In today’s episode Dr. Beach tells us how and why she got started on TikTok as well as how long it took to really get a following.
“She said, ‘You shouldn’t feel bad making money off of this because you are putting time, your effort, your heart into it and so you should feel comfortable taking money for it and making it kind of a side gig that is financially in your favor.’” -Dr. BeachGem10
In this episode, DocWorking Founder and CEO, Dr. Jen Barna talks with TikTok star, Dr. BeachGem10. Dr. Beach tells us how and why she got started on TikTok as well as how long it took to really get a following. After that, she shares how she balances being a pediatric emergency medicine physician, a wife, a mother of four and a popular content creator. She also shines light on the money side of social media stardom and tells us how she is dealing with that part of it and if it is a viable side gig. If you are thinking about dipping your toe in the social media world, this is the episode for you!
Dr. Beachgem is a pediatric emergency medicine physician who has a niche in disaster preparedness. She and her husband have four kids and two fluffy cats. She started making videos on tiktok addressing covid-19 misinformation, and currently has more than 600K followers.
Podcast produced by: Amanda Taran
Please enjoy the full transcript below
Dr. BeachGem10: She said, “You shouldn’t feel bad making money off of this because you are putting time, your effort, your heart into it and so you should feel comfortable taking money for it and making it a side gig that is financially in your favor.”
Jen: Welcome to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. I’m Dr. Jen Barna and today’s episode is going to be a really interesting one for those of us in the medical field, who have thought about social media and are on the fence about whether to put ourselves out there and all the pros and cons of doing that. Today, we have a fantastic guest, who I know you’re going to love, Dr. BeachGem who goes by @beachgem10. That’s B-E-A-C-H-G-E-M the number 10 on TikTok and @dr.beachgem10 on Instagram.
Dr. BeachGem is a pediatrician, mom of four, she has 605,000 approximately followers on TikTok. And at this point, 11.5 million likes on TikTok. So, I’m thrilled to have you here, Dr. BeachGem. Another thing that’s really interesting about you is that you don’t reveal your real name and I think that’s something I’d love to talk with you about as well. We’re not going to be revealing your actual name here on the podcast either. Welcome to DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.
Dr. BeachGem10: Thank you for having me. This is a really cool opportunity.
Jen: I found you on TikTok and the thing that I love about what you’re doing is that your videos are just so authentic. You’re just talking about something really useful. As a pediatrician, you’re putting useful, factual information out and yet you’re folding laundry, or holding a baby, or you’re in your real environment, and it’s just so authentic. I love it. I’m interested in hearing about your journey as a pediatrician, as a mom, and then how you got into social media, and what happened after that?
Dr. BeachGem10: Yeah, it’s a funny story, because I am such an introvert. Public speaking, if I’m doing a Zoom, I get so nervous even if it’s three students or residents, I’m so nervous. But somehow, I can have a conversation with 2,000 people on a live TikTok and it doesn’t bother me at all. I actually got onto TikTok in the pandemic just because I was bored. Even @beachgem10 is my AIM screen name from 20 years ago. I didn’t think it was going to be my social profile. I had no intention of being a creator. I just got on to have some fun. Then I saw people doing creative things and started to see the misinformation that was being spread early in the pandemic, we’re talking June 2020 and I was like, “I can talk about that. I need to correct this. I need to get some of this information out there.”
For the first couple months, I got a couple likes, a couple of views, and probably November 2020 is when it really started to take off. I posted a couple of videos and very quickly went from around 10,000 followers to close to 100,000 followers, literally, almost overnight, and started to get more and more questions, and people trusted me, because I was sitting in front of a sandbox while my kids were playing, and they love participating in the videos. Just having four kids crawling all over me all the time, it was just an easy way to make content. So, it’s just grown slowly. Since then, I’ve added on Instagram. I try to make some sort of content every day.
The way that the TikTok algorithm works is if you post every day, they will keep sending you views. That’s one thing that’s important when making content is to be consistent. It’s hard being a mom of four, working full time. I do some disaster preparedness on the side. I also have another side gig that I’m starting up as a deployable physician in the case of a disaster. So, the only time that I have to make content is when I’m doing something else. When I’m cooking, when I’m cleaning, when I’m doing laundry, it just fits in pretty easily to that lifestyle.
Jen: So, first of all, how are you fitting this in? How in the world are you managing everything you are managing? [laughs]
Dr. BeachGem10: There are days that I can make three or four videos, and then I can post while I work three overnight shifts or something like that. For a lot of my car videos, I have a spot that I pull over on my way to work and I’ve got five extra minutes before the shift starts, and I can make a quick video. It really only takes me maybe five to 10 minutes to edit it to get it ready to post and usually about 10 minutes to make the video itself. I can pretty much make content in less than 30 minutes. Again, I try to do it every day. Sometimes, it’s silly, or stupid, or just a reply video. Then, sometimes, I actually put more effort into it and do a little bit of research or it’s related to a paper that came out or something like that. So, there’s definitely content I put more effort into, but the content that tends to be a little more sassy and off the bat just tends to get more views because people tend to like the sass.
Jen: Yeah, I think people identify with honesty and vulnerability. I think that does come across as very authentic and that’s something that people are looking for. Do you lie awake at night thinking of all of the different things you’re going to talk about, are you just thinking on the way to the spot where you park? How do you plan for what you’re going to do day-to-day if you’re putting out that much content?
Dr. BeachGem10: I have such terrible ADHD that a lot of times it’s on the fly. I’m like, “Oh, crap, I’ve got three minutes to make a video. What am I going to do?” In TikTok, you have a draft folder, things that aren’t published yet, that are just videos that are unfinished. I probably have 200 something videos in draft. Most of them are just a placeholder video to reply to a comment or I’ll have an idea at a random time, and I don’t have time to make a video, so, I’ll just leave it. Some of them are videos that are going to take some time, like, videos when I got my booster. It’s going to take three or four days to make a video about that, because it’s time.
I have something going all the time now, and that’s taken work and effort, and it does take thinking about it, but I don’t necessarily stay up late at night. I get a lot of comments, and DMs, private messages saying things like, “Hey, I have this question. I’d really love for you to talk about this.” The more content I’ve put out, the more ideas people have brought to me for new content, things that people just want brought down to a level that’s understandable. That is one thing that I’ve been told about my content that I’m not doing necessarily purposely is that I’m taking some of the information that’s a little bit more higher level and bringing it down to a level that people can understand, digest, and be able to potentially reiterate to family members or anyone that has questions.
Jen: Yeah, that’s terrific. That’s so helpful, I think, to your viewers. How do you balance the mom and physician side of things? We’ve had some episodes recently where we’ve talked about women and how in a lot of relationships, traditionally, we are taking on more of the emotional and planning side of things, and all of the time that it takes to do the interaction with extended family, and the planning of the kids’ activities, and even when you have a good situation, where you have partners who are trying to balance that, that often one partner will take on a larger part of that. I’m curious how that has worked out for you and how you’ve found a way to integrate it all.
Dr. BeachGem10: Being an ER physician, and we had kids very young, I’m married, I have a husband. Our first child was born when I was in medical school, second in residency, third in fellowship, fourth, as an attending. He has basically learned how to be a single dad. It sounds weird to say, my house functions without me present very well. If I work a bunch of night shifts, he’s able to take care of everything and it’s not a big deal. I think he almost takes on the burden of a lot of those things, which makes it easier for me to have a side gig. I think that we are as a couple well balanced in that respect. We also have a nanny, who comes a couple days a week that is able to help with the kids, and she bakes, and she helps organize and clean, which is just a huge stressor off the both of us, and it gives us each time to—my husband can do his work, I can go run some errands or go shop. So, I think we have a really good support system in place that allows me to have an extra 30 minutes a day that I can go take care of what I need to.
I honestly feel TikTok and being on social media has been a coping mechanism for me getting through the pandemic and dealing with the stuff that you see as a pediatric ER doctor. Being able to have a couple of minutes a day to cope and do my mental health stuff is, not quite but it’s almost, a priority in the day like, “Hey, I’m going to go make a video.” My husband’s like, “Cool. You go do you. I’ll take care of all this. No big deal,” which is super helpful.
Jen: Absolutely. I do think you bring up a great point, which is that as women begin to identify and narrow these gaps, and men take on more, they are finding that they also need time for wellness, and they want to be part of their family lives, and they want to balance work. I feel in the medical arena that we need to shift the way things have been done traditionally to accommodate both men and women, who are acknowledging that they want to participate in their lives outside of medicine as well as fully participate as physicians. It sounds like you guys are terrific role models for that.
You mentioned something else that I thought was really interesting when we first started speaking, which was that you consider yourself an introvert, and I consider myself an introvert, too, and I’m fascinated how many physicians have told me that about themselves. I just thought that about myself, I didn’t realize so many colleagues felt that way until I started doing this and talking with physicians all over the country. So many people tell me that they feel that they’re introverts and I think it’s really interesting that you found social media to be an outlet. You hear actors say that often, too, like, “Oh, I’m an introvert,” but you would never guess that by seeing the roles that they play. I wonder if you see that analogy in terms of your role in social media versus your private life.
Dr. BeachGem10: I would actually say from TikTok, I have no idea where that comes from. It just works the way that it works. But I will say, I’m definitely an introvert. But when I’m at work, my colleagues will say, “You’re not an introvert.” It is playing a role. I feel when I step into the hospital, I’m stepping into my role as a physician and as such, I need to be more extroverted to do what I have to do to be able to advocate for my patients, to be able to control the room during a code or resuscitation. Maybe I had practice of not being an introvert through work and that’s worked through TikTok and social media. I honestly have no idea though. It’s such a weird phenomenon for me to be able to communicate in this way with certain people on TikTok and social media.
Jen: Well, and I do think that physicians all are leaders. I suppose there is a specific type of leader, which might be an introvert outside of when they’re in their leadership role and I think that’s interesting that you point that out, because that’s an excellent, excellent point. We all have to step into a leadership role when we’re at work. I’m wondering about your social media presence from a side gig perspective. A lot of physicians are interested in building their financial stability, paying off debt, and they’re looking at potential part time side gigs that they can do to help bring in some extra income. I’m wondering if bringing in extra income is part of this or not and is that a reality in relation to building a social media audience?
Dr. BeachGem10: It is something that I’m going to be working towards. TikTok is the absolute worst when it comes to financially incentivizing videos and stuff like that. It’s literally pennies for 10,000 views. I am in the Creator Fund for TikTok. I’m not monetizing Instagram, or Facebook, or YouTube at this point, but that is something that I would consider working towards. YouTube is actually the best when it comes to being a financial support mechanism for making your videos. I will say, I had a talk with one of my friends named Stephanie, as I was getting into this, it was a year ago in December. She said, “You shouldn’t feel bad making money off of this, because you’re putting your time, your effort, your heart into it. So, you should feel comfortable taking money for it and making it a side gig that is financially in your favor.”
For the first year, I was just letting it go. But now, it’s something that I’m going to be working towards more as a side gig to develop more options and as that happens, I will have to branch out and get onto YouTube and get onto other platforms to get myself out there more, because with just TikTok, it’s literally nothing. It doesn’t do much. It’s 75 cents a day or something along those lines, which is fine. Again, I’m doing it for fun, but moving more toward a side gig, I will have to do some expanding and stuff like that. But I do think it is a possibility in the future to grow in that direction.
Jen: That’s really interesting. I think similarly, people think perhaps that podcasting would be a way to have a monetized side gig. I can say for most people, podcasting in and of itself it’s not, it’s fun and it’s a wonderful way to meet really interesting people, but as far as if you want to put your time into something that’s going to pay at the end of the month, it’s probably not podcasting. And it sounds like maybe not social media, although, it depends on what purpose you have behind it. If you’re trying to do it to grow your presence as a physician for your own practice, then that may be something that would be helpful in marketing, I suppose.
Dr. BeachGem10: Yeah, as an ER doctor, it doesn’t matter at all for me, because my patients come in as they need to. Growing my practice, it doesn’t really work in that regard. I do also have Patreon, which is another financial opportunity if you have something to offer people on more of a one-on-one or group basis. I do Zoom sessions twice a month with Patreon. Instead of when I get onto Tik Tok, it’s between 500 and 5,000 people that I’m talking to on a live session, whereas if I do a Patreon, there’s 20 people, and they’re able to communicate with me more on a one-on-one basis or 20-on-one basis, but they’re able to ask questions, we’re able to communicate. So, I have found other ways to monetize in that regard, which is helpful. Again, it’s something to grow into, but I’m definitely not there yet.
Jen: When you have the smaller Patreon groups, what are some of the topics that you discuss?
Dr. BeachGem10: I’ll be honest, a lot of times, it’s the exact same content that I’m making on TikTok. “Hey, I just had COVID, when can I get my booster?” There are some people that say, “I’ve had these medical problems. Do you have recommendations on which ways to go to get it further evaluated and stuff like that?” Of course, I start the session by saying, “I’m a doctor, but not your doctor. I can’t give you any medical advice, but we could talk generally about things.”
It’s just general conversation. There’s nothing too crazy, just asking about would something be normal as a symptom of long COVID or something like that. It’s been a year now that I’ve been doing that and so, I’m getting to know these people individually too, which is a really cool opportunity, because there are awesome people in there from different states all over the country, different backgrounds, and it’s just been a really neat opportunity to get to know people like that, too.
Jen: What a fantastic idea and very creative approach to reaching people and also building a community.
Dr. BeachGem10: Yeah.
Jen: I love what you’re doing, and I really look forward to following you further, and staying in touch, and collaborating, and Dr. BeachGem10, please tell us how people can find you if they’re Interested in learning more or maybe joining your groups?
Dr. BeachGem10: I’m on TikTok as @beachgem10. I’m on Instagram as @dr.beachgem10. Same thing on Facebook, dr.beachgem10 and YouTube, dr.beachgem10. My Patreon can be found linked through my Tiktok or my Amazon profile.
Jen: Terrific. Thank you so much for joining me today on DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast.
Dr. BeachGem10: Thank you so much. This was really awesome.
Amanda: I’m Amanda Taran, producer of DocWorking: The Whole Physician Podcast. Thank you so much for listening. Please don’t forget to like and subscribe and head over to docworking.com to see all we have to offer.