So you want to get paid to write? On your own terms? From anywhere in the world?
Welcome to the world of freelance writing.
Freelancing is a sexy concept, wouldn’t you agree?
Not many can resist the tempting allure of self-reliance, location freedom and an incredible income.
We’ve all heard the seemingly crazy claims of people sitting on a beach, sipping Pina Coladas while they work from a laptop without a care in the world.
A picturesque way of viewing the world of business.
What they don’t tell you is how hard it is to actually get there. They don’t tell you that you practically need to rewire your freaking brain when it comes to entrepreneurship. Why? Because it’s the ultimate test of your character.
Learning how to become a freelance writer is tough.
Any old fart can learn the business strategies required for success. So why is it that most people still struggle and fail?
Because strategy is only a puny part of the equation.
Your ability to succeed comes down to your mindset, beliefs and emotions.
It’s about how you respond to things like rejection when you’ve put a ton of effort into something…
That was a $3000 content writing retainer in the finance space. But guess what?
I was actually thrilled they didn’t pick me (and I’m not just saying that because I got rejected!😁).
The subject matter was incredibly boring, I knew I couldn’t produce my best work writing about the average earnings for investment bankers. And despite being offered various remote writing jobs since then, I turned them all down.
I discovered that my passion isn’t for writing for other businesses. It’s about helping people achieve freedom and flexibility in their lives and creating roadmaps for them to get there. Helping people like you by showing you processes that I’ve tried and tested myself.
And that’s exactly what we’re going to cover in this post.
I’ve split this piece into two sections. The first part covers the tools and resources you can use to start a freelance writing business.
The second part covers the mental toughness topics that come with entrepreneurship.
Here’s what to expect:
Introduction to Contena including what it is and how it works.
A detailed look at Contena’s features and benefits for freelancers.
Why most people fail at freelancing (and other businesses in general).
The truth about starting a business and the hardest thing about freelancing.
Let’s get started!
What is Contena?
Contena is a curator platform for writing gigs. They use a clever algorithm to find and filter the best remote writing jobs posted online.
When starting out as a freelancer, the majority of your time will be spent finding and applying for gigs online. Finding these gigs can take heaps of time as you sift through pages of irrelevant jobs in your quest for freelance writing greatness!
Contena helps you save time by curating and categorising the jobs you want to apply for.
If you’re entirely new to freelancing, they also have a training course called “Contena Academy”. This course takes you through the entire writing business journey, from freelance newbie to remote writing wizard through nine step-by-step modules!
So what does Contena offer that I can’t get for free?
Contena is a goldmine for anyone looking for remote writing jobs. Granted, you could probably find most of the listings they advertise yourself, but it would take precious hours out of your day, every day.
And that’s one of Contena’s most powerful selling points, It’s a huge time saver.
Apart from their gig scouting feature, they have a whole range of features that can help you start and grow your business.
Let’s take a look at some of these in more detail…
Contena Academy is a nine-module training program that takes you from start to finish on launching and growing your freelance business. While I can’t say too much about the modules themselves (because I didn’t have access), it does look fairly detailed and comprehensive at first glance.
Here’s a list of the modules they cover:
- Your writing business
- Writing samples
- Building a great portfolio
- Crafting the perfect pitch
- Landing the best clients.
- The client funnel
- Negotiating with clients
- Creating service upsells
As someone who’s done my fair share of writing online, I can tell you that crafting your pitch and performing client negotiations are two of the most important parts of your business.
Contena Pro Scout
Once you’ve completed your training, this is where you’ll spend most of your time on the platform. It’s a sleek interface that’s updated daily with the latest remote writing jobs from around the web.
At the top, it says “Contena Scout has discovered 15303 writing gigs” this is BS because most of those jobs expired a long, long time ago.
You really won’t be searching past the first two or three pages with this tool.
Let’s take a deep dive at some of the specific features of Contena Scout…
The quality score is an algorithmic filter that scans and assigns a score based on a number of job quality variables. At the top, you can see a contract posting for a Science Curriculum Writer that pays $12,000 a month! Admittedly these jobs aren’t too common but it gives you an idea of what’s possible for you as a freelance writer.
The quality score is a good indicator of how much the job pays, even if the posting doesn’t provide a specific rate for the role.
This helps you save time by not applying for writing jobs that pay penny rates!
Categories and job types
Categories are fairly self-explanatory and highly useful. You can see the categories on the left-hand side of the screenshot and filter between the type of writing categories that interest you most.
Four job types separate all remote writing jobs on the platform – Full-time, Agency, Contract and Submission. Again, these little features save you time by helping you find jobs that fit your personal criteria.
Contena submission finder and alerts
Contena alerts put you one step ahead of your competition. You can set up custom alerts based on your gig preferences with this tool. This way, you’ll be the first to know when a business posts a job that matches your criteria, through email alerts.
Let’s move to the submission section:
This is a great way to build up your portfolio whilst getting paid to write articles as a newbie freelancer. Contena submissions list sites that accept one-off article submissions. For some of these sites, you can pitch and send your article straight through. If you’re accepted, they’ll publish your article and deposit dollars into your bank account. 🎉💸
What’s not to like?
But there’s one crippling caveat to this feature.
You could spend hours writing an article only for it to be rejected. This is more likely to happen when you’re first starting out too, which makes it even worse.
How much do companies pay? Are these companies reputable?
As we saw with the above screenshot, businesses are willing to pay great money for high-quality writers. That said, the pay obviously varies between businesses. Some pay much less than others. It also depends on your writing experience. Often, if you’re just starting out, you should be willing to accept less to build up your writing portfolio.
The businesses that show up on Contena go through a vetting process, so I’d like to think that everything they show on their platform is legit. From personal experience, I’ve only seen reputable businesses listed on the site. Nothing dodgy to report here.
Contena isn’t for everyone
I’m going to be totally upfront with you here.
Contena isn’t free. In fact, you’ll find plenty of people moaning online that they have to pay a few hundred dollars for access to all their training and resources.
Some people get really weird when it comes to investing their money.
Having said that, if you’re a seasoned freelance writer that’s already working with a few clients, Contena may not be the best investment for you. You’ll get the most value out of the Contena Pro Scout feature that’ll save you time when looking for new gigs.
This brings me to the topic of mental barriers…
The dangers of skepticism and scarcity
Scarcity and skepticism are rife in our society today. I’ve seen a lot of this everywhere but ESPECIALLY when it comes to online courses. I’ve personally taken courses that helped me generate thousands of dollars. I’ve seen people create incredible seven figure businesses from a $2000 course investment and yet, I see other people creating codswallop claims about how the same course is supposedly a complete scam.
This is hilarious. Hilariously sad.
What’s happening here is one of two things:
People take the course with unrealistic expectations. They feel entitled to earn money just because they’ve forked out some cash. They don’t complete the course tasks as instructed, they fail to follow through then throw their toys out the pram and proclaim heresy when they inevitably flop!
They don’t bother taking the course in the first place because they automatically assume it MUST be a scam. I mean, you can’t trust people, right?! These people don’t give anything a chance. They’re totally unconscious to their negative perceptions that colour their reality in a miserable, bleak way.
Imagine investing $2000 of your money in exchange for knowledge that enables you to grow a seven-figure business.
Yes, of course, scams exist and you should always do your research but you need to be able to separate the grit from the gold.
This brings me to my next point…
How the “confirmation bias” stops you from succeeding
Have you heard of the confirmation bias?
The confirmation bias refers to the tendency for people to “cherry-pick” information that affirms existing beliefs or ideas. Two people with opposite views on something can see the same evidence and both be validated by it!
This explains how we sometimes feel that other people don’t have common sense, that they can’t see what’s so obviously clear to everyone else – the confirmation bias helps us understand why.
Unfortunately, it can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies and serious misjudgements. It’s why people maintain their skeptic worldview, even in the face of hard, conclusive evidence that proves the opposite.
In The Little Book of Stupidity, Sia Mohajer wrote:
The confirmation bias is so fundamental to your development and your reality that you might not even realize it is happening. We look for evidence that supports our beliefs and opinions about the world but excludes those that run contrary to our own… In an attempt to simplify the world and make it conform to our expectations, we have been blessed with the gift of cognitive biases.
We ignore hard evidence because it’s so unpleasant for our brains to handle. We crave consistency so we create mental shortcuts for how we reason and classify information. The end result is everything we perceive becomes evidence for our existing worldviews and beliefs.
The bias operates subconsciously. Which means it’s impossible to overcome it without having an awareness of it.
Can you see how this bias can stop people from achieving their goals?
If you have a confirmation bias around a training course being a scam, your brain is going to reinforce this belief, no matter how much disproving evidence you’re exposed to.
Overcoming this bias is mandatory to your success.
The reality of starting a business
Most of us dream of having a successful business. We picture ourselves building something incredible, something that makes a difference in the world. We crave more freedom and flexibility in this life. We’re tired of working for the man, ignoring our dreams and clocking in every single day.
We all have slightly different motivations, but the fundamentals are the same.
The reality of starting a business is that it’s freaking hard.
Remember what it was like applying for your first few jobs? You had to hustle to get your name out there. Craft an incredible resume. Get on the phone with agencies, apply, apply, apply…
and get rejected 99% of the time.
Starting a business is at least ten times harder.
When it comes to investing in your education and getting started online, most people have unrealistic expectations…
The truth about investing in yourself
As much as things have changed with the internet lowering the barrier to entry for starting businesses, it still costs money.
Yes, you can start a freelance or an e-commerce business for next to nothing but if you’re new, how the hell are you going to succeed without a roadmap?
Most of us need some form of education and guidance when starting something new. It’s silly to assume you can read a few blog posts and start a profitable business.
Learning how to become a freelance writer involves educating yourself, and most education isn’t free.
It pisses me off when I see people complain about spending $1000 on a course that didn’t make them rich.
$1000 is nothing in the world of business. Yes, it may seem like a lot if you’re just starting out but it’s really not a lot of money to start your own business from scratch.
If you still think $1000 is a lot of money, try opening up a bakery or a cafe!
Where most people fail with freelancing
One thing stops people in their tracks when it comes to freelancing.
It doesn’t matter if you’re awesome at writing. It doesn’t matter what your portfolio looks like or even how much experience you have.
Where most writers fall short is when they first engage with prospective clients.
You see, most people don’t know how to pitch their services.
They’re so focused on their writing, they forget about selling. Yes, even as a writer, you need to learn how to sell! Pitching your services is a cornerstone of your freelance business. With no framework to follow for pitching, you’ll be battered by less experienced people that know how to craft powerful proposals.
Let’s be honest – your clients don’t care about your portfolio or your previous experiences. Seriously.
All they value is your ability to get the job done. If you can prove that, you’ll get hired.
Will I find myself on a beach in a few weeks?
I think we both know the answer to that question 😄
Most likely not but with the right approach, work ethic and level of consistency, it’s definitely doable.
Remote writing jobs are beautiful because they provide location freedom. If you have a few clients on retainer, you can easily be earning $5000-10,000 a month doing this stuff. And while it certainly isn’t a walk in the park to set yourself up, it’s a worthwhile journey for a lot of people, not to mention highly rewarding.
For some of you, writing is your dream. Your passion. It’s what you’re here to do on this earth. To change the world through inspiring, entertaining and informative written word. If you can relate to this then you don’t have a choice.
You must write.
To join or not to join Contena?
To summarise Contena, I think it’s a great investment if you’re new to freelance writing. You’ll have the tools and resources you’ll need to master the fundamentals and land your first few clients. For more established freelancers that already have a few clients, I don’t see too much value here. You could sign up to use the Contena Pro Scout feature if you wanted to streamline your gig-search process, which would save you a decent chunk of time, but that’s entirely up to you.
Ultimately, I recommend performing your own due diligence before investing in anything, just remember not to let your cognitive biases sway your decision-making 😉
You can learn more about Contena here.