Cashing in with content: Firm assembles stable of writers for online marketing

While it’s often said everyone has one good book in them, there is a long line of literary critics who would argue there are few among us able to bring that book to life in black and white in any kind of worthwhile fashion.

Count Clayton Lainsbury in the critics’ camp.

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In fact, his new web-based start-up company is counting on most people not being able to string even 140 characters together, let alone pages of copy, press releases or books.

Lainsbury is the founder of Crowd Content (crowdcontent.com), which is as much a stable of writers as it is a business-to-business service designed to give companies a more profound and powerful online presence by improving the quality of their online content.

“Quality has become important,” Lainsbury said, noting even the world’s most powerful search engine Google is now ranking online content on its quality rather than just the use of ideal terms or the quantity of posts.

“There’s a shift in online marketing, and content is playing a bigger part in it. It’s a shift from banner ads and paid search ads to publishing valuable and interesting content that an audience will actually be interested in,” he said. “That audience will now come to your site for that content, consume it, and through that process you have a chance to market to them.”

But that switch to quality content means there’s a need for someone to generate it.

“A lot of companies want to get into this and ride the wave, but they don’t have anyone to do that yet on their staff,” Lainsbury said.

Enter Crowd Content and its stable of 400 writers. It also has 350 other writers on a waiting list. That stable can be accessed by any company looking to source a single piece of writing or a regular stream of content that will drive traffic to its website.

Lainsbury said the typical client is a small or medium-sized business that wants to have an impact online. The client pays the company to access its qualified writers — Crowd Content screens writers and ranks them initially on their previous background and experience and then on factors such as turnaround time, impact of posts and client feedback on the quality of writing.

The amount paid depends on the experience and success of the writer; clients can pay 2.2 cents per word for entry-level writers and up to 12 cents per word for the best available. They also pay set rates per post on Twitter ($1.50) or on Facebook ($2.25).

“Blog posts are the No. 1 category right now,” Lainsbury said.

Discovering there is a need for professional writers to compose posts for Twitter and Facebook took him by surprise, he said.

“But then there are so many companies where writing is not their core strength.”

Other categories include product descriptions, e-books and news releases.

It appears to be a growing need. Crowd Content has 4,500 registered companies, about a quarter of which are paying customers.

Some writers, the highest-rated, have cashed cheques for as much as $1,500 for two weeks work.

The site has been up and running for about 18 months, though the company, which has four full-time employees and two part-time workers, was just incorporated in February.

As the focus is always on quality, adding measurements that illustrate the effectiveness of the content created will be increasingly important, Lainsbury said

“It will show you things like the number of likes on Facebook, how many page views have been generated as a result [of written content]. And that allows companies to see what works and what doesn’t,” he said.

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