Michael Kwan

Interview: Michael Kwan

I’ve been friends with Michael or Kwanye as many of us call him for quite sometime. We actually met in person on one of my trips to Las Vegas for CES. Since then we have enjoyed many good times together. I’ve seen him make a business out of his love for writing and he’s been able to do some pretty cool things along the way.

Who do you work for or what websites do you run?
I’m an independent professional freelance writer, working primarily on web-based projects. In addition to my own blog, Beyond the Rhetoric, I also write for a number of sites for my clients, including MEGATechNews, John Chow dot Com, Deskcovery, Smartlife Blog, LoveToKnow, and Blogging Tips, among others.

What is your official job title?
I haven’t really assigned myself an official title at Michael Kwan Freelance Writing Services. You can call me a freelance writer, owner/operator, founder and CEO or whatever else. I do hold certain titles on my clients’ sites, though. For instance, I’m the Managing Editor of MEGATechNews.

How did you decide this is what you wanted to do?
Growing up, I wasn’t always sure what I wanted to do. I thought about careers in architecture, accounting, psychology and even cartooning. That being said, I’ve always been enamored by the power of the written word and what started as a hobby was happily parlayed into a full-time career where I am my own boss.

Could you give me a run-down of your typical day?
Most days begin with checking the email that I received overnight, seeing if there are any actions that require my immediate attention. After grabbing a bite to eat, I’ll head to the home office to start working. This may include updating my own blog, checking submissions from writers that I manage for other sites and checking social media. After the main administrative duties are addressed, I’ll start working on the articles in my queue. This could involve research, writing, editing, photo-taking, or all of the above. Each day is a little different, which I appreciate.

What would you say the hardest thing about your job is?
Dealing with the natural ebb and flow of the workload can be a challenge. Some days, it feels like I have way too much to do and it all needs to be done right now. Other days can feel much slower, instigating a sense of guilt that I’m not working hard enough. Overcoming that self-doubt while simultaneously avoiding burnout is a very delicate balance.

The best thing about your job?
Flexibility, in all sense of the word. I’m never completely free and pre-planning should always be done, but I do have the relative freedom to set my own schedule, choose where I want to work, and select the work that I want to do. By having greater control and flexibility over my time, location and chosen projects, I am better able to adapt to life’s surprises.

One thing that your job has enabled you to do?
I’d hate to echo something that Bob has already said, but travel is definitely a big one. Because of the work that I do as a technology writer, I’ve been able to attend trade events and conventions in Las Vegas, Taipei, Los Angeles, Seattle, New York and more. Further still, because I can practically work from anywhere I have a solid Internet connection, I’ve been able to travel the world for leisure — Australia, France and Japan are some of the bigger highlights — while still being able to maintain my business.

How has social media impacted what you do?
It has provided a very powerful tool for keeping in touch with existing colleagues and clients, as well as a means to form new connections. Like many people, I have a hard time remembering names, so keeping someone on my Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn serves as an excellent reminder.

What tools do you use that make your job easier?
HootSuite is fantastic for handling multiple Twitter accounts and WordPress is what my clients and I use to power most of our websites. I’ve been using Google Keep and Google Tasks to track items on my to-do list. Google Drive is great for collaboration too.

One piece of advice for someone who wants to do what you do?
Buy my book! In all seriousness, I do outline a lot of the key lessons that I learned along the way in Beyond the Margins, so I recommend it to anyone considering any sort of freelance career. Just know that being your own boss can be a lot more work than being someone else’s employee, but it’s all worth it.

Where can people see what you are up to?
I’m all over social media. You can find the corresponding links to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram and the rest of it through MichaelKwan.com. As mentioned, my Beyond the Rhetoric blog is a good place to follow me too (subscribe to the RSS feed!), as I update that six times a week.