Contently expands to multimedia and companies are taking notice

By Cale Guthrie Weissman , written on October 28, 2013

From The News Desk

If you talk to anyone who's a freelance anything, you know it can be both great and terrible. While it's nice to work from home and go at your schedule, lining up jobs is one of the most nerve-wracking thing you can do, especially when an upcoming rent bill is looming in the not-too-distant future.

For freelance journalists, this is doubly true.

Freelance journalist marketplace Contently launched two and half years ago with the purpose of giving freelance journalists and storytellers a better way to advertise their work. It connects journalists with publishers and has become a platform well-known for linking writers with brands.

Now the platform has begun branching its services out beyond merely being for writers, and supposedly companies are taking the bait.

Contently allows users to create an online portfolio where they can post clips of their past work. Most of the content users could add, however, was text. While it's true that the majority of those listed on contently are writers, Contently's co-founder Shane Snow explained that other facets of media have been using it as well. These were multimedia professionals like cartoonists and videographers who, as Snow explained it, were "essentially hacking our system."

Snow didn't mean hacking in a pejorative sense, but that multimedia journalists started to find ways to work around the site's word-centric profile template. For example, users started remotely hosting their images, and then embedding links onto their portfolio.

According to him, more people have begun using the service to promote their multimedia work. So the startup decided to follow this trend and build out its backend software to support this kind of work. In essence, it made more space for giant multimedia file attachments, and provided other avenues for multimedia professionals to more easily display their work.

Snow told me that companies are now contacting Contently to work together to find multimedia freelancers. Quite often Contently works with big companies to help connect freelancers to brands, as opposed to companies perusing portfolios on their own. This is one of the startup's primary business models, in addition to a $2 million Series A it raised in 2012.

Historically, these partnerships were for finding writers, but it is now being expanded to these forms of media. Snow told me that American Express has contacted the company to find photojournalists for its Small Business Saturday program. Additionally, GE and Edelman have begun to work with Contently to find animators for various video projects.

Snow doesn't think any of this should come as a huge surprise. The site has been hosting this type of content for years now, even if it wasn't totally aware of this from the get-go. He sees it as just providing more ways for people to participate, which is good for both Contently and journalists as a whole (that is, of course, if you're a journalist who's interested in working with brands).

And that's all Snow wants, a place where journalists can advertise their name and get work. Or, as he explains the Contently ethos, "Come, get a place to display your work, and we'll do things for you."

And I guess even if you'd rather not work for content marketing, it's always good to hedge your bets -- especially if you remember how difficult it actually is to be a journalist.

[Image courtesy gilles chiroleu]