It took me a long time to write this nDash review. I like to stick with opportunities long enough to see them earn me some real money before I feel I can honestly review them. I got to that point with nDash, so here I share my experiences.
Before I start, please note that this nDash review looks at the platform from a writer’s perspective. If you’re considering using nDash as a client, it may still be interesting to you, but this review is primarily about whether nDash is a decent place for writers to earn money.
What is nDash?
nDash is an online platform designed to link professional writers up with companies who need written content.
Companies of all sizes often have requirements for everything from articles to blog posts and white papers; Some of them advertise directly or on sites like ProBlogger, some use job boards like Upwork, and others reach out directly to writers via referrals or on sites like LinkedIn.
nDash does things a bit differently. It effectively acts as a “middleman.” Companies register with nDash so they can access its writers; Writers register so they can access its registered clients – and these do, quite genuinely, include “blue chips” and household names.
However, the platform doesn’t just work like a glorified job board. While clients can just post asking for specific articles to be written, that’s not how most work on nDash gets done. Writers can pitch brands in their industry with ideas, and find brands that want exactly the kind of content they produce. Similarly, clients can hunt down writers with the specific experience they’re looking for.
In fact, a lot of the what goes on on nDash is around clients forming direct relationships with writers. According to another review I found whilst doing my research, only about 5% of the work that happens on nDash is as a result of writers responding to requests for articles (UpWork style!) The lion’s share of work takes place as a result of people pitching ideas to companies or industries, or when clients go directly to their favored writers requesting work.
Now, if you’re a novice writer, you may be wondering how relevant this nDash review is to you? It IS fair to say that nDash is more of a fit for people who already have some experience and some good published work to share. You may want to check out my freelance writing for beginners article if you don’t feel you’re there yet. However, I’d still say it’s worth you learning about nDash, if only as something to aspire to when you have a little more experience.
nDash Review: How does it work?
As a writer, the first thing you do on nDash is establish an online profile, which says a little about you and gives examples of the work you’ve done. Here’s mine:
Once your profile is complete, nDash encourages you to have it verified by their team. This takes a few days, and can involve a little back and forth while you tweak the details they suggest. In my case, I was asked to remove a link to my Contently portfolio and to provide direct links to published articles instead – a perfectly fair comment.
It’s worth going through this process, as your status on nDash as a “verified writer” is considerably higher than that of someone who hasn’t gone through the process. Verification acts as a “rubber stamp” for clients to confirm your credentials, and gives you access to significant parts of nDash that are off-limits otherwise, such as the (crucial) ability to pitch to brands.
Once you start browsing the system, you’ll quickly realise that the “open assignments” section really doesn’t have a lot to offer. At the time of writing, there were just four jobs on there! You might strike lucky and find something worth applying to in this section, but as discussed above, that’s not the main way to use nDash.
It all gets a lot more interesting once you start browsing the companies on nDash, all of whom you can pitch ideas to directly.
There’s a vast number of companies to pick from, from small firms to household names. Each has an extensive profile section, detailing the kind of content they’re looking for. This gives you an idea of what kind of thing to pitch. Each company profile also has a section that says how many pitches they’ve received recently, and the likely “pitch probability” (acceptance rate) – although, in my experience, this didn’t really translate in real life – more on that below.
Putting together a pitch is pretty simple. All you have to do is fill out a fairly simple form. Only the “Pitch Title” and “Abstract” fields are mandatory, but it seems worthwhile filling in the others for some more background. It’s also possible to send a pitch out to all the clients in a specific industry.
The way all of this works means it’s quite simple to set some time aside to fire off multiple pitches to a bunch of different companies in the area you specialise in. It’s not too time-consuming. In theory, if you do this regularly, concentrating on companies where you’re a good fit and taking notice of what they’re looking for, it shouldn’t be too long until you get a “bite” from an interested party.
The nDash Publishing Network
As of June 2019, nDash added a new “publishing network” feature. This allows you to write articles and publish them on the nDash site. These articles are freely accessible to anyone online. The “twist” is that nDash clients can choose to buy the articles for their own purposes if they so wish.
At the time of writing, this is a very new feature, so it’s far to early for me to make any judgement on it. It works along the same lines as a content mill called Constant Content, and it seems to have worked for them.
Personally, I’d probably still feel more inclined to pitch brands directly – but the feature’s there should you choose to try it. If you do, please comment and let me know how you get on!
nDash Review: How did I get on?
In order to produce a detailed nDash review, I signed up, produced a decent profile, had it verified, and started seeking some writing work.
I applied directly to a couple of specific assignments, and also set aside a few hours one morning to fire off ten pitches to specific companies. These were all well-considered and (in my opinion) a good fit for the companies in question.
Sadly, all of this yielded nothing – to begin with!
Now, at this point, I could have written my nDash review and concluded it was all a waste of time. But I held off doing that for a couple of reasons: First off, I’m not currently looking to increase my client base that much, because my time is almost fully committed. As such, I didn’t persevere and keep firing pitches off every week or every day – which I would have done if I was more in need of work.
While it was frustrating not to receive any feedback on the pitches I did send (and as people on the verified writers LinkedIn group have commented, even a “thanks, but no thanks” option for clients to use would be desirable), this is all pretty standard in the world of freelance writing.
Getting used to sending perfectly crafted pitches and then hearing nothing back is as much part of being a writer as learning not to procrastinate!
Anyway, a couple of months later, an IT security company I had pitched to added me to their list of “favourite writers.” A few days later they sent me an assignment, and then they sent me two more.
Once I’d got my first work through nDash, it was the same as managing the relationship with any other writing client. There’s a build in messaging system so that communications can take place within the platform, and recently nDash has added a built-in document editor, so you can deal with the articles themselves without leaving the platform. While you’re encouraged to use this, my client on the platform prefers to use Google Docs.
Essentially, as a result of very little effort on my part, I landed a new client. I have no doubt that more pitching effort would directly translate into more clients.
Subsequently, I have picked up more work on the platform as a consequence of responded to article idea requests. I’ve also heard from a couple of other writers who’ve successfully found work on the platform.
nDash: Rates, Payments and Fees
How much can you earn on nDash?
One great thing about nDash is it’s not a “race to the bottom” in terms of writing rates. As a writer, you’re encouraged to set realistic and fair rates for your work – rates that are typically far higher than what many clients expect on places like UpWork!
Blog posts starting at around $100-150 each are the norm, from what I’ve seen, with plenty of people quoting higher rates than that.
This isn’t a place to debate fair writing rates. All I’ll say on the matter is that I’m personally quite happy with getting $150 for a 1000 word article, if all the research, client communication, editing and writing itself ends up taking 2-3 hours. That makes for a decent hourly rate.
Obviously, it doesn’t always work out that way; $150 for an article isn’t so great if hours are spent dealing with multiple edits and small details. If it all takes ten hours in total then you’re down to $15 per hour, and that’s before thinking about currency exchange and fees, let alone tax! Although nDash works as a middleman, of sorts, once you actually get some work you’ll be dealing directly with the client – and no two clients are the same in this regard!
Still, while some well-established writers will no doubt turn their noses up at the kind of rates common on nDash, they’ll likely feel like a step up to people “graduating” from content mills and job boards.
What fees do nDash charge?
The good news for writers using nDash as a platform is that nDash is free for writers to use, and nDash don’t charge writers any fees. Instead, they charge the client a fee on top of the cost of each piece of work. That means if you agree on $200 with the client, $200 is what you get. There are also no subscription fees for writers to pay.
How does nDash pay?
Another big plus is that nDash handles all the payment processing. The company uses Stripe for payments. You set up an account with Stripe, link it to your nDash account and your bank account, and payments are made via direct bank credit.
I’m not an enormous fan of Stripe’s user experience. It’s not as user-friendly as PayPal, and I also don’t really understand why there are several days of delay before money is actually sent to your bank. However, from my limited experience, it seems that the currency conversion rates are reasonable, with the amount hitting my bank only a few GBP less than a currency converter would suggest. This is not usually the case with PayPal, whose currency conversion fees often leave me feeling cheated.
All in all, the fact that nDash handles all of the invoicing and payment business is one less thing to worry about; It makes a change from having to work out how each client likes to handle payments, and worrying about how long you might have to wait to get your money.
Where is nDash Available?
At the time of writing, nDash allow writers to sign up from 21 different countries:
If your country isn’t on this list, it’s worth checking this link to see if they’ve opened up applications elsewhere.
nDash Review: Conclusion
I like nDash and I like the way it works.
Professional freelance writing isn’t about chasing job after job. It’s about establishing relationships with a selection of reliable clients who keep bringing you repeat business.
It’s early days, but it looks like I may well have gained one such client – and done so after only investing a very small amount of time on the nDash platform.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m not actively looking for too much new work right now, but if I was, I’d be pitching on nDash regularly. It just has the feel of a place where professional companies go to find professional writers, instead of that unmistakable “shark tank” feel of the freelance job boards.
That said, it’s not for everyone. If you’re just starting out and don’t have a decent range of “clips” to share, you’re not going to stand out against the other writers on the platform, and may struggle to get a verified profile. However, this shouldn’t put you off; If you’re a beginner, you can aspire to building up a specialised portfolio that will work on nDash. (For help in becoming a better writer, check out this article).
nDash also seems inherently more suited to writers who specialise in content for a specific industry. Although I focussed my own profile on technology and cybersecurity, I actually write regularly about various other topics. However, creating a profile that paints you as a “jack of all trades” seems unlikely to serve you well on this platform. In fairness, this is a common problem for freelance writers – because clients will always have a tendency to pick the true “specialists” over people whose experience seems split across multiple industries – it’s just the way things are.
However, this is a minor criticism. nDash is definitely a place experienced writers can go to leave behind the noise and nonsense of the more mainstream freelancing platforms. Furthermore, the company seems to have a team behind it who truly believe in this model. Highly recommended.
If you’re an aspiring new writer, check out my COMPLETELY FREE email course here.