Freelance writing is a popular field for anyone who’s looking for flexible, remote work (that’s part of why I love it so much), and Contena wants to be your go-to source for freelance writing education and jobs.
I’ve been working as a freelance writer and editor for over 5 years now, and I didn’t hear about Contena until I was tasked with this review.
When I first clicked on Contena’s site it seemed promising… “The #1 Site for Writing Professionals.” With tools and training to launch your career!
But is Contena as good as it sounds? Is this the best place for new writers to start?
You’re going to learn more about what Contena is, how much it costs to use (it’s a membership-only site), and what the alternatives are.
Contena Review | Is This Really the Best Place for Freelance Writers to Start?
What is Contena?
Contena is a membership-based freelance writing platform that provides education and job-finding resources. The site’s goal is to help you find flexible and location-independent writing jobs.
While the premise seems solid, this freelance writing platform is unlike most others out there – writer’s pay to access job listings and education. In return, Contena promises to help launch your writing career so you can work remotely for top companies.
There’s a lot to unpack there, and I figured the best way to start this Contena review was to sign up for the platform…
What’s the sign-up process like?
The first part of the sign-up process was easy. You start here and click on “Apply to Join.”
You quickly learn that Contena is an invite-only platform, and you’ll have to fill out a short questionnaire that asks about your writing experience – it’s okay if you don’t have any – and what niches you’d like to work in. For example, you could do personal finance writing, write about cannabis/CBD (a surprisingly profitable niche), work for lifestyle or travel bloggers, write for B2B or B2C companies, and more The questionnaire takes about 5 minutes, and then you’ll have to wait to hear back from Contena.
I heard back the next day with this email:
There were three reports in the article that explain more about the niches I identified in the questionnaire. The reports gave an overview of each niche, sample job listings, and niche topics in that niche. There were also some stats about writing for each niche, including the number of available jobs, average salary, highest salary.
The final document in the email is Contena’s Writing Niche Secrets Guide. It had some useful information that explained the benefits of niching down, and it described a little bit about the marketing strategy they teach new writers.
After you’ve gone through these onboarding emails, you’re sent an email to activate your membership, and you’ll have to pay for access to the site.
How much does Contena cost?
It’s $497 for a 1-year membership and $997 for a 2-year membership to Contena. There is a 30-day money-back guarantee, but it comes with the stipulation that you complete a series of worksheets showing that you’ve put in the work.
Contena still reserves the right to deny refund requests that they show “incomplete work or insufficient effort.”
This is where I stopped. I don’t need help getting my writing business started or access to job listings. But I was also a little put off by the fact that I had to go through the sign up process before gaining access to real numbers.
Contena is a paid site, but here’s what you’re paying for
If you sign up for Contena, you do get to check out their job listings, but you’re actually paying for access to writing courses and/or writing coaches.
The job listings you’ll find on Contena are pretty much the same listing you’ll find on free job boards. The difference is that Contena pulls listings from free job sites and puts them on one job board.
What those free job boards lack is educational support, and you do get that with Contena through something called Contena Academy. It’s a series of courses that teach you how to build your freelance writing business, including modules for:
- Building the foundation of your writing business
- How to create writing samples
- Assembling your portfolio
- How to pitch clients
- Building a funnel that will help you land the right clients
These lessons all include video training, written lessons, and downloadable materials.
Platinum members can also access a Contena Coach who will give you more personalized support.
The Contena Job Finder is the job board that lists the same jobs you’ll find on free sites, but it’s organized a little better than the free sites. Jobs are categorized by industry, and you can see job rates and the company who’s posted the job.
Contena will send you Writing Alerts on your phone when new listings pop up. Contena has also put together a database of Writing Leads, a list of companies that hire writers, and includes information on what they typically pay per article and the average article length. The idea is that you can pitch some of these companies even if they don’t have current listings.
As I went through the process of researching Contena and signing up, I saw some red flags. I don’t want to say that you should avoid the platform entirely, but I think these warnings should give you pause.
I felt like I was being sold during the onboarding process.
The onboarding process was a series of emails that included informational material. I assumed it would be about how the platform worked, but it felt more like sales material that was trying to warm up a lead before going in for the final pitch.
The site gives you very little information about what Contena is all about.
Most websites have pages and pages of information, answers to lots of FAQs, and comprehensive support articles. Here are the main info pages on Contena, and none of them are super helpful:
- Contena FAQ: Here’s What You Need to Know
- Support Center with 7 articles, the most extensive being 111 words long (this article is over 2600 words)
- The Features List was buried in an article in the support center, but here’s where I finally could see everything that came with a Contena membership. It’s very salesy.
- Contena Community is Contena’s blog that’s written by their writers, editors, and content creators. There is some good info here, like improving client retention, how to find clients on LinkedIn, tracking your work, negotiating your rates, and more. None of this content is behind a paywall.
There’s also a lack of info about how much the site costs. I didn’t find out the exact cost from Contena until I was more than a couple of into the onboarding process. The only information I could find on the site about pricing was this blurb in the FAQs article:
The number of job listings is misleading.
Going on secondhand information here because I didn’t want to pay to access the job board, but every Contena review I’ve read says they will tell you there are more job listings than what you actually see.
Like, Contena might say there are 147 listings when only 40-something are active. People also claimed that many of the listings were out of date.
Positive reviews are driven by affiliate income.
This was another complaint I saw in several negative Contena reviews. The concern was that writers were promoting Contena in hopes of earning affiliate commission. Sure, that’s possible, but we can’t pretend like we know another person’s motivation. There’s a chance Contena really did work for those writers.
But yes, Contena does have an affiliate program that writers can join.
Lofty promises about your income potential.
The first module in Contena Academy says it will “Show you how to launch a six-figure writing business.” Not saying that isn’t possible, but that’s a big claim.
Better sources for freelance writing work
If you want to find freelance remote writing jobs, there are better places to look than Contena – as in, you don’t have to pay to find work.
Here are 5 alternative job platforms:
ProBlogger was founded by blogger Darren Rowse back in 2004 as a place for bloggers to sharpen their skills, share their experience, and find paying writing gigs. Since then, the site has become well-known for legit job listings for freelance writers.
You can find writing gigs on this site for small to medium-sized companies. Many of these sites are blogs looking for ghostwriters and others are websites looking for articles. There are listings for writers who specialize in marketing, botany, romance, camping/RVing, pets, etc.
Each listing includes a description of the job and how to apply. The vast majority of these jobs are all remote. Some include a pay range, either pay per word or per article. I found listings for gigs on ProBlogger that paid anywhere from $50-$500/article.
Anyone can start looking for jobs on ProBlogger. You don’t have to set up a profile or join the site, but most of the jobs are for writers with some experience.
This platform was created in 2016 by freelance writer Michael Brown, and it’s set up for companies to find qualified writers. Writers don’t pay any fees to find work on nDash – the companies listing the jobs are the ones who pay access to the site.
What those companies get are vetted writers. To sign up you have to create a profile that includes writing samples, industries you’ve written for, and your rates. Your writer profile will have to be approved before you can start looking for jobs on the site.
There’s also a browseable marketplace where companies can look through writer profiles to find someone who matches their criteria.
nDash claims their writers average $175-$450/assignment, and from reviews I’ve seen online, this is true. I dug into some subreddits about nDash and found writers who were actively using the site and getting paid.
There were some complaints about Stripe fees (the payment processing platform nDash uses to pay writers), but nDash’s VP of Marketing was really active in those threads and incredibly helpful to users.
There are a couple of downsides about finding freelance writing jobs on nDash: it’s primarily for experienced writers and because of its newness, there aren’t a ton of listings.
BloggingPro has been around since 2006, and it’s known as a reputable source of freelance writing jobs. I will warn you, though, that the site design tells a different story – it’s not a beautiful, modern-looking site.
Interestingly enough, as I’ve been working on this Contena review, what I’ve noticed is that the most well-known platforms in the industry (ProBlogger and this one) have lackluster websites. On the flip side, the sites that take a commission or fee are all really beautiful. Part of those costs are being used to build more attractive sites, but you can’t always judge a book by its cover.
Now that you’ve been warned about what the site looks like, here it is:
I found listings on BloggingPro for a copywriter for Torrid (a popular clothing store), Bob Villa’s home improvement website, a contributing writer position for The Hustle, and freelance positions available at a new progressive Christian blog.
Not all of the jobs listed pay, but the ones that did were decent rates – $150-$375/article. And the majority of the jobs required 1-2 years of writing experience.
To apply for jobs on BloggingPro, you’re either given an email address to contact or taken off-site to fill out an application.
Fiverr is an online freelancing marketplace that was created in 2010, and you can find all kinds of freelance jobs on the site, not just writing jobs. Freelancers use it to list their services, and companies use it to browse listings.
Freelancers create a profile, including information about who you are and what you do, education, a link to your personal website, and any other relevant work information.
Then you create gigs, which are the services you offer, and you can set your own prices. Prices can be as low as $5 or up to $995, and Fiverr takes 20% of anything you earn through the site.
While new freelance writers may not make a ton of Fiverr – you’re competing with people who are willing to work for as little as $5 – you can gain experience. It’s like a springboard for new writers.
5. Freelance Writing Jobs
Freelance Writing Jobs is another well-known platform in the freelance writing world. It does have articles that will help you improve your writing, but it’s best known for its job finding platform.
Again, it’s not a beautiful site, but it’s functional and does have up-to-date job listings for freelance writers.
Reputable websites and businesses use this platform to find writers, and when I was working on this Contena review, I found the following listings:
- Marketing copywriter for DonorsChoose
- Entertainment writer for Refinery29
- Commerce writer for Dotdash (this is the company that owns The Spruce, The Balance, Lifewire, and more)
- Freelance copywriter for online course platform Kajabi
- Data engineering writer for Chegg
You probably won’t see rates listed for these jobs, and you will need freelance writing experience to apply for the vast majority of these openings. The job descriptions on this platform are incredibly thorough and the application process happens off-site.
Contena vs. other freelance writing job platforms
I saw one Contena review that described the set up as “pay-to-play,” but I think that’s misleading. You’re paying for training that can help you become a freelance writer, the writing alerts, and leads. You’re also paying to have someone aggregate all of the jobs listed on other platforms in one place.
None of the other freelance writing job platforms I’ve listed have those features. Sites like ProBlogger, BloggingPro, and Freelance Writing Jobs are strictly job listings. You’ll also notice the listings on these sites are all very up-to-date.
Fiverr and nDash are more like platforms to list your services and get connected with companies who need writers. Out of these two, Fiverr is the most geared towards new writers.
Other sources of freelance writing education
If you’re new to freelance writing and aren’t too excited about Contena, here are some other recommendations. These are courses taught by experienced writers and bloggers and come with lifetime access, and they all have a strong focus on building your business.
30 Days or Less to Freelance Writing Success
Taught by blogger Gina Horkey, this course teaches foundational skills, how to establish your business, pitching clients, building your writer’s website, and how to promote your business. Gina also touches on high-value specialties like copywriting, SEO, content marketing, and B2B writing.
The course is $297 or four payments of $89. You can pay an additional $33/month for access to a leads community, which also includes free WordPress hosting for your writer’s website.
This course is taught by Elna Cain, and if you’ve spent much time researching how to start freelance writing, you’ve probably seen Elna’s name before.
Her course also teaches foundational skills, building a writer’s website and your portfolio, how to find clients, pitching strategies, and how-to-write for online clients. Elna’s course also includes access to a private Facebook community
Write Your Way to $1K is $195 or three payments of $75.
The final word on Contena
If you came here wondering, “How do I start freelance writing?” I’m going to tell you a secret… it’s not an overnight or quick process, despite what a course or paid job platform is telling you.
There is still a lot of room out there for new writers, and I’ve seen brand new writers hired for decent-paying jobs this year. Part of the work for new writers is learning how to write online content, and the other part is learning to market yourself.
I’ve found the majority of my work through networking and pitching clients – you can learn more about how I got started here.
I’ve even gone so far as emailing a potential client and saying, “Hey, I can write better than whoever is writing for you now.” And that pitch worked. I didn’t have a ton of experience, but I studied their site, found some flaws, and sent the email.
You have to be willing to put yourself out there. Honestly, the majority of your time when you start is finding someone willing to take a chance on you. But it gets easier after your first client. Your confidence grows, you’ve gained experience, and you have writing samples – all things necessary for starting in this industry.