July 4th, 2015 was the day I quit my full-time job as a meat cutter to begin writing on Seeking Alpha. The plan was to improve my research and writing ability - while at the same time - showcasing my investment research with hopes of landing a job as an equity analyst. I wasn't sure if it was possible or how long it would take, however, I was willing to bear the risk of uncertainty, with the chance of landing a job I would truly enjoy doing. With that being said, I have recently accepted a job at Gate City Capital Management.
Back in April, I was an intern at Gate City. Not only did I learn a significant amount, but the fund's investing style is similar to my own - which to me is a huge benefit. To say the least, I am excited to begin a new adventure and to continue to develop as an investor within Gate City Capital Management.
The bad news, I will no longer be a prolific writer on Seeking Alpha. As an analyst, I will be focusing 100% of my effort for Gate City. I do not plan on going completely dark like Ash Grove (OTCPK:ASHG) or Boston Sand & Gravel (OTCPK:BSND), but rather stay somewhat active such as Keweenaw Land Association (OTCPK:KEWL) or Biloxi Marsh Lands (OTCPK:BLMC). Moreover, it's likely I will post an idea once a quarter.
I am extremely grateful for a platform like Seeking Alpha. After college, I knew that I wanted to be an investor; however, I lacked the resume and network to get my foot in the door. With the global reach Seeking Alpha has, I was able to build a valuable network - at the same time - improving my research ability. Not only did I land a job I was looking for, but was offered a variety of other jobs, speaking opportunities, invites to conferences, interviews via magazines/websites and other unique opportunities.
For the past one and a half years, I have woken up to research and write investment ideas on Seeking Alpha. Some days were tougher than others. It's hard to wake up every day and come up with investment ideas to write about. Furthermore, before I started writing on Seeking Alpha, I was not a writer, nor was my research ability up to par. I hate to look back at my past work, but here are a few early examples of my beginning work:
The three articles above are beginning analyses to say the least. With that being said, it's great that Seeking Alpha continuously works with contributors in order to improve their writing and research skills. In fact, I am not sure of any other platform that works directly with their contributors to produce better content. I am grateful for their contributor development program and continual help from the editors.
For contributors who are just starting, there are a few tips I would like to mention. First, find an area and focus exclusively on that area. There are a lot of contributors on the site, meaning, a significant amount of competition. Thus, if you want your research to stand out, focus on an area where there is a lack of competition. For me, this was the micro-cap space.
Secondly, improve your work with each new company you research. It is imperative to incrementally improve your research every time you write a new article. If you are not constantly improving and evolving, you are not going anywhere.
Thirdly, network. Seeking Alpha has an impressive global reach. Through Seeking Alpha, I have met a wide variety of individuals consisting of professional investors, academics, business professionals, etc. To leverage the network potential on Seeking Alpha, make sure to be an active commentator and respond to messages. Finally, it never hurts to reach out to other Seeking Alpha contributors as well.
Finally, leverage other social media sites. Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and LinkedIn (NYSE:LNKD) have all been helpful to promote my research. Furthermore, joining investment groups within those social media sites can be particularly helpful.
If you are thinking about becoming a contributor, there are a few benefits that should be noted. First, as stated above, it's possible to land a job, build a valuable network and incrementally improve your research and writing ability.
Secondly, you can get paid. The pay isn't great, but if you are shrewd with a low fixed expense structure, it's possible to live off it. Likewise, if you can manage the risk of a low-paying writing job, you may be able to meet the right people to build your platform into something much bigger. As Ray Bradbury would put it:
"Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers."
Finally, you can create your own catalyst. A lot of the smaller public companies out there have a lack of followers and sell-side research. There have been numerous times where I have been the only person to write about a specific company for years and even for the first time ever. Likewise, if you find a compelling investment hidden from the Street, it's likely you can create a catalyst for the company through your research.
All in all, Seeking Alpha is a unique platform. Since I have started contributing, there have been a significant amount of improvements for contributors and for readers. Furthermore, the platform is in a category of its own and is likely to be a game changer for the investment industry. Mostly, it will be interesting to see the business model of Seeking Alpha ten years out.
It's been a great time contributing on Seeking Alpha. I am grateful for the site, other contributors and everyone that I have met along the way. As said before, I will not go completely dark like some of the companies we have discussed together, but will likely contribute a few times a year. With that being said, feel free to keep in touch with me or reach out if you have any questions. Likewise, I am always up for exchanging investment ideas and talking with like-minded people.
Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.
I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.
Editor's Note: This article covers one or more stocks trading at less than $1 per share and/or with less than a $100 million market cap. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.