It’s going to be extremely cold this week. A night with wind chills in the NEGATIVE 20s is enough to cause worry that the furnace may not be able to keep up. I want to share some tips on how to keep safely warm when the furnace is inadequate or you live without heat.
Here’s what you need to do or be prepared to do if it gets cold enough.
Block the draft.
Identify your heat sources.
Keep pets and people as warm as you can, especially extremities.
Be aware if it’s cold enough for water pipes to burst.
Be prepared to hoard up for a few days.
If you have the time and money to prepare before winter comes,
I hope this blog was helpful information to somebody. Stay warm out there.
If you’re struggling with your heating bill, I’d love to teach you ways to save on your utilities and other expenses. Check out my book Happily Frugal: a wise money management workbook. It has over 700 ways to save money. Visit this page for a free budget spreadsheet and to learn more about the book.
A free doula’s privilege is an underprivileged doula’s destruction.
A doula working for free or low-cost is a never-ending controversial issue in Doula Land. Those who work for free or tell other doulas their (fair wage) prices are too high should take a moment to think about how privileged they are to be able to work for less than a living wage or even less than minimum wage.
Points to consider
If you’re a doula, before you tell another doula they should lower their prices or volunteer their services maybe you should think about your position of privilege to be able to do what they can’t afford to do.
Even if someone is financially able to work for pennies, I find it outrageous for women to downgrade other women by expecting them to serve someone without fair pay. Fair wages is a human rights issue. To ask a woman to spend hours and months serving someone for little to no pay is inhumane. How would you feel if someone asked a woman to come clean their house every week for 6 months, but they weren’t willing to pay that woman? How would you feel if the people asking for a free maid were fully able to pay a fair wage? Of course, it would make their life easier to have the help. To force someone to do so is slavery. Yet people ask women to volunteer to do so as if she should be grateful to work without pay simply because she likes what she does. Why should she volunteer? It’s a luxury service to hire personal help. No one is entitled to make a doula, a woman, or any person work without pay.
Free doulas who declare their services to be free for anyone (not specifically low-income families) are destructive to doulas who don’t have the privilege of someone else paying the bills. They devalue the profession. They contribute to the gender wage gap. And they ultimately devalue women when they say “women’s work” (any female-dominated career field) doesn’t deserve to be paid a living wage.
Never tell a doula that she should volunteer. It’s degrading and destructive.
If you are privileged to be able to volunteer and you have the desire to do so, please consider putting a regular price on your packages that is a fair wage. Let it be known that you’re volunteering because that’s your heart’s desire and NOT because doulas are not worth paying. I realize there are doulas who have scholarship funds, only volunteer one birth a year, work for free for family and friends, feel convicted to help a specific person, etc…. Think about the way you communicate your monetary worth and your choice to volunteer. It’s a choice to volunteer or work for at-cost. It should not be expected of all doulas to forgo fair wages out of their love for the job.
The following PDF handout lists all your family planning options for pregnancy prevention in an easy to read layout. Choose the method that is right for you at this season in your life.
Print this out. Highlight what you have done so far.
Enjoy the journey :)
Begin your journey.
There is a strong learning curve.
Things will be trial and error. You’ll make adjustments along the way.
Note: Some organizations offer permanent certification while others require renewal every year or two or three years. Know how your training organization does this. Keep up on your requirements.
Best wishes to you on your journey in being a birth worker.
An important component to creating a business plan for success is examining failure. Know the things that cause businesses like yours to fail. Make a plan for how to prevent those obstacles. Most doula businesses have gone under within 3 years of starting. Many doulas complete their training and put themselves out there only to never succeed at getting their business off the ground. According to the Small Business Association, 30% of businesses fail within two years of launching, 50% in 5 years, and 66% within 10 years. All small businesses have some rough odds to conquer. Being an independently practicing doula that has to get a steady flow of clients and be on call 24/7 comes with its unique challenges. Let’s look at what some common obstacles are. Below each obstacle are potential solutions.
The gender wage gap is still an issue. I used to think that battle had been won. I was wrong. I thought men and women being treated unequally in the work force was a thing of the past. My grandparent’s generation took care of that, right? My great grandma (born in 1920) had to fight the board of education to be allowed to finish high school because she got married at 15. She became the first married woman to graduate high school in Metcalfe County, Kentucky. When my grandma (born 1944) was younger the pay for jobs were openly and acceptably different wages for men and women. It’s 2018. We women have all the same rights as men. We can vote, own property, marry who we want, divorce if we want, pursue education without restraints, apply to any job, join the military, and basically do whatever we want. I thought equality had been fully attained. Studies have shown that when men and women are compared in the same career field with the same education and same experience level they do make the same when you count it down to the hour. Men do make more throughout the year, but they also work more hours than women. I thought closing the gender wage gap had victoriously been accomplished. Yay!
Wait. Within the same career field things have drastically improved. Have you looked at jobs lately in career fields that are predominantly female? With the exception of nursing (and maybe a few other careers), every female career field makes poverty wages. Even jobs that require bachelor’s degrees and sometimes even master’s degrees aren’t even paying a living wage. Social work, child care, teaching, entry level health care, clerical work, and the list could go on. I’ve seen multiple jobs in my area that require a bachelor’s degree and only pay $11-$14 an hour. Only when it’s “women’s work” are workers so undervalued. You can be an educated, hard working woman who can’t afford to live on her own with low wages and high student debt. There are people with degrees still living with their parents because they can’t afford to live on their own. The cost of college is a blog for another day. Meanwhile, male dominated career fields are paying a living wage even on an entry level that requires no education. As a single woman, this is a problem. I spent 4 years getting a degree thinking that would get me out of poverty only to wade through job ads that required degrees and paid $12 an hour. Combine low wages with student loan payments every month and these college educated women are financially no better off than McDonald’s workers. If you have to add in the expense of child care, you may not even be profiting anything. Isn’t that insane? I’ve always been drawn to nurturing and caregiving roles that are female dominated career fields. I’ve wished many times I could have a passion for a male career field so I could make real money.
Then I became a small business owner. I have repeatedly experienced firsthand people expecting self-employed females to be free or ridiculously cheap because they know we’re passionate about what we do. Are we only entitled to pay if we hate our jobs? I regularly – and I do mean regularly – have men talk down to me like I’m just playing around. Oh, you have a little business? Oh, that’s nice. When are you going to get a real job? We are not seen the same. When a man has a work-from-home business he is praised and admired for his ambition and hard work to provide for his family and improve the community. When a woman has a work-from-home job she must be an unemployed mom with a hobby. If we price our services the same as men doing the same thing, we are scoffed at. We have to be firm with our prices and then be regarded as a bitch for not backing down. I constantly have people ask me if they can have one of my books for free. You realize I pay for them, right? You realize I spend years writing a book. For bonus points, I choose to have them printed in America thus making it a fully American product. If you don’t find them worth the retail price, you don’t get one. That’s how that works. If you don’t find something worth paying the price for, you don’t get to have it. Welcome to adulting. I literally have total strangers contact me and ask for free book coaching. I mean seriously, do you actually expect me to spend months or over a year of my life teaching you how to write a book and publish it for you when you’re not willing to pay me? Get real!
As soon as I became a doula, I realized this disparity is far more severe in the career field of birth work.
You know, career field.
Worthy of pay kind of work
Birth work is beautiful and amazing, but it’s still a hard job that takes a lot of effort. It’s far harder than a lot of other jobs. It requires much more skill than fast food. Yet it makes lower wages. What is that about? Doulas are expected to be free or super cheap. Birth photographers are expected to be cheap despite the major amount of hours put in and the on-call nature of the job. People don’t want to pay for childbirth educators because they don’t value what they do. That’s what it comes down to. Society does not value what is traditionally women’s work. Even women don’t value the women that serve them. That is a huge problem.
Here’s another problem. Women who work hard to offer these services and products don’t value themselves. They make excuses to not be paid fair wages. Somebody can’t afford their service (which is a luxury service, not a human right). They’re trying to help somebody. They’re passionate about what they do. They enjoy their career. They’re afraid people won’t be willing to pay them if they raise their prices. I hear these things all the time. When the female small business owner doesn’t declare her worth, nobody else will either.
STOP giving in to the undervaluing of women’s work. Stop declaring doula work or photography or indie educators to be worth less than a living wage. In all honesty, this line of work is worth far more than just enough money to scrape by. If you are a doula, charge your worth. If you are a birth photographer, you deserve to charge more than a wedding photographer. If you are an educator, declare that your time is valuable. Society isn’t going to hand you fair wages and tell you how much they appreciate you. It’s up to the women running the businesses to shout from the rooftops that their work has value. Our generation needs to fight to close this gap.
Change your prices.
Charge your worth without fear or apology.
Accept nothing less.
Close the gap.
Be the change.
Let our future daughters and granddaughters come into these careers without drowning in poverty to do so. They deserve better.
Free doulas devalue the profession. Doulas who serve for free or low-cost is a common controversial issue in Doula Land. Regardless of your personal feelings on catering to the client’s income more than your own family’s needs, reality is doulas that have to make money at whatever career they have (Hint: they’ve got bills to pay and kids to feed) get stomped out by neighboring doulas who work for less than minimum wage. It is extremely hard to compete with free anything. Try being a $300 childbirth educator who teaches in an area where the hospital has free classes. Try selling $20 paperback books on a topic that consumers can get free (crappy) eBooks on. Try being a doula that needs to make a living wage in an area with a free doula who clearly has somebody else paying all her bills. They can still run a successful business, but it’s a lot more challenging to charge a fair wage for the amount of hours worked when society has it in their head that doulas are supposed to be $3 an hour (do the math and break down the business costs, taxes, hours put in, weeks or months served, and sacrifices of being on call).
Free doulas are destructive to the doula community. They send the message to the public that doula work is charity work. They often criticize doulas for charging fair wages because there are people who can’t afford to hire a professional support person. Saying doula services are free for everybody is a very different message than a doula who sets her prices at fair value but offers a sliding fee scale for low-income families. You can be helpful to low-income families as you personally are financially able to give without declaring the entire doula career field should be free or low-cost charity work.
Cheap doulas give the message that doulas are not worth paying. They’re saying that their round-the-clock hours of work is worth less than minimum wage. Their months of service to a family have less monetary value than the crappiest fast food joint in town. They’re sending the message that people are entitled to doula services – that a total stranger is entitled to have a woman serve them and be on call 24/7 to provide services without being willing to pay that woman fair wages or even federal minimum wage. And these people find it acceptable to ask a woman to work without pay potentially for months per client. Not only are free doulas working without pay, they are going in debt to do their job. It costs money to become a doula. It costs money to buy your doula bag supplies and teaching supplies. I don’t know where you live, but around here gas prices can eat up your checkbook. Doulas typically serve a 1 to 1 ½ hour radius driving back and forth to do consultations, prenatal appointments, postpartum appointments, and of course the births. They come to the birth and they do spend money for gas, parking, food, etc… Are they not even worth reimbursing for that? Do people think so little of doulas that they “can’t afford” to pay for their parking when they come to the hospital to support them hour after hour? Then they pay for continuing education. There are taxes to be paid, business licenses to pay for, marketing expenses, and more. A doula literally goes in debt for every client they serve. Who is paying their bills?
Ironically, the doulas who passionately do this charity work actually end up causing fewer women to have access to doulas. When living wage doulas can’t sustain a business because of local free doulas this leaves a community with fewer doulas. It hurts the birthing community. Not to mention, it destroys the career of a hard working woman trying to be a doula who may be struggling with poverty herself. For those doulas who are in poverty, it keeps them trapped there when communities don’t value the products and services that impoverished small business owners work hard to offer. It’s tough to break through this stereotype and declare your doula services are worth – at minimum – enough to survive with your head above the poverty line. It’s necessary to break this stereotype though. This idea – this notion that people can ask a woman to work without pay and go in debt to serve them for weeks as if they were entitled to what they can get out of her – needs to be smashed. Break it. Stop following the tradition of letting doulas be used, especially when people are able to pay fair wages.
Doulas are free to run their business however they choose. I hope they choose to take these things into consideration.
And to the newer doulas who think they have to work for free, please don’t buy into the lie that you aren’t even worth paying for gas money and hospital parking. I’m not opposed to new doulas volunteering. I very much understand that nobody wants to give a brand new doula a chance. If you personally can afford to volunteer and you’re comfortable with doing that to gain experience, then do so. But please don’t think that you can’t charge anything because no one will find you worthy.
Let me tell you a marketing secret.
People value what they pay for.
If you declare yourself valuable, you’ll attract people who see your worth.
If you declare yourself worthless, you’ll attract people who agree.
Adjust your prices. Declare that – at the very least – you’re worth paying what you invest into serving each client. Have you done the math on your doula business? Do you keep track of all your investments and expenses? After all that and the huge chunk of taxes businesses pay, how much profit are you taking home? Probably not much. Now figure out how many hours you put into each client between the birth itself, the appointments in person, any classes you teach one-on-one, answering calls and responding to emails, doing research for them, etc….
Your profit divided by the number of hours….
What is it?
Is it even $5 an hour? That’s really sad. If you’re not making at least $15 an hour, how successful is your business? If you’re not making a bare minimum living wage, you don’t have a profitable business that can sustain your family. Set your prices at a living wage. It’s okay to set them higher too. This isn’t a clock in clock out entry level job that requires no education or skill. This is a round the clock, always on call, physical and emotional job that requires serious support skills.
You’re worth decent pay.
There are quite a few doula training programs out there. How do you know which one to choose? If you’d like to take a look at some programs, here is a directory of every single doula training I know of. I’ve compared all of these programs repeatedly before concluding which organizations are recommendable. Here is what I look at.
Comment below with the doula training program you chose, why you chose that one, and what your review is.
You want to wow people. You want them to see your website and know that they want you. People should be able to come to your website, and not only see all about what you do, but also get a glimpse of who you are. You want your passion to shine through. Yet you’re wondering where to even start. You know a website is an essential part of marketing for any business. It’s not easy to figure out what to say and how to fit everything together. I’ve seen many, many doula websites and web pages. There are some beautiful sites out there. I’ve also noticed a lot of sites that didn’t say where they were located or how much it costs. I’ve seen quite a few with broken links, poor grammar, font that can’t be read, and navigation that doesn’t flow well. That being said, a well done website is a jewel to be proud of. It’s not easy to create websites. Make yours unique. Let it reflect the authentic you. I hope this blog gives you a good start to molding your masterpiece of a website.
So let’s talk about what a doula website needs to have as well as some optional things to enhance the viewer’s experience.
You also have the option of doing blogs. This can bring website traffic. Blogs are also an easy way to reference topics you talk to clients about. Please do include a blog directory. My website www.LeannaMae.org has a blog timeline directory with the newest listed first + a blog topical directory. It’s easier for me to quickly reference a blog without having to search for it. It’s also tremendously easier for readers to find a specific blog as well as view the variety of blogs available to read. I’ve actually never seen another website have blog directories like that. I wish all the bloggers I follow would add that feature.
Of course, include any products you sell related to birth work.
Some doula websites will have a members only area where your clients can log in to access info exclusively for them.
The pages should be aesthetically pleasing. Here are some things to check for from a reader’s perspective before you publish your website.
This blog should send you well on your way to getting you started. You’ll always be able to update your site. You can switch out your stock photos from time to time. You can freshen the website for each season. Have fun making your website. This is your artwork. Paint a picture of who you are to share with the world on your little piece of the web.
One of the hardest things about running any small business is marketing. Creating a consistent flow of clients and making enough money to pay the bills is no easy feat. Is it just me or does it seem like successful business owners keep their marketing techniques a secret? Being a doula is an especially challenging business to launch and keep steady. I don’t see other doulas as competition. There’s a right doula for everyone. Can we share what helps sustain doula work? Will you share your marketing tips with your fellow birth workers? Attached below is a PDF with over 50 ways to market a doula business. You are welcome to print it out and utilize it in your own practice. I sincerely hope this helps your business thrive. I would love to see doulas everywhere flourishing and becoming more common in our culture. If you have any additional marketing techniques, please comment below.