Contently Connects Brands and Journalists, Thereby Redefining Both
In a somewhat backwards manner, the proliferation of online media has destabilized journalism, leaving its practitioners subject to a financially inconsistent - and largely imbalanced…
In a somewhat backwards manner, the proliferation of online media has destabilized journalism, leaving its practitioners subject to a financially inconsistent - and largely imbalanced - pay scale. There is, at this point, no clear road for burgeoning writers to take, little romanticism left in the once-flourishing industry, fear and pessimism abound in academia.
Even more unfortunate is the need to accept change - not to mark the end of the trade, as the demand for skilled reporters is seemingly inversely proportional to their pay, but to redefine it. Shane Snow, a former freelance journalist with posts at Fast Company, Gizmodo, and Mashable, seems to have found the solution in Contently, which he launched in closed beta at the end of 2010. The service connects writers with brands seeking content and social media presence, perhaps the digital world’s first entirely unique advertising platform.
“I knew firsthand the painful amount of unpaid time freelance journalists have to spend getting assignments, not to mention all the time it takes to track down payment afterward,” Snow said. “It was clear that the world of journalism was moving to freelance, yet there was no structure around that change. That was the opportunity Contently initially saw and is seizing now.” The site, which already includes editors from the New York Times, Boston Globe, and BusinessWeek, connects these formerly uprooted journalists to brands in need of content, a direct route to customers they - short of editors, short of writing talent, short of the necessary practices - are unable to navigate.
In this regard, Contently is jointly beneficial - journalists increase their income by connecting with brands more financially-sound than some publishing houses, as the industry currently stands, while brands increase their industry presence by connecting with content-aware producers. Snow and his team are in the middle, aiming to simplify the “finding and managing process for marketers,” he explained. “After that initial call, we get publishers set up and either let them manage their own account in our marketplace, and we give them an account manager if they're doing high volume.” The brands involved thus far include Rackspace, CBS, Comcast, Mint, and Elle, among others.
The results have been unexpectedly promising. According to Ad Age, sales are doubling every six weeks, moving toward $1 million for the year. More surprising yet, journalists are making around $60,000 annually, 40-percent more than the field average. The hope, in the end, is that the give-and-take comes full circle, with the field as a whole gaining traction and leverage in an altered landscape. Of course, Snow said, “we know that what we're doing in structuring the high quality freelance writing market has valuable application beyond just marketers.”