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Setting Up Your Physician Side Gig, Including Branding

Starting a new side gig is an exciting time, but it can be overwhelming in the beginning. You have an idea, but there's so many logistics to getting it off the ground! Here are some tips and resources to help you get started. It goes without saying, but before you dive into any of the following steps, make sure you have a clearly defined focus of your side gig. This is not only defining what your side gig will be, but what your specific angle is that will be unique to you and thus make you marketable. Here's a picture we did on our Instagram page of what you need to do to develop your niche in consulting as an example, but a lot of these principles apply to other side gigs, such as expert witness work, starting your own product line, as many of our members have done, or starting your own private practice.


Disclosure/Disclaimer: This page contains information about our sponsors and/or affiliate links, which support us monetarily at no cost to you, and often provide you with perks, so we hope it's win-win. These should be viewed as introductions rather than formal recommendations. Our content is for generalized educational purposes.  We are not formal financial, legal, or tax professionals and do not provide individualized advice specific to your situation. You should consult these as appropriate and/or do your own due diligence before making decisions based on this page. Physician Side Gigs has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Physician Side Gigs and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. To learn more, visit our disclaimers and disclosures.



A member from our community asks for tips on building your niche for physician consulting

Quick Links


Resources


These companies can help you throughout all the different aspects of your side gig building journey.


Website Resources

Namecheap offers domain names at a discounted rate for your first year.


Squarespace is an easy way for you to create and maintain your own website, and offers attractive templates that you can plug your info into. Use our affiliate link and promo code PARTNER10 for 10% off if you choose this option.


If you'd rather have someone else create your site for you, Artillery makes personalized, attractive websites (in our opinion). Many of our members have used them and have had a good experience. They are reasonably priced (usually 2-5K depending on complexity) and offer a $200 discount if you mention PSG.


Marketing/Branding

Email marketing: If you want to get into the nitty gritty of social media marketing and analytics, we've partnered with Constant Contact, which offers several different marketing tools to help. They can help you set up and manage your mailing list.


Business cards and marketing products: I made my business cards with Moo, and I get asked about them every time I hand them out. They are visually appealing and memorable, which is a great way to let your brand leave an impression after your networking connection. Use our referral link for 25% off your first purchase. You can also use them to make branded items like notebooks and water bottles for advertising purposes.


Accounting/Money/Payroll

CardRatings - ranks credit cards, including small business ones, to help you navigate the different options and select the one that works best for your specific situation.


Quicken - can help with things like generating tax reports, accounts payable and receivable, cash flow, mileage tracker, payroll, profit and loss statements, sales taxes, vendor and customer details, and more. If you own rental properties, it can automate rent reminders and generate receipts, as well as store relevant documents and receipts. PSG members receive 50% off using our affiliate link.


Quickbooks Online and Payroll - If you have a complex business as your side gig, Quickbooks is a more robust accounting package to track receivables and payable, as well as to manage cashflow and profitabilty. It offers tools to help prepare different types of returns (sales tax, 1096, payroll, etc.) and has an additional payroll products if you grow your side gig into a business. We have partnered to offer PSG members an exclusive 30% off discount on Quickbooks Online and Payroll products for your first 6 months using our affiliate link.


Gusto - great for payroll, and can do more, such as talent management, time and attendance, hiring and onboarding, employee benefits, and insights and reporting.


Legal/Insurance

Next Insurance sells policies like business insurance, general liability insurance, commercial property insurance, business income insurance, worker's compensation insurance, professional liability insurance/errors and omissions (but not malpractice!), tools and equipment insurance, and commercial auto insurance.




Set Up Your Side Gig


One of the frequent questions we get in our PSG community when it comes to starting a side gig is, "Do I need to set up an LLC?" The answer, unfortunately, is it depends. If you are just doing a few locums shifts on the side for a few thousand dollars a year, you likely don't need an LLC. If you have a steady and/or high grossing side gig, an LLC can offer many protections you don't have as someone working under your own name. It can also help you to separate out your personal expenses from your business for tracking/accounting purposes more clearly. Depending on how your LLC is taxed, there can be some tax advantages too at higher earning amounts. To learn more about different business entities, check out our side gig finances page.


If you do decide to set up a company, if it's a simple LLC, depending on the state, you may be able to do it yourself on the state's Secretary of State website. Many people start this way for basic side gigs, although it comes at the risk of setting it up in a non-ideal or non-strategic way. If this is a more complicated entity or if you think this side gig will grow significantly in the future, if there is more than one owner, if you are not sure of some of the answers to questions asked when you try to do it yourself, or if you just need some guidance that isn't readily available on the Secretary of State website or by calling them, consider involving an attorney (check out our attorney database if you need help). For LLCs in particular, rules and regulations can vary by state, so it's important to reach out to a local attorney to help you if you do feel expertise is necessary.


Once you have your side gig legally set up as an entity, you want to make sure you have the proper (commercial general liability, etc.) insurances in place that protect you while your working under your side gig. If you are working a side gig where you as a person are the primary part of the brand (coaching, course creation, speaking, etc.) make sure you have umbrella insurance in place. If you become a local or internet celebrity (what a fun problem to have!), it can change the terms and coverage of your policy, so make sure you discuss it with your carrier.


If this is a side gig that will have significant cashflow in and out, you will also want to consider setting up a business bank account and/or credit card to make finances simpler to track. Check out the CardRatings list of small business credit cards here. You'll also want to create a system to track your accounting to make tax time easier. Setting this up on the front end can save you from a massive headache come tax time. Your system could be as simple as using an Excel spreadsheet, or if your needs are more complicated, using software such as Quicken, which will allow you to manage accounts receivable, payroll, and invoicing, among other things.



Develop a Brand


Once your side gig is defined and set up, it's time to brand.


Having a brand tells your future clients or customers who you are, what you do, and what you value. It helps define what you want to be known for and what sets you apart from your competition. Here are specific target areas to consider when developing your brand.

  • What is your mission?

  • What are your values?

  • What makes you unique? Or: what unique problem can you help solve?

Take us here at Physician Side Gigs as an example:

  • Mission: to empower physicians and enhance career longevity in an increasingly challenging healthcare landscape

  • Values: We are physician first, always. We exist to help physicians in their personal and professional lives and want to foster community and support. We also want to help educate physicians about topics they hadn't learned (but should have) in medical school, as well as use our numbers to advocate on behalf of physicians and patients.

  • Unique: You! We are grateful to have the largest online physician community in the country, with physicians across specialty, stage of practice, age, gender, or other demographic characteristics, which allows for a diverse community that can lend their experiences to help each other.

Once you know your brand's message, you need a clear, memorable way to promote it to your target audience. You need a brand name and logo that align with your brand's identity.


Become Official on the Internet


Consumers these days rely heavily on the internet, and an online presence is a must. If a business doesn't have some sort of online presence, consumers will be suspicious as to why.


A website is one of the most effective ways to let people know what services or products you offer. In order to setup a website, you will need a domain name, a website host, and actual website content.


To learn more about designing your website, visit our physician website 101 page.


Choosing Your Domain Name

You want your domain name to point directly to what you do at your side gig. Make it as simple as possible. The easier it is to spell, the better, and avoid any special characters like hyphens. The shorter it is, the less prone to typos it is. If your side gig will be speaking, your name is a great choice for your domain name. For example, check out our founder's site at www.nishamehtamd.com. For a private practice, use all or a shortened version of your practice's name.


While several different domain name suffixes now exist (.net, .ai, .co, etc.), '.com' is your best option as it is by far the most common and the one people default to. If you think many people will be searching for your site, it may be a good idea to buy out other suffixes, similar spellings, or misspellings and redirect those domains to your site, provided that it's reasonably priced. This is for a few reasons:

  1. So that competition doesn't buy those and redirect your leads to themselves

  2. So that if somebody types in the wrong thing, they'll still find you

Resource: Namecheap offers domain names at a discounted rate for your first year.



Hosting and Content

While crafty web designers build and code their own websites on dedicated servers, that's a lot of work for a busy physician and usually not necessary to build awareness in the marketplace. We recommend keeping it simple by using a CMS (content management system), unless you enjoying being hands on.


Resource: Squarespace is one such CMS that offers a quick and easy way to create and maintain you website. Use our affiliate link and promo code PARTNER10 for 10% off.


If you have some larger requirements for your site that a default template isn't suitable for, another option is to pay a website development to help customize your website to your needs. Oftentimes, you can start with a simple CMS like Squarespace, then have a web design company help tailor it later as your needs grow and thus related features required grow with your side gig. Others just prefer to get someone else to manage it from the get-go.


Whichever path your choose, make sure your website design fits the overall branding you've developed. A template suited for selling artwork you paint would not be appropriate for your private practice. The more professional leaning your side gig, the more professional you'll want your website to look.


Resource: For a more personalized, stunning website, we recommend Artillery. They are reasonably priced (usually 2-5K depending on complexity) and offer a $200 discount if you mention PSG.



Social Media

Have you come across a person and discovered they had no Facebook, no LinkedIn, no social media to speak of? Probably not, as they are a bit like unicorns in today's society. The same should be true for your side gig. While you don't need to be on every platform, having a social media presence helps you reach your potential target audience and legitimize your gig.


Figure out where your target audience hangs out and where you're willing to spend your time, and focus your efforts on those platforms instead of spreading yourself too thin and not doing any well. As your side gig grows, you can always expand. It helps if your social media handles are the same across platforms. To avoid disappointment, you may want to grab up the social media handles for your business on various platforms regardless of your current need for them, so that you always have them in case you decide to expand there.


You want to make sure you create engaging content that is relevant and timely to your side gig. This is a great opportunity to show your expertise in your chosen field, building your credibility while you build your audience. Check out our Instagram page for examples on how we are trying to use social media to share our resources with the physician community.


Even if your side gig is speaking or consulting, consider making separate social media accounts for this "persona". You want to make sure if you are pitching yourself as a consultant, your social media account people find when they search for you isn't all pictures and posts of vacations and your dinners out. You also want to make sure your social media presence matches your brand mission and values you set.


Resource: If you want to get into the nitty gritty of social media marketing and analytics, we've partnered with Constant Contact, which offers several different marketing tools to help.



Growing Your Side Gig


Congratulations! You have your side gig set up and are ready to work. Make sure you check out our follow-up page on growing your side gig next for tips and resources on how to establish yourself in the market and market yourself to increase your side gig exposure and income.


If you need any help with any of the steps above, feel free to reach out in our Physician Side Gigs community for advice from other physician entrepreneurs.



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. Physician Side Gigs has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Physician Side Gigs and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.






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