Written.com, a startup that tries to connect marketers with existing content and audiences, is announcing that it has raised $1 million in seed funding.
The funding comes LiveOak Venture Partners, Floodgate, and various angel investors.
Co-founder and CEO Josh Kerr told me that the company is “flipping the current content marketing model on its head.” For the most part, “content marketing” is used to describe companies that are creating blog posts and other content that isn’t explicitly advertising the business, then posting it to their own websites or social media accounts. Kerr said that approach consists of “creating content and then getting an audience to come engage with it.”
With Written, on the other hand, Kerr said brands can “go get the stuff that’s already successful.” In other words, the company works with marketers to identify the audience that they’re trying to reach, then it crawls the web to find content that’s already reaching that audience.
Written then offers a number of different content licenses that help the advertiser reach this audience, either by re-branding the existing page, moving the content to the advertiser’s website and re-directing traffic there, or just re-publishing the post on the brand’s blog. In each case, Kerr said Written.com is “taking the guesswork out of content marketing” while also offering revenue to the bloggers.
“Our vision is this world where writers and bloggers are compensated like lawyers and doctors,” he added. “Writers make a pretty significant contribution in society, but that’s not reflected at all into how they’re paid.”
If these campaigns turn out to be as lucrative as Kerr suggests, and if Written starts to develop an ongoing relationship with some bloggers, there seems to be a risk that the content marketing will start to influence the content — in other words, that bloggers will start to tailor their writing to advertiser needs, which may not be entirely unprecedented (indeed, there are other startups focused on connecting bloggers and advertisers for content marketing programs), but doesn’t quite match Kerr’s high-toned rhetoric either.
However, it sounds like he said he’s not too worried about that, because it’s in both the brand’s and the blogger’s interest to make sure that their content remains editorially worthwhile, rather than just advertorial copy that won’t attract any readers.
Over time, Kerr also said he hopes to develop more of an automated model, where bloggers can just sign up on their own to participate. But Written needs to be more proactive initially, because “you can’t just wish a marketplace into existence.”