For journalists, a freelancing career usually means a life of instability and, in the Internet age, can result in partnerships with less-than-reputable publishers and institutions. Just like the quality of freelance jobs, freelancers also vary in quality—but now content network Studio One is launching a program to certify its freelancers in an effort to assure the production of high-quality content.
Shifts in digital publishing have led brands to change the ways in which they interact with online publishers and editorial teams, often trying to find ways to package advertisements as original editorial content that enhances, rather than disrupts, user experiences. As a content creation network, Studio One builds partnerships with brands to form editorial entities that make relevant brand content geared to help reach a tailored audience. Through the creation of custom freelance editorial teams, the formula has landed Studio One partnerships with a variety of sponsors like Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, IBM and Intel.
Partnerships aside, the freelancing formula for content generators often makes brands and publishers uneasy. Content farms are guilty of countless accounts of journalistic malpractice and often mistreat and overwork freelance employees to the bone for little reward. This is one reason why Studio One is certifying its writers.
According to the guidelines, a Studio One freelancer will have at least three years of professional experience, demonstrated Web experience, knowledge of the content area they’re writing for and a keen understanding of SEO practices. Peter Sikowitz, Studio One's evp of content and programming, told Adweek that the certification is a formal application of a process they’ve been using to produce content for years.
“We’ve been doing something very similar while we’ve been in a pretest mode," he said. "In addition to our usual metrics, we can use this and make sure we are hitting our marks for content. We feel we have much value to bring to brands and readers as well.”