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How to Work as a Doula - Independent Doulas {2 in a 5 part series}

How to Work as a Doula - Independent Doulas {2 in a 5 part series}

Independent doulas are doulas that work on their own.  They aren't part of a group, agency or collective.  For this blog, I looked at 12 areas of business and gave my thoughts on how the independent doula relates to each. {For purposes of this blog series I will be using the pronoun “she” as this fits the vast majority of doulas.  Males can be doulas too. Which is wonderful!}

  • Income - An independent doula keeps 100% of the income that is earned. 
  • Expenses – Independent doulas have to cover all of the costs associated with starting a business.  This could include legal fees, insurance, marketing costs, continuing education etc.
  • Marketing Efforts – Small business owners often incur marketing costs in order to build their brand and find clients. All of the costs associated with marketing will be the responsibility of the independent doula.  Marketing decisions will also be solely up to the independent doula.  This means that she will retain all creative control over this process.  She will be able to decide how to market her business and will have the flexibility to change her marketing plan as she sees fit.
  • How to work as a Doula - The Independent Doula

  • Brand – An independent doula has complete control over her brand. Every time she works as a doula she is representing her brand and her company
  • Reputation -  She does not have to share a reputation with all of the doulas in a group.  Independent doulas are able to develop relationships with clients, care providers and other professionals and growth their referral network which will benefit their own business. 
  • Backup Doula – Backup doulas sometimes can be a struggle for independent doulas. It is their responsibility to create relationships with other doulas and develop a relationship with one or more doulas to provide backup.  Usually, independent doulas use other independent doulas as their backup(s).
  • Input on How the Business is managed – The independent doula has complete control over how her business is managed. This is complete freedom to create the business that she wants.  A drawback to this freedom is the burden of being the only one with ideas for the business.   Doulas that work independently can feel overwhelmed with the day to day to-dos of business management.
  • Doula Contracts – Contracts are an important part of a doula's working relationship with both her clients and her backup doulas. The independent doula has total control over this process.  She can set up safeguards in her contracts to protect her business and define the working relationships in her business.  It is her responsibility to create these contracts and use them properly.
  • Client Acquisition – Finding clients and generating income is completely in the hands of the independent doula. It is her responsibility to develop methods for finding clients.  This includes marketing, social media, referral networks etc. If she is having a problem finding clients she is the only one who can fix this problem.
  • Client Fit – The independent doula has complete control over who she takes on as a client. She can be as discerning as she wants and decide on her own criteria for accepting a client.
  • Schedule Flexibility – An independent doula has complete control over her schedule. She can book her calendar as full as she desires (or is able to).  Doula’s that own their own businesses are able to schedule meetings to meet their own needs which include timing and location.
  • Job Security – Independent doulas are their own boss. This means that she creates job security for herself.
  • Testimonials – All testimonials are owned by the independent doula. If she receives a positive testimonial it will always be a benefit to her business and won’t have to be used to grow a group.   She can grow her testimonials for her own business on her website and other sites like Yelp and

  •  Things to consider before working as an independent doula

    • As an independent doula, you are responsible for all aspects of running a business. This requires a lot of determination, motivation, and drive.  I believe that to be a successful independent doula you must be a self-starter and passionate about running your own business.   Running your own business takes a good amount of organization and discipline. 
    • Many independent doulas often feel lonely. It is good to connect with other independent doulas for backup and support.
    • Working as an independent doula often requires a lot of effort up front in order to get a steady stream of doula inquiries and clients. If you can’t afford the extra time needed to establish your business it might not be the best choice for you.

     Read more about other ways to work as a doula.

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    • Alice Turner
    Comments 2
    • Divine

      Hi Lauren, I am divine. Your blog is really interesting. I have a question. I am a midwife in the Philippines, and I am certified and I have my own clinic also there practicing and handling natural birth. But now, I am currently living here in California, a full time home maker. And I just heard this doula and makes me interested about this. I am thinking if I can be a doula here in California, and what will I do to be a certified doula and to be a independent doula. I hope you can help me. Thank you and Godbless.

    • Lauren Robertson
      Lauren Robertson

      I am currently in the certification process and am finding this series so helpful and inspiring! : )

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