Podcast Ep 139: Publisher turned digital entrepreneur Greta Dunne’s Marker Content wants to do for the written word what Shutterstock did for photography.
They used to say content is king, but now content marketing is queen and Greta Dunne has seized that particular crown. She aims to conquer the next phase of content marketing through her Dublin-based business Marker Content.
The digital business provides businesses and website publishers with written articles via a subscription-based service in the same way that photography and graphics can be downloaded from players like Shutterstock or Getty Images.
“My goal will be 200,000 articles and 50,000 contributors by the end of the year”
Her reasoning? Every site needs content and writers need an income.
Holding the pen
Dunne started out her career by designing and growing two online publications for college students and teens. She sold those businesses in 2016 and began her research into content marketing, its evolution, its current state and its future.
Basing her business model on stock image libraries, she created Marker Content and is on a quest to disrupt the content marketing industry as we know it.
The idea for Marker Content grew out of her time as an online magazine publisher. “That business grew very fast because at the time in Irish media there was nothing really in the market for the 18- to 24-year-old demographic. So, I wanted to see Irish students writing for other students on topics that mattered to them and that grew very quickly. We were publishing more than 50 articles a day and we had around 200 writers around the country.”
This attracted the interest of brands like Netflix, Red Bull and Gillette who were keen to access this demographic and the targeted advertising money started to flow. “That surprised me at the time because I was quite young and new to the media game. It surprised me how much revenue we could generate from this and how easy it was. And because we understood what our audiences were looking for and what content and titles worked, we were able to predict which articles would generate attraction and ensure that their product or brand would be seen by a certain amount of people.”
Her research led her to discovering a host of writers on everything from health to beauty and when she reached out to them they often said the article was old but she was welcome to it.
This was the catalyst and following her exit from the publishing business she did research into how content can be monetised. She reached out to freelance writer sand bloggers to understand their pain points and how they made an income.
It boiled down to her realising that there are so many writers who can write with authority on a plethora of issues. The missing link was finding buyers for the content and in turn providing an income for these writers.
She was inspired by the story of the founder of Shutterstock John Oringer who had a camera with 30,000 images on it and when he put it online people started buying those images. He reached out to other photographers to create a marketplace and Shutterstock was born.
Similarly, Marker Content is a marketplace, albeit for the written word.
Content marketing is now king in the web sphere, business is being editorialised and sites need to feed fresh, relevant content on a regular basis to keep audiences engaged.
“The rule is that the original writer will get a commission from everything sold. I was delighted with the initial uptake and writers were giving me great feedback. For me the most important thing was that I was building something for the writers, the freelancers, the copywriters.
“I knew the buyers would be there, but I felt was nothing really out there for a community of writers, that they felt appreciated and that they were getting enough commission for the work they were putting out.”
Market Content pays an 80% commission for every writer. “We are doing the formatting, the indexing, the tagging and the marketing of that content, but in my mind, what is important is that they feel like they’re part of a community.”
The community growth has exceeded Dunne’s expectations. “One of our original milestones was to be at 2,500 contributors by June but we’ve just hit more than 16,000. Faster than anticipated but a great problem to have.”
At the time of writing, Market Content’s community was growing at a rate of 200 per day.
“We’ve just more than 160,000 articles across all topics and industries. For now, my goal will be 200,000 articles and 50,000 contributors by the end of the year. We’re also looking at partnerships with companies like WiX, GoDaddy and SquareSpace to serve people who would benefit from having a content source.
In many ways what Market Content is doing for writers is no different than what Shutterstock has done for photographers or Etsy has done for craft makers or what Airbnb has done for property owners.
“It’s about making life easy for the sellers and that’s what I’ve tried to do with Marker Content.”