Chicago v.s California & LVLUP Dojo House | #CoffeeWithCole Episode 3

#CoffeeWithCole, CreativityNicolas ColeComment

Last week, I went back (back) to Cali (Cali) to visit the LVLUP Dojo guys in Hollywood Hills, along with scheduling a quick trip to Irvine to chat with Winnie Sun (contributor to Forbes) on her business show. She asked me some awesome questions, and I streamed our filming together live on Facebook

I'll post the professional video as soon as I have it.

Something that was really apparent to me while I was out in the hills was how different I feel in California versus Chicago. It's not really that one is "better" than the other, but they definitely bring out different aspects of my creativity. 

What I'm Currently Reading


I just started reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky's famed The Gambler

So, fun fact (which I just read in the introduction) is that Dostoyevsky actually really did have a gambling problem. And when he was working on The Gambler, he was also simultaneously working on Crime & Punishment, arguably his most famous work. However, he got a little behind on some of his payments (oh the woes of gambling) and struck a deal with a publisher for an advance on his next novel under the condition that he would have a publishable manuscript ready in 30 days.

Apparently that was the motivation the Russian linguist needed. He wrote The Gambler in less than a month, particularly through the use of a stenographer—a student who helped transcribe the work.

I really like alternating between genres when I read, and particularly enjoy making time to read dense fiction because it is such a great workout for the brain. Balancing plot and character development and description and language all at the same time is a totally different beast than reading a book on entrepreneurship. There is a time and place for both.

What's Next?

I'm back in Chicago for two weeks, and then I am headed to Arizona, Atlanta, and then Europe. We're going to Budapest, Amsterdam, and Paris, specifically to film some scenes for the next big course called, Laptop Lifestyle: How To Live Your Dream From Anywhere In The World.

Big things coming! And yes, plan on there being a whole lot of #CoffeeWithCole episodes in Europe.

Stay tuned...

WGN Radio Feature: How To Write Content That Goes "Viral" (And Builds Your Personal Brand)

Podcast FeaturesNicolas ColeComment

All growing up, my dad would always tell me to listen to WGN radio. "They have such great people on that show," he would say. So sitting in the studio talking about my journey was a very cool moment for me. 

I stopped by to chat with Scott Kitun, CEO of Technori and WGN Radio host. It's especially great to be part of these bigger conversations around entrepreneurship in Chicago. 

On the show, we covered the following:

1. What it really means to write "great content" and how to go "viral."

2. The value of becoming a thought leader in your industry.

3. How I used Quora to get published in major publications like TIME, Forbes, Fortune, Business Insider, Inc Magazine, etc.

4. My new writing course coming out soon: How I Went From 0 to 20,000,000 Readers Online.

Click below to watch the show!

Writing Isn't Dying, It's Going Digital | #CoffeeWithCole Episode 2

Creativity, #CoffeeWithColeNicolas ColeComment

I knew this year was going to be busy, but it's always a different ball game when you step into the journey itself.

Last week I was in Atlanta with the behind-the-scenes star on the team here, Drew Reggie (he makes a cameo appearance in this episode). Drew and I have been friends since Freshman year of college (so... 9 years) and we create just about everything together. He's the one who takes all the pictures you see on Instagram, who shoots all the videos, and honestly is one of the very few people I think through my ideas with (a process I keep very hidden from most people). As time goes on, you'll get to know him and his work more and more, and the things we put out, just remember, are the result of our creative tag-team. 

I spent the week in my second-home (ATL) working with Drew to shoot an online course around something I have been getting asked constantly about: How I Went From 0 to 20,000,000 Readers Online. 


But before we launch the course, I want to give you some backstory as to how I even started down this path to begin with.

I tell the story in the video, but this knowledge of how to build yourself into a thought leader, specifically a writer, by using digital tools is something I have spent years and years studying and figuring out. There is a huge disconnect between the older generations (especially in the world of formal journalism and writing) who are talented wordsmiths but have no idea how to use the Internet to their advantage, and the younger writers who have many more years of honing their craft to go, but are more digitally savvy. 

And this isn't just valuable to people who want to become professional writers. The vast majority of content online is text. If you want to be a food blogger, or a travel blogger, or write for an online publication as a thought leader in digital marketing, or even if you just want to share your thoughts and your story with the world, then you need to understand a few things about the ecosystem as a whole—specifically how and why content gets shared and viewed.

Nobody in a million years thought that four years out of college I would be traveling the world as a full-time writer (booked tickets to Europe last night for February, and am headed to LA next week record a podcast with a columnist from Forbes). I am still extremely young. And yet, I have figured out how to write content, and where to write it, in a way that attracts an audience.

Course will be launched in the next week or two. I will keep you posted.

As always, if you have a question and would like your question answered, Tweet meInstagram me, or ask the question on Quora by using #CoffeeWithCole, and I will answer your question! 

Now, here's all the content you missed:

Inc Magazine

1. 12 Negative Habits You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

2. Why Millennials Would Rather Make Less Money Working A Job They Love

3. The Ultimate Poker Showdown: Professionals Versus Artificial Intelligence

4. The 1 Thing Today's Aspiring Thought Leaders Aren't Learning From Tony Robbins, Tim Ferriss, and More

5. 3 Unconventional Lessons Every Entrepreneur Needs To Hear (To Succeed For The Right Reasons)

6. 5 Signs Someone Has True Emotional Intelligence

7. 7 Ways To Not Fall Back Into Bad Habits In February 2017

8. The 1 Word That Gets Every Single Millennial In Trouble (VIRAL HIT)

9. Your 2017 Instagram Strategy: Let Influencers Tell Your Brand Story

10. 2017 Is The Year Social Media Platforms Become Social Marketplaces (Here's What That Means)

11. 3 Critical Reasons Employees Become Unmotivated In The Workplace

12. What Do You Do Once You've Hit $100M In Sales? This CEO Is Building His Personal Brand

13. 5 Investment Rules Millennials Should Follow (To Build Long-Term Wealth)


1. Do I have to get my book professionally edited?

2. I'm 17 and I'd like to write a book on a serious subject with a long plot. Is this too ambitious?

3. How long will it take for me to get my unique writing style?

4. I have a great concept for a biz book but need some help writing. What's the best way to get a good inexpensive ghost writer?

5. What made you into such a great writer?

6. What life advice would you give to a 17 year old?

7. I think I’m lost. I really don't know how to live the rest of my life. I feel hopeless and depressed, with no goals or dreams. What should I do?


1. The Golden Question Every Great Leader Should Welcome From A Millennial

The Huffington Post

1. 4 Things You Need To Stop Putting Off

2. Are Your Twenties Really The Best Years Of Your Life?

What I'm Currently Reading


Right now, I am reading Why We Write About Ourselves.

It took me a really long time to write my first memoir, Confessions of a Teenage Gamer. Not necessarily because the story was difficult to construct (although I did rewrite the thing in a million different forms) but because writing about yourself, your life, the people in it, and taking time to really understand the emotions behind the story is no easy task. 

This book was a gift to me after I put out my first book. Before I dive into Book II (for those that read COATG and were left hanging off a cliff), I feel like it's important that I take some time to ruminate on the experience and look for what I can improve for the next one.

What's Next?

1. Flying to LA on Wednesday, January 25th to see the guys from LVLUP Dojo. 

2. Recording a podcast with Forbes contributor Winnie Sun in LA on Friday, talking about how I have been able to climb the ladder and write for some of the biggest publications on the Internet.

3. Friday night heading to San Francisco for the weekend (explore the city a bit, maybe say hey to Quora Legend and friend Dushka Zapata).

4. Back in Chicago on Monday.

5. Launching the video course somewhere amidst all that: How I Went From 0 to 20,000,000+ Readers Online.

Stay tuned...


The Viral Voice: 20 Blogs, Inc Magazine Columns, and Quora Answers From 100,000 - 1,000,000+ Views

Creative WritingNicolas ColeComment

Do you want to know how I became one of the most viral writers on the Internet?

When I graduated Columbia College Chicago with a degree in creative writing, one of my teachers said, “Writing isn’t dying—it’s just going digital. And the writers that can learn how to use digital mediums to get their voice out there will be the ones to succeed.”

As I grabbed hold of my diploma and set out into the real world, those words really stuck with me. Many people in my life wondered what on earth I was going to do with a degree in creative writing—myself included. The only thing I knew was that I loved writing and I wanted to share my art with the world.

So I took what my teacher said and set out to find the answer.

I wanted to know how someone in today’s world gets their voice out there.

In 4 years, I have gone from being a broke college graduate and entry-level copywriting intern at a digital marketing agency downtown Chicago with no portfolio to call my own, to being a full-time digital nomad writer with work published in TIME, Forbes, Fortune, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Inc Magazine, and more. I have been a Top Writer on Quora for 3 years running, accumulating over 16,000,000 views on all my answers. I have a daily column with Inc Magazine, where I write about everything from creativity and entrepreneurship to self-development. I am the author of a memoir, Confessions of a Teenage Gamer. And I have interviewed some of the biggest names in business: Kevin O’Leary, Andy Frisella, Mark Cuban, and many more.

…I am 26 years old.

This eBook is a compilation of not only some of my favorite pieces of writing over the past few years, but specifically pieces of writing that, for whatever reason, caught fire and accumulated hundreds of thousands, even millions of views. 

As you read through this eBook, I encourage you to pay attention to a few things:

First of all, you’ll notice certain trends: topics, formats, etc. These are things I inherently learned after writing hundreds upon hundreds of articles. There is an art to writing engaging content online, and when you do it enough, you start to get a sense of what makes an article perform well.

Second, you will see a broad range of vocal expression—some pieces reading like a motivational script, others more vulnerable and reflective. But what I would like you to really examine is the fact that you always know it’s me. That is the true meaning of “knowing your voice.” It’s your ability to turn it up, turn it down, even change up the style, all without ever losing touch of what makes it you.

And finally, I would like you to think hard about why these pieces performed the way they did.

These were not accidents. In fact, as I started to compile pieces for this eBook I realized just how many articles I have had cross the threshold of 100,000 views, 500,000 views, and how many I don’t even have data on. I have dozens upon dozens of articles that only accumulated 20,000 - 50,000 views on Inc Magazine, but were then republished by Forbes, Fox News, TIME, The Huffington Post, and more.

Having content perform well online is science. However, many people are eluded by the tool kits. There are eight billion blog posts out there encouraging you to format your articles into a list, or to include an image, or to post on Thursdays instead of Sundays. What people don’t talk about as much is the emotional element of writing. 

In order to write really great content, in order to have your voice heard in a digital ecosystem where over 3,000,000 new blogs are posted every single day, you cannot look to simple toolkits to carry your voice up over the noise. Yes, establish those best practices, but spend far more time asking yourself how much more vulnerable you can be. 

How much more can you share with your audience?

How much can you bring them into your world?

I could point to all the different platforms and publications and savvy digital marketing tools I have honed and leveraged to share my writing with the world as the foundational pieces to my success—but that’s not the truth.

The truth is that every time I sat down to write a Quora answer, an Inc Magazine column, I treated that one post like it was going to be the best post I had ever written in my entire life. And I don’t mean “best” as in I sat there and wrote it and re-wrote it for days upon days, scrutinizing the grammar, perfecting the language. Every single piece in this eBook (and 99% of what I share for free online) is written in 20 minutes, straight through, no edits. 

What I mean by “best” is that I gave it my all, emotionally. I gave away everything I know, everything I feel, everything I am. I opened up about my personal story. I shared my fears, my perspectives, my beliefs, and I grounded them in real life examples so that you could see into my world.

Every sat down to write, I didn’t approach it from my head and try to “think” about what people would want to read.

I wrote from my heart.

And the result?

I went viral.

Submit the form below to download The Viral Voice, and read some of my most popular articles on the Internet.

Life Skills That Matter Podcast Featuring Nicolas Cole

Podcast FeaturesNicolas Cole1 Comment

Back in October, right after I released Confessions of a Teenage Gamer, I was invited onto an extremely well-known podcast called Life Skills That Matter.

The big theme of this podcast was focused around the way I have found to balance being both an artist and an entrepreneur. On the one hand, I am a writer and I enjoy sharing my story in creative ways, but on the other hand I have had to learn how to share my work with the world through mediums like digital marketing and personal branding, and so I also enjoy teaching others how to do the same. The world needs more artists who know how to own the success of their own work.

In this episode we talked about:

- Personal Branding.

- Lessons learned from playing competitive video games.

- Team-building and goal-setting.

- Understanding and refining your personal story.

- How I got started on Quora and what that platform taught me about thought leadership.

To listen to the podcast, click here.

I would love to hear what you think! Post your comment below. What should I talk about on the next podcast?