My Journey as an American Expat, Writer & Web Entrepreneur
If youre trying to use your writing skills as the basis for a business or perhaps just some extra money while living abroad, I can help you. Please let me share some of my background.
This Led To That
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My writing career started in college where I began writing true-crime articles for the old pulp magazines True Detective and Master Detective. They paid on acceptance and $250 per article was great money for a graduate student. My editor worked with me patiently to help me become a better writer. She chose several of my articles for a series of Zebra Books compilations. THIS LED TO:
I was assigned a chapter on Writing True-Life Crime. THIS LED TO:
I moved to Hollywood and quickly found a job as a story researcher on the short-lived CBS TV series True Detectives (our offices at Sunset-Gower Studios). THIS LED TO:
After several episodes the series was canceled and by a great stroke of luck, I found a job the following week as assistant editor of my hobbys publication Black Belt Magazine. These are my fellow editors after we finished a special magazine about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. THIS LED TO:
Within a few months I was named executive editor of a sister publication Karate/Kung Fu Illustrated. THIS LED TO:
For my first cover, I chose Mark Salzman, the American expat author of the Pulitzer Prize nominated Iron and Silk, who had taught English at a Chinese medical school.
(Fellow True Detectives staff member, my new wife Suhair and Mark Salzman) I got married in 1991 to a Kuwaiti woman I met in college. Although she had been trapped inside her country for the entire 1990-91 Gulf War, we decided to return to Kuwait in 1992. My expatriate journey began.
A few months after arriving in Kuwait, I opened a martial arts school and a lot of opportunities followed. THIS LED TO:
Besides my martial arts school, I found a job as the editor of a local English magazine Kuwait Plus. THIS LED TO:
The father of one of my students owned an ad agency and asked if I was interested in freelancing. First gig: a Kuwait TV documentary on Islam. The series lasted 100+ episodes. THIS LED TO:
Kuwait TV asked us to come up with something original. Bassam and I created The Shiny Dime Club, the first English language childrens show in the Middle East. THIS LED TO:
The show was partly filmed in my martial arts school and let to other opportunities.
My first book was based on my experiences teaching the Kuwait Special Forces. THIS LED TO:
Every time the publisher sent a royalty check they would ask for other ideas. I always sent proposals back. As a result, my second book was a look at personal finance from the perspective of the Kuwaitis. THIS LED TO:
My third book was a compilation of information for Americans living abroad. THIS LED TO:
In 1996 I started a website for helping American expats called Overseas Digest. I used it to learn about the web. THIS LED TO:
I saw the potential of doing business online but made a ton of mistakes along the way. This is my first dollar for my online biz, an affiliate check from Amazon for $2.27 dated 1/28/98. THIS LED TO:
After four years of freelancing, I was offered a full-time job as an account director, English copywriter and especially web related marketing and communications. THIS LED TO:
I spent 10 years working on some of the biggest brands in Kuwait, both online and off, and gained tremendous experience with many companies. THIS LED TO:
We began to publish the magazine for the American Business Council Kuwait. I was the editor and also on the board. This article about evacuation exercises in Kuwait helped me think seriously about a web-based business as something an expat could take with them. THIS LED TO:
On a vacation in the mountains above Beirut, Lebanon, I started working on the idea for an online membership website. I wanted something my family could take with us if we ever had to leave Kuwait in a hurry. THIS LED TO:
The result was called Danger Zone Jobs, a site geared to Americans working overseas for defense companies. The site was an immediate success and after 10 years has over 23,000 paid members.
My goal now is to incorporate Overseas Digest into Writing Biz Abroad and help other Americans use their writing skills overseas. I hope and believe youll benefit from this site.