'Anyone can have a voice'
Desire to write: I'd grown up dreaming of becoming a writer but was too scared to pursue it. When I became a CPA specializing in tax, that unfulfilled potential as a writer haunted me. Ten years into my career, having built an expertise in tax law, I decided to give writing a shot. After several topic submissions and countless edits, I published an article on S corporation reasonable compensation in The Tax Adviser.
Gaining ground: When that initial article won The Tax Adviser's article of the year award [for 2011], my firm recognized that writing was something I should continue to pursue.
Blogging about tax: WithumSmith+Brown launched a tax blog in 2011. I wrote a lot of posts, developing my own voice. Not many people were writing about tax, so although my readership was small, when a major tax event occurred, big news outlets found me online. Soon Bloomberg, CNN, and others were reaching out. After eight months, Forbes asked if I would change my blog to a regular column and move it to their platform.
Writing is good business: In addition to the Forbes column, I also write technical treatises for CCH and RIA. During the process of writing about a topic, I gain mastery of the subject matter that I can use to effectively service my clients. My firm realizes that this expertise is tremendously valuable, both internally and externally.
Era of self-expression: Although some CPAs may not think of themselves as creative, the younger generation are more likely to. These CPAs have grown up in a time of limitless self-expression through social media and are accustomed to having their voices heard. Of course, CPAs of any generation who have something to say can now go online and say it. Even if it seems like no one is reading you, if you put the information out there, the right people will find it. Having expertise is important, however. You won't keep readers' attention unless after a couple of paragraphs they believe they can learn something from you.
Advice to CPA writers: The best advice I ever received about writing: Every sentence should be either informative or entertaining. If it's not, why write it?
Fulfilling a dream: My career represents the best of both worlds. I still get to do what I do best—serving clients with my understanding of tax law—but now I also get to tap into the creative side of my brain through my writing.
—As told to Amy Krasnyanskaya (firstname.lastname@example.org), a freelance writer in Cary, N.C.