In the time of inflation in a post-pandemic landscape, it’s no surprise that 2 in 5 Americans are juggling a full-time job with a side hustle. Physicians are no exception, and recent studies show that nearly 40% of physicians have at least one side gig, including working as medical influencers.
There are several reasons to have a side job as a doctor, including interesting work and contributing to innovation in the medical field firsthand. Of course, the extra income doesn’t hurt either. I made enough to start flipMD with my side hustles, but other common uses for the extra money include paying off debt, supplementing graduate medical education salaries, contributing to a 529, or finally taking that vacation.
There are plenty of side hustles that a physician can choose from, including medical consulting, telemedicine, and physician advisor positions. Becoming a medical influencer has seen an increase in popularity in recent years, and it’s worked for well-known doctors such as:
- Mike Varshavski (Dr. Mike), a board certified family medicine doctor, has a following of more than 4 million on Instagram and a staggering 10 million on YouTube
- Brian Boxer Wachler, Beverly Hills eye surgeon, has over 3 million followers on TikTok
- Adam Goodcoff, an ER resident, has nearly 2 million followers on TikTok
But just how lucrative is influencing for a physician?
Is medical influencing a lucrative side gig for doctors?
Before we get into how lucrative influencing is, we should discuss why doctors should become influencers. It goes far beyond creating clickbait videos and dancing for likes.
Why should a doctor become an influencer?
By leveraging the power of social media, physicians can now reach far larger audiences than what was possible in the past. This type of reach allows them to educate the public and provide accurate health and medical information while fighting false claims that so often circulate on social media. Additionally, they can advocate for policies that they believe in.
Physicians that become influencers can improve their career as well, increasing their reputation while finding new opportunities to advance in their field.
How much do physician influencers make?
It’s certainly not a secret that influencers make money from their social media businesses. What’s often secret is how much they make.
There are several ways to make a living on social media, including with brand deals, channel monetization, and affiliate marketing. The income isn’t uniform, though, and varies from physician to physician. Naturally, a physician who is just starting to build their following might make a few hundred dollars here and there, but a well-known physician can make millions.
Most physician influencers fall under the category of micro-influencers, who have between 10,000 and 50,000 followers. This type of influencer can expect to earn between $40,000 and $100,000 per year.
On the other end of the spectrum, well-known physician influencers such as Dr. Alex George can charge as much as $14,000 per post. No figures have been verified, but it’s estimated that figures such as Dr. Eric Bern, Dr. Oz, and Dr. Mike bring in hundreds of thousands per month.
How can a physician become an influencer?
Becoming an influencer isn’t easy in any profession, especially as more and more influence attempt to make a name for themselves.
However, there are a few steps you can take to increase your chances of doing so successfully:
Choose your profiles carefully, and then optimize them. Most influencers tend to be popular on only one or two platforms, so be sure to choose the ones you’re most comfortable with for professional use.
Understand your audience and what it’s looking for. Having a deep understanding of who makes up your audience will allow you to create better, more relevant content. Use analytics to learn valuable data insights about them, such as the best times to post and what type of content is getting the most engagement.
Create and post relevant content. The more relevant your content is, the more it will be interacted with and passed around. This allows for a growth in following and, in turn, more money.
Post your content regularly – and engage with your followers. Establish and stick to a posting schedule. This type of consistency is the best way to create and hold long-term interest while growing your audience. Once the content is posted, reply to and like comments to show followers that you care.
Let brands know you’re open to working together. Be proactive in your hunt for partnerships and take advantage of your network! Networking with other individuals and brands in your specialty will help expand your reach and increase your chances of partnership.
Things to keep in mind as a physician influencer
As tempting as becoming an influencer is, it’s important to remember a few things.
First and foremost, follow the policies put into place by your employer. This includes any disclaimers or disclosures.
Be professional. You’re not just representing yourself, but your entire profession. Do so well by building trust, remaining calm and collected, and speaking with authority. On that note, it’s up to you to fight misinformation. All health-related content you create or share across your platforms should be medically accurate.
Don’t offer any medical advice. This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s essential to avoid offering personalized healthcare recommendations. Instead, encourage your followers to maintain their privacy when it comes to their medical concerns and speak directly to their doctor.
For the sake of privacy, post about your patients extremely carefully. Remember, once something is on the internet, it’s there forever, so don’t post anything that might be considered protected health information.
The American Medical Association has a more formal set of guidelines for physicians on social media, which includes:
- Physicians “should be cognizant of standards of patient privacy and confidentiality that must be maintained in all environments, including online, and must refrain from posting identifiable patient information online.”
- “When using social media for educational purposes or to exchange information professionally with other physicians, follow ethics guidance regarding confidentiality, privacy, and informed consent.”
- “Physicians must recognize that actions online and content posted may negatively affect their reputations among patients and colleagues, may have consequences for their medical careers (particularly for physicians-in-training and medical students) and can undermine public trust in the medical profession.”
Becoming an influencer as a physician requires work, but making a difference in such an impactful way and with such a reach can be extremely rewarding. Just be sure to remember that your social media is an extension of you and your practice – so treat it with care.
This material is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide financial, legal, tax, nor any other professional recommendations or advice.