Above all else, the questions I get asked most about starting a postpartum doula business is how to price your work. It’s a super tricky question!
The biggest mistake most doulas make is looking at what other doulas are charging and basing their prices on that. But did you ever bother to ask that doula if she is actually making any money? Is her income enough to even cover her expenses? Usually the answer is no!
The challenge here is that women's work has been undervalued for a very long time. When I was looking for someone to mow my lawn they were quoting me twice as much per hour than my cleaner or even the woman who looks after my baby whilst I work!
Why? Because lawn mowing is traditionally men's work, inherently our culture deems it worth more. It’s so wrong, right?!
Women are notorious for undervaluing and undercharging, so don’t base your prices on what other women are doing.
If you are serious about making an income (so that you can stay in your work of loving devoted service of Newborn Mothers) you first need to set some money goals.
1. How Much Do You Want To Earn?
It’s a very challenging question for many women, who have been taught that money is dirty, that they shouldn’t be greedy and that they can’t possibly charge for doing work that they enjoy doing! Stay with this question for awhile, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Watch your mindset, watch how your brain has been programmed to think about money. Stay with the discomfort until you have an answer.
Now add 20% to cover your expenses.
2. How Many Hours Do You Want To Work?
If you have small children, like me, you likely don’t want to work long hours. How much childcare do you have? Are you happy to work nights and weekends? Do you have another job to consider too? Be realistic.
The minimum number of hours I believe it takes to start a business is ten hours a week.
Now divide it by two, because you’ll only get paid for half of the hours you work. The other half will be spent on administration, bookkeeping, professional development and marketing.
3. Do The Maths
Now it’s just a matter of doing the sums - or is it? It's likely your big emotions around money will get in the way, but let’s try.
First, say you want to earn $20,000 a year and can only work 10 hours a week.
Add 20% and you need $24,000.
Next, divide your ten hours by two and you have 5 hours. That’s about 260 hours a year.
Still following? Now it’s crunch time. How much do you need to charge per hour? $92 an hour.
A little more than the $20-$40 you were considering charging per hour...
Have you got sticker shock?
But I can’t charge that much!! No one will pay!!!
Don’t freak out! It is possible. I have charged that much (and more) for my own postpartum work and I have supported many women around the world to build their postpartum businesses based on those hourly rates too. It works here in Perth where I live. And it works in Auckland, New York and Bundaberg, where my clients live.
Keep in mind that earning $20,000 a year is not greedy by any means. It’s not even minimum wage here in Australia. It’s a part time income that helps you pay the bills and feed your family.
Unless your husband or partner earns lots of money, and you don’t actually need or want the income, then $92 is really the minimum you can charge to run a viable postpartum business.
Don’t let fear or scarcity or our cultures gendered values convince you that it’s worth working for $20 an hour.
The secret is you don’t actually pitch yourself as charging $92 an hour. You leverage your hourly rate in premium programs. Create a beautiful package for new mums that includes one-on-one hours, group work, gifts and digital offerings to create a long term, intimate and life changing offer that Newborn Mothers can’t refuse.
You also need to get really good at marketing so that we can show the world the VALUE of investing in mothers!!
If some mothers genuinely can't afford your one on one services there are many other ways to serve, including through informational products like a blog or social media, or through groups like free or low cost classes.
Newborn Mothers all over the world are suffering. If this is your life’s work, I can show you how to make this into a sustainable and fulfilling career. The first step is to join the Newborn Mothers Collective.