Landing Quality Freelance Writing Opportunities with Contena Coach Amanda Scheibner-EP036
$5 for a 500-word article!? How’s a freelancer supposed to eat?
If you’ve ever sifted through the writing opportunities on platforms like Craigslist, Upwork or Indeed, you know it’s a painstaking process – rife with listings that just don’t cut it when it comes to compensation. Today’s guest offers an alternative that will save you a significant amount of time and provide support as you hone your skills.
Amanda Scheibner is a success coach with Contena, a valuable service that delivers quality job opportunities to freelance writers. She has a background in education, having taught English composition and worked in a university writing center. As a Contena coach, she is prepared to push you in terms of organization and examples, helping you refine your pitch and fine-tune your writing. Amanda enjoys traveling, watching baseball, and relaxing with her pups. And she’s always looking for a good book recommendation!
Today she explains how the Contena platform functions to provide quality leads to its freelance members, how the site sorts opportunities based on your preferences, and how Contena is different from the other job boards out there!
Who can take advantage of Contena as a platform
- Anyone interested in writing – even if they haven’t written in a long time
- Stay-at-home parents in search of flexibility
- Retired people seeking additional income
- Freelance writers with experience looking to find better jobs, resources
Why Contena was created
- Writers spending more time searching for leads than writing
- Provides a space where all high-quality writing jobs live
How Contena is different from other platforms
- The platform does the searching for quality jobs
- Freelancers set up alerts based on their skill set/interests
- Contena saves the freelancer time looking for leads
How Contena communicates potential leads to freelancers
- Delivered via email or text message
- Tailored to fit the freelancer’s specified preferences
The Contena team’s parameters for posting a job opportunity
- Must be well-paid, quality position
- All opportunities are remote
- Variety of full-time, part-time and contract work
The value Contena provides for freelancers
- Only forwards jobs aligned to your preferences
- Opportunities provide appropriate compensation
- Offers specific information regarding client expectations
What makes a great pitch
- Tailored intro explaining why you’re a great fit
- Two or three relevant writing samples
- Testimonials to bolster your credibility
- Call-to-action (i.e.: question or trial period offer)
The subscription plans Contena offers
- Gold Plan – portfolio and pitch review plus feedback on three writing samples
- Platinum Plan – unlimited, dedicated coaching
- Both offer access to Contena Academy
The most popular niches on the platform
- Lifestyle (travel, parenting, beauty, fitness/sports)
Qualities necessary for a freelancer to have success with Contena
- Willingness to research
Amanda’s best advice for aspiring freelance writers
- Don’t put it off, especially if you’re stuck in a job you don’t love
- Jump in the deep end, knowing there is support available
- Don’t get discouraged – you’re not alone!
Connect with Amanda Scheibner
Amanda Scheibner is a success coach with Contena, an awesome service that provides resources and better job opportunities to freelance writers. She has a background in teaching, composition, and writing center work. When she's not reading amazing work by Contena members, you can find her traveling, watching baseball, or relaxing at home with her pups. Send any questions, comments, or book recommendations to email@example.com.
Laura Pennington (Host): Hey everybody and welcome back to the Better Biz Academy Podcast. I have got a special topic and a special guest for you today. As a freelance writer and trying to help you with your freelance career, part of my commitment has been to help connect you with services or products that can help you do your job more effectively or to do easier and that's why I am so excited to be talking with Amanda Scheibner from Contena, an awesome service that provides resources and better job opportunities to freelance writers. Amanda has a background in teaching composition and writing centered work. When she is not reading amazing work by Contena's members, you can find her traveling, watching baseball or relaxing at home with her pups and you can send any questions, comments or book recommendations to Amanda at Contena.co and we'll include that link in the show notes. Welcome to the show, Amanda.
Amanda Scheibner (Guest): Hi Laura! Thank you so much for having me.
Laura: I am so excited to talk to you because I have been on the platform as a writer for - I don’t even know - it's been at least I would say seven or eight months now, but I joined very purposely to learn more about how your platform specifically works. How it’s different from other platforms? So, I know I definitely have my opinion and what I have seen work from the freelancers' end, but I'd love to hear from you. Really, who is Contena for?
Amanda: That’s a really great question. So, Contena is really for anybody interested in writing. A lot of our members are completely new to freelance writing. A lot of them haven’t written since college, may be even since high school and for some of our members that's been decades. They might be working in another job; they are looking for something to supplement their income. We actually have a lot of people who are retired or soon to be retiring, who are looking for something to fill in all of those hours when they won’t be working at a traditional nine to five job. We have a lot of stay at home moms and dads that want to do something to help bring money in for their families, but they need the flexibility that freelance writing can provide. And then some of our writers have years of experience and they are just looking for better jobs, may be some resources, may be a little bit of help to take their writing to the next level. So, I'd like to say that Contena is for everybody, but we do definitely have a lot of first time writers and people that are just getting started.
Laura: So, there is a lot of options out there for freelancers and for writers in particular, and it can be really hard when you start or even if you are established as a freelance writer, you have limited time, you have limited resources. And where does Contena make things easier or more effective for a freelance writer whether they are new or experienced - kind of what makes it distinct from other places where people could be spending their marketing time?
Amanda: So, Contena was founded because our creator, Kevin Fleming, discovered that writers were spending way more time searching for writing jobs every month than they were actually writing and therefore, earning money. So, he wanted to create something - kind of like a one stop shop that freelance writers could go to, to find really high quality remote jobs. We don’t want you have to go to twenty different websites every week just to make a couple of bucks to get through until the next week to gain experience and all that. So, we wanted to create a place where all of the most high quality jobs lived, because we found that people were just spending hours and hours a week sifting through Indeed, Craig's List, may be something like Upwork; there is a host of other websites out there that are just kind of like a dumping ground for all of these really low quality jobs where you'll see, you know, write a 500-word article, we'll give you $5 for it - and we don’t think that's realistic. No other profession out there works like that where it’s a race to the bottom. Where you are competing against other writers for who can do this job for the least amount of money. And we just don’t think that's fair. So, we knew that these jobs existed out there, but it’s just about hunting for them. Because a lot of them don’t publicize on places like Indeed or places like Upwork because of the models that those websites use. So, we wanted to take all of our time - we have plenty of time to search for these jobs - and host them in one place so that you could just start at one place to get your freelance wiring jobs. And we make it even easier and you don’t even have to search. You can actually set up your alert. So, if you are interested in all the lifestyle jobs or maybe you have a background in real estate, you can set up alerts that way. So, you don’t even have to search our job board, we can actually send you a digest through email, even through text messages, when we list a job that you might be interested in. So, it’s all about timing. We know that you don’t have time to spend 25 hours a week just searching for leads. So, that was really the main place where Contena found its inception; about saving you time.
Laura: Yes! And I have to say that I think it does that extremely well because you know when I especially talked to beginning freelancer’s writer I warned them, hey, you are going to be spending 80% of your time marketing and 20% delivering to clients at the beginning because you don’t have retainers, you don’t have clients who you are working with yet. It’s a tremendous amount of marketing that you have to be smart about where you apply it. If you are networking on LinkedIn and that's not leading to any results or if you are spending eight hours a day bidding on Upwork and you have never landed one job, those are not avenues for you that you should consider pursuing over the long run, right. There is either something wrong with your pitch or it’s just not the right platform for you. And one of the things that has really impressed me about Contena is that there is such a good mix of full time remote writing positions, but also contract work. So, when I joined - I actually didn’t know there would be so many full time writing jobs on the site, but there is such a good mix of both, where I have seen major companies that people would easily recognize. The name, big blogs and big companies that are looking for full time remote workers, occasionally full time in-office workers, and then you have also got such a tremendous amount of contract jobs, which is what a lot of freelancers are looking for. And I think it makes so much sense particularly for a beginner or for somebody who is trying to break that six-figure mark, you need to pick may be two, but ideally one marketing avenue right and just apply yourself consistently. And I have been getting the daily emails for my alerts based on, you know, whoever has asked for a job about SEO or anything legal. I have had that set up for months now and it’s like every day, I get five to ten - at least - opportunities directly in my email box where it’s so easy to just click that open. I have got my pitch that's already been reviewed by you there and it's ready to go, like its seamless, right. Because if you have to spend so much time marketing anyways, you should do it on a platform that 1) has great jobs offered to you, and 2) that makes it really really easy. So, while you can go on your site and dig around for jobs and use the search feature, I love that it comes directly to your email because it’s kind of - like its foolproof, right. Like I am getting leads every single day and that email is prompting me, hey Laura, you should be pitching. Have you done your pitching today? And I just love that it has like dual purpose of actually encouraging me to pitch companies too.
Amanda: Absolutely, and someone like you who has lots of existing clients, you especially don’t have time to go out and search through different websites to find new leads. You know, so it’s really helpful in any stage of your writing career to have that dropped in your email box. For now, we have text messaging available so it just makes it that much easier that you get these jobs delivered. And they are handpicked for you, they are not "here are all the jobs we added" because we know some people aren’t interested in full time work. You know they might already have a full-time job where they might only be interested in writing about education or parenting and so we really tailor it just for you. So, we think that's really special.
Laura: I think the other thing that stands out about this platform to me is the overall quality of the jobs, so it’s kind of like asking a lot to allow a platform to come into your email, and you know, I get email alerts from Upwork - I get invitations from Upwork and I always tell freelancers that are using that platform, don’t rely on - like you have to do the work on Upwork. You have to be the one finding the clients because what they send you is terrible. And I mean, I am a legal writer, but I am constantly getting invited to jobs that are about drafting and reviewing contracts. Like, I am not a lawyer. I mean I have to decline so many invitations. Their search algorithm is just so bad. And what I love about signing up for your service and saying yes, please email me. I am not only getting job alerts that are directly tailored to what I asked for, but they are really high quality too. They are well paid opportunities. I have yet to receive anything that is like, you know look at it, oh go no way, this budget is way too low. There is just so many more jobs to begin with, but also just quality jobs where you actually get excited about working for that particular company. So, I just have to give you guys kudos for that because, in so many other situations when you are paying to be on a platform, you are sifting through piles and piles of job opportunities that are that race to the bottom. You have to be the one to find the gems whereas you are saying, here are, you know, dozens of really great opportunities potentially every single day that you could go after that could turn into long term opportunities. It just takes so much for the work out of it for the freelancer and I love that.
Amanda: Absolutely, and we have a team that goes through every corner of the internet every day to find these opportunities for you and it takes them hours, but that means it's saving you time. So, we don’t add anything to Contena that is only going to pay a couple of bucks, you know, for a couple of hours of really hard work. So, we really filter all of those opportunities like you have probably seen out there on Indeed or on Upwork and we don’t add them to our site. You won’t find them - we only add the highest quality positions and we make sure that they are all remote positions. And so, that goes from contract work, some part time opportunities, even some full-time opportunities. So, we want to make sure that we have a nice blend and different opportunities for our members, but you can guarantee that they are all going to be high quality positions, we don’t add anything but that.
Laura: Yeah and I love that because there is - no matter where you are at in your freelance writing journey, you have limited time. You know, at the beginning, you want to be focused on changing your number so that you are spending more time working on those projects that are paying you rather than marketing and when you are an established writer, you may only have a couple of hours per week maximum to do any pitching anyways. So, to spend half of that digging around trying to figure out what if this person even knows what they want, if they are ready to take action now, if, you know, they are going to pay decently. That information is coming directly to you. Like that company has posted the job, you all are picking it up and presenting it directly to potential freelance writers that could be a fit and it cuts down so much of that administrative and marketing work. I have just been so consistently surprised by the quality of the offers that are coming through, and I'd love for you to talk a little bit more - I have seen on the site as well - and I know you can filter somethings when you set up your search as well - you all kind of have a way of tracking like how well paid the project is expected to be, right? Can you talk a little bit more about that?
Amanda: Absolutely! So, we try to remove any question marks that you might have about an opportunity. So, just like our team goes out to find these opportunities for you, they also try to gain as much information about the company, about the job, if there has been a similar post from that company within the last couple of years. We will find that information for you. So, often we have a post that might not have a reported rate in that job description, but we found a similar job description from six months ago and this is how much that was paid. So, that way you have a little bit more knowledge going through when you talk to these clients to say, you know this what I expect to be paid, and you go in with a little bit more education. You are not just totally going in blind and having no idea what to expect from this client. So, any information that's out there about the job or about the client, we are going to give that to you.
Laura: Again, making the lives of the freelancers so much easier. It's information you don’t have to do the digging to find, you can tell upfront right away, is this even worth my time to apply to - I love that. It makes things just so much easier and you really feel like you are getting the value that you paid to be on that platform when you are not getting 20 jobs a day that are not aligned with what you asked for, or that are extremely low paying, or appear to be clients who are really vague and don’t know what they want. A lot of the job listings that I am finding are so well flushed out. It's just, you know, crystal clear: "we are looking for four blog posts a month of 1000 words or more" and on and on - they have really got it together a lot more than some other people who may be posting on other platforms that - you know the freelancer actually has to step in and take on somewhat of a strategist's role and guide the person and say, "okay I think you need to be doing this many blogs, this is how long they should be, here is where we should post them, and here is how we should promote them." A lot of these clients already seem to know what they want. So, let's talk about that pitching process; that is something that I noticed from firsthand experience; my pitching process had to change from what I was working on before where clients would come to me from a personal referral, or you know, they found my website, reached out to me or I was bidding on a job site elsewhere. So, let's talk a little about what - I know that you help people specifically with this on the platform with the pitch; what makes a great pitch?
Amanda: So, we like to say that there are a couple of different components to what your pitch should be. You should have a tailored introduction that proves why you would be a great fit for that job and for that client. You want to show off a little bit of personality in your introduction, and again, you kind of get that sort of information like is this like a fun client that wouldn’t mind if I cracked a few jokes early on, you know, we give you all of that. So, in your introduction, you really want to stand out. You know, you don’t want to have a boring into where you are just saying, hi this is Liam, I am a writer...da da da. So, you really want your introduction to pop because if they don’t like your introduction, they might not read everything else that you have. After your introduction, you need to have a couple of samples in there. If you are applying to be a writer, they need to see that you can write and I have been amazed reading some pitches from people who don’t include samples in their pitch. It’s like you are telling me that you are a writer and I don’t have any evidence of that, you know, besides this email. So, you really want to include 2-3 relevant samples in your pitch. And so, I don’t think that samples have to align completely with the job that you would be doing. If you are, for example, writing about may be a wellness blog, you are applying for job in wellness. You know I would expect a couple of samples about wellness. It wouldn’t make sense for them to read a sample about education or about politics if you are applying for health and wellness position. So, you want to make sure that samples you include are relevant. The next thing that you can do is to bolster your credibility and include a testimonial or two. You can include those after your samples. And testimonials - I know everybody is probably thinking, I have never written before, how do I have a testimonial? Your testimonials can be from anybody that can speak to different skills that you might have. So, think about the skills that a freelance client might admire in an applicant. It might be something like attention to detail or time management or may be your research and editing skills, or it might be something like working with a team. So, you want people who can speak to those types of skills in you. Let me give you an example from this week. So, I had a pitch. The member was pitching to a tennis magazine and he was super super credible, he has been a fan of tennis forever. He works at a tennis club. He gives instructions and lessons to people, but he didn’t have any published samples about tennis. And at the time he didn’t have any testimonials either. And so, I questioned him, I said, how do I know that you know anything about tennis? You know, you don’t have samples at this time, but you have been working in a tennis club for almost ten years, like get somebody to tell me how great you are at tennis and how you know what you are talking about. So, testimonials I think can really be the difference maker because, you know, it’s somebody else bragging about you. It’s not you bragging about you. It’s somebody else talking about how awesome you are and in the beginning, it doesn’t have to be about how awesome you are at writing. It could be other skills too. So, I think you can branch out a little bit for that. But testimonials can be a great addition too. And then we'd like to have some kind of a call to action at the end of your conclusion. So, I am sure you have seen people ending emails with, "I can’t wait to hear back from you" or "let's talk soon". We like to ask a question. So, "how does this sound? Do you think I would be a good fit for your company?" Or you can do something like give a paid trial period. So, say, I would love to get started. I would love to offer you, as a new client, a one month paid trial period, where I would produce this many articles for you. And clients really like that because it’s almost like they are not committing to you at first, but we know that since you are awesome that you are going to convince them that you'd be a great hire. So, it gives them a little bit of wiggle room to feel like, you know, "okay I'll give this person a try, I am not committing to anything". But we find that - if you get through the trial period, you are golden. So, that's what a pitch usually looks like. And I think people make mistakes, you know, copy and pasting the same pitch, sending them off to five different job opportunities. You really want to customize your pitch based on the job that you are applying to.
Laura: Right. So, having a kind of a template that you tweak a little bit or maybe if you are in a couple of different industries, you may be have some different work samples in there, but it always should have some level of personalization because I don’t know about you, but I can always tell when I am getting that standard copy and paste pitch. And it just turns people off immediately. So, you talked a little bit about this process of you giving feedback to somebody who in the pitching process. When someone is a member of Contena, can you talk a little bit more about that? How they can tap in to getting basically feedback and/or coaching from someone who is more experienced and understands kind of how to pitch and close these deals?
Amanda: Sure, Laura! So, right now we have two plans and I am sure we'll get into the logistics of those little bit later. So, our gold plan, which is our plan that a lot of people choose, comes with a portfolio and pitch review. So, I will go through your standard pitch or if you have a pitch, you know you find a job that you really want to apply for and you customize it for that position, I will read your pitch and I give super super picky feedback. My background is, I was an English teacher and then I was working in a University writing center, so I catch all the little mistakes. I'll push you in terms of your organization, having better examples, everything like that. I love doing that. I love reading people's pitches. And then you can submit - with the gold plan you can send in up to three writing samples which is usually how many you will include in your pitch to get that same level of super picky feedback. So, that's what you get in a gold membership. And then we have our platinum membership which includes unlimited dedicated coaching. So, what that means is I can read everything that you write. I can read every pitch for every specific job. If you send me your pitch for a job, I'll go in and look at the job listing and make sure that you are using the right voice, if you should probably be more serious for this pitch, we'll talk about that or if you can loosen up a little bit. So, I go through into a little bit more research on the position before you apply. I can read every sample that you generate. And what I like to do for that is, I have never heard anybody else doing this. I am really excited about it. I create a shared Google drive folder for each platinum member and myself to have access to. You can go in there and drop pitches, samples, resumes or a CV or cover letter and I will go through - and Google Docs is so great by letting me give super specific feedback, you know, picky little edits - that working asynchronously just doesn’t let you do. So, I'll do that and, you know, if you send me 50 things in a week, I'll read all of them and give you feedback in a few days. So, that's my absolute favorite thing to do. I love - because reading somebody's writing becomes very - you know I feel like I know them when I read their writing, even though we have members from all over the world. So, that's something that's really special. So, that's my favorite thing to do. So, I love having relationships with these platinum members. I can work with you on everything. If you are not hearing back from jobs that you think you should be hearing back from, I'll say okay let's re-evaluate you pitch, let's do something else. Let's work on a new sample and my title is; I am Contena Coach, but I am also willing to be a cheerleader or a drill sergeant or a friend, whatever you need. A that's based on you. So, some people want more hands on than others and that' up to you to tell me that and I am the flexible one. So, that's really great. Thank you for asking about that.
Laura: That is such a valuable service because I have come to find that when someone is pitching, they have a marketing plan of some type, but it’s not gaining traction. Its almost 100% probability that when I say, okay let me see your writing samples, let me see your pitch; there is almost almost always a problem in there and its usually a couple of things that can be tweaked and it’s like an instant turn around for them. Like - it’s like they are immediately at least getting responses from people now as opposed to may be before they were hearing crickets when they would send information out. And sometimes it’s because we simply don’t know any better, like you are new to the game of freelance wiring, you are not sure what you should and shouldn’t be doing. A lot of times - and I am sure you see this too - the proposals are very generic. They don’t explain why this particular writer should be hired over any other of the other hundreds or thousands of people that could be pitching. There is just - it is clear that the person is a good writer. It's not clear that they are a great writer or the best fit for this particular job. So, I'd encourage anybody to consider taking advantage of that feedback opportunity because it has the potential to pay off in dividends with the jobs that you actually begin to land once you implement that feedback. And obviously, you have been doing this quite a bit and for a while now, so you know what clients are looking for, you know what kinds of pitches tend to convert. So, I think that's a very valuable service that no one should - you know I think there is like hesitation of, well, you know, writing is so personal even when I am writing for my clients. I don’t really want somebody to give me constructive criticism; but it is necessary. Because guess what, your clients are going to do it too. So, you need to be prepared, especially if you want to make money as a writer, to hear some feedback because you may be the biggest thing that's preventing you from actually landing writing jobs. It's something simple that's in your samples or that’s in your pitch and I hate to see that. You know, I had somebody come to me once and she'd been pitching herself for two years and not one job, not one, and I said okay let me see your materials. And I was like, oh my gosh, it’s the samples. Got to fix these samples. These are not cutting it and immediately started getting responses. So, it can be that powerful, it can open you up to new ways of pitching and reaching out to companies or creating new writing samples and it’s just so valuable. I don’t think anybody should overlook that at all. So, let's talk about - that's obviously one advantage of membership like - how does membership work and what are some of the other benefits for somebody who is thinking about joining a platform like yours?
Amanda: Sure! I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to just have somebody in your corner, cheering you on and giving you advice, answering questions you might have, because like you mentioned, so many people are coming into this totally brand new. They might not even have written anything in years, but they think that they can do this. But think about every other job out there, you don’t just get thrown into the deep end on your own. So, we really want to provide all of that support for you. So, if you email me a question at 10:30 at night, guess what? I am probably on my phone while watching TV and I am going to answer your question. So, I think that is so important. Another resource that we provide to all of our members, regardless of the plan that you choose, is our academy. And so, our academy is 7 modules like that are totally self-guided to give you a really good overview of what you need to get started. So, you learn how to figure out what your hourly rate is and that is so important when you start looking for jobs. So, we have a quick calculation for you to do just to give yourself an idea of this is the range I should be looking at. And everybody is always really surprised at how high their number is. And it’s just like a really awesome feeling. That's one of the modules. Another module is about all dedicated to writing your samples and where you can host your samples because a lot of people come in, and they don’t have their website yet - and that's okay so we have places you can go to host your website; that can help them look really really professional when you send them off to clients and when you include them in your pitch. Another module is about writing your pitch and we give lots of scrips and examples and that's where you have opportunity to get your materials reviewed before hopefully you'll start applying for jobs on your own. So, the Academy is something we are really proud of. You know we use that word academy, it’s something that you can complete in a weekend. It's totally self-guided. There are worksheets, videos, sound bites for you to learn from and it’s just really - it’s great because it gives you all of that preface knowledge before you start applying for jobs. I think that's so important to get that base knowledge. So, that everybody is kind of on the same page.
Laura: Oh, that's so much. It’s kind of like launch you freelance career in a box. You know you are going to get the feedback. You are going to get the opportunity to work through the academy and learn directly what works and what doesn’t. You are going to have the opportunity to search on the site, to narrow it down by jobs that you are interested in, to get these email alerts. And now I have obviously been a member for a while but I am curious from your perspective; I kind of set it up so that I would receive a lot of alerts on all different types of contract jobs. Are there particular niches that are really popular on Contena where it's like - you would say like - I see a lot of personal finance things, for example, so are there other niches that you would recommend that if the person has the background, they should definitely consider your site because those jobs tend to pop up a lot.
Amanda: Oh, that’s really a good question. We really - you know if there is a high-quality writing job out there, we are going to find it. I think it helps to be flexible. So, I would say that out most popular category is super super broad, call it lifestyle. That includes things like travel writing, beauty, it might include fitness, parenting is a really big one, any hobbies that you might have; arts and crafts, some people are into you know different sports so all that is going to be in the lifestyle category. Education is another really big one and that encompasses so much. So, that might be looking at education legislation that’s going on. That might be a job, or it might be, you know, I am a teacher and I have a lot of things that are really awesome to share with the world. But I think being flexible is one of the most important things, because if you are flexible then there are going to be more opportunities for you. And I think it helps if you are willing to put in the research to learn about certain topics. If you are not an expert in yoga, but you have an interest in it and you do yoga at the gym, may be bring yourself up to speed in order to write about these topics. So, if there is a good job out there, we are going to add it, it helps to be really flexible and open minded. If you come in - a story that I'd like to tell is when we were first getting started, someone reached out to us and he only wanted to write about maritime law. That was his expertise, that's all he wanted to do and I said, this is not for you. So, if you are going to be super super specific like that, you are not going to find a ton of opportunities. You know, we might find a maritime law job. I don’t know - I don’t really know what that means that much. If there is a good job out there, we are going to find it, but if that's all you are going to write about then you are not going to - Contena is not going to be a really big fit for you. Does that make sense?
Laura: Yes, it does make sense and that's the same impression that I got from the site that it's ideal for newer writers who may be even don’t have a specific industry, project type or niche yet. They are still figuring that out, but they want to get practice or for somebody who has been working for a while in a particular industry and is looking to branch out. So, you know, I have been doing legal writing for quite some time, but some of the pitches that I have had accepted through your site were actually more academic editing or, you know, the research based projects where I had the background but wasn’t steadily pitching myself for. So, I think it’s also appropriate for people who are looking to branch out into something new, have that flexibility and kind of keep an open mind about things because the opportunities are so interesting and they are well paid as well, which can definitely make it worth your time as a freelancer with any amount of background. So, with those options that you talked about earlier, how would somebody kind of decide the best membership option for them and do you recommend that people at a certain place in their writing career go with one versus the other?
Amanda: Not necessarily, I think it’s all about - the main difference between we have gold plan and we have a platinum plan option is that the platinum plan includes unlimited dedicated coaching. And I don’t know about you, but I think that anyone at any point in their career could benefit from somebody giving them very specific feedback just for them. So, I don’t think it’s just for people getting started. I do think that it’s great for people that are just getting started. Even if you decide to go with our gold plan, you still receive access to our academy, you still get all of our writing jobs, nothing is limited to you, you still get a portfolio and pitch reviews, so nothing is really taken away from you. You just don’t have the option to get really specific feedback from me day or night, about this job, about this pitch or about this article that you wrote and you are just dying to share it with someone. So, I am little biased because I love the platinum plan. I think it’s so important to have a mentor that can help you through getting started, landing your first clients, establishing a business, all of that. So, I think that is a really really great option. The pricing that we have for it, I think, is amazing because I have seen dedicated coaching online go for a $100 an hour. So, this is much more accessible because it's unlimited and our platinum plan is good for two years. So, if you land a long-term job and I don’t hear from you for six months, then in six months you check in with me and we'll start the process all over again. So, that's what I really love about it. So, I am partial to the platinum plan because I love getting to talk to people and getting to know people more beyond just their standard pitch so, that's what I would go for.
Laura: Oh, that's awesome. Now, I know you probably can’t share names or anything like that, but I'd love to hear if you have an example of somebody who started brand new on the platform and then kind of found success whether it was on the gold or the platinum plan. And kind of how that effected their freelance writing career, honestly, even their life if it helped them make money and break away from a day job or anything like that. Have you worked with anybody who has had a lot of success on the platform?
Amanda: Absolutely! And our page is full of people that are talking about how great the coaching is and how great the academy is. I would love to share an example from a woman - I don’t think that she would mind me using at least her first name. Her name is Diane and I loved working with her. She had an interest in writing, you know, a lot of people come in and writing was a hobby for them. And, you know, they may keep a journal or they might do some writing online, if they have a blog or even social media makes it really easy to share snippets of your thoughts with the world, I think that's so awesome. So, Diane joined with a platinum membership with an interest in writing, but she wasn’t sure where to get started. Luckily she was really really open and flexible and that allowed her to apply to a lot of different jobs. One job that was really really cool, that was a pet writing blog - like how awesome is that. So, that was the job she landed, I want to say within a couple of weeks of joining or working through the academy, it was really quick. So, I just think she is really a good example, because she didn’t come into Contena thinking, I am going to write for a pet blog. You know, nobody comes in with that specific topic in mind, even though it’s an amazing topic. But she saw that job and said, I can do that and now she is doing that. And I haven’t heard from her in a little while because she has landed other jobs. She is writing newsletters for a couple of different things in our community, which is really awesome. So, once you start getting your feet under you, people are encouraged to reach out to organizations in their community and say, you don’t have a blog, like let's write a blog together. And I think clients love that because they want somebody representing them now, as patron of their business or that lives in their community. So, Diane was able to do that with a couple of different organizations in her hometown which I think is so awesome. Everybody is different and it takes everybody different amounts of time to get started. It really depends on how long you take to get through the academy and how many jobs you are applying to and what your pitch is looking like. And if you get your pitch reviewed, I don’t want to give anybody like a false confidence of like, yeah you are going to join and then the next week you are going to get a job. But we definitely make it easier and we definitely can help you get to that point. So, I just want to make that really clear that we are here for you; there is no typical experience when you get into freelance writing, but we are here to help and we would really love to work with you.
Laura: That's so true that there is no typical experience. It seems to take a little bit of a different trajectory for everybody when they start a freelance wiring career, but one thing that always seems to come up in my email list all the time, when we do surveys and things; the number one concern they have is marketing and landing clients, finding places to market the clients; and so it’s a consistent need in the community for new and experienced freelance writers and the fact that you all have kind of built this community around what is most important for the people who are ultimately receiving those opportunities in their email box or finding them on your site, is so critical because it’s such an important part of building your freelance business and building your confidence as a writer. So, for everybody who is listening, I am going put some more of my tips for using Contena on betterbizacademy.com/Contena and I will also link that in the show notes of this episode. So, to wrap up, Amanda, if you had like one piece of advice for somebody out there who is thinking about starting their freelance career or maybe they are making a little bit of money freelancing, but they don’t have enough clients; what would that be. I mean, you have seen a lot of pitches, you have seen a lot of people at various points in their writing career; what is a piece of advice you could give somebody to sort of inspire them to take the next step?
Amanda: Absolutely, that's a really good question. So, a lot of people come to me and they are teetering, I think I could do this, I am not sure, I have a job that I really don’t like; that's the worst thing that I hear. There are so many people out there that get stuck doing something that they don’t love. They are thinking about freelancing. They think that they could do it. Maybe they have a website that they keep up with, or maybe they don’t. So, to anybody that has not gotten started with this and you are thinking about it, think about how you would feel a year from now, if you had a year of freelance writing under your belt. You know, don’t keep putting it off because there are so many people out there that get stuck in jobs that they don’t love for their whole lives. And it’s just the saddest thing in my opinion. So, to anybody thinking about it, you know eventually you just have to jump into the deep end with us. We are here for you, I am here for you, I am sure Laura is here for you as well and I think that is so comforting. You know, none of us knew what we were doing when we started doing this. I left a job that was kind of steady to do to work with this - it was risky, it was a startup, but I am so happy that I did it. I've gotten to travel; I get to work from home and I’m home now with my dogs and it’s so great. I get to work outside. I get to go to Starbucks and work with everybody else and go to you know different workplaces and get worked done. And just the flexibility is amazing. I don’t have a family right now, but I know for so many people that is such a big deal for them to be able to have the flexibility, to be at home with their families and be earning money and to anybody that jumps into the deep end with us, I admire you and I am here for you and I think that's so great. To people that are just getting started, just know that you are not alone, you know, there is thousands of us who are doing it. We are doing it, we are happy to help you, we want everybody to be successful, but you have to take a shot and don’t get discouraged if it’s not going your way in the first month or in six months. I know Laura has talked about - you know sometimes people don’t understand what you are trying to do that people won’t get - oh you are just writing at home all day. But this viable, you can do this and Contena is here to help and, you know, I would just love to talk to you.
Laura: Oh, that's awesome and it’s so great. Honestly I get so excited when I find a program or a job board or something that I feel like it's really worth the investment of somebody's money and their time. So, I am just so happy to have stumbled across your site. And for all of you listeners, you know you are always telling me that your number one concern is landing clients, finding viable avenues to market clients, getting leads. It takes a tremendous amount of time, outside of creating your pitches and creating your work samples and that is something you have to do on a regular basis. So, it’s so amazing to have one place where you can go to find these high-quality opportunities over and over again. And if you know somebody else who is thinking about starting their freelance career, may be somebody's name popped into your head as you are listening to this episode, please encourage them to come and check out this episode of the Better Biz Academy Podcast or visit betterbizacademy.com/Contena where you can find some more tips from me about how I use the site and why I like it so much. Amanda, I want to thank you for coming on the show, you gave so many amazing tips to just help people hit the ground running, not just with the aspects of putting together your pitch and your writing samples, but also the mindset to have that positivity about you being able to do this and finding the right resources you need to get it done. So, I thank you so much.
Amanda: Thank you so much for having me. It was a pleasure to talk to you.
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