Author & Entrepreneur

I Found The World's Tiniest (And Strongest) Coffee In Budapest | #CoffeeWithCole Episode 4

#CoffeeWithCole, CreativityNicolas ColeComment
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I'm just now finally getting a chance to get caught up on all the content we captured in Europe.

Here's why this trip meant so much to me:

For the past four years, essentially since I graduated from college, I haven't taken a vacation. Sure, a long weekend here and there, during Christmas I would go up to Wisconsin with my family to do some snowmobiling, but other than that, I worked. And I don't just mean worked at my job. I worked at my craft, I worked on my writing, I worked on learning how to build my own personal brand, I worked to finish my book, Confessions, and I worked toward my goal of being a full-time writer. 

This trip to Europe felt like the trophy at the end of that journey. 3 months after publishing my book and leaving my job, I got to step away for 10 days to explore Budapest, Amsterdam, and Paris. And the fact that I got to go with people I cared about, on my own time, paid for by the craft I have been working on since I was an adolescent was so humbling. There were many, many times I looked around during this trip and thought to myself, "Writing is what got me here. I am standing in another country right now, because of writing. It's taken me this far."

To me, this is dreaming. This is what life is all about—taking something you love and demanding, over and over and over again, that it remains part of your life. Ten years. That's what this trip represents, to me. Ten years of practice. Ten years of me writing blogs on the Internet, that in the beginning nobody paid any attention to. Ten years of me writing for free. Ten years of me staying up late and journaling on my laptop, night after night after night. Ten years of me reaching out to websites asking if they would let me write something for them, just so that I could get another notch under my belt. Ten years of being told that writing (especially writing online) wasn't a very realistic career path. (Did you know that just about every English teacher I had up until college told me I would never become a writer? I didn't follow the rules, they said.) Ten years of, even wondering myself, what compelled me to never give up on this thing, this thing that would ask me to sit in front of my laptop for hours and hours, many times leaving me feeling like I had no better idea today than I did yesterday what I was "supposed" to write. Ten years of confronting my own fears of being a writer, "What will people think of me? What if someone doesn't like what I write about?" Ten years of forcing myself, over and over again, to just keep trying, keep writing, keep moving forward no matter what. 

When I was 17 years old, I wrote my first blog post on the Internet.

I am about to turn 27 here in a couple months. 

It took me ten years to turn this weird, elusive, heartfelt, vulnerable, insanely fun word game called writing into, not just my career, but a lifestyle.

I am a writer.

Why I share that with you:

What I believe, more than anything else in the world, is that if you are willing to go on the journey, you can turn whatever it is you love into your full-time job and ideal lifestyle. 

It might not take form the way you had thought when you took that first step.

It might take longer (or shorter) than you had anticipated (or would prefer).

But in some way, it will happen. 

I don't believe this out of theory. I believe this because I have reinvented myself so many times that I have enough books to keep me busy for the next decade (probably longer). The same path and daily disciplines that turned me into a nationally ranked gamer, also turned me into a fitness model and bodybuilder, and also turned me into a recognized digital marketer, and also turned me into a 3x Top Writer on Quora, and also turned me into one of Inc Magazine's most viral writers, and also turned me into an artist, entrepreneur, and writer at 26 years old. 

I wasn't born any of those things. But I loved them so much that I was willing to walk the journey.

And do you know what's fascinating? 

Each one took roughly 4 years to reach the first real pinnacle of success. 

I started playing World of Warcraft when I was 14 years old. I had never played a competitive online computer game before in my life. A few months before I turned 18, I was one of the highest ranked players in the country, and I had one of the first big e-sports blogs on the Internet (my first "personal brand").

I started bodybuilding when I was 19, almost 20. I barely weighed 130lbs, had a curvature in my spine, a concave chest, and not an ounce of muscle anywhere on my body—a stick figure. By the time I turned 24, I was a full-blown bodybuilder with a clear trajectory to make fitness my entire life (I ultimately decided I preferred it as a part of my life, but not my entire lifestyle).

I started working at a digital advertising agency when I was 22, an internship right before I graduated from college. I had never taken a marketing or business class, had no idea what a campaign was or a social media strategy. When I was 26 (just a few months ago), Forbes named me a top digital marketer to watch in 2017, Entrepreneur listed me as a Top 10 personal branding expert, and Inc Magazine listed me as a top youth marketer. 

And if I trace back my journey as a writer, I can see the milestones that ultimately led to where I am right now—and how this has been the craft I have stuck with the longest. So it's no wonder that at the ten year mark I have been able to make it my full-time job (although it hardly feels like a job).

Anything you want to do in life, you can. But you have to be willing to walk the journey.

If there is one thing I have always hoped my writing expressed to others, it's the realism of dreaming. Anytime I see someone close to me give up on what they love, give up on their dream, it makes me so sad. Being a kid and staying connected to your "inner child" is all about dreaming. That's what it means to "imagine," to continue using your imagination. And the most common rationalization I hear, when someone decides to give up on their dream, is, "It's just not realistic."

It's not supposed to be.

If it was realistic, if it was easy, if it was guaranteed, everyone would do it.

But the fun is exploring in the dark. The fun is not knowing where you're going to end up. The fun is in creating yourself as you go along—not walking a path that's been paved before you, telling you exactly who to be.

I will never work a 9-5 ever again in my life.

I will wake up, every single day, fighting for my dream.

I've been doing it for ten years, at night, at odd hours, and this is where I have ended up.

Budapest, Hungary.

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! 

Also, I have been doing daily mini vlogs on Instagram Stories, if you want to see more of the day to day.

Now, here's all the content you missed:

Inc Magazine

1. Frustrated With Your Job? Try This 1 Relaxation Exercise You Can Do At Your Desk

2. 10 Lies People Believe About Success

3. The 3 Biggest Challenges Business Leaders Face Managing Human Resources

4. 5 Tips For Providing Feedback To Creatives (Without Making Them Feel Criticized)

5. 5 Steps to Building a Personal Brand Around What You Love

6. What I Learned About 'Going Viral' After Writing Over 1,500 Blog Posts, Columns, and Content Pieces

7. 3 Things Every Company Blog Needs in Order to Build a Loyal Audience

8. The Number 1 Reason Most Content Creators Fail (And Never Build A Loyal Audience)

9. The Healthy Meal Kit Service Industry Is Worth $1.5 Billion (Here's What The Future Of Food Looks Like)

10. 3 Ways Traveling Can Ignite Your Creativity

11. The 1 Reason Millennials Are Afraid to Take the Leap (Even Though They Want to So Badly)

12. 19 Ugly Truths About Entrepreneurship (That Everyone Should Know Before They Start A Business)

13. The Golden Intersection For Building A Powerful Personal Brand: Education And Entertainment

14. 7 Reasons People Give Up on Their Goals Too Early

15. 10 Unique Instagram Accounts In 10 Different Industries You Need To Be Paying Attention To

16. 7 Honest Reasons Entrepreneurs Fail (That Have Nothing to Do With Their Ideas)

17. Hate Mondays? This Will Put Things in Perspective

18. The 4 Biggest Mistakes Businesses Make With Their Facebook Ads

19. The 1 Thing 20-Somethings Should Do for Themselves to Be Successful

20. Everything You've Been Told About Finding Your Passion Is Wrong (Here's Why)


1. Do you have a simple childhood memory that you could never forget?

2. How would you describe yourself as a writer?

3. My question is simple. How do I increase my willpower when even the slightest distraction gets me to succumb?

4. Which sentence is more important in an essay, the first or the last?

5. What is the best thing you've ever learned on Quora?

6. What answer put you on the map in Quora?

7. How can I become a world-class writer in 6 months?

8. How can I kill my ego that is destroying my life?

9. Is Nicolas Cole the most handsome guy on Quora?

10. Do you truly have no time to waste/have fun if you want to be successful and financially set by the age of 35?

11. Do writers feel more creative and expressive with pen and paper, or do thoughts come out as easily as when typing on a keyboard?

12. What is something that you will never write about?

13. What is the #1 reason you are successful?

14. What are some ways you stay focused and productive without getting burnt out?

15. Why do rappers rap about women so much?

16. How are you not like the 'typical' teenager?

17. How could I ever possibly attain the level of drive that Nicolas Cole is in possession of?

18. What financial advice would you give a 25 year-old who still lives with his parents?

19. Has Quora helped & motivated you to stick to your goals?

20. Why are you hungry for success?

What I'm Currently Reading


I am about half-way done with George Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London.

I picked this up a few days before I left for Paris. It reads just like the time period and circumstance he's describing: poverty, hunger, and a gaping wealth gap between the rich who frequent the best restaurants in Paris, and the lowly workers who slave behind the scenes to keep the show going. 

The joy in this book has a lot less to do with the story, and much more to do with the description and way it's told. The writing puts you right inside old-world Paris, so much so that you can practically feel the "hard water" the back-kitchen staff has to use to wash the grime off of the dinner plates of the privileged. 

As far as novels go, I think this will stay on my list of writing styles to worth studying. Orwell does a magnificent job painting dark underpasses and grey sunsets. 

What's Next?

I have been trying to keep things low key the past two weeks, recovering from our trip to Europe (all 10 days, by the way, spent with strep throat—not ideal). 

April is about to be mega busy. 

I'm set to go on two major podcasts: Entrepreneur On Fire and Andy Frisella's The MFCEO Project Podcast.  I'm actually flying to St. Louis to do the MFCEO Project Podcast in person, so we'll have some video footage and content from that—stay tuned to Instagram.

Beyond that, I haven't talked to much about it, but I am working on my second book, How To Leap. Unsure of what the second part of the title is going to be, but it's essentially a step-by-step guide explaining the habits and daily disciplines that ultimately allowed me to leave my 9-5 and work for myself, doing what I love—and how you can too. 

If you have questions or topic ideas you would like covered in the book, please drop me an email! I love getting ideas from readers. 

Stay tuned...

How To Get Your Writing Featured In Major Publications

BusinessNicolas ColeComment

How do you get your writing placed in Forbes, Fortune, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, and more?

4 years ago, I started writing on a website called Quora. Anyone who knows my story knows that I attribute just about all of my success writing online to Quora, and how that platform fundamentally changed the way I think about crafting content.

What a lot of people don't know is how websites like Quora, Medium, and LinkedIn can not only be tremendously powerful platforms to build a loyal audience, but can be used in a way to get your content seen by hundreds of thousands (even millions) of readers.

Don't believe me?

Check this out.


Platforms like Quora (although Medium and LinkedIn have similar processes) do a phenomenal job of finding the best content being created by their users and pushing it to massive audiences.

That's just one benefit.

Another massive benefit that a lot of people don't know about is that some of the biggest publications on the Internet actively search these platforms for amazing content they can republish.

In fact, there was a point when I was having a different answer on Quora republished by a major publication every single week for almost 6 months straight.

I finally got to a point where Inc Magazine was republishing so much of my work that they gave me a daily column. I have since written 200+ columns for Inc and accumulated millions of views there alone.

People think that getting work placed in a major publication is about hiring a PR firm, or pitching a columnist to write about them (I know because I get dozens of PR pitches in my inbox on a weekly basis). And sure, those tactics work, but what's the real benefit? Have someone write about you once?

Wouldn't you rather be actively creating content yourself? Wouldn't you rather people see you and the knowledge you're sharing as a leading resource in your industry?

This is what I mean by building a personal brand and establishing yourself as a thought leader. 

When people are actively reading your content, and especially when that content is appearing on the Internet's most widely known and credible publications, you end up generating your own PR.

And instead of having to go out and sell clients, your ideal clients come to you. 

But most of all, you build an audience that is truly interested in your content. That's the biggest value of all.

Getting content placed in a major publication isn't a game of luck. It's a science. I would know—I climbed my way all the way up the ladder, learning exactly how to write content that these big publications would be excited to republish. I have written over 600 answers on Quora, over 50 of which have found their way into major publications and accumulated millions upon millions of views. 

If you want to learn how you can write highly sharable and meaningful content online, I put together a 5-day email course teaching you exactly how.

This free email course covers:

1. The "method to the madness" to climbing the ladder and having your content published by the Internet's biggest and most credible publications.

2. Why starting a blog is the last thing you should do—not the first.

3. Writing content that speaks to your target audience's "pain points."

4. How platforms like Quora, Medium, and LinkedIn syndicate their best content.

5. What content nobody cares about—and how you can write content people will actually want to read and share.

To take the course, let me know what email to sends the lessons to below:

The Viral Toolkit: How To Structure “The Perfect Post,” Craft An Intriguing Headline & Use Language To Your Advantage

BusinessNicolas ColeComment

I recently put together an entire video course teaching people how to do what I have done for myself by writing online: craft highly sharable content, build an audience, and become a top tier Influencer.

If you haven't checked out the course yet, click here.

One of the materials that comes free with the course is an eBook called The Viral Toolkit. In short: it's a very detailed look at the way I think about writing online and how I structure my content. I remember a long time ago, one of the first people I connected with on Quora, Brandon Lee, introduced me to a group of influencers via email with the sentence, "I never knew Listicle articles could be written in a way that had depth and meaningful information, until I read Cole's work." I'll never forget that.

Basically, I have learned how to write things that people want to read—and I have the accolades to prove it. Over 16,000,000 views on Quora. Over 200 columns written for Inc Magazine. Work published in TIME, Forbes, Fortune, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, etc.

There is an art to writing high-performing content. It's something that has taken me years and years of practice to master, and is why I decided to take the time to put together an online course teaching people how to do the same. I get emailed constantly with questions from other writers, or aspiring Influencers and Thought Leaders, on how they can write things people will pay attention to as well. People want to know why their blog isn't attracting readers, why their articles aren't getting shared. And sure, half the battle is marketing, but the other half is how the thing is written in the first place.

In this eBook, I walk you through some of the finer points of writing an effective article, blog, column, etc., and how to really make it stand out. 

You will learn:

1. 10 different types of headlines and article types you can use so that you never run out of ideas.

2. How to structure and format 'The Perfect Post' 

3. How to write content in a way that is highly sharable and most likely to get published by major publications like Inc Magazine, Forbes, Fortune, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, and more.

4. How to use language to your advantage in your writing to trigger an emotional response from the reader (which encourages them to share it with someone else).

5. The 1 habit every single content writer needs to master in order to become successful (and the one I attribute all of my own success to).

Note: this eBook comes free with my online video course, How To Write Viral Content Online.

In the past four years, I have easily written over 1,500 pieces of content online: blog posts, columns, guest blogs, Quora answers, paid articles, ghostwriting articles, etc. This eBook is packed full of "the good stuff," the most important things you need to know.


Click here to check out the eBook, The Viral Toolkit.

Here are what some other people who have taken the full course are saying about the information provided:

Edwin Adams, Entrepreneur & Business Mentor

"So many platforms from which to choose. So much information to sort through for trends. So much to learn regarding the development of my online presence. These were the thoughts that consistently plagued my progress in developing as a thought leader. This course provided me with the answers I needed to take action. I'm now more confident in my understanding of the core considerations necessary for success as a thought leader. Thank you, Nicolas, for the actionable content and superb mentorship throughout my development. Mad respect."

Juan Campos, Co-founder of

"I was blown away by the quality of information on here. Let me explain. As a millennial entrepreneur with a community of more than 70k travelers, I struggle to create content at scale that is engaging and valuable every day. Cole's strategies are a game changer. 1. Learn what to write about. 2. Focus on what matters. 3. B2B and B2C is nothing compared to Human2Human."

Yazin Akkawi, CEO of MSTQ

"Cole taught me not just how to create content, but how to create content in a way that's engaging and relevant. I've been blogging for some time now, and after taking this course, my reach had grown exponentially and it's helped me find several new clients. This is the stuff that separates the bloggers from the thought leaders."

The Brand Journalism Advantage Podcast Featuring Nicolas Cole

BusinessNicolas ColeComment

I am really big into podcasts. 

I have always found them immensely helpful in helping me understand what it is I am looking to vocalize and teach people. There's something different about saying it out loud versus writing it. And often times, I leave a podcast with even more clarity around what I "know" than when I had originally walked in.

Recently, I was invited by Phoebe Chongchua to stop by her podcast, The Brand Journalism Advantage, specifically to talk about Personal Branding.

I shared: 5 Top Tips How To Build A Personal Brand

  1. “What’s Your Why” - Know your Why so that people see you as a true thought leader.
  2. Choose Your Channels Carefully – Don’t waste time on “popular” social channels if that’s not where your core audience is.
  3. Consistency With Content – Come up with a content schedule for yourself and stick to it (and create today what is better than what you created yesterday).
  4. Collaborate More Than You Post – Collaboration with other thought leaders is how you grow your audience and establish your credibility in your space/market.
  5. Update Your Image – On the Internet, people DO judge books by their cover, so make sure all your materials and content reflect the professionalism of your personal brand.

To listen to the full podcast, click here.

How To Write Viral Content Online

BusinessNicolas ColeComment

4 years ago, I was sitting in the last writing class of my college education. I was about to graduate with a degree in "creative writing," a degree many people assured me would guarantee a future of serving coffee at Starbucks for the rest of my life.

On the last day of class, my teacher, an author himself, said, "Writing as an art isn't dying. It's just going digital. And for the vast majority of writers, that's terrifying. They know how to write, they don't know how to market themselves. But the ones that can learn how to use these new tools will be the ones to succeed."

And with that, I grabbed my diploma and set out into the real world to find the answer to that very question.

I took a job as an entry-level copywriter at a digital agency downtown Chicago I will always consider to be a monumental part of my journey, called Idea Booth. I took that job because I saw that it would teach me what I didn't yet understand: the art of marketing. I had never taken a marketing or advertising class, had no idea what a "campaign" was or what acronyms like "ROI" meant. But I saw that in order for me to learn how to share my writing with the world, I first needed to understand what the world was willing to pay attention to.

This sparked an extreme interest in me to study all forms and variations of marketing, from the extravagant big brand performances all the way down to the forums online frequented by number-crunching digital marketers who obsessed over conversion rates and automated sales funnels. My entire life, you couldn't have paid me to take a math class seriously, and here I was up until two in the morning reading novel long PDF guides on ad spends and product conversion ratios.

At the same time, I continued to nurture my writing. Gone were my class assignments nudging me in different directions. Gone were my peers, ready to provide feedback. My support system as a writer had vanished, and in order to continue to master my craft I needed to find a new way to practice.

I started writing on a website called Quora. It was an intriguing platform, and one that I saw was dominated by really great writers, whether they called themselves that or not. Anyone could ask a Question, and anyone could provide an Answer. And the best Answers were written by thought leaders in their field, people who were speaking from experience. Except, what I realized very early on (studying people like Leonard Kim) was that the most popular writers on Quora had a way of doing two very opposite things at once: answering people's questions and providing real value, while at the same time telling their own unique story and making readers feel entertained.

"I have a lot of stories I could tell," I thought to myself.

So I started writing. 1 Answer per day.

3 months later, I had my first Answer pop on Quora. It was a summarized version of a lesson I had learned playing World of Warcraft at a national level, and held excerpts of my then-forthcoming memoir, Confessions of a Teenage Gamer. Over 100,000 people had read that Answer, and it ended up being published in Quora's 2014 Print Anthology.

"This is how I can market my book!" I realized. "I can answer gaming questions on Quora!"

Not a month after that, I had my first Answer go full-blown viral, landing on the front page of Reddit. That Answer has since accumulated over 1.1M views. It was a short Answer, barely two paragraphs, but was paired with a Before & After photo of me and my journey as a bodybuilder. Overnight, my inbox flooded with emails from people saying, "That picture on the left, that skinny kid is me. How can I end up like you there, on the right?"

This is what they were referring to:…/…/Nicolas-Cole-1

In one weekend, I built a website and wrote two eBooks, one about my workout routines, and another about my nutrition. I launched them that Sunday night, and by Monday morning had made $3,000.

"This is what product/market fit looks like!" I realized. Slowly but surely, what I was learning about digital marketing was starting to relate back to writing.

By the 5th month of my writing on Quora, I had my first Answer republished by a major publication: Inc. Magazine. I didn't even know that sort of thing was possible. A month later, I had another one of my Answers republished, this time in TIME.

I messaged back the person on Quora's team who had asked for my permission to republish the Answer.

"So, how does this work? Other publications can just take content from Quora and repost it?" I asked.

"Yup! They need great content, and we have amazing writers here on Quora writing really great material so it's a perfect fit. If you ever write something you think would be a good match for a certain publication, let me know and I'll pitch it," she said.

I saw this as my open door.

For months, I studied what content was appearing on the front pages of these major publications: Forbes, Fortune, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, etc. And then every time I sat down to write a Quora answer, I would carefully craft my answer to be in the form of an article one of these big pubs would want to republish.

I cracked the code, to say the least.

For over 6 months straight, I had a different Quora answer republished in a major publication every single week. Inc, TIME, Forbes, Fortune, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Entrepreneur, Observer, Fox News, The Chicago Tribune, Apple News, Popsugar, the list went on and on.

In less than a year, I had racked up more writing accolades than most professional writers.

At the end of 2014, nine months after I had started writing on Quora, I was named one of their Top Writers. I had accumulated over 8,000,000 views on all my articles.

At the end of 2015, I was named Top Writer again, now with over 12,000,000 total views.

In 2016, Inc Magazine was republishing so much of my content from Quora that they gave me my own column.

And at the end of 2016, I leveraged my audience on Quora to self-publish Confessions of a Teenage Gamer, reaching #2 in 2 different categories on Amazon the first day, and #1 on Product Hunt. I was named Top Writer for the 3rd time, now with over 16,000,000 total views.

I am now a full-time writer. One-half artist, one-half entrepreneur. Except what I have learned along the way extends far outside just the realm of writing.

If you want to be a thought leader in your industry, if you want people to come to you, if you want to have an audience, if you want to have a voice, then here's how you can refine that voice and get yourself out there.

I want to teach you how you can do what I've done, for yourself.

Click here to take the course: