Nephrologist Quits Medicine to Blog Full-Time: Personal vs. Professional Use of Social Media

| July 15, 2008

Featured in: hippocrates

Imagine a doctor quitting his day job to make blogging a career. Dr. Arnold Kim did just that, but he is not a typical medblogger.

This Sunday, while perusing tech industry news on Silicon Alley Insider I saw an interesting post about "The Unlikely Career Path Of MacRumors’ Arnold Kim", who so happens to be a physician.

This is quite amazing, since for most blogging physicians, online publishing is mostly a hobby. Sometimes it supports professional endeavors, but rarely in a direct way. An outlet of opinions, a venue to influence healthcare dialog, even opportunity to promote themselves. But full-time?

Dr. Kim’s story shows how a personal blog can turn into a career

Caveats first. Even though the blogger is a physician, his topics are not related to health or medicine. MacRumors is a site dedicated to coverage of Apple products and it took 8 years to grow to the point of taking precedence over medicine. As Arnold Kim explains in his announcement of the move:

As crazy as it seems, for these past 8 years, MacRumors has been a hobby or part-time job. I think most people would have made this move long before me, but the momentum of my “other” career made it difficult for me to break free.

I started MacRumors.com in February of 2000. I was in my 4th and last year of medical school. I had been dabbling in the web for fun and decided to focus a natural interest of mine (Apple) into a website. My work on the site has since had its ups and downs. Over the next 8 years, I completed medical school, an Internal Medicine residency, a fellowship in Nephrology and even worked two years in private practice as a physician (Nephrologist).

How successful does a blog have to be to get a physician to quit? Let’s do some math. Silicon Alley Insider quotes Quantcast numbers reporting a "staggering 37 million page views a month". This makes MacRumors, #571th biggest site on the whole Internet. If we assume quite modest monetization at $1 CPM (cost per thousand pageviews), he would be making about $37K a month. If he monetizes at $10 CPM that would be $370K a month.

Suffice to say you can hardly expect a typical medical blog to get anywhere close to such numbers. Try shaving off more than a few zeros. To get the real feel for the numbers, compare to RevolutionHealth.com, which raised hundreds of millions of dollars, while only attaining #898 rank on Quantcast (detailed pageview data is not available). What could this suggest?

Health and medicine might not be as popular online topics as technology and entertainment. While highly interesting and engaging within focused communities, there might not be enough traffic to support a lot of big health properties. Which in turn makes it unlikely that we will see many physicians quitting their practices to pursue medica blogging or other Internet projects.

Final thought. Look at the numbers again and consider if the people hyping "Health 2.0" did their math and how will that party end.


Category: Web/Tech

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