Media Voices: Lewis DVorkin on the Forbes contributor network

Lewis Dvorkin will be speaking at Digital Media Strategies UK this September. For more information and to book your place, click here.


Lewis DVorkin is Forbes Media’s Chief Product Officer, responsible for the company’s digital and print platforms, including Forbes.com on desktop, mobile and tablets, FORBES Magazine and ForbesLife mobile apps and video. In this MediaVoice, he tells TheMediaBriefing how Forbes’ contributor network works for everyone involved – and how it informs other endeavours at the publisher.

What value do writers have being attached to Forbes contributor network, rather than for example, on Medium? And conversely what is the value for Forbes?

The value of being a contributor to Forbes is clear. Whether you’re a journalist, academic or book author – everyone wants to be connected to a valuable brand. Forbes is a respected media brand that’s known around the world, so writers want to attach themselves to that kind of credibility.

In addition, we provide the tools, the platform, technology, search optimization and audience reach so that contributors can focus on what they do best: create great content. Many writers also want to make money – and we provide them that option through our novel incentive plan. The bigger the audience the contributor attracts with the help of Forbes, the more money they make.

Forbes is always looking for expertise. Any time we add a writer who is an expert in a particular area, it benefits our brand. No one can afford to hire over 1,800 full-time reporters. To date, we have onboarded more than 1,800 contributors. Our model makes it easy for us to add experts that can attract a huge audience to our platform.

All in all, Forbes has the credibility, the brand, the platform, the tools and the model for contributors to earn a living and to be a credible voice in the conversation across the social web. And these contributors attract an audience that advertisers want to reach, which benefits our business.

Since opening Forbes.com to contributors in 2010, how much growth have you seen and how are you continuing to grow?

Since we started the contributor network in 2010, according to comScore, traffic to Forbes.com has nearly quadrupled. Today, Forbes.com attracts a record audience of 45 million unique monthly visitors. We’re going to continue to grow by expanding. We’re exporting the model. We’ve had contributors in Europe and now we’re undertaking a huge expansion plan in Asia – adding to the worldwide growth of our contributor base.

We’re also increasing the types of topics and categories that contributors write about. We’ve focused on broad verticals like technology, investing, and leadership – and we’re now exploring other verticals, subjects, and niches where we can bring on additional expertise. For example, we’re now focusing more on entrepreneurial millennial women. Over the past few months, we’ve added 50 contributors who will start writing on this topic in June. In addition, over the past year, we’ve brought on more than 20 science writers who have drawn a strong following on Forbes.com.

Who deals directly with the contributor network – how is this monitored to ensure quality is maintained?

Over the years, we’ve continued to evolve our management of the contributor network. Take the example of our technology coverage: there’s a channel editor who’s responsible for the overall content in the technology channel, as well as staffers and contributors who publish to this channel. This channel editor works with a deputy editor who’s responsible for quality control, recruiting new contributors and the general voice of that channel.

Then there’s a senior producer who works with new contributors on their particular beat – making sure they stay focused on that beat and resolving any content questions or issues with contributor content. We also have a producer who helps contributors understand how to use the publishing tools and to answer questions they have about producing content on Forbes.com. Both producers monitor content closely after it’s been published to make sure it lives up to our quality standards.

Forbes Podcasts are described as an extension of the contributor network’s goals – what does the new format offer to Forbes’ audience and how will you benefit as a result?

With our contributor network, the idea has always been to give experts a voice so that they can attract a following. Podcasts are an extension of that voice in that followers grow more attached to the personality and knowledge of our contributors and Forbes editorial writers.

Women are huge consumers of podcasts, so we’re using this as a starting off point to test podcasts in that space as we seek to build a bigger audience around millennial entrepreneurial women. In about six months or so, we expect to extend the podcasts to other verticals. So far, the podcasts targeting millennial women have been very successful. In just four weeks, our 10 podcasters are approaching a total of 100,000 downloads, and they’re seen double digit weekly growth. In addition, for the first week or two the entire line-up was featured on Apple’s New & Noteworthy podcasts page.

Anything else you’d like to add?

The media business is about to go through another big change. We’re getting into a world of truly distributed content. Today, news content is appearing in far more places than a publication’s platform, including Amazon’s Echo, Twitter, bots, Facebook, and more. The challenge is, what do you do when people are consuming your content in places you don’t own? How do you monetize it?

Forbes is in the early stages of developing a new mobile premium experience with formats that work on both Forbes.com and formats that would work on other platforms as well. Those formats are very different than a traditional 800-word story in that they’re a more card-like experience. So content is displayed in short form cards that include video, text, quotes, or photos, and those cards are able to be mixed and matched for audiences in different platforms.


Lewis Dvorkin will be speaking at Digital Media Strategies UK this September. For more information and to book your place, click here.

By |2016-06-09T12:05:00+00:00June 9th, 2016|Analysis|Comments Off on Media Voices: Lewis DVorkin on the Forbes contributor network

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