Brands and publishers need great content to differentiate themselves on the Internet. And writers want to be paid well for fulfilling, quality work. Content farms are awful. Companies like Demand Media are the online writer’s version of puppy mills or chicken factories. One company wants to change the landscape- Contently has launched a beautifully designed platform to empower and connect quality writers with brands.

“Before the Internet put publishing and distribution tools in everyone’s hands for free, companies that wanted brand exposure paid for time and/or placement on a third party media property (radio ads, TV commercials, banners). Many still do, but a general shift is occurring online – away from outbound marketing and paid media, toward creating one’s own branded content and spreading that media across the social web,” writes Contently co-founder Shane Snow, who is something of an Internet whiz, responsible for some of the best web design, most interesting infographics and more insightful articles out there.

Snow believes that because of the way search engines are admittedly incorporating social data and surfacing content that people want to share, SEO manipulation isn’t a sustainable business model. If he’s right, sneaker sweatshop content farms that rely on these formulas to push content won’t be in business much longer.

Currently, content farms pay writers about $.02 cents a word or $10 a job. To stay a cut above the rest, new reporting jobs on Contently start at $.25 cents a word, and some go as high as $2 a word, which is nearly unheard of by today’s blogging standards. To deliver quality content, and avoid SEO spamming writers, Contently only works with journalists and bloggers who have credentials that include “major publications and well known blogs”. Snow says that its network of freelancers already includes writers from Boston Globe, Gawker, LA Times, New York Times, and Wired.

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Contently launched its closed beta in December 2010, and has since served companies like Mint, Grasshopper, and Wix with freelance writers to help shape their digital content strategies. Contently has dozens of publishers on board, with more signing on each week and hundreds of assignments per month. Thousands of writers have signed up for the platform, and hundreds are active. Assignments and writers are currently matched using tagging and manual curation, but this will be more algorithmically done in the future for scaling purposes. To monetize, Contently takes a lean management fee, depending on what the transaction costs are. All content is checked by a layer of copywriters and editors before going to the publisher.

Watch out interview with Snow here about the Contently platform here:

What’s most exciting, is that Contently is seeing freelancers on target to make at least $50-60K a year, which is nearly incredible, considering that 66 percent of journalists make less. “Our focus is humanizing this marketplace process,” says Snow. “It’s challenging building a business in an industry where content has been so commoditized the past few years, but we’re seeing opportunities as the content farm strategy isn’t viable. Brands recognize they need higher quality content. And they’re willing to pay for it.”

In a professional About.me fashion, Contently now allows writers to set up their own portfolio pages. Writers list their previous publications and it pulls in all of your previous clips. You can add a bio, connect your social media accounts and voilá! You have your very own professional landing page.

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This summer, Contently closed a $335K debt round from Founder Collective, while working tirelessly in TechStars’ New York City accelerator program. Next Tuesday, Contently will present at TechStars’ Demo Day and announce its next round of funding goals. We’ll be there to report.

Featured image: Shutterstock/LOYISH