Happy New Year! When we launched our content creation platform in 2016, we did so with the goal of attracting the world’s top freelance writers. So far, so good. Over the next few weeks–in an effort for you to get to know the people behind the writing names–we’ll be featuring a few top writers from our community. First up on the list is Justin Stoltzfus, a technology writer with over ten years of experience. Enjoy!
nDash: If you could only write about one topic for the rest of your freelancing life, what would it be? And why?
Justin Stoltzfus: Technology. There are so many interesting advances that have been made in the last few decades. Over the last ten years, I’ve been deeply involved in reporting on how they affect our world, from driverless cars to network virtualization to cybersecurity – you name it.
Q: What’s the most rewarding part about being a freelance writer? The most challenging?
A: The most rewarding part of being a freelancer is the opportunity to get involved in new projects. Rather than “treading the same old piece of carpet,” you’re always getting involved in new projects with their own focus, angle, and methodology. The most challenging part is building up your business enough to truly stay busy and enjoy the stability of a 40-hour work week – it requires a lot of networking and proactive effort.
Q: What do your most successful clients all have in common?
A: All of my most successful clients understand the need to invest in high-quality, authoritative content. They understand letting a content provider innovate and explore how written pieces can help a business rather than churning out micro-managed “SEO” pages.
Q: What made you decide to become a freelance writer?
A: I was writing for newspapers and realized – with layoffs, etc. – how much of the world was contracting. At the same time, many new opportunities were emerging to do digital journalism and tell stories for businesses in new digital forums. I’ve never regretted going the freelance route, and I feel like I have much more job security than someone salaried at an individual news desk.
Q: What’s the biggest mistake you see brands making with their content?
A: I would say the biggest mistake is dumbing it down, putting writing in a box, and micro-managing. Some of the least savvy companies focus on the wrong things – like stringently adhering to an eighth-grade reading level (often for no discernible reason) or thinking that “people are too busy” to read long-form content. Today’s choosy audience will tune out simple and drab short-form stuff – they want something that’s interesting. Companies end up hovering over writers and demand that they produce conformist, bland content, and then they wonder why that content doesn’t work for them.
Q: What marketing trends should brands be keeping an eye on in 2017?
A: The big new trend is that new trends are always occurring. Companies have to stay current. They can’t be writing about last year’s stuff while this year’s stuff is coming out. Writers should be reporters. They should be investigative – and that means they need tools. You can’t stay competitive just telling writers to “search the Internet” for ideas. The best companies have internal data resources that writers can use to tell a story.
- Favorite marketing buzzword? “The cloud” – the use (and abuse) of this term over the past five years has been fascinating.
- Watched any terrible movies lately? No, but I’m a really big fan of Mike Judge’s “Silicon Valley.”
- The world record you are most likely to break is ____? Career wordage.
- Are you cool with the Oxford comma? I like extra commas for breaks. Pause. It makes sense.
- What is a reasonable punishment for people who double-space after a sentence? They have to create a compression algorithm.
To work with Justin Stoltzfus, you can hire him on nDash! Sign up now!