I came across Contena when I was looking for ways in which to build a client list (from nothing, I might add) so I could start to look at supporting myself financially with my writing.
It’s a subscription-based freelance writing job search tool that gives you tips on how to get started and then pools all of the relevant jobs it finds into one, helpfully-filterable area.
I joined the newsletter before they’d opened the new set of registrations and tracked their progress on social. All the reviews looked pretty positive, so I was excited when I got the email to say registrations were now open for newbies (yay!) and signed up.
Here’s what I thought:
It gives you all the tools you need to get started, in a ‘Freelancing for Dummies’ kinda way
Which is perfect if, like me, you’re just starting out and are clueless and/or terrified. You go through the Contena Academy, which gives you tips for building up your portfolio, refining your writing style, applying for positions with new clients and winning pitches.
Not only this but you get someone to come along on the journey with you, your own Guru, who’ll answer any questions you have in a pretty timely manner to be fair.
They’ll also conduct a portfolio review. Meaning you send them three or four links and they’ll give you some feedback set out in a clear way that gives you tangible actions to take away and improve on.
It’s a catch-all search engine for freelance jobs
They have a pretty powerful tool that pulls all sorts of relevant job listings onto one page. Pretty much all of them are hosted externally, but it’s saving you the hard leg work of trawling through a million websites yourself.
For obvious reasons, this is also super useful.
It lists companies looking for submissions
Remember how we talked about the fact you probably shouldn’t shoot off submissions without knowing whether or not you’ll be paid? Contena only link to paid submission requests. The only downside to this is the range of topics I found to be pretty narrow, focussing mainly around the education/teaching sectors.
Not so good bits:
A lot of the advertising companies are based in the States
I didn’t envisage this to be an issue (remote working, right? No borders when it comes to the internet!) but apparently there are borders when it comes to tax. So this was a sticking point I came across quite regularly. You need to find a business that’s set up to send payments internationally and has their tax and accounting ducks in a row in that sense.
It’s pretty education heavy
I’ve got a background in higher education – as in, I’ve worked in the sector for the last 3 years. But even that wasn’t enough, a lot of the submission posts and even lead posts were asking for teachers to contribute to curriculum.
You’re still filling out a job application every time
Contena saves you a lot of time by pooling all the jobs together, but you’ve still got to send off an application every time. This process isn’t removed, so just keep that in mind if you were hoping that the software could cover this bit off for you.
It’s not cheap
I suppose it’s not expensive either if you consider it from an investment point of view. If you’re investing $99 per month but you’re making $1099 from new clients then yeah, it’s a worthy investment. However, $99 per month is a lot when you have no revenue coming in. This was the ultimate straw for me, I couldn’t afford to pay for the platform when I had no income from it.
I mean, a girl’s gotta eat.
I would definitely recommend Contena, even though I personally didn’t manage to get out of it what I needed (which was finding some clients). I think if you’re stateside and/or a teacher then this platform was made for you and it’ll be like harvesting apples from an orchard.
It would even work if you’re already a set up freelancer and are looking for additional clients to grow your current base.
Where I found it tricky was the outlay vs. no income, which made every pitch and application crucial (and therefore even more disappointing when it came to nothing.)
The Academy is brilliant though. If you could take that without committing to the subscription, that’s definitely where I would recommend you start. Just because it didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you!