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Which of these statements do you most agree with?
- “Never pay out for something you can get for free.”
- “You’ve got to spend money to make money.”
Your answer to that question is likely to have a major impact on how you feel about Contena, a valuable tool for freelance writers that I’m reviewing here today.
You see, Contena costs money, and not a particularly small amount of money either. As I’ll go on to explain, I’d personally use it in a heartbeat in certain circumstances, and think the monthly cost is a drop in the ocean for professional freelance writers. However, I’m sure plenty of people will balk at the cost. Hopefully, this review will help you to decide which side of the fence you sit on.
What is Contena?
Contena is an online service dedicated to helping writers find freelance writing jobs. The central feature is a job board that curates writing opportunities from all over the web and presents them to you all in one place.
Ironically, this great main feature (and it IS great!) is also the thing that critics of Contena focus on. This is because Contena DOES primarily curate this information from a range of job boards (such as ProBlogger Jobs) that are freely available to those who know where to find them.
I shall move on to why I think the people making this criticism are wrong shortly – but first, we’ll look at some of the other features.
In addition to listing writing jobs from a multitude of sources, Contena further adds to the information with a “Quality Score,” an indication of typical rates, where this information is known, and additional “Contena Intelligence” about the role, including alerts as to when a company is advertising more than one writing job.
It’s also possible to filter opportunities by business sector, only look at certain job types, and only view roles with a chosen minimum quality score.
Now, if you’ve ever spent time looking for writing jobs, you’ll know what a time-saver all this is. It’s possible to spend a huge amount of time flicking from job board to job board, separating the “wheat from the chaff.” With Contena it’s all done for you, leaving you with one central place to manage your pitching and marketing.
There’s plenty more functionality too. Contena Academy is a nine-module course, designed to help freelance writers step up their pitching efforts. There are also “Leads” and “Submissions” sections, which compile lists of companies that hire remote writers or accept article submissions, respectively.
As someone who frequently looks for post submission opportunities, having a list of around 500 places to pitch to, complete with information on what they pay, and a direct link to their guidelines, is an awesome feature.
The “Alerts” capability is very useful too, allowing you to set up custom email alerts for new writing gigs in your chosen categories. Try finding a way to do this with 10 or more different job boards and you’ll soon see what a timesaver this is!
Is Contena Worthwhile?
Contena is undoubtedly worthwhile. It’s slick and well-designed, and there are great writing opportunities there for the taking.
I cannot imagine any experienced freelance writing seeing Contena and not immediately thinking “I want this.”
I certainly did.
However, a more pertinent question is whether people will consider Contena worth the money being charged for it – and that’s where it all gets a little trickier.
How Much does Contena Cost?
I have to admit that when I first started trialing Contena, I was perturbed by the fact I found it difficult to find out exactly what it costs to subscribe. In fact, membership seems to open and close periodically, making this even more complicated.
Once you’ve signed up for a free demo (which whets the appetite but only really tantalizes you with the jobs on offer), you’re notified by email when registration is open, then you finally get to discover the cost.
And the price is fairly high. A Contena Gold subscription, which includes full access to the “Academy” training materials, and all the job search tools described above, works out to $49.50 per month for a one-year subscription. However, it’s charged in the form of six monthly payments of $99.
While there may be offers and promotions, we’re looking at a commitment of over $500 per year, which takes us back to the earlier discussion on how willing you are to invest in your freelance career.
Is Contena Good Value?
This, of course, is the most important question, and the answer is going to depend on your own situation and outlook.
I’m a freelance writer myself, but at the time of writing, I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I’m turning work away, rather than looking for it. However, as and when I’m next looking for opportunities, I wouldn’t hesitate to use Contena.
Why? Because $50 a month is nothing when it saves you trawling all the job boards. As an established freelance writer, you only have to work for an hour or less to earn 50 bucks, so it’s hardly a big expense in the grand scheme of things.
On the other hand, I can imagine novice freelance writers feeling wobbly about such a commitment, especially if they’ve yet to start earning.
Now, personally, I’m firmly of the “speculate to accumulate” school of thought. Just from a quick scan of the opportunities on Contena, I’m confident that I’d quickly find new, well-paid gigs if I were looking for them. Add to this the fact that novices are unlikely to know where to find these jobs on open job boards, and I’d still be inclined to recommend Contena to aspiring freelance writers, so long as they could afford it, and were serious enough about writing to invest in their future.
However, I’m not going to pretend that the price isn’t going to put some people off, and I would understand those people’s perspective too.
Contena Review: Verdict
Before I started reviewing Contena, I looked around at some other write-ups. Unsurprisingly, opinions are divided – primarily along the lines of whether people fundamentally think it’s worthwhile to invest a little money in earning more money.
Personally, I don’t think spending 50 bucks per month on something that saves time is a big deal if you’re earning well from writing. Furthermore, Contena does list jobs that will help you establish a good income level.
However, as I’ve said, I understand why people may be scared off by the price, especially given the way the actual number is revealed somewhat “reluctantly” during the registration process. I’m not a fan of the way Contena is being marketed, even though it is a good tool that I believe in.
So, I find myself in the strange position of recommending something, yet understanding why some people will be put off anyway. It’s a shame there’s not a slightly cheaper point of entry for Contena, and it would remove these doubts for many, I’m sure.
That said, I think serious writers who are willing to invest in their career will get a lot from this solution, and find it central to their marketing efforts. You get what you pay for here – in a good way.
It's a shame that some people won't get to experience Contena due to the price. Those who are willing to invest will likely be pleased with the decision.