Contently Raises Seed Capital To Give Writers And Publishers An Alternative To Content Farms

Contently, a platform that connects brands with quality content and gives freelance writers the shot at a regular paycheck, announced today that it has closed a $335K debt round from Founder Collective. This comes on the heels of the news that TechStars had chosen Contently to be one of the 12 startups to take part in its New York City summer program, which began last week.

The startup is keying into the idea that content farms have become the bane of content production, spamming search engines with low-quality, SEO-optimized content that takes up space rather than inform. Contently hopes to fight this trend by building a business around real engaging, sharable content, rather than an anonymous, outsourced engine intended to game search algorithms.

As marketing dollars shift towards social media and content marketing (according to Custom Content Council, 68 percent of CMOs are shifting marketing budgets to focus on content marketing), and simultaneously, as digital content production ushers in a new era where many bloggers and journalists are now managing freelance careers, Contently’s value is twofold. On the one hand, Contently wants to help web marketers build content strategies optimized for readers online, based on content produced by real, accredited journalists.

Contently believes that marketers want to be producing magazine-quality content that does their brands justice, and for that reason, SEO manipulation isn’t a sustainable model for businesses — or those that take advantage of its rapid-fire content production.

On the other hand, Contently wants to become a source of steady work for freelance content producers. But, to assure brands that they will be getting quality content, the startup is currently only working with journalists and bloggers who have credentials that include “major publications and well known blogs”. Of course, “major” and “well known” are in the eye of the beholder, but Contently Co-founder Shane Snow says that writers from Boston Globe, Gawker, LA Times, New York Times, and Wired are already on board.

For its writers, the New York City-based startup is setting the minimum publishers pay for the work they produce to ensure that they won’t be given $10 gigs, a la Demand Media. Snow says that writers who blog full-time for Contently can make make more than $50K a year, a bold statement, considering that 66 percent of journalists make less than that.

Contently then aims to become a hub, where journalists can manage their careers, without having to worry about vetting clients or whoring themselves out for little money just to pay the rent. Plus, no more late checks. (And they can get bylines like this one.)

For businesses, hiring journalists, bloggers, or copy writers in-house is an expensive endeavor, which is why so many have turned to outsourcing production to freelancers. Of course, finding high quality freelancers on Craigslist, Odesk, or Elance can be more time-consuming than hiring in-house. This is where Contently’s value proposition comes into play, offering businesses easy access to quality content and journalists a steady source of revenue. For publishers, these writers become their stringers, Snow says, in a way that’s more like telecommuting than Mechanical Turk-style outsourcing — they want to get rid of the anonymity.

“Contently is something that literally every one of our portfolio companies could use”, Founder Collective Managing Partner Eric Paley told us. “Contently makes content marketing turnkey for it’s growing base of clients”.

Contently launched its closed beta in December 2010, and has since seen companies like Mint, Grasshopper, and Wix use the startup to hire freelance writers and plan their digital content strategies.

For more, check out the startup at home and sign up for here.