This could easily be the actual beginning of the story. I mean, there have been a number of occasions where Gena and I have gone into a bar, sat down with an IPA, and walked out of the bar holding Destiny arm in arm. However, this story really unfolded over a number of years, a failed maternity store and the necessity of moving everything Gena was doing from a brick and mortar business (which we were paying $2500/month for) to something that was much more affordable and hopefully far reaching.
At the time I was, and had always been, very resistant to follow the tech revolution. Even though I was part of the generation that saw the first computers in schools, I had absolutely zero interest in computers. Instead, I had gone to school for Psychology and then opted out of graduate level instruction to work in the Fine Dining Industry (I liked working with people, but felt my life would be much happier if I would actually want to take my work home with me). Gena wasn’t really a computer person either, although she had become more proficient during the four years that the store was open, but she jumped in and started putting a website together that would move her business over to a different, and more affordable venue.
If I remember correctly, the first website Gena made was on “Bluedomain”, and we used photography from one of the photographers who was associated with our store. The template sites were designed for photographers, and while the site was beautiful, it didn’t really function the way we needed it to. We had the site for almost two years, and as beautiful as it was, the site wasn’t really doing anything for us other than give us presence on the Internet and pulling money out of our business account on a regular basis. In hindsight, the lesson learned from that two years was that photography is very important, but not everything.
Over the next few years, things changed dramatically. I started taking more interest in the design and functionality of the site and moved us to WordPress and, at the time, the need to either hire someone to help us or personally take the responsibility for learning this side of the business. Since we didn’t have the money to hire someone the choice was actually quite easy even though I was employed full time as the General Manager of a restaurant. We learned, we made mistakes, and we spent numerous hours fixing those mistakes or trying to make up for our own limits through sheer hard work.
Perhaps the biggest learning curve came when people started asking Gena to come teach them about the Rebozo. When you are teaching Live Workshops around the country, it is very easy to put yourself in a difficult position by not selling enough tickets. Travel expenses are costly and make it necessary to increase your marketing effort in order to eliminate the possibility of losing money on an event. So I took marketing on myself as well. I started by looking at the other birth professionals in the area who were the most visible on the Internet, and eventually moved on to the medical field (since that is the birth professionals biggest competitor). The conclusion I drew from this comparison was glaring, but we will get to that later.
Fast forward about two years. We have become fairly adept at creating and maintaining websites, as well as marketing Gena’s services, classes and products. Gena is also becoming close with a number of teaching professionals, and so I started looking at their sites and marketing efforts when a glaring fact slapped me in the face; birth professionals are decades behind medical professionals when it comes to their Internet presence. In fact, I made a comment to Gena that many of the birth professionals sites looked as though they had been created in a decade that predated the Internet. This realization, and hearing Gena repeat something she had said many times before, led me to a date with destiny.
Gena always says, “birth isn’t just one day. The couple takes that experience into their marriage, their parenting and most importantly into their communities.”. The beauty of destiny is that she often shows you, if you choose to see, that many of the things in your past that you considered failures were really just successes waiting to happen. My Psychology training was just one of those things. I realized that since the services birth professionals were offering are considered “outside the norm” (or outliers in psych speak), it would be necessary to offer those same services in such a way that they did not challenge the expectant parents values or the views of the status quo. In other words, the sites needed to be attractive and modern so that the owners of those sites don’t appear to be of the “less sane” group who often reside on the world wide web. Why? Because we are all trying to make sure that the “experience” Gena is speaking of, the one they are going to take into their marriage, parenting and communities is wonderful and something that they want to talk about to others.
Now I had dabbled in doing website design work for others, and I didn’t really enjoy the process. However, I really wanted to offer Doulas a way to get a beautiful website, at an affordable price, that wasn’t designed for every individual. It was at this point that I came up with the idea for Doulabook. The original release of Doulabook was essentially a single template that we added features to which were birth professional specific (a birth counter, etc.). The price was $375 for the build out and $75/year for hosting and maintenance. It didn’t do very well, was limited in what could be done, and was still pricy for new doulas, or doulas who were not attending many births. Because of these problems, I went back to the drawing board.
About a year ago, I discovered that I could make a website that offered the user the ability to make their own websites (or have us make them if they didn’t want to). The best thing about this new format, was that it is very similar to the websites that many people are using today such as Wix, Squarespace and others, except the drag and drop editor (the thing most important to people who do not code) was even better. So I started to rebuild Doulabook. The result was fantastic and even better than I expected. With the new Doulabook, you can make almost any site you can dream of. But Doulabook is not just a “pretty face”, it is a powerful tool that can take your doula enterprise to almost any level you can imagine. Are you looking for internet presence and a way for people to contact you if they are interested? The basic subscription, “student”, can do all that and more. I have even had one customer tell me that one of their current clients, who actually does web design, asked her which local design firm did her site. When she remarked that she did it, her client was more than amazed.
The reason we call the second level membership “entrepreneur”, is because most people choose E-commerce as their premium plugin. With Doulabook, you can sell your services and products online, making the interaction with the largest segment of the population more natural for them. However e-commerce is not the only premium app. If you desire, you can give potential clients the ability to schedule an interview with you by choosing our Appointments app. Or, perhaps you build your business through personal interaction at local events, in which case you might choose the Events app.
Are you a teaching professional? Then the Teacher level will appeal to you. Couple any of the previously mentioned apps with our Course Management System, and you have the ability to be your own online school. However, this level is not just for teachers, it is for anyone who wants to take their website from a “business card” to an actual tool which can promote you and make money for you, even when you are busy with a client or your family.
But I am not done. I also have plans to make a prenatal and postnatal video series with the best teaching professionals in the birth industry, that Doulabook owners will have the option to add to their sites as a “pay per view” option for their clients. The prenatal offering will be Childbirth Education and will have the top experts in our industry presenting the course material they are most known for. The postnatal offering is a secret, but I can almost guarantee you that it will become one of the most beneficial things to your client’s experience, and will put you head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to getting referral business. Just think of the possibilities. For the price of many other website options which just give you a website, Doulabook will give you the chance to include Childbirth Education and (something to be named later) Postnatal services that will not only increase the amount you make for the work you do, but will also support the experts in our field who often do not have the financial ability to pursue knowledge and the sharing of that knowledge over the need to put food on the table.
Creating a tool that birth professionals can use to make a better and easier living for themselves and their families was the idea which started Doulabook. However, after creating the platform and making the agreements needed to add the pay per view items to the platform the ultimate goal of Doulabook became quite different. After being introduced to Ubuntu (Ubuntu seeks a cooperative ideology, rather than a competitive model and is based on the idea of eliminating money and all the baggage attached to it) and separating what Gena and I do into their individual places, we made a decision. The decision we made was based on this idea: that Doulabook was a means to make money (for us and the customer) and everything Gena does is really meant to change the world. The decision itself was to find a way to make what Gena and the other experts in the birth industry offer FREE. That’s right. We believe the information we are sharing should be available to everyone without cost. Can we afford to use that model? No, not in our current society, but the compromise might be to build one thing up to pay for the other until we decide as a society that everything should change.
So here is how we have decided to handle our conundrum. Based on my projections, it would take about a thousand Doulabook customers offering the pre and postnatal video pay per view series to their customers, to pay ourselves and the other experts involved enough to survive. Because of this, Doulabook and genakirby.com have agreed that once Doulabook has 700 customers, we will offer all of Gena’s online information, workshops and videos to all parents and birth professionals for FREE! We will also have agreements in place with the professionals we have partnered with to make their information available for free once we hit the 1000 customer mark. All of the professionals we work with would much rather share their information than sell it, if they didn’t have to, and we want to make that happen for you and for them.
Now some of you may believe this to be a pipe dream, but let me offer those of you who believe that to be the case one little thing. Those who invest themselves in the act of manifesting often speak of one idea; in order to make something happen you must introduce or express the idea to as many people as you can. As you read this, you are more than likely making some sort of judgment as to the legitimacy of what I am saying, and a good percentage of you may think or even say to someone else that I am completely full of it. But I am not, I am completely serious. As a dude this is my contribution to “peace on earth begins at birth”, it is my date with destiny, and I want to welcome you all to join me by becoming a Doulabook customer!
In order to kickstart Destiny, I am going to extend the 30% off for life offer through the end of April. Just use the coupon code that pops up when you go to Doulabook.com.