Starting a business from scratch can be a pretty tough job. Especially in the birth industry, when you've studied to become something you're really passionate about, it can be quite a rude shock to have to deal with the realities of running a business too. You just want to be a doula, dammit!
But rest assured, you can focus on doing what you love, by getting help to do the things you don't love so much. The trick is to do what you do best, and step aside for others to do what they do best.
While there are loads of great websites for business, here are 5 great sites that I use time and time again, that will help you to do better in business.
One of the most common business discussions I see amongst doulas is about design related issues “ logos, websites and advertising. 99designs is my go-to for design because I love the unique way this website works.
You post a brief in the form of a ‘contest', and the designers on 99designs get busy creating concepts for your design. This is where 99designs is different “ you get to see designs from an array of designers from around the world before you choose the one you want. You're not bound by one person's creative ideas “ whoever decides to enter your contest can submit a design! Obviously, the higher the amount you're willing to pay for your design, the more designers ” and higher quality ” you will attract. But you don't need to spend a fortune to get a great design.
You can start a design contest now on 99designs and you'll start to see some exciting designs in a day or two.
If you're anything like me, you are very time poor and accept the fact that you can't do it all on your own. Perhaps you do have flexibility with time, but you don't like doing certain tasks in your business, or you feel that someone else could do them better. Enter Elance.
For many years, websites like Elance have been evolving the future of sourcing staff and contractors. Say you'd like to hire someone to create some business cards for you, or do some research on the local maternity hospitals in your area, providing you with a neat spreadsheet, complete with contact details. You can quickly and easily find someone on Elance to do this for you.
No matter what sort of help you're after “ bookkeeping, social media managers, virtual assistants, someone to set up your blog, project management, training on any program or software “ any job at all, you will find it on Elance.
Best of all? Because you're able to source from around the world, the cost to you is SO much cheaper.
Prior to Elance, I hired developers who would cost in excess of $100 per hour for consulting work, which was the standard going rate “ I couldn't find much cheaper than that. On Elance? I have never paid more than $40 an hour “ and they have been amazing. Of course, you do get bad eggs like you do anywhere, but you simply use your common sense, read the feedback on their profiles, check their ratings and ask questions to make sure you've found the right one. Elance is essential in my business “ little do people know that I have a team of professionals from around the world with whom I communicate daily via Skype!
Take a look at what options you have available to you at Elance.
3. Stock Photo Sites
A website, blog or design can look so much more professional with professional photos, illustrations and vector images. If you have social media for your business (which is a must!) then images are essential. In fact, having images in your content can also help your website's SEO efforts and make your website more enjoyable to read from a user's perspective.
No matter if you're designing advertising material or a website, you can source professional images for a very low price. You can pay per image (most expensive way, but usually no more than $10-$20 an image) or you can get a subscription for unlimited or limited plans.
It pays to look around and do your research with stock photo sites. Some are free and some are paid “ obviously the paid sites attract more artists and better quality images. But my go-to sites are Shutterstock and iStock Photo.
Important note: It is crucial to optimise your images before you upload them. Large files slow down page load speeds and it's bad for ranking in google “ because it hampers user experience. Check your file sizes and resize to exactly what you need, and optimise even further with a great little app like ImageOptim.
There are plenty of tools and websites I use for keyword and competitor research ” SEMrush is one of them. With a handy online user interface and a database of over 40,000,000 keywords, I often resort to a quick SEMrush search.
Before you write a single thing, you need to research your keywords. You can also find out what your competitors are ranking for, what Adwords keywords they are buying up and so much more!
Take a look at SEMrush and see for yourself.
is a leading authority for all things SEO on the web. While some topics and articles are a little ‘wordy' and may be hard for the lay person to understand, Moz is a great place to learn and find the best practices for SEO you need to be doing on your website. You can upgrade to PRO and get a heap of great tools to help monitor your site's SEO efforts and find suggestions for improvement. The reports are handy to send in to your SEO person or developer, to help improve your website. But whatever you do, make sure you get advice from an SEO professional, and not just your local friendly developer. There is so much misinformation and SEO changes all the time. It doesn't stay the same. Developers and SEO consultants are two totally different things. It's just like doulas and obstetricians. You wouldn't ask a doula to do a caesarean, and you wouldn't ask an obstetrician to doula a woman. Disaster ensues.
If you want something a bit more easy to understand, I enjoy reading the blog posts on Quicksprout and I also watch Jim Stewart ‘s regular video blog which is informative with a splash of humour (which you really need when thinking about SEO!).
More Great Doula Business Info
Don't forget to check out more of my super helpful doula business articles here.