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The Physician Influencer Side Gig

These days, you can't open social media accounts without seeing content from influencers. It's become a huge industry. In just the past few years, the market share has more than doubled, racking in over $21 billion in revenue, and it's projected to continue to grow.


It's been fun for us to see members of our communities build social media followings, and find different ways to leverage them in different ways, including advocacy, patient education, and monetization. This article covers some of the various ways that you can become or monetize your social media presence.


Disclaimer: This page contains information about our sponsors, as well as affiliate links, which support the group at no cost to you. These should be viewed as introductions rather than formal recommendations - please do your own due diligence before making decisions based on this page. We are not formal financial, legal, or otherwise licensed professionals, and you should consult these as appropriate.


Quick Links


Building Your Brand and Following

Content Creation Through Various Mediums



Resources


Getting started with your influencer brand:


If you haven't already, check out our Setting Up Your Side Gig and Growing Your Side Gig pages. We also offer an attorney database if you need any help developing marketing agreement contracts or reviewing contracts from potential partners.


Content creation hardware used by our team at PSG:


More about Side Gigs that Monetize Content Creation:


We have dedicated pages for some side gigs you could easily incorporate into your influencer brand to build your following and later monetize. Check out some of our pages on:


Keeping track of finances:


New to self-employed income and finances? Check out our self-employed finances page for a primer on what you need to know to make sure you minimize the tax burden from your influencer income.

  • Quicken offers a range of different personal and business finance tools, from personal finance managers to more complex features include Schedule C and P&L reports, as well as cash flow tracking. It can help you manage your self-employed finances seamlessly with your personal finances. PSG members receive 50% off through our affiliate link.

  • QuickBooks is an all-in-on business solution suited for small businesses. It can help you track income, expenses, and stay ready for taxes. We've partnered to offer PSG members an exclusive 30% off discount using our affiliate link for QuickBooks Online and QuickBooks Payroll products for their first 6 months. (See their website for full discount details and any exclusions.)



The Physician Influencer Side Gig


The pathway to becoming an influencer is different for everyone.


In some cases, it's not intentional. In my case, I just started writing healthcare topics to get thoughts off my chest. To my surprise, the things I wrote got picked by several large media outlets. Soon, I was asked if I was interested in paid writing and speaking opportunities, and my brand continued to grow from there as one thing led to another. Admittedly, this was easier to do about 5 years ago, before content creators were everywhere you looked.


Nowadays, it's a lot harder to stand out amongst the competition for eyeballs, and I see people being much more intentional about strategy and content creation. Make no mistake, this can quickly turn into another job entirely. Before we get too deep into discussing the ways you can turn physician influencer status into a side gig that is monetized, I want to emphasize that there are so many other amazing things you can do as an influencer, and it's not always about the money. So many physician influencers who are using their platforms for change, advocacy, and impact. One of my favorite things to do with my 'influencer' status (I still cringe a little when people refer to me this way) is to empower and mobilize physicians, and advocate for physicians. This advocacy initiative we took on as a community during the early pandemic to this day remains one of my favorite things we've ever done together, and led to important policies and legislation.


So consider what you want your legacy to be, and realize that often just by following your passion, opportunities that you never intended may show up, as enthusiasm is contagious!


Building Your Brand and Following


The first thing you should decide is what niche your brand is going to focus on, your WHY for wanting to be a physician influencer, and what you want your brand to represent. Everything you do afterwards is going to come back to this - what content you create, which audiences you seek, and where you network. Take the time to go through this exercise and be honest with yourself, as this is going to take blood, sweat, and maybe even some tears, so you have to really want it to dedicate what little free time you have as a physician to working on this.

  • Pick a topic that you're passionate about - if not, your chances at success will be significantly diminished. People gravitate towards people that come across as genuine and passionate about the topics they create content for. Some tips:

    • Don't pick a topic just because it's en vogue. Everything has a season and its day in the sun, but you want your brand to last far past that. It's also a lot easier to be a big fish in a small pond, so niche down very specifically to where you want to be known as THE expert.

  • Decide your goals for this brand, both monetarily and what you want your brand's story to be. This could be:

    • Run for Senate

    • Make as much money as humanly possible

    • Sell your company within a set time frame

    • Get brand sponsorships in a certain niche

    • Be a physician correspondent on the news

    • Make social change

    • Increase awareness about a disease

  • Figure out what mediums for building your following best fit your goals and your personality.

    • If you want your audience to be the general public, you're likely going to need to build an audience on one or more of the popular social media platforms, including TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, or X (formally Twitter).

    • If your intent for your social media following is to promote your business, you will likely need a LinkedIn following, and could consider building out a list serve such as a Substack or a Medium.

    • If your business model involves a community, you'll want to look at popular ways of hosting communities, such as Facebook or Slack.

    • For certain brands, a media presence may be necessary, and you may need to focus your time getting into popular newspaper and news outlets.

    • If you are an introvert, certain niches or ways of monetizing your brand may not be for you. You'll never see me dancing on TikTok or creating lots of reels, but I have so much admiration for those that are engaging, educating, and/or entertaining others through these outlets, and love watching them!


The good news is, you don't need millions of followers on social media to make an impact. Different avenues exist, many of which we'll discuss below, and there are many paths to get to each end point. When you use the tools below strategically, they can help you grow your branding and reach.



Build Your Brand


You have to start somewhere, and when you're building your influencer side gig, branding is critical. Your brand is everything that people associate you with when they think about you.

  • Do they see you as an entertainer, an advocate, a business person, or something else?

  • Based on your content, can they tell what you stand for?

  • Who else do they associate you with in terms of companies or other influencers?

  • When will they think about including you in their efforts?

If you haven't already, check out our setting up your side gig page, where we discuss developing a brand (TL;DR: you have to develop a concise mission, value set, and unique skill or problem you can solve) .


For each aspect of brand building and revenue generation, you want to make sure your actions align with each of the core tenets you build during your initial branding. While your brand may evolve over time, you should try and stay consistent to the themes loved by the followers you have built, or they'll be quick to press that 'unfollow' button, thus erasing years of hard work.


One great way to build your brand is looking for speaking or media opportunities, or collaboration opportunities with other influencers that are in your space. Start a webiste, host webinars, or create newsletters or blogs about your area of interest to increase SEO. Start networking on LinkedIn or elsewhere with others in your space. There is opportunity everywhere - keep your eyes open for it!



Quality and Consistency Are Key


Regardless of the niche you carve out for your brand, you'll want to be specific and consistent. Inconsistent messages and content can turn followers to other similar influencers for more consistent content of what they're looking for.


For example, our own brand is built around empowering physicians and helping to combat burnout and enhance career longevity in medicine. With a physician focus, we have vetted, physician-only communities. If we were to open our communities up to the public, we'd lose the consistency of our brand and lose members.


If you want to become an influencer who discusses navigating the challenges of being a dual physician household but regularly share sports trivia on Twitter and funny cat memes on your Facebook page, you don't have a consistent brand. Each piece of content you deliver, whether self generated or sponsored for revenue (more on this below), should align to the mission and values you set when you start your brand.


Quality is just as important as consistency. You are building your influencer brand as a business. Treat it like one. Take the time to edit your posts and your videos and invest in quality recording and editing equipment. No one wants to watch a video with inconsistent sound leveling or where the background noise filters out your message.


Some of our favorite tech my staff and I use include:



If you don't have the time to learn audio splicing and video editing, consider hiring an independent contractor to help.



Be Engaged


To be successful as an influencer, you have to continually engage with your audience. Followers are interested in your unique voice and perspective on the niche you carve out for yourself. Some tips:

  • Target your content to drive discussion in the comments. This can be as direct as finishing your content with a question for them to respond to in the comments, or a request to share similar stories and tag you in their response

  • Take the time to respond to comments and messages. The more you engage, the more they're likely to return and potentially forward your content to friends.


Content Creation Through Various Mediums


Content creation serves two purposes - to build your following, as well as to monetize your following. As your brand grows, you can include not just free content creation on social media but paid content creation through media options such as downloadable deliverables and online courses. There are also opportunities to monetize the content you've already created or help generate income streams for current content types moving forward.



Social Media


Social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram remain some of the easiest ways to build your influencer brand. The possibility of "going viral" allows you to build your following quicker than other outlets. TikTok has been a great way for new influencers to build their initial audience before transitioning to other platforms such as YouTube, where it can be more difficult to get your videos into the search algorithms.


Being present on multiple platforms can expose you to a great target audience as not everyone uses each platform. There are now many tools that influencers use to cross post material across platforms. That said, being on multiple platforms can stretch you thin as you do need to be able to not just provide content on a regular, dependable schedule, but actually engage on each platform.

  • Tip: Consider creating a username/presence on the various platforms to stake your claim to your social media handle, but don't build out the content on each from the get-go.

Many social media platforms offer ways to earn revenue directly through their platform once you've reached certain eligibility requirements. For example, YouTube lets you generate advertising revenue, and Instagram offers monetization tools such as badges, gifts, and subscriptions for business and creator accounts.



Podcasting


Podcasts have absolutely taken off in the past decade and are a great way to get your name and brand out to your prospective audience. Learn more about podcasting here. If you don't have the time to create your own podcast but are comfortable in front of a microphone, look for interview opportunities on established podcasts who can help you expand your voice and base. This is a good idea even if you have your own podcast as well.


Once you've built an audience, you can offer advertising spots during your podcasts. These can be offered either as direct ads the company provides you to splice into your episodes between segments or mentions of their services or products during your episode(s).


Make sure you track and record your metrics in terms of subscribers and downloads as you develop your podcast. You'll need them when you starting reaching out to perspective advertisers. They will want data to substantiate your claims that you can deliver leads to their products.



Writing


Writing can take many forms for an influencer (visit our page here for more information), both clinical and non-clinical, depending on your branding. Like podcasting, writing allows you to take a skill and transition from free content creation to monetization.


There are several brand building opportunities that work in writing talent which could be used to either build your following by directing traffic to your content or building brand awareness, or actually being paid opportunities:

  • Newsletters

  • Blogs

  • Guides

  • E-books

  • Books

  • Website Content for companies

  • Newspapers or Magazines

  • Op-Eds

With little to no following, you can reach out to other influencers with similar brands for guest blog writing opportunities.


As you build your target audience and influencer reach, you'll be more favorable for publishers if you have a non-fiction (or fiction) story idea for a traditional publishing house. The indie publishing market has also taken off in recent years, making it easier than ever to compile, publish, and monetize your writing.


Similar to guest blogs for other sites, you can offer sponsored content writing within your brand once you've built a following. See our section on partnerships below for more details.



Speaking

We write a lot more on speaking here. Speaking opportunities are great for building a brand and can go a long way in establishing credibility and thought leadership. If you love speaking, successful influencers can make more than $10,000 per engagement. That said, be realistic about your expectations depending on where you are in your journey. Many of us (myself included) start out speaking essentially for free aside from having travel expenses covered and possibly a small honorarium. Certain venues are more important for your brand building and don't pay for speaking, but are still very valuable opportunities. Use these opportunities to network and build your following so that you eventually monetize yourself as a guest lecturer or speaker, or use that brand credibility to monetize your work in other ways.


You can find speaking opportunities organically by people reaching out after seeing your content or website, or by being more proactive in contacting event organizers and telling them you are interested in speaking. Your network is going to be key in helping you find these opportunities.



Course Creation


Course creation is a popular side gig among our members and a great way to monetize your brand for passive income. The nice thing about course creation is that a lot of the effort is made upfront in getting your expertise organized and recorded, but then that portion of the course can be evergreen unless it needs an update. Courses can be as simple as a downloadable self-guided set of videos or as complex as a multi-week intensive including live Q&As with a supportive online community you run and engage with. Many people choose to augment their courses with these more active components that can either raise the price of their product or be purchased as add on options. There is also the ability to create add on tangential revenue streams such as affiliates and partners.


If you have a loyal following, it will be much easier to market your course, as any course creator will tell you that part of the business is creating the course, but the other large part is marketing the course and making sure the word gets out that it exists. Most good course creators will go back from time to time to iterate on their courses and keep them relevant, as so updates may be necessary based on new laws, economic environments, or discoveries. In this day and age, where information is evolving so rapidly, it's important that your customers feel that you are giving them the most up to date information.


Our dedicated site goes into how to create a course.





Crowdfunding


If you have an engaged and devoted following, many will pay you directly to continue delivering content. Several different crowdfunding options exist to easily collect revenue directly from your audience.


Buy Me Coffee, PayPal, and other similar services let your followers send you funds in whatever increments they can afford. Many social media platforms also offer this ability.


Patreon is another platform popular for influencers. Patreon allows you to offer a paid subscription service to your followers. Popular influencers often offer special content exclusively for their Patreon members, including shout outs or exclusive downloadables and/or merch.


Kickstarter is another popular crowdfunding options that allows you to set funding goals and different content or offerings based on the level people want to donate. Kickstarter is popular with writers to get funding for self publishing and for product development related to your branding. You only get the funds if you meet your self-set funding goal, but whatever additional you reach over your set amount you also keep as income.



Monetizing Your Influencer Status


Anybody that has successfully built a following knows that it's hard work. Social media never sleeps, and there are always challenges and expectations of those who are given "influencer" status. You will soon realize that it's hard to maintain momentum unless your efforts are rewarded in some way. That doesn't necessarily mean money - it could mean that your advocacy pays off, or that you like the fame or popularity. For many physician influencers though, there comes a point where it is necessary to learn to monetize their efforts so that they become sustainable. This may be so that you can hire staff, cut back clinically to focus on building out this passion, or pay back those student loans.


Above, we've already alluded to content creation options and business-to-consumer ideas to monetize them as your audience grows. Below, we look at additional business-to-business revenue models available to influencers.


If you receive an offer for partnership from another brand, make sure you review the partnership agreement carefully. Hire an attorney if you need help navigating your first agreement (or fifth) agreement.


As you generate income, make sure to track it! If this is your first side gig or 1099 venture, make sure to check out our self-employed finances page. You don't want to get a nasty tax bill come April with fees and interest for estimated taxes you didn't realize you needed to make.



Aligning Your Brand with Partnerships


When assessing any partnership opportunity below, it's important to always circle back to the three pillars of your brand we mentioned above: your mission, your values, and your niche. Consistency here, as with your content, is key. For every partnership you bring on and marketing opportunity you explore, you want to make sure your brand aligns with their product and/or message. Aligning yourself with an opportunity that does not align with your brand just for the money not only feels bad, but can damage your credibility and make you lose followers, or worse, hurt your professional reputation as a physician.


Aligning yourself with brands you believe in will ideally actually augment your mission. You can market a product or service much more authentically and naturally that you currently or would use yourself. As a bonus perk, you often get freebies in the process, which is a great way to snag stuff you'd purchase anyway!



Affiliate Marketing


Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest revenue generators to set up. Many brands allow you to apply to become an affiliate directly on their website. Just come prepared to show your numbers. Potential partners want to know what new potential audience they can hope to reach by offering you a cut of their sales.


A common example of affiliate marketing is partnering with Amazon (for example, we have affiliate links on our recommended books page). This is especially common amongst bloggers and social media influencers. Brands that offer affiliate programs often have eligibility requirements you must meet and maintain in order to be part of their programs. This is where it's important to know your realistic numbers including number of followers, average growth in followers, engagement statistics, and conversation rates or successes with other currently standing partnerships. The larger your following and the stronger your track record, the more likely you are to have sway to negotiate a higher affiliate percentages.


If you decide to run affiliate marketing as part of your monetization strategy, make sure you do it legally with appropriate disclosures that something is an affiliate link or that your content contains affiliate links. Besides being poor form not to disclose conflict of interest, it can also cause problems. .While the guidelines can feel somewhat subjective because of the rapidly evolving platforms and promotional methods out there, the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) offers guidance that is worth looking at. Consult with a lawyer if you have any questions.



Ad-Revenue Sharing


Ad-revenue from ads placed during or before your content is another easy way similar to affiliate marketing to monetize your influencer side gig quickly. While affiliate marketing is popular on sites such as Amazon, ad revenue is big on media sites such as YouTube.


While ad-revenue can be easy to implement, it isn't always easy to reach the benchmarks required. Platforms such as YouTube have benchmark requirements you much reach before you can apply for their ad revenue programs, and they usually require having large followings or viral videos.



Brand Ambassador


As your following grows, you may be approached by companies who would like you to be an ambassador for their brand. As a brand ambassador, you promote their services or product to your followers. A lot of times, this is through mentions in posts, blogs, videos, or photos where you showing yourself using the product or talking about their services.


In the earlier stages of growing your influencers side gig, brand ambassador offers may come in smaller offers of free swag. Other successful influencers make up to hundreds of thousands a month through their ambassador relationships. Remember to set expectations honestly when assessing offers. Research suggests the average successful brand ambassador makes closer to $50K a year, not each month. While some of the biggest influencers out there make millions a year from endorsements, most physicians won't fall in this category.


Make sure you vet each opportunity closely. Scams are prevalent of fake accounts mimicking brands reaching out through social media messaging channels to offer brand ambassador deals. As a brand ambassador, you will become a face of their company - so make sure it's one whose mission and values align with your own and that you're proud to be associated with. Also make sure that your contract allows you to say no to things that you don't want to do or don't feel like they're in alignment with your brand.



Sponsored Content


If you have a large following through your social media, website, or other online presence, sponsored content is another potential revenue stream to consider. Examples of this include co-creating webinars or blog posts, sending out emails to your listserve, or publicizing another brand's content.


You may be able to generate sponsored content revenue from existing partnerships you've cultivated through affiliate marketing and ambassador deals, or you might make new one-off arrangements. Each situation is different.


With sponsored content, you allow another brand access to your platform for them to speak in their own words to pitch their product, though you can (and should) work with the brand to tailor the message so it aligns with your specific brand niche. The more closely you work with your partner to make the content feel authentic to your voice and mission (which your followers presumably believe in), the more likely it is to convert to sales for them.



Advisory Boards


As your brand and social influence grows, you may be approached by companies, either sponsors or not, that want you to sit on their advisory board. This can be an exciting opportunity to help shape another brand that you are passionate about. Visit our page on being a physician startup advisor for more information about this exciting opportunity.



Conclusion


Becoming an influencer is a great way to serve your community and help boost your advocacy efforts. It can also be a fun side gig to monetize. If you have any questions while climbing to influencer success, drop us a line in the Physician Side Gigs community for feedback from other entrepreneurs.


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