Today’s episode includes an interview with my friend, Nichole Joy, a digital doula. Never heard of that title before? That’s probably because this girl pretty much invented it. After the birth of her second baby, Nichole discovered a passion within her for pregnancy and childbirth education, and began studying to become a doula. But with (eventually) three young children at home, being on call for the unpredictable nature of birth wasn’t going to work.
Instead, Nichole took to social media and began building an online community of women who were eager to learn more about pregnancy and childbirth. Now she’s creating courses for these women, AND the doulas who serve them. Nichole is the perfect example of what it can look like if you keep your head down and simply listen to what your people are asking for. She’s built her business on serving, and there are so many amazing gems in this interview that you can apply to your own business.
Nichole is a digital doula and also a mom of 3 (ages 5, 3, and 1), currently resides in Florida. Nichole transitioned to the birth world a few years ago from corporate real estate. Yes, she’s the one who finds herself talking about placentas and vaginas at parties.
In college, Nichole majored in finance and minored in accounting, and she started working in residential mortgages part-time while in college. When she graduated, she went to full-time and then very quickly started working in a corporate environment where they worked to help affordable housing projects get financing. This really allowed her to pull together her favorite things of real estate, finance, and accounting. A little while later, Nichole transitioned to another company, which she stayed with for close to 10 years.
At that time, Nichole thought she had the best career ever. She was having fun helping manage large real estate investment funds, got to travel, and was making a very healthy salary. In 2013, she found out she was pregnant. When she told her bosses that, Nichole stated that it was an interesting shift at work, and ultimately the dynamics of her working experience changed when she became a mom. She couldn’t bring herself to put her son in daycare, so she started working from home. It seemed to be going well, but Nichole soon realized something had to give – balancing motherhood and a career was just becoming tough.
A Change in Career
After having her second child, Nichole decided she couldn’t just go back to crunching numbers and looking at properties. Nichole had a VBAC with her second child, and she was amazed by what her body could do. She wasn’t sure what she should do instead of real estate; she just knew she wanted to be with her children more and that she was fascinated with birth. Nichole decided to take a year off to just slow down, be a mom, and really think.
Nichole questioned if leaving her job was the right decision, but she tells of many signs that came her way that reassured her she was making the right choice. She stated that she wanted to see three camels to let her know if she should leave her job or not. Nichole saw one on her child’s artwork, in a movie, and on someone’s necklace. She saw them all within a few days of each other, and she then decided she was going to leave her job and take that year off to be a mom and figure out what she really wanted to do.
Finding Her Passion
Nichole shared that she has never not worked. She has had a serious job ever since she was 16 years old, and so when she left her successful position at the real estate company, she admitted she struggled. It was a big adjustment for her. It was hard not seeing a paycheck come in, even though she had saved and planned for that.
But Nichole knew she wanted to start a business and so she pursued that during that time. She shared that she had been trying to find her passion basically since forever. Nichole first started with starting a blog with the plan of sharing about birth and motherhood, but she admits she was afraid to talk about it. Instead, she started it as a fashion blog. Even though that isn’t what she continued, looking back she realized it taught her a lot about the tech side of things.
One week when she attended church, she was talking with a woman after the service who was pregnant and planning her next c-section. Nichole got to talking about her own VBAC and birth in general, and she just couldn’t stop talking. Looking back, she states that that was what alignment feels like. That was a turning point for Nichole. She knew talking to women about birth was what she wanted to pursue.
Nichole began doing some research to discover what felt the most fun for her and what felt like something she could do. She researched doula work and childbirth education, and she decided to pursue both. Nichole did trainings and a lot of studying, and also hired a business coach around that time.
Nichole wasn’t quite sure who she would share this information with, but her business coach suggested starting a Facebook group. Her first live video was only watched by her niece, but still Nichole knew she needed to get out there and share. Things kept improving as she continued to put the work in. It wasn’t easy or natural for Nichole in the beginning, she admits, but she knew she needed to keep showing up. Her business coach reminded her that just like we encourage a baby after they take a few steps (rather than shaming them for only taking a step and then falling down), she needed to give herself grace too as she was learning the ropes of it all.
Serving Her People
As Nichole continued, she became more comfortable with sharing and showing up online. Nichole simply showed up and talked about birth and invited others to join in the conversation and continues to do so now. Her Facebook group has grown as she has offered information and knowledge to her audience for free. She looks to serve them and provide them with free content. Nichole is always very open with her audience in stating that if people are interested in buying one of her birth courses, that is great, but if they are just there for the free content, she is totally fine with that too.
Not only does Nichole reach women to discuss pregnancy and birth, but she also looks to serve doulas as well. Nichole helps doulas grow their online presence, but she states the same goes for them – they can buy the great products she has, or they can just come for the other content. Nichole is ultimately trying to spread her knowledge and mission of preparing for families for birth, and she does a great job of doing so through her online presence.
There’s No Such Thing as Competition
Nichole found many doulas asking and messaging her the same questions so she took that information and created a doula group and courses. She listened to her audience’s needs and acted on it. Nichole serves so well, rather than feeling like she shouldn’t help “the competition.” Her mission is to make birth better, and if that means helping other doulas spread that too, she is going to serve them in that way to help push the mission even further.
Nichole admits she first questioned why doulas were joining her mom Facebook group, but she came to realize that there’s no such thing as competition. Those doulas have totally different clients than she does, and she can’t be a doula for every single person. Nichole concluded that everyone out there needs support and information, but not necessarily from her. She decided that she didn’t need to feel like she was sharing her “secrets” by allowing other doulas into her group. Nichole also used that as an opportunity to grow her business through offering those services to other doulas. Offering a doula course also fit within her lifestyle at the time, and doing it virtually appealed to other people as well.
Doulas are known for their hands-on, in-person support, so Nichole shared a bit about how this support can also be offered online to expecting families. The first thing she shared that was to remember that virtual services can’t replace the in-person services; it is a supplement to that. Another thing is online classes and courses can be helpful to many expecting moms. Online message support from doulas may also appeal to clients as it allows for more of a quicker, direct-connection that people may like having. This can also be used during birth to support the expecting mom or support person. Digital doulas can also offer one-on-one calls that can be done during pregnancy or postpartum. Things like birth plans, birth education, postpartum plans, breastfeeding challenges, and so much more can be discussed. Even a blog from doulas can be a resource for expecting families to turn to.
Seeing Our Own Genius
We often don’t see our own genius, and Nichole agrees. The things we are good at or know so much about are often the things we shrug off. But those are the things we should be sharing with others! We may see it as simple and easy, but to others it is valuable information. Nichole sees this happening with other doulas too and uses her Facebook group and resources to remind those women that they know so much more than they think they do. They too can offer that knowledge to expecting families. They know more than their clients know and that is the key – you just need to be a little bit ahead of who you are talking to you and you can add value.
“The message that somebody needs to hear right now is more important than me being nervous.” Nichole stated this regarding the fact that it can be hard and nerve wracking to show up online, but sharing your knowledge and mission with others is more important. She reminds other doulas that “somebody needs to hear this” and to get out there and share the information, even if they are afraid.
The Work of a Mastermind Group
Nichole shares her experiences of being in a mastermind and encourages others to consider joining a mastermind as well. She found such value in the groups she has been a part of and it really helped her to see her skills and talents. Nichole struggled at times with feeling like others were just saying things to be nice, but she discovered she did have value and began believing it herself.
The mastermind really helped Nichole get her business started. She went into it with an idea and began building her business alongside being a part of the group. Nichole was ready to go and do the work, even if she was at square one when she joined, and the mastermind helped support her, bounce ideas around, and get things started. This just shows that no matter where you are at in your business, a mastermind can be beneficial for you.
What’s Getting Nichole Excited
Nichole is excited about many up and coming things in her business! Currently though, both versions of her online courses for moms are available – one for first-time moms and one for VBAC moms. For her doula clients, she is kicking off round two in November of teaching doulas how to make online courses. Looking into next year, Nichole is working on setting up a higher level small group program for doulas, where more support from her is given to help them establish a great online presence to expand their in-person practice and business. And she is also starting a podcast!
Connect with Nichole
Nichole does such a great job of listening to her audience’s needs and reaching out to those she thinks may benefit from her content or courses. She has a huge passion for serving others and making birth a better experience. Thanks to Nichole for being a guest on Take it Personally! You can find more things from her through her website nicholejoy.com or Instagram @nichole_joy__. You can also join her Facebook group, Empowered Moms.