We’ve had some truly exciting writers join nDash recently, so we launched a new feature to introduce them to our audience! Scott Smith is a technology and business leadership writer who is ready to tackle your projects. During his career, Scott has interviewed Bill Gates, Meg Whitman, Larry Ellison, Richard Branson, Barbara Corcoran, Howard Schultz, Pat Gelsinger of Intel, and Pam Nicholson of Enterprise Rent-a-Car, among others. He’s the perfect pick for business, technology, or industrial verticals.
Scott, what excites you about freelancing?
I have been a part-time or full-time freelance writer since I had my first article published when I was 22 (still earning most of my income from this at 71, and I’ve been through all the ups and downs of the business). What is exciting is that you can pick your topics–eventually, you will find out what pays well (profiling CEOs for me) and what you want to do for fun (I get press passes that offset things I want to do and places I want to go). You can thus balance what you ideally might want to do (pay all your bills by writing) with your financial needs. I’ve been married three times, so I have always held a part-time job to be sure I had a basic income, and I’ve followed a rigorous health program, so I have no intention of ever stopping–I’ve twice interviewed a CEO who is now 106, so I have a role model.
What subject areas are you passionate about?
Most companies have poor management from the customer and employee standpoint, and I want to highlight how enlightened businesses are run so their leaders can show the way. I also love to write about the historical and cultural aspects of destinations, rather than spend most of my time eating, drinking, and shopping, as most travel writers seem to do.
What is your best piece of advice for new freelancers?
Don’t try to start where you would ideally like to be. Find websites or small and local magazines where your work might appear, study them, then build your file of clips by imitating the writers that have been published in those places, pitching ideas you know something about. Then use those clips to move up to the next level.
What sets you apart from other writers?
I’ve managed or owned a dozen small companies so that I can talk with business leaders from a hands-on, informed perspective. I do my homework–I read business books and underline the important ideas, then make a private index so I can find them easily later. I look at each industry to see which leaders are enlightened and try to interview and profile them. I let the subjects fact-check the draft–you will always have mistakes even when you think you have mastered a subject, so don’t go to press without checking, or you will disgrace yourself by having to make apologetic corrections.
What is your favorite weekend activity in your area?
I have a monthly column on things to do in Southern California, and I keep pushing the boundaries of museums, historical sites, art galleries, etc., for my own benefit that I share with readers. It’s okay to be a workhorse, but a workaholic will burn out.
Where do you go to read up on the latest freelance writing trends?
I am on the mailing list of PR firms for business book publishers, and I skim what they send me to decide which authors to interview. There will always be a demand for freelance business writers because most media have small editorial teams, and it’s hard to find writers who understand specific industries or businesses, in general, to give assignments to.
Do you have a favorite writer you’re following on Twitter or LinkedIn?
It’s better to build up your specialties and read real books, and you’ll be way ahead of those who track trends on social media in terms of getting assignments. Once you’re established, you can Google news for your field and then build up your social media connections (I have over 13,000, but spend just a half-hour a day posting on a variety of topics they look to me to comment on or to find the best op-eds or articles to share).
How did you get into this career?
I had my first article published in a national magazine about what makes a good teacher, based on my first year in college. Then I used my early experience as a retail manager to write about business (I now get paid $40/hr to write blogs for dentists and have as much demand as I have time). Start by writing about what you know and just keep improving your expertise and the subjects you can write about and don’t worry about the pay–that will rise and work will come to you as you show from your clips and your pitches that you can think in fresh ways about potential topics for a particular outlet.
Ready to hire Scott? Head to his full profile on nDash to get started.