Should You Partner with a Doula Agency?





Hey y’all, I’m Tavia and I help photographers learn how to specialize and get fully booked with ideal clients so they can go full time. I do this with my birth photography certification and my 7 step marketing system.

So here we are again taking a look a little bit behind the scenes with some Marketing School students at a few of their hot seats. Are you ready?

First up…

Should You Form a Partnership with a Doula Agency?


“A local doula agency wants to work with me, I wasn’t sure how to make it work for both of us.”

Student: So because I’m also doing doula work, I wasn’t sure how to make it work for both of us, because I didn’t want people to like hire me and then they lose out on the money ‘cause I’d give you like a kickback basically. But since now I’m doing the flat fee and then IPS, our fee is similar. Theirs is a little bit higher, so I wouldn’t mind them to have the overage and then maybe an extra a hundred bucks or whatever.

Has anyone else done this before? And does it make sense? Because she says she gets inquiries for birth photography, so I think it would benefit me, but I don’t want to be like stuck in this situation, basically.

Tavia: What are the terms? What did she propose?

Student: We haven’t come up with terms yet. She just gained ownership of this agency in October, so she’s still learning the ropes. Her doulas get like 65% of the fee and then the agency gets 35%. And so I don’t think she was expecting that much. I was thinking like 10-ish%. But if I’m doing the doula work too, then that they might lose out on that extra money, you know?

Tavia: I don’t love this set up. I know it’s becoming more popular, but I just don’t love it. The relationship that I’ve had with other doulas and midwives is always just like, we refer each other. Like it’s not anything where I’m paying them. I give them a referral credit to the studio, so they get their family photos paid for, they get like a mini session paid for with their referral credit.

But I’m not like Venmo-ing them cash for people that they refer to me. And I’m not saying that you can’t do that. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that, but this whole like 35% and whatever – first of all, 35%? No way.

And I would almost rather just build a partnership with them like we talk about in the course, than do any of this stuff, because if she starts talking about exclusivity and like, you can’t do this and can’t do that – that’s a big no for me.

Student: Yeah and I feel like because she’s just owned it like she doesn’t necessarily know what she’s doing. Her doulas are great doulas. And she’s a doula and she’s a great doula. And I know they take care of their clients. But the business side of it, I feel like we could help each other because if someone hires me and they want just the doula, I’m not the person. I will say you need to go hire a doula and I’ll be your photographer.

But if they just want someone that kind of like does the pre-natal and post-partum, kind of basically guide their partner, that’s kind of like my philosophy. I guess I’ll do hip squeezes if I need to, but you know, that’s kind of the thing.

So I was just kind of wanting to see if anyone had done something like this, how they made it work, or if that’s just like something that doesn’t work?

Tavia: I would say, because it seems like she doesn’t really know any better, for lack of a better term, I don’t want you to take advantage of her obviously. But you could just be like, “Hey, I’m not interested in being one of your doulas or doing a percentage or anything like that, but I am interested in working with you. So here’s my proposal to you.”

And it could be like any of the offers that we talk about in the vendor networking module like, “I’m going to give you a hundred dollar gift card to give to your clients to hire me, and in exchange you get __________. Or I’m going to give you this many canvases to display and in exchange, you’ll get __________. Or I will give you photos.”

Student: Like if I offered to do headshots for all of their doulas or whatever – I don’t know. I just like to talk things out.

Tavia: Also, I would be wondering, I mean, “We get a lot of requests for birth photography,” is that two times a year, two times a week, is it two times a day? What does that mean?

To me, I would rather have multiple relationships with multiple different people than be super tied into one person. There is value in having deep connections in our relationships with the people that you like working with, I just don’t want you to get super dug in with this person too soon.

And one thing that I used to be a part of a birth collective, where I paid a monthly fee, basically for, I had space there, but also, I paid for referrals. It was like 40 bucks a month. I paid for referrals and I was there for like three years probably.

And so it worked out well. I was their only birth photographer and they referred people to me sometimes, but ultimately I was like, it wasn’t really trackable. And everyone there was referring to me whether or not I was a part of the collective and so I ultimately just left. But I wouldn’t say it was a bad deal.

There was no exclusivity on my end, I could work with other people or whatever.So I would just do what feels good to you. And definitely not anything that’s a percentage or exclusivity or anything like that. Does that help?

Student: Yes. That’s very helpful. Thank you.


The Importance of Being Laser-Focused

This next clip is a mini training that I did that I know you will find really valuable if you have a hard time sticking with one thing. If you find yourself getting distracted by shiny object syndrome (I’m totally raising my hand), then this clip will be beneficial for you:

Let’s go workshop style a little bit with this here today, because I want you to focus on where you are in the course. Is anybody done with the course and not currently like re-going through it? I want you to think about something else that you can use for this exercise. Another goal that you’re working towards, something that you’re doing right now.

What is something you need to complete? What’s the next module or lesson that you need to complete that you’re currently working on?

While you guys are thinking about it and writing it down, I want to just stress to you, the importance of laser focus. Here’s what can happen sometimes in the Facebook group and just in general. People are posting what they’re doing. They’re posting their ideas. They’re posting their wins, they’re posting this or that.

And you’re like, “Oh my gosh, that’s such a good idea. I have to do that too.” And then you totally get distracted from what you’re working on. So I encourage you to create a brain dump task list. I use my Notes app for this. Instead of feeling like, “Oh, I need to go work on this,” I’m going to start researching this.

Somebody posted like a really great lead magnet that they had just created. Was it somebody in here? And it was like, I could see myself and definitely you guys starting to be like, “Ooh, that’s so good, I need to go work on that. I should do something like that.”

If that happens to be where you’re already working on, like you’re already working on your lead magnet, okay, that’s great. But if you’re not, clap up, put it on your list for later, and keep focusing on what you’re doing right now. Because otherwise, when you’ve got all these bridges that you’re building, your bridge is never going to make it all the way to the other side. Cause you’re like halfway building something and then jumping over here to the next halfway.


So focus on one bridge, make it all the way to the other side, then come back and start building the next bridge.

And for each of you, the focus of this conversation, I want you to think about it being a specific lesson or module that you’re working on. Focus on that to make it to the other side. Don’t let yourself get distracted.

I’m telling you guys, I created this because it’s literally what got me to go full-time and retire my husband. Every single thing that you’re learning in this course is what got me there. It’s not fluff. It’s all there for a reason. And so I want you to stay focused on that.

In fact, speaking of staying focused on our goals, I want you to bring that goal top of mind for you here today.

Why did you join this course? What is your goal? At the end of the day, what do you want to see happen? And I already know the answer for most of you guys, because when you joined, you filled out a form and you said, if I could wave a magic wand and make anything happen in my business after completing this course, it would be X.

Do you know what that thing is for you? And it might feel crazy and it might feel dumb to even say out loud, but I want you to revisit that and bring it top of mind. At a minimum, write it down for yourself right now. And keep it on a post-it – you guys, my computer is filled with post-its because I have reminders of why am I doing this and what do I need to remember? So keep it top of mind, so that when things get challenging and you’re building all those bridges and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, this is hard,” you can remember.

What Really Happens When People Ghost You?

If you have ever been ghosted by an inquiry, you’ll want to listen to this next clip. If you have experienced that, you are not alone! In the next clip, I walked a student through my thought process whenever I get an inquiry that doesn’t respond to me or when I get several inquiries that ghost me, what I’m looking at, what I’m thinking about, and how to potentially recover them as a client.


I got nine inquiries and only one made it to a consult. It’s like, whenever I respond back to them, it’s a ghost. And then I’ll follow up in a couple of days later, still nothing. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.

Student: I took such a long break over the holidays and then jumped back in and my email kind of blew up. I was really excited. I got nine inquiries and only one made it to a consult though. It’s like, whenever I respond back to them and I’ll say, you know, “Congratulations, thank you for reaching out to me. What is the best time to set up a consult where we can grab coffee and chat and see if we’re a good fit,” it’s a ghost. And then I’ll follow up in a couple of days later and I’ll send them a birth photography guide, what to look for in a birth photographer, still nothing. And I’m just like, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.


Response Time

Tavia: It’s possible that you’re not doing anything wrong. It’s possible that these people, who knows? So many different things. Number one, I’d be interested to know your response time. Was it within the same day? Was it five days later? Was it 10 days?

If it was a long time, you know, they may have moved on. If it was a short amount, not to like stress you guys out and feel like you have to be chained to your email constantly, but response times do matter. I have gotten clients because of my response time and I have lost clients because of my response time.

And I know because they hired Stephanie before she was working with me. And then she told me about it. So that would be my first question is your response time.


Quality of the Lead

Tavia: The next question would be how did they hear about you? Because if they heard about you from a midwife who recommended you, that’s a lot different than if they heard about you from a recommendation in a Facebook group.

Do you know the answers to either of those two questions?

Student: So I’ve been trying to respond within two hours. And most of them are coming from a midwife group that I have no idea what it is, but I have had so many people reach out to me and say that I was recommended by someone in a midwife group that they’re in. I don’t know if that means the other moms in the group are referring me?

Tavia: Okay, so these particular inquiries was there a two-hour response time?

Student: Yeah, I mean, I didn’t wait a long time on all of them.

Tavia: Okay. So it wasn’t like any of them were like five days or something. And then all of them came from this midwife group, which probably is a Facebook group.

Student: One of them was Google and then the rest for this Facebook group. So it almost sounds like someone posted and then a lot of people recommended me and then other moms saw it and reached out to me.

Tavia: Okay. So that’s different as you know, then like a midwife directly saying like, Hey, you need to call, right? So to me it is a midwife group, but it would still be like a Facebook group type of thing, which is probably less qualified.

What does your inquiry email actually say? Does it have pricing or what does it say?

Student: It doesn’t have any pricing. They asked me for pricing, but I just respond back and try to get them in a consult and then go over pricing at the consult and only one resulted in the consult.

Tavia: So whenever you email them back, you just say like, Hey, congratulations. I love to meet in person to talk about your birth. Are you available this day or this day?

Student: And then they just like ghost me. I follow up a couple of days later with that guide and say, I was just following up to see, you know, which day is gonna be best for us to get together. And then here’s a birth photography guide.

Tavia: Does the birth photography guide have pricing? I think that sometimes that’s just the way it goes. I think that, like I said, inquiry time – I’m sorry, I know that kind of sucks – but I think that inquiry time matters. And I think that the quality of the lead matters like where they came from, and how they heard about you also matters, and if they’re willing to like, meet up with you

If they want to email you and just get pricing, they’re not your people. You know what I’m saying?

Sometimes e-mail those go to spam. So after one or two follow ups, I would text them or call them and just be like, Hey, I was emailing you, but I didn’t see a response. I just want to make sure you got the info you needed from me because sometimes stuff goes to spam.

Student: In my thing I have what is your email and phone number, but they always only put their email. They never put their phone numbers. So I was thinking of making a second box. That’s like email and then a separate box for phone number where they have to put their phone number.

Tavia: A hundred percent. I wouldn’t make it required, but I would definitely make it its own field. Because “and phone number,” like I probably wouldn’t even see that, you know what I mean? I just see email and type an email.

Response time, where they came from, the follow-ups, calling, texting afterwards – that’s all you can do.

And you never know, some of them might come back later and be like, Hey, life just got busy. I still want to meet up with you. You know what I mean? They got a response and they might, who knows, they might come back later and want to chat with you.

I think short of directly calling them, instead of emailing them, like you get the inquiry and you call them first instead of emailing them, short of doing that, I think you’re doing everything right.

Does anybody else have any thoughts on like that situation and inquiries?

Student 2: Tavia, when I started emailing people through HoneyBook instead of my Gmail account, I can see if they’ve read it or not. So that helps me figure out if they’re getting my emails or like what’s happening.

Tavia: Thank you for that. That’s super helpful. Are you using a CRM like that?

Student: I have HoneyBook. I just didn’t think about like responding through HoneyBook. That’s really smart.

Tavia: Oh yeah, totally respond through HoneyBook. It gets so crazy and chaotic if you don’t, because then it’s like, where was I talking to this person?

In HoneyBook it’s all right there. And you can see every interaction that you’ve had with them. So for sure, respond in HoneyBook.

Also, when it comes to HoneyBook and the read receipts and all of that, I will look and see if they read it and still say like, Hey, just making sure you got this email kind of a thing. I think in our final follow-up email, I say something like, “Just letting me know either way so we can take you off our list.” Like respond to me. I am a person. It actually kind of drives me crazy when people just ghost me because it’s like, I am a real human here. Like if you’re not interested, that’s fine. Just say like, Hey, it’s out of the budget or, Hey, we found somebody else or whatever.

Like, that’s not going to hurt my feelings. I understand. I’d rather you like get off of my pipeline, so I’m not having to think about you anymore.

Take Action

Those three clips were very different conversation and I did that on purpose because I know that no matter where you are in your business and what you’re working on in your business right now, chances are one of those things resonated with you significantly more than others.

So I hope that you will take a few minutes today to take action on that one clip or item that stood out to you today!


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