Freelance writing network Contently makes its platform free

Contently, a New York City-based startup that connects vetted freelance writers with publishers and brands, is making its editorial management platform free while continuing to charge brands in search of journalists.
Contently was founded in December 2010. It was part of the TechStars spring 2011 class and has raised $2.35 million in seed and first-round funding. The company’s CEO is Shane Snow, a 27-year-old NYC tech journalist who’s written for sites like Wired, Fast Company and Mashable.
The site aims to connect professional freelancers with publishers and, increasingly, with brands in need of high-quality content. “We believe the business model that ‘saves journalism’ is myriad: Commerce, sponsorship, paid content, and philanthropy will sustain the craft and maintain journalistic integrity, so long as motives and authors are transparent,” the company writes in its manifesto.
Here’s how Contently’s model works: Freelance writers apply to join its writers network, and brands and publishers in need of content search that network to find writers. There are about 3,500 writers in Contently’s network — only 8 percent of those who apply are accepted, the company says — and over 100 client brands, including American Express, Mint, Mozy and Unicef.
Once a client publisher has found a writer for a job, it manages the editorial process — everything from due dates to payments — through Contently’s content platform.
Up until now, Contently has charged brands both to search its writers network and to use its editorial management platform. Starting today, though, the basic platform is free. Contently will continue to charge for access to its database of vetted writers. The cost of that access will depend on the amount of content a brand needs.
“We built the software that we always wished we could use as journalists and editors,” Snow told me. “Software like this wants to be free.” In other words: Pay for the connections, and then manage the editorial process for free.