Not another content mill: How this freelancer created a successful marketing platform for other writers

June 13, 2017


It’s not easy being a full-time freelance writer.

Flaky clients, frequent rejection and an unreliable salary are enough to make many writers run for the hills.

But not Michael Brown, CEO of nDash. Where most freelancers saw defeat, Brown saw a business opportunity.

After leaving his marketing job to become a full-time freelance writer in 2013, Brown grew tired of sending countless resumes, applying to the “black holes” known as job boards and fighting to be seen in the highly competitive field.

“Then it hit me,” Brown said. “If brands are now publishers, why isn’t anyone pitching them content ideas?”

Founded in 2016, Natick-based startup nDash aims to be the go-to place for freelance writers looking to connect with big brands in need of content.

nDash’s platform provides a single place for freelance writers to find new clients, pitch them unique content ideas and land high-paying assignments.

In addition to facilitating writer-brand interactions, the platform covers writer recruitment, on-boarding, edits, approvals and payments. Brands can either accept a pitch create an assignment and send it directly to a writer, or post it as an open assignment where writers will apply.

“Right now, we have three writers on pay for six-figure earnings,” Brown said. “Ideally, we want this platform to be something writers could earn a living off of, but also where they spend their freelance writing time.”

Since launching in September 2016, nDash has partnered with more than 400 companies and 2,500 writers.

Though nDash can be used to generate any type of content, the company has seen the most success in the B2B technology space.

“This is because those companies are not interested in just finding a good writer,” Brown said. “They need a writer with experience in a particular area who has specialized skillsets and knowledge sets.”

To this end, many of the writers tend to be a little older and more experienced, Brown said.

“It’s not necessarily a platform for new and aspiring writers though we have many of them,” Brown said. “Many are handpicked and recruited by us, so we everyone from former CMOs to former engineers and book authors.”

Brown said it was important to him that nDash wasn’t “just another content mill.”

nDash does this in a few ways: by making the platform fully transparent, Brown said writers and brands get to know one another by name and form real relationships.

Writers also set their own rates, which gives freelancers control and ensures that companies are attracting top talent.

Once assignments are completed (and all edits have been resolved), writers submit for payment in the assignment thread. The brand is then notified and the auto-payment is processed within a few days.

Over the next year, Brown hopes to expand nDash beyond the B2B market and develop verticals for industries like financial and legal services, education, nonprofits and consumer-facing companies.

“We’re already starting to see our vision being realized,” Brown said. “Freelancers are earning up to five figures per month, writing about topics they’re passionate about.”


Photos via Shutterstock

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