Blogstock is building the Shutterstock or Unsplash of written content
Content creation has become a key skill required in the modern day marketing role. Just a short ten years ago, the notion of writing a blog or storytelling within a business would have been seen as left-of-centre and perhaps a little unnecessary for a growing company to be experimenting with.
As only time can do, it has made a fool of the skeptics and now not only is content creation and telling brand stories a multi-million dollar industry in and of itself, but content creation – written, audio and video – has now become a required staple in every company globally; it is a critical aspect to an organisation’s marketing and business development strategy.
A startup that is looking to help business owners with their content creation dilemmas is a new platform called Blogstock, founded by Adelaide based David Russell just two weeks ago.
Blogstock was part of the latest Venture Dorm graduate class, an Adelaide based accelerator program powered by MEGA.
The startup is an online marketplace for buying and selling unique pre-written blogs. Essentially, freelance writers can upload articles to the platform and set their own price in the same way that a site like Airbnb works with properties. Then marketing managers or business owners browsing the platform can search for those blogs via category or tags and can purchase content relevant to their audience and publish it as their own. BlogStock then takes a clip of the sale, which is marked up on top of what the writer is asking for the piece.
When the platform receives a submission, it is run through a plagiarism check to make sure it is not content that has been used before or appears somewhere else. Duplicate content can affect a person’s SEO ranking, so the platform only sells one license per blog post.
“Our goal is to enhance our users’ SEO rankings, not the other way around. [Upon purchase] the copyright then transfers to the person who bought it, so they can publish it under any byline they want. They don’t have to publish it under the original author’s byline,” says Russell.
Right now the company uses an external checker to fulfil this function, but as the company looks to raise and rebuild its platform, the intention here is to create an automated proprietary system where it happens prior to someone submitting their content.
To date, the biggest challenge for Blogstock has been centred around trying to build a two-sided marketplace – a delicate balance between attracting content submissions and sales.
“The challenge with building a two-sided market is that you can push the marketing on one side too hard,” says Russell. “If you push it too hard on the writer’s side, then you end up with too much content and the contributors don’t end up getting sales. On the flip side, if you don’t have enough content being submitted to the site you end up with no content and customers can’t find what they want. So we are still working through that strategy. Trying to find the perfect balance.”
Interestingly, there are not many competitors playing in this space locally, at least not with this specific business model. Platforms like GhostBloggers exist in the US. These essentially follow a similar go-to-market strategy, but the closest competitor in Australia right now would probably be another media startup called Newsmodo, an automated content marketing platform where brands and businesses submit content briefs and journalists bid to write the content for them.
BlogStock is looking to target Australian businesses and Australian writers to begin with. Given there are just under 1 million local businesses that have a website and content marketing is the key driver to attracting visitors, there is a substantial market to aggressively market to. The startup is also eating its own dogfood and using the service for their own content marketing activities as well.
Being early to the market with an automated service like this is great, but Russell realises that in order to win and be the dominant player, the tech needs to be on point in order for the business to scale. Blogstock is in the very early stages of raising a seed round somewhere in the vicinity of $200,000 to $500,000 and is spending the next few weeks talking with investors.
The funds will be used to develop a more customised platform, automating more of the user processes, and creating a higher quality UI / UX as well as to market the service.
“For the next 12 months, I think it is really going to be about using that capital to get someone on board to develop [a scalable] platform,” says Russell. “Then once the full new version is live, really drive marketing and sales from that point.”
Featured image: Founder, David Russell | Source: Glynn Jones