Clifford S. Mintz, PhD
Founder of BioInsights
Cofounder of BioCrowd
Author of BioJobBlog
Clifford S. Mintz, PhD has an extensive background in biopharmaceutical drug development, biotechnology training and bioscience career development. Dr. Mintz has held a variety of positions including stints as a medical school professor, professional recruiter management consultant and medical/science writer.
Cliff is the founder of BioInsights a biopharmaceutical education and training organization, a co-founder of BioCrowd a social networking and career development website for bioprofessionals and author of BioJobBlog. He teaches product development and regulatory affairs in several biotechnology training programs and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Georgetown Medical School. Dr. Mintz has been invited speaker at numerous symposia and bioscience meetings focused on social media, career development and education and training.
Cliff received a B.S. in microbiology/animal science from Cornell University, a Ph.D. in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and performed his post-doctoral studies at Oregon Health Sciences University and the College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University.
Currently a freelance writer, blogger and speaker at career fairs and professional meetings. Also a social media enthusiast, co-founder of the social networking site BioCrowd.
RxEconsult: What is BioInsights and why did you develop BioInsights?
Dr. Mintz: BioInsights founded in 1998 was originally a bioscience training and education company. The goal of the company was to help life scientists get the training that they need to get jobs at life sciences companies. Today, BioInsights, Inc is more of a career development company that provides individualized career development guidance and counseling for life scientists. This is because the life sciences job market has changed considerably since 1998 and jobs are harder to come by. However, we still offer bioscience training in drug development, regulatory affairs and biomanufacturing. Additionally, BioInsights also offer medical communications consulting services.
RxEconsult: How do you distinguish BioInsights from other Medical Communications companies?
Dr. Mintz: Unlike traditional medical communications companies, BioInsights offers writing services that heavily focus on social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and various blogging platforms. We also offer medical writing, copywriter and website content development services.
RxEconsult: What are the main challenges in your business and how are you addressing them?
Dr. Mintz: Training and career development services are not high priorities for job candidates or life sciences companies until a scientist is looking for a job or a company needs to hire new employees. Consequently, it is difficult to convince both companies and jobseekers to be proactive and engage us early in the process. We are beginning to address this problem by turning to various social media platforms to get the word out about our services. Paradoxically, the recent economic downturn has been good for our business activities!
RxEconsult: What attracted you to social media and blogging? How can professionals make a living or develop their career by blogging?
Dr. Mintz: I enjoy writing and always have had a strong desire to share my ideas and opinions with others. Blogging seemed like a natural extension of what I like to do. So, about 6 years ago I launched BioJobBlog (www.biojobblog.com) which is focused on life sciences career development topics as well as opinion pieces and reports on the goings on in the life sciences industry. While blogging is exciting and extremely cathartic, it is difficult to make a living as a blogger. The days of individual bloggers selling their blogs for millions to large media outlets are over. That said, blogging is useful in establishing yourself as a subject matter expert which can sometimes lead to paid opportunities. At its peak last year, I was averaging between 65,000-70,000 unique visitors per month @ BioJobBlog.
I built traffic to the levels I mentioned by blogging 4-5 times per day and staying abreast of late breaking events in the life sciences industry. I was able to maintain that pace for a couple of years but because I blog for free, I could not sustain the pace any longer. The original goal was to reach 100,000 unique visitors per month and then try to sell the blog or form an alliance with a media outlet. Obviously, that did not happen. I am now happy to log between 30,000-45,000 unique visitors per month by blogging three times per week or whenever the urge strikes me.
As far as revenue is concerned, it has not been much. It costs me about $2400 per year in hosting and management fees and I have been blogging for over 5 years. In that timespan, I may have made several thousand dollars but not enough to break even or turn a profit. Blogging is truly a personal medium that is driven more by desire and the need to be heard rather than a profitable enterprise; unless of course you can get a major media outlet and blog for them. That is really my dream job right now!
RxEconsult: What are the top social media practices that professionals should use for developing their career?
Dr. Mintz: I think that LinkedIn, Twitter and a personal blog can really help in terms of career development for life scientists. However, all of these platforms require daily monitoring and care. Sadly, most life sciences professional spend most of their time in the laboratory and fail to realize that career development is vital and cannot be ignored if one wants to find a job!
RxEconsult: What healthcare gaps can social media address?
Dr. Mintz: I believe that social media can be used in real time for adverse event reporting and educational outreach activities. Unfortunately, most drug makers view social media as means to bolster sales or look for specialized employees. That said, these are early days for life sciences companies and social media and it will interesting to see how social media evolves in the life sciences industry.
RxEconsult: Why are biopharmaceutical companies struggling with leveraging social media and how can they best use social media? How can BioInsights help them?
Dr. Mintz: The life sciences industry is very conservative and adverse to change. Social media is clearly a game changing phenomenon and most life sciences companies don’t know what to make of it yet. Over the past three years or so, more and more life sciences companies have experimented with various social media platforms and are beginning to realize their potential for their businesses.
BioInsights can help companies navigate the social media jungle because of our experience using social media platforms and also developing life sciences websites and blog content.
RxEconsult: What feedback have you received and how are your websites performing?
Dr. Mintz: I recently redesigned the BioInsights website and traffic has been down. Most of my focus is on two other BioInsights web assets---BioJobBlog and BioCrowd (www.biocrowd.com) an online networking community for bioprofessionals.
I frequently get comments @BioJobBlog about its content and how helpful it is to jobseekers and other bioprofessionals. BioCrowd was launched about three years ago and we are still growing the community. At present, joining BioCrowd is primarily through invitation only. We are embarking on a mass membership drive early next spring. At present there are 4,200 BioCrowd members.
RxEconsult: If you wrote a book about how to develop and run a business what pearls would you include?
Dr. Mintz: No matter how good the idea is, it is all about marketing! Good ideas with insufficient marketing power can easily fail whereas bad ideas with mega-advertising can succeed. As a scientist myself, I failed to realize how important marketing and advertising are! In hindsight, I wouldhave invested much more money and effort in marketing my business rather developing content and building sleek looking websites!
RxEconsult: Dr. Mintz, thank you for sharing your views and discussing your ventures. Hopefully, you can return to give us an update. I wish you success and I hope you find that dream job.
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