Freelance writing doesn’t always have the reputation for being a hugely lucrative endeavor. But it looks like investors are seeing some bright spots there — at least when it comes to technology platforms in the space.
Scripted, the San Francisco startup that runs an online marketplace to connect freelance writers with companies who need written content, has raised $4.5 million in a new round of Series A funding led by Crosslink Capital and Redpoint Ventures.
In an interview this week, Scripted’s CEO Sunil Rajamaran said the new funding will help the company scale its reach to bring more writers onto its platform. Another focus is to hone Scripted’s software for surfacing relevant content that companies may be interested in purchasing, and its technology for helping writers pitch new topic ideas. The company will also add to its staff, which is now at a very startup-sized 10 full-timers.
Scripted currently has 80,000 vetted, United States-based writers on its platform writing content for some 1,000 paying customers. Scripted sells content at flat rates, and takes varying percentages in terms of commission based on the piece; the company has also opened up its API to let companies source content through the platform on their own sites.
Despite the much-publicized travails of the journalism industry, Rajamaran maintains that written content is as important and valuable as ever.”Our market is any company with a website,” he said, adding:
“What’s happening today is that every business needs to become a publisher. In order to sell customers these days, it’s not about sending a quick spamming link ad; customers have gotten so good at filtering out what’s good and what’s not. You have to tell a story, not necessarily about your own product, but also about things that are helpful to your customer.”
Many of the writers on Scripted’s platform aren’t actually professional journalists, Rajamaran said. Often, they’re people with day jobs in other fields who are passionate about sharing their expertise on either their professional vocations or their hobbies. “We had an audio hardware company looking for content, and the guy we matched him to has a day job of working as an engineer at Pixar,” he said. “We’re not a journalism company; we don’t pay professional journalist rates. We’re selling to businesses, and what businesses need are subject matter experts.”
In terms of competition, Rajamaran acknowledged that there are a number of other freelance marketplaces on the web. But he said the challenge that Scripted encounters most often is from companies who already have a writer on staff, or go to general job boards such as Craigslist to find writers. As with many startups, awareness is a very big part of success — so the fresh funds could come in handy as Scripted works to get the word out even more.