One Year Of Writing For Forbes
One year ago today I published my first post on the Forbes website, detailing some of my experiences as an entrepreneur. I had no idea how writing for Forbes would change my life. In looking back, it’s hard to believe how much has happened in one short year. Before anything else, I’d like to thank my friend Cheryl Conner for introducing me to Tom Post at Forbes. It was that introduction that led to Tom inviting me to write for Forbes, which has led to other writing opportunities and so much more.
I met Tom in person at an event at Weber State University in April, 2013. Tom spoke to a class, and Cheryl had invited me to attend and meet Tom. Tom and I only spoke for a few minutes. He said he had read this blog, and had seen an article I had written for Fast Company, which he flattered me with when he said he wished I had written it for Forbes. We later got in touch and Tom got me signed up as a Forbes contributor. He told me to write the same type of content I was writing here on this blog. That advice was tempered once or twice with further input when I wrote some posts for Forbes that were…well, a bit outside what Forbes was expecting me to write. But hey, I’m an entrepreneur, I like to push the limits. And thankfully Tom believes in giving entrepreneurs second chances.
Writing for Forbes has been exhilarating. Writing a post here on this blog and having it get 30, 50, or 100 views is great. I’m always flattered that a single person reads anything I write, let alone groups of people that number in the tens. But at Forbes my audience was much larger, and being able to have an article get read several hundred times, or in a few cases tens of thousands of times, put an entirely new level of pressure on me. I’m often afraid of making a fool of myself by saying something someone else will contradict with information I should have known about. But after writing almost 100 posts for Forbes over the past year, I’ve only been called out once or twice. I kind of wish people would call me out more, because I enjoy being corrected and learning something new, or having vigorous debates.
I moved to Hong Kong two weeks after I started writing for Forbes, and there’s no question the Forbes name opened a lot of doors. I have no illusions it was me all by myself. Sure, the people I’ve met here are all great people, and I’m sure they would have been happy to talk to me regardless, but there’s no doubt they were more excited to talk to “someone who writes for Forbes.” Everyone wants me to come to their event in the hopes I’ll write something about it. Every entrepreneur wants to buy me coffee in the hopes I’ll write an article and give them some free publicity. I haven’t been this popular since high school. Wait, scratch that, I wasn’t popular at all in high school. By the way, I don’t drink coffee, but I do love a good steamed hazelnut milk. I’ve had the chance to interview people like Tim Draper–yes, that Tim Draper, Sunita Kaur of Spotify Asia, and Doug Richard of School For Startups. These interviews, and others, would never, ever have happened without Forbes.
Forbes also opened doors for me to write for other publications. In some cases the Forbes name may have helped, but it was also that writing for Forbes gave me the confidence to reach out to other publications like Entrepreneur and Venture Beat, and locally I’ve had the opportunity to write for publications like Hong Kong Business, Education Post, and TechinAsia. Sure, there have been some failures, but those have been great learning experiences. And now publications have been approaching me, like PolicyMic and Marketing Magazine.
It helps that I love to write. I couldn’t do this as a job. I’ve tried. It’s too much work. It’s enjoyable work, but writing for money isn’t something I’m passionate about. I like writing for a purpose, and I’m happy to do that for free. But writing has been a money maker, too. The vast majority of my articles have not been about online marketing, which is my day job, but a few have been. In those articles I go out of my way to not be self promotional, but people have a way of figuring out what I do for a living. That, combined with the new website MWI launched a few months ago, have resulted in us being deluged with phone calls and emails. We’ve about quadrupled monthly revenues over the past 8 months.
I feel like writing is something I was born to do. I never realized it until I started writing for Forbes, but I’ve been writing all my life. I have “books” I made when I was a little kid. My writing got me kicked out of a school in 5th grade. I used to try to write books in junior high and high school, but I could never get more than two or three pages in before I knew it was terrible and I would give up. But the point is, I was always writing, even as a kid. I started blogging around 2003 or so, and did it just for the pleasure of doing it, even though I never made any money to speak of off it. They say to find your passion in life you should do what you would do if you had millions in the bank and didn’t need to work. I’ve never had the millions, but looking back I sure have done a lot of writing for no pay. I must like doing it.
Entering this second year of being a “journalist” I want to write more. My constraints are that I’m running a business and living life and there’s only so much time in the day. I’d like to get experience writing for other publications. It’d be fun to get into Mashable, TechCrunch, Inc., and some of the other top tier pubs. But if the only place I could publish was here on this blog, I’d still be writing the same stuff.