie, then make sure someone knows how to place the placenta inside the baggie. If the placenta and container can't fit and there are no additional instructions, it's a waste of money and makes you look less professional than not supplying the cooler.
Taste and the Capsules.
This is one of my favorite tricks of the trade!
I wipe the outside of each filled capsule with a dry sterile gauze. The process takes about 5-10 minutes of my time, but it invaluable to client satisfaction.
The number one complaint from clients who were otherwise happy with their experience was "The capsules taste bad." I researched the problem. Supplements, in capsule form, do not have a taste. The reasons that supplements are placed inside capsules are ease of consumption, a way to measure the consumption, and a way to avoid the taste of the contents. Some people will choose to use flavored capsules to help hide the taste. While this is an option, I prefer not to add additional flavorings, chemicals, or ingredients to the capsules.
In filling the capsules, either with a capsule machine or by hand, small amounts of placenta powder come in contact with the outside of the capsule. Clients report that since I have started wiping down the capsules, the "bad taste" complaint is nearly eliminated.
The differences between parchment, freezer, and wax paper and why it matters to the professional placenta encapsulator.
Why use a liner in the dehydrator for placenta encapsulation?
While it's not a requirement, most encapsulators use some kind of liner on the dehydrator trays to make clean up easier and to reduce sticking.
Here's a run down on choosing the correct liner.
Parchment Paper is a natural, high-density, non-stick parchment that is safe for oven use up to 425°F. Unlike similar papers, like wax paper, parchment paper’s non-stick layer is also heat resistant.
While our dehydrating temperatures are much lower, using a heat resistant liner for your dehydrator trays is an important detail for professional placenta encapsulators.
What is freezer paper? According to Reynolds Kitchens (a maker of all three types of papers discussed), Freezer Paper is ideal for wrapping foods for freezing and also for general household purposes.
The thick paper gives the product strength and durability. One side of the paper is plastic-coated and provides a barrier to air and moisture. This protects the quality, flavor and nutrition of foods during freezing. The other side is a durable paper which can be written on. This means it’s easy to write on the contents and pack date before freezing foods.
Freezer paper is not acceptable because the plastic-coating can melt in the dehydrator. If the plastic-coated side is face up, the plastic can melt on the placenta strips. If the plastic-coated side is face down, it will leave plastic residue on your dehydrator potentially breaking it.
The only acceptable option would be for using it strictly for the cord keepsake that will not be consumed, though there is still potential for damaging your equipment with melted plastic residue.
Reynolds Kitchen says wax paper is ideal for making candy or dipping strawberries, cookies or pretzels in chocolate. Foods lift right off the surface without leaving a mess behind on your bakeware or countertop. For gift giving or freezing, layer candies or baked cookies between wax paper sheets.
Wax paper is not heat-resistant and can not be used in a dehydrator. The wax can melt causing it to stick to the placenta pieces and the dehydrator.
Do you remember making crafts as a small child? You would shred broken crayons between two layers of wax paper then either iron it or stick it in the oven for a few minutes. The crayon would melt and the wax paper would fuse together creating the masterpiece.
Wax paper is an all around no for your dehydrator.
Just in case you want more information, here's Martha Stewart discussing parchment vs wax paper. She just doesn't know about placentas.
Watch more more "The Details Matter" posts in this series.
Placentas had three main functions in ancient times. In some cultures the placenta was seen as the baby's spirit guide helping the child navigate the birth and then returning and connecting after death. Placenta burial was also considered as a sacred connector of the child to his birth place or heritage. It was also to bestow blessing or protection for the child's future. An item representing the future calling, was often buried with the placenta.
Other cultures included trees into the burial ceremonies.
Fruit trees: nurturing, feeding, growth, energy Oak trees: power and courage Elm trees: intuition and inner strength Maple trees: balance and promise Cherry trees: good fortune when in bloom/ love and romance Birch trees: new beginnings Cedar trees: healing and cleansing Palm trees: peace and flexibility without breaking
Ideas for choosing a tree for your placenta burial
While the symbolism of trees is meaningful, there are also climate issues surrounding tree planting. Check tree planting guides for trees that flourish in your climate.
Are you going to be living in the area long term? Is it a special area to you that you will visit frequently? If you do not own the land, check with the owners or proper authorities before planting your tree.
Moveable options include large planters with smaller trees/bushes, so the placenta tree can be transported with a move.
Detailed planting directions for the placenta and tree.
If you are having a home birth, then there is no additional work in obtaining your placenta. You can plan to bury your placenta when having a hospital birth as well. Discuss the desire to bring the placenta home after the birth with the health care provider.
Providers and hospitals have different policies surrounding placenta release. Many hospitals now will simply release it immediately. Others require signing a waiver stating that the hospital is not held responsible and that the placenta is a blood borne pathogen...meaning it contains blood that could contain infectious microorganisms that cause disease. Some hospitals request that the placenta be held until you and baby are released from the hospital and some require that the placenta be removed immediately.
Bring a container and cooler for the placenta. Occasionally, hospitals do not provide a sealed container. A few gallon sized ziplock baggies can be used if no container is available. Place the placenta (and container) inside a cooler with ice so that it remains fresh until it is home.
Freeze the placenta unless it will be buried within the first week after birth. You may need to wait 6 months or longer to plant your placenta based on climate. It can remain safely frozen long term. Some people wish to wait until a special time in the baby's life such as baby's first birthday, when baby starts eating solid food, the end of the breastfeeding relationship or it could be based on a return to fertility after the first postpartum menstrual cycle.
Place the placenta into a biodegradable container prior to burial. Options can include a woven basket, wooden box, unfired clay pot, or a cloth bag that can be decorated. Remove the placenta from any plastic containers prior to burial.
Choose the location and type of tree. Research specific planting directions for your climate and tree variety. Most will need to be buried 12 inches into the ground depending on type of tree, soil type and size of the tree. Bury the placenta 4-6 inches lower than the placenta and place soil between the placenta and tree, so that the placenta has time to decompose before the roots reach the placenta. To use a large urn or pot, place 6-8 inches of soil in the pot, then the placenta, then, 4-6 inches of soil, then the tree.
Care for the newly planted tree according to tree planting guidelines.
Adding ceremony to the burial process
Ceremonies can easily be included in the process. They can be as simple as re-telling the birth story and thanking the placenta for supporting life. They can be elaborate and include poems, stories, and planting additional items as symbols. Decorating the placenta container can be a family activity.
Pictures of the child and tree yearly create a special keepsake.
Some days I just encapsulate a placenta. Some days it's so much more.
Sometimes the encapsulator is in the client's home alone and just does the actual encapsulation and clean up.
Sometimes the encapsulator is there with a friend or relative of the client. They may or may not have questions or want to be aware of any of the process. You can answer any questions they may have about the process and do your job.
Sometimes you are there with the client and the client wants no additional information or support.
Sometimes you are the front line of support for your placenta encapsulation client. They have questions and you are the professional available in their home to talk to about the birth experience. The encapsulator may be the only professional clients have the opportunity to speak with during those first few days. The client may wish to share a birth story. Maybe they had an amazing, beautiful birth and they have no one to share that with because all their friends and family don't see the importance and tell the client things like "What do you want, a medal?!" or "Don't you know how dangerous that was?!" Those clients want someone to be happy with them. Someone to discuss all the amazing details of the birth without being squeemish.
You can be that person and it's amazing.
Sometimes they had a scary or traumatic birth and want to discuss it with someone that understands the birth process. The client may want to hear something other than, "At least you have a healthy baby." While it's true they may have a healthy baby, they also have valid feelings about their birth.
You can listen and affirm the feelings they have are real and valid. You may be able to offer resources for therapists or support groups.
Sometimes the client has actual questions about postpartum life. "What does healing look like for umbilical cords or.....the perineum? " How can I set up my home so I don't have to walk up and down the stairs 20 times a day for the first few weeks?" " How do I tell if the baby is hungry or sleepy?" " What if I feel sad?" " What if I feel like I don't even know this new little person in my home?" " What if all I want to do is hold the baby and cry?"
You can listen and offer guidance, support, resources, and a judgement free zone for clients to talk. You aren't expected to be an expert in every single field. You can be an expert in helping them find the information they need.
Hosting a PTC training is fun, easy, and offers amazing perks.
Interested in taking a placenta encapsulation training in your area? Placenta Training Company is happy to offer your community the opportunity to learn this valuable service. You will be able to create bonds with other students, help your community experience the benefit of placenta encapsulation, and have the opportunity to earn your training for free and receive other perks as well.
Each PTC training is special. Travel and lodging can vary greatly between cities and even time of year. We will personally determine your minimums and goals based on expenses for travel and lodging near your training location from Chicago (or trainer's location). The average minimum to hold a training is between 4-6 paid students. The goal number is double the minimum plus one additional student. PTC currently travels in the United States. Please contact PTC to inquire about international training options.
Once the host agrees to the terms and pays a $100 retainer, the training will be added to the Placenta Training Company online calendar and will be promoted on social media.The host can immediately begin promoting the training and students will be able to register.
When ONE student registers and completes full payment, PTC will start paid advertising in your location. Hosts will receive a surprise perks package in the mail.
When the minimum* number of students is met the host will receive the $100 deposit back and host's training will be free.
When training hits goal* (double the minimum plus one) host will receive a supplies perk which includes a dehydrator, capsule machine, grinder, and knife.
Host responsibilities: Provide location for training with access to kitchen, running water, sink, at least 2-3 feet of counter space (or table close to sink), outlet where placenta in the dehydrator can run SAFELY overnight. Usually this is the host's home. On rare occasions we have had trainings at a workplace. PTC is not responsible for any rental fees for space.
One placenta for training purposes. PTC will assist with suggestions for obtaining the placenta.
Transportation assistance for trainer to and from airport, hotel, training location if requested. Assistance in attaining meals. The host is NOT responsible for paying the trainer's travel fees.
Participate in promoting and advertising training to local and surrounding areas. We will discuss options and offer tips for promoting the training in your area.
Provide pictures for PTC social media as requested by trainer.
*Only full price, paid in full students count towards minimum and goal numbers.
Are you familiar with the social media site Pinterest? Imagine a giant bulletin board where you pin all your plans, hopes, dreams, and dreams online. Pinterest is a place to save images of things you love.
Using Pinterest in your Birth and Placenta Encapsulation business
1. People love visual content now.
2. Pins keep attracting customers and sales month after month creating "evergreen content" for you.
3. Pinterest acts like a giant display ad for free.
4. After the initial set up, there is a low time commitment to maintain your Pinterest account.
5. Content is consistently spread through new communities and by re-pinning.
6. Pinterest has one of the easiest learning curves of the common social media platforms.
7. Pinterest works well for several niches and placenta encapsulation is a great niche in your birth business.
8. Each individual pin you create is searchable on Google.
9. Pinterest itself is a commonly used search engine.
10. Pinterest actively leads consumers away from itself to the actual source document.
Just started your new placenta business and are struggling with how to name your business? Here are some tips for developing a business name.
Do you already have a birth business and will just be adding placenta encapsulation? Your options are to roll the placenta business into your established birth business or have it as a separate entity? Most people prefer to operate just one business, but there are a few reasons why you may want to keep your businesses separate. If you think a large referral base will be other doulas/CBE's then you may want to have a separate business just for placenta encapsulation.
Is this a brand new business?
Some questions to consider before naming your business:
How likely are you to change your business name?
What other birth services do you offer and do you want to include those?
Does it appeal to your target market? Is that important to you?
Are there other local businesses with a similar name?
Is a .com version of your name available?
Are you using a very common word/phrase?
Is your name easy to spell/remember?
Three options for your placenta/birth business name:
Using your own name: Many people start out with just their own name with birth or placenta services after it. The upsides are that it's uniquely you and can encompass several services well. The downsides are that people need to remember your name to find you. If your name could have several spellings (Sara vs Sarah) or if your name is hard to pronounce and remember, your potential clients may have a harder time finding you.
Location based names: These are business names that have a connection to your location. It can be a city, neighborhood, or geographical location in your area. It can also be a nickname or popular landmark for your area. The upside of these names are that people may search for "Chicago area placenta encapsulator" or "Doula in north west Indiana" and your business can appear easier in searches because it has the actual term searched. Potential clients also immediately know they are in your service area with a location based business name. The downside, though, can be that in a larger city there may be several people using location based names making it harder to stand out or the names could be already taken.
Names that are meaningful to you: These are names with special meanings to you. These can be anything from trait you admire to your favorite flower. The upside AND downside is that these names show your personality which may either attract or repel potential clients.
In the end, just choose a name. Don't let picking your placenta business name keep you from starting your business.