As a freelancer in today's gig economy, being able find your ideal client online is a big piece of the success puzzle. In addition to the more traditional ways of doing this, there are also numerous online job boards to tap into.
This week's video shares my findings having tested out a platform called Contena for eight months. In it, I share how the platform works, my thoughts on its pricing structure, the types of jobs I found on there and which freelancers Contena might be a better fit for.
Hello freelance writers. For the last eight months, I have been testing out a new platform for freelance writers to identify job leads and apply to them effectively and as quickly as possible. That platform is called Contena. In a recent podcast episode, I interviewed one of the employees at Contena to talk more about how the platform worked and how you can get the most out of it. Now Contena is not the least expensive option out there as far as job boards is concerned. Considering that Upwork costs you $10 a month plus any extra money you need to spend on additional bids, the price of Contena is much more expensive. I believe mine was around $100 a month for six months, so it’s a pretty hefty investment at $600. However, I will say that if you even find one or two job leads from Contena, it will easily pay for itself because the jobs that are coming to you are premium jobs.
I have been tracking this program for a number of months, my success with it, and also the general types of jobs that are posted there, so I can tell you more information about it and whether or not it makes sense as far as investing as a freelance writer. Now I would not recommend investing in this platform if you are completely new. So, you have never pitched before, you haven't had the opportunity to gather some great samples. Although the team at Contena will review your pitch to make sure that it’s in line with what their clients may be interested in, ultimately they are not - it’s not even Contena's clients. They are actually curating these job posts, so what they know of it is just what tends to be successful, but they may not necessarily know the company directly. So, that's something to keep in mind is that they are kind of a middleman, a lot like Upwork and other job boards except that the postings on Contena do tend to be premium and more beneficial for that reason. Now like I said, it’s not cheap, so a beginning freelance writer - I mean, at most I ever spent as a new freelance writer was $100 on may be one eBook or training, so I think this is out of reach for a brand new freelance writer. For a writer who is already established and making thirty, forty or fifty thousand dollars a year, Contena might be a great source of job leads for you.
So, let me tell you how this service works. You sign up with Contena. They'll connect you with their academy. You'll also have the opportunity to send in your pitch directly to your coach - your Contena coach and they'll provide you feedback to help you tweak it before you begin sending things out. You can search directly on Contena's website for opportunities they have, but they'll also send you daily emails about jobs that are open. Now one thing that I want to point out; not all these jobs are contract. There are a lot of full-time remote positions, where the company is actually looking for an employee. Now it’s a full-time writing position or editing position, but for freelancers out there, bear in mind that in my experience I have seen it be about 50-50. So, there is a lot of contracted opportunities, but there is also a lot of full-time jobs and that wasn’t something that I was looking for and it wasn't something I was looking for for my audience. However, if you are looking for one of those full-time telecommute type jobs where you are in a writing or editing position and maybe you want to do your freelance on the side part-time, the investment in Contena may pay off in just a couple of months if you were to land one of those gigs. Now like I said, Contena is curating this information, so it is material that’s available elsewhere online, but you have to do a tremendous amount of work to uncover it. There have been some postings on there from major companies, looking for contracted as well as full-time remote work and it might have taken you days and weeks to uncover it and being first in the door and replying to these opportunities promptly has a big impact on your ability to be successful. So, on that one aspect alone, Contena is great because they are basically pulling all of the information into one place and helping you identify the best direction to go from there. So, you can search on their site. You can use search terms like maybe you would search for health care or nutrition and then they'll pull up anything. And then they also grade the content too, whether its low pay, medium pay or high quality pay. So, you can also use their search filters to turn off any of those low paying opportunities turning up in your search results. Now sometimes the postings are outdated or the job has been filled already. It happens rarely, but sometimes there are old or maybe it was accurate when Contena put it in their system, but a week later it's old. So, one of the coolest things I like about Contena is that they remind you to be on top of your pitch game because you can sign up for alerts that are delivered every single day to your email box when a new opportunity is available. I sometimes get between seven and fifteen of these in a day, so that's a lot of leads to pursue. Now some of them are not targeted for me at all. For example, one of the keywords I put in there was business or SEO, so anytime something with that in the job description comes up, Contena sends me an alert with the link to log into their website and see more about it. I signed up for both the full-time job leads as well as the contracted leads because like I said I wanted to see the split on that and it was pretty 50-50. There is a lot of full-time job leads on Contena, but there are also hundreds of opportunities for contracted work. Now because Contena is a middleman, you can’t really fall thin if you don’t have that much success. It took me a while to start getting responses on Contena because they are essentially just sending me pitch details that were available elsewhere on the internet. There is a lot of people applying for this. A lot of people even within the Contena system. I received a response on I think a handful of the pitches I submitted a few months into using it, but up to that point I was like, what am I doing wrong here? I am not really getting any response. So, it definitely took some time and some work and I recommend having a pitch different for each type of writing you want to do. So, if you are pitching just general blogging in the parenting niche, you might have a parenting sample and a parenting pitch that links to those samples, but when you are writing for software IT that's a whole other industry. Those parenting samples won’t work. So, what I did is, I created sub-pitches for each type of industry. And I honestly found that my ideal client was not hanging out on Contena, but your ideal client might be. So, what are the lot of jobs that are posting; a lot of jobs about editing or writing resumes. There are a surprising number of jobs in the educational sector, asking for people to write lesson plans, edit curriculum things like that. A lot of digital marketing and a general SEO, B2B, B2C blogging needs, a lot of personal finance - they have a lot of personal finance leads on that site - health and wellness and nutrition, medicine and that type of things were also on there as well, but it’s a lot of sort of businessy, techy things. I see a lot of leads that are coming through to do SEO content or to be a digital marketer and you know contribute to the strategy as well as the writing. So, the jobs are kind of all over the place. So, if you are only looking for one particular thing, then Contena might not be the right fit for you. So, for me a lot of my clients are attorneys. I probably saw five to six total leads for anything to do with law, the whole time that I have been on this site. So, it’s not necessarily something where I am going to find my ideal client in that sector. However, I decided to branch out into personal finance and do some more insurance and credit cards and loan type things as well because I felt like it was a similar skillset for me. So, I found a lot of leads there and I also found a lot of leads when it came to just general digital marketing and business. So, because you are going to be applying with the company directly, I think it’s been official to have Contena a look at your pitch and give you some feedback on it, but you may need to tweak it each time. And I mean this is a numbers game so you may have to submit thirty pitches before you hear something back. I don’t think it’s that abnormal. I think for me it took longer because my background is in SEO legal and insurance writing and so my clients weren’t really on Contena to begin with. There was a different type of client that was on that site in general. So, I had to create new samples and new pitches and I was a little out of my element, but in a way, that's beneficial for the purposes of this review because I looked at Contena as though I was a total newbie. I was looking at things in completely new industries that I had not landed jobs in before. So, I think that speaks to the authenticity of this experience because I really tried to view it from, "would this be beneficial for a brand-new freelancer writer." So, there is pros and cons or Contena. In general, I think it can be a really valuable tool for experienced freelance writers. I think the cost factor alone is a little too much to make it be super valuable for a newbie. $600 is a lot of money to invest for potential leads. I'd encourage you to have some income coming in already before you commit to Contena. So, let's say you do the payment plan for Contena. Maybe you already need to be earning $500 a month minimum to justify that $100 payment. Now if you landed multiple jobs from it, we are really able to grow your freelance wiring income then I could see where it wouldn’t be that much of an investment to pay the $100. You know whenever, I hear people say, oh Upwork, you know they take a 20% fee. Yes, but in exchange for the money that I am making from Upwork for the clients that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. That number that I am paying in monthly fees is so minimal like it’s a joke. So, I imagine that if you are making hundreds or thousands a month from your leads from Contena and you are in those industry as I mentioned earlier, then I could see where it would be beneficial for you to stay on the site and continue to use it as a paid job board. So, ultimately just my two cents on the whole experience is that it can be valuable, but do your research before committing to it on your own. Make sure you already have some income so it doesn’t feel like a huge blow to be shelling out these $100 a month and monitor it for a while. You know they do have a refund period. I believe it's within either two weeks or 30 days and so if you are not seeing the type of leads that you want to get out of it, you can ask for a refund, but, however, you have go through their academy and submit the homework assignments and all of that in order to be even eligible for a refund. So, bottom line is that you need to have time and a little bit of money to commit to this endeavor as a source of freelance wiring job leads. I think that in my experience, it’s easier to land gigs on other platforms, however, the price per piece on Contena is so much higher where if you developed an ongoing relationship with even one client from Contena it would more than pay for itself. So, let me know have you used Contena as a freelance writing job platform? Would you recommend it?