Practice Building: Social Media Your Best Source for Passive Income

 In Practice Building

Kristen McElveen, ND

A common question from naturopathic doctors in private practice is how to keep a consistent referral stream coming in. And while that is important, I feel it is also important to prepare for what happens when you do want some time off, or when you get sick, or when business is just slow because you had 12 big snowstorms last winter.

How do you make money when you can’t or don’t want to see patients?

Will you become a robot who can never stop seeing patients?

Many of us are not salaried and are thus dependent on the amount of new and return patients coming through the door in order to support our families, pay our bills, and pay off those student loans.

So, what is a private practitioner to do?

Advantages of Social Media

The answer lies in social media.

At the very least, social media is a great way to carry on the conversation outside of the office, even if it’s just sharing recipes or workout routines.

At the very best, however, you can also turn that audience into an income source, significantly increasing your income and exponentially increasing your exposure, which gets your message of health out there to hundreds, even thousands (or millions) more people than you could ever possibly see in your office.

Social media is where you build that base and nurture it by creating a relationship with your fans. Then, you become a go-to resource for all things health, all while getting to talk about the specific things you are passionate about.

As you build a social media audience, it’s important not to put too much into the numbers of it all. After all, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about the engagement. If you have 10 000 followers, that’s all well and good, but if no one is buying what you’re selling, what’s the point? On the other hand, if you have 250 followers, yet consistently sell as you slowly grow your audience, at least you’re getting something out of the time you are putting into it.

Most of the financially successful naturopathic doctors I know have several sources of income, whether it’s teaching, writing books, consulting, or more, and that’s all well and good too, but these also can take up your precious time.

Wouldn’t it be nice to work hard to create something great and then just let it earn money for you while you do other things? Well, that is exactly what passive income can do for you. You do the work up front, then let it work for you (with effective marketing, of course).

Authenticity and being true to yourself will attract even more viewers.

If you like to write, start a blog, or write an e-book. Enjoy cooking? Create a cookbook or a healthy cooking community online, or even offer virtual cooking classes. Like to teach? Offer online courses or lectures or YouTube videos. The sky really is the limit!

Do what you love AND get paid, literally while you are sleeping. There is no shame in getting the money that you deserve for the hard work that you put in. And there are plenty of ways to do it without sounding like a poorly-directed infomercial.

But first, you need an audience.

How I Did It

Last winter, during all the crazy snowstorms, I realized my passion and my passive income source, which is helping other naturopathic doctors to be successful at business and marketing. I had been doing business consulting for NDs for years and had written my book, Tips on Creating a Successful Naturopathic Practice (, where I had also discussed the importance of social media in growing your practice. So, why not create a forum where I could get to more people at once without working around the clock?

I started with a blog, and a newsletter, and a few social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram). Before you knew it, I was getting passive income, not only from what I was selling, but also from appropriate affiliate marketing and corporate sponsorship (YES, you can even make money without charging a lot or even anything at all if your audience is large enough to woo sponsors).


So, think about what you’d like to do. How do you want to spend your time? What are your goals for personal time and time with your family?

What can you do now to help bring those goals into reality in a way that you already love, so that it won’t seem like extra work to put together?

Do you have 3-5 hours per week to dedicate to social media to create that base?

If so, then you have a great opportunity to create some passive income streams based on what you love to do!

McElveenKristen McElveen, ND, (NCNM, 2007) closed her private practice of 6 years in Maine in the summer of 2015. She has since followed her dream of living in New York City, where she is doing a mix of medicine and comedy. Her website, Whole Health Starts Today ( was created to help NDs and other health practitioners to grow their practices and to inspire other income sources. She currently offers tips via social media and her newsletter, as well as virtual courses on social media specifically for NDs. Her book, Tips on Creating a Successful Naturopathic Practice (, is available on Amazon.

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