This afternoon I got a call from a lady who found my contact info at http://www.greenpeople.org/ Their site is an online directory of eco-friendly products and services. I have a listing there because as a doula, I promote and support people who are interested in natural birthing and parenting.
In the past 30 days, at http://www.doulamatch.net/ my name has appeared in search results 52 times. My profile there has been viewed 12 times and 4 people have clicked on the link for my website.
www.mothering.com/discussions is the web's largest parenting discussion board. My business listing in their WAHMarket forum has been viewed 1,499 times.
At http://www.drmoz.com/NYdoulasinnewyork.html I have one of the big listings.
On facebook, you can find me by searching for Syracuse Natural Parenting Support. At the present, my page has 62 "likers."
All of these are ways that I make my presence known online. Most of them are free.
I've also bought ad space in the Holistic Resource Guide and Family Times. Buying ad space isn't something that I do regularly, but recently I've been offered good deals to do so.
As a transplant to the Syracuse area, a concern I had was how people would find me. I almost joined up with the local doula agency because of this concern. After I met with the owner of the agency, I knew that I didn't want to work under someone else. If I had chose to work with the agency, clients wouldn't be able to call me first; they would have to call the agency and talk to the owner/other doula, who would most likely end up with their business. I wanted people to be able to contact me directly.
To avoid having to work for someone else (and pay them a big chunk of what I make), I've put a lot of effort into marketing. If there's somewhere online that I can place an ad, I do it. Everyone I run into ends up hearing about the work I do and if they know someone who's pregnant, I put a business card in their hand. Two of my recent clients were ladies that I met at the YMCA.
If you're a doula whose business needs a pick-me-up, make sure that you're utilizing every available free advertising resource. Tell everyone you know that you "still have room for clients in the fall." Make friends with local childbirth instructors, yoga teachers, LLL leaders, etc. And most of all, don't be shy about telling people why you love what you do.