What if you want to charge less? Other thoughts about pricing.

And maybe still working out some stuff around previous-doula-org, too.

“Knowledge without mileage equals bullshit.” – Henry Rollins

The other day I was talking about raising my prices as a jewelry designer and metalsmith. Today I’m going to talk about dropping my prices as a doula and why I did it.

I took a weekend workshop a couple years ago and when it was done, I called myself a professional doula because that’s what the organization that trained me said I was. They told me I could charge the same rates as doulas who had been doing this work for decades because I was “enough.” People insisted that being a doula isn’t rocket science Really? A couple years and several trainings, re-trainings, advanced skills workshops, mentorings, seminars, births and clients later, it actually does feel a lot like rocket science at times. I’m still learning how to provide the very best support and care to my clients, work with providers, build positive relationships with other birth professionals, and grow my skills.  With every birth, I learn.

When I tried to speak about this to people in my old organization, I felt shamed. Justifying my prices to people outside the organization felt horrible and I wasn’t getting hired. More shame. I cried with relief after retraining, when I gave myself permission to drop my rates.

I’m not saying that if you’re new you should charge less simply because you are new. I don’t actually care what people coming in to the doula profession charge. I care that they feel empowered to decide that for themselves without repercussions or blowback.

I care that I was gaslit and told I was devaluing myself and other women when I said that charging more felt out of integrity to me. I care that I was made to feel guilty for that.

I care that other doulas pressured me to charge more, to charge less, to work for free, to not work for free. I care that other doulas thought they had the right to say word one about my decisions. Regardless of their good intentions, it wasn’t their place or their business.

I really care that other entry level birth-workers don’t go through the same pressure and hell around this as I did.

I dropped my prices because that was the right choice for me.  I still make a living wage.  There’s an end game here, a point where I’d like to get to.  I’m not there yet.  I’ll get there. Right now I’m working towards a goal and most importantly, I feel really good about where my prices and experience meet right now. I am in harmony.

Integrity is everything. 

Since when is it not okay to be entry level, to be new at something, to be on a learning curve, to have room to grow? Training has value. You leave your workshop as a new doula, one who is educated, trained and hopefully ready to gain insight, skill and experience.You don’t actually have to be an expert to have credibility and value, to be good at what you do. You just have to have integrity and be honest about who, and where, you are. Experience and mileage also have value. It’s okay to be in the process of getting those. You don’t have to “fake it till you make it.” That’s a set-up and you’ll regret it. Don’t lie to your customers, not even by omission or implication. Let them see your value, new doula, as a new doula. Learn. Get better.

It’s okay if the number we set to put value on our services changes as our experience grows. If it moves, as we move.

I think my old org was on the right track with telling new doulas not to devalue themselves as professionals with something to offer just because they are new. At the same time, the message was one that not-so-subtly devalued the impact of time, experience and mileage. Imo, that sets new doulas up for a really ugly reality check, not empowerment.

In birth work, as with anything, you get to define where your price point, learning, and experience all meet. If that’s a moving target, and it is for many of us, that’s okay.  Your training and certification organization should not get to dictate what that looks like. Other people in our profession should not get to dictate that to you.  You should not be bullied or pressured by anyone on this point.

Don’t worry about anyone else’s opinion.

Not even mine.

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About Maia Rainwood

Owner and Maker at Maia Rainwood Design. Wearable art for wise women, birth keepers, witches, and world-builders.
This entry was posted in Birth Doula, Life, money, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to What if you want to charge less? Other thoughts about pricing.

  1. HorseHappyHands says:

    Yes, yes, yes! New ANYTHINGS should not charge the same as Way Experienced Anythings. New jewelers, lapidaries, doulas, equine massage therapists. We all have a learning curve, and are trained enough to do the basics before we get certified/licensed. I’d consider myself a journeyman of sorts, but many miles to go before master. Huzzah to you, Rain, for knowing and doing the right thing for your honor.

    • Maia Rainwood says:

      That’s not actually the point of what I’m saying, though. What I’m saying is that as a new anything, you have to assess your skill level and set your prices where they feel right – TO YOU.

      Not where your organization, teacher or peers say.

      Where you say. For me, that looked like charging less. For someone else that might look like charging more. I’ve got no judgment about that. I just want people to feel free to do what feels right without other opinion muddying their view of their skills and worth.

  2. Kudos for doing what feels right to you! There are many ways to get there! You alone get to carve your path! 😉 💗

  3. Lynda the Guppy says:

    I’m a freelancer now, and I struggled for about a year to figure out what to charge. I’m a copyeditor (mostly for romance) and I also proofread. While those are similar skills, they are VASTLY different in the amount of work and training that goes into it, and I needed to charge reasonable rates. I didn’t want to overcharge my clients, but I also didn’t want to undercharge. I went through a year of school (through UCSD) to be able to do what I do, and while I didn’t feel comfortable at the top end of the pay scale, I didn’t want to undercut my “competition” and therefore devalue all of us. And it didn’t help that some people charge by the word and some people charge per 1,000 words.

    I finally found a happy medium. I’m comfortable with what I charge and how I do it, and I feel it’s both a fair market price and a fair-to-me price. Although I sometimes still feel guilty when I send the invoice, but my BFF basically smacked me around over. I have skills. They’re PAYING for those skills. I’ve EARNED that money fair and square.

    I could probably charge a little more, and next year I might raise my rates a little, but for now I feel good where I’m at. And it only took almost a year to figure it out. LOL

    • Maia Rainwood says:

      I think feeling good about your rates and confident about the ask is HUGE and I’m glad you’re in a spot that feels good to you. I hear you about maybe raising your rates a little in future, that’s my plan too, as I gain some more experience.

  4. I had no idea you work with teen moms in the foster system. You beautiful soul ❤

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