Imagine opening up your inbox to discover an email from a company, informing you they’d like to pay you thousands of dollars a month to license a blog post you wrote three years ago about locally-sourced apple pie.
It’s not a fantasy. Capitalizing on the new demand for branded content, Written.com scours the web for existing, highly successful blog posts, and licenses them out to brands for use in their marketing campaigns. The writers get money and publicity, and the brands get quality content that’s already accumulated a devoted audience and high traffic. Yesterday, the company announced that it’s raised $1 million from investors—yet another sign that content marketplaces might soon become a journalist’s best bet for getting paid.
Josh Kerr, CEO and cofounder of Written.com, worked with fellow entrepreneurs Jeremy Bencken, Connor Hood and Marc Smookler to devise the idea for the company.
“Written takes the classic model of content marketing and flips it all upside down,” Mr. Kerr said.
Unlike other content marketplaces, like NewsCred’s NewsRoom, Written.com doesn’t pay writers to write original content for brands. Instead, it pays writers to license highly successful, heavily-trafficked blog posts they’ve already written, so that brands don’t have to take a gamble on whether their content will rake in the page views.
“[NewsCred is] going to the New York Times or Reuters and grabbing content by the top writers. They’re giving you the words but they’re not giving you the audience,” Mr. Kerr said. “…That works, but it’s not as good as what we do. Instead of that unpredictability of trying to build an audience, let’s just go get an already established audience.”
Written.com and NewsCred are similar, however, in the fact that they seriously pay their writers (you may recall, with stinging envy, that NewsCred pays its writers $1000 for a feature-length article). Mr. Kerr said that Written.com can pay writers as much as $10,000 a month to license their work to a brand —which means, shockingly, that there are actually writers out there that are able to pay their rent.
“We pay bloggers every month, and bill the brands for the service,” Mr. Kerr explained. “Brands could never do this on their own.”
Fueled by the new million-dollar boost, Mr. Kerr has a number of plans in the works for the future of Written.com. In the next few years, he hopes to fund education initiatives for brands, helping them improve their content marketing strategies. Mr. Kerr also said that once Written.com establishes relationships between brands and writers, he’d consider paying writers to create original content, along with licensing their pre-existing blog posts.
“Ultimately the future [will have] writers that are paid like doctors and lawyers—they should be,” Mr. Kerr said. “It would be cool to be the company that helps make that possible.”