Contena: is it worth your money?

And is it a scam? Contena review from a paying member, not an affiliate

Image credit: Kristina Flour on Unsplash
  • My personal experience as a paying member, including screen shots
  • Comments from multiple people claiming to be Contena customers
  • Alternative writing resources, should you decide not to go with Contena
  • Can Contena influence reviews? Legal threats and affiliate partnerships

Contena’s contention

Contena: is it worth your money?

Image credit
  • Work from home options a-plenty
  • Jobs from multiple sources all in one convenient place
  • Online training to build your writing business
  • A “Contena coach” who provides feedback, industry insights and support

“I’ve been receiving funnel driving emails from them for ages.. promising ‘open spots soon!’ but no mention of pricing, even when directly asking them.” -Comment on a lackluster Contena review, link removed

  • Red flags and sales techniques: is it a scam?
  • Membership options, including pricing
  • Contena Scout, Contena Academy and Contena Coach
  • Alternatives
  • A brief explanation of affiliate partnerships, and why they’re more likely to write a positive review
  • Threats from Contena: why is it so hard to find a negative Contena review?

What’s not included here?

  • Company finder and Contena submissions: details of companies and publications to approach with your writing
  • Portfolio review: a review of your writing portfolio
  • Contena board of wins: members post positive comments about their Contena experience
  • Contena community (recently launched)

Remote work

Image credit: Andrew Neal on Unsplash

1. Membership Options

Membership at a glance

  • $500USD, basic 12 months
  • $700USD, 24 months, includes Contena coach
  • Prices vary by around 25% with discounts and promotions, payment plans are available
  • Option to freeze your account for 1 month (maximum)
  • 12 or 24 month membership only; no monthly options

“Since they had a summer sale for $79 (for 6 months) I figured I’d give it a try. Regretted it pretty much right away. It’s not a scam perhaps, but boy does it feel like it.”

Contena customer comment, Jul 2018

Once you sign up, can you cancel your membership?

Help on Contena’s refund policy, from my paid member account
Nov ’19 note: part of an email I received from someone claiming to be a Contena member. To respect her privacy, I didn’t publish her name.

2. Contena Scout

What is it?

Does Contena Scout deliver opportunities?

Advertised: Over 16,000 opportunities!

Actual experience: A measly 16 jobs in 7 days

Screenshot of Contena Scout for a non-member, Feb 2018
Same screen shot for paid member, Feb 2018

What if you find the job board to be less than stellar?

“I joined for the jobs. I went big and paid almost $1000…Many of the jobs are expired.”

Contena customer comment, Jan 2018

  • You don’t see Contena Scout until you’ve paid.
  • During your first 30-days (if you want to qualify for a refund) you may be too busy with Contena Academy to even experience the job board

“I feel seriously scammed.”

Contena customer comment, Feb 2018

Is the job board user-friendly?

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  • Salary information on Contena was generally incorrect
  • Most links I clicked on were straight from free, American job board Indeed
  • All openings were US-based
  • Most jobs required you to be a U.S.A. resident, even if the work itself was remote

Alternative job hunting sites (all free)

  • LinkedIn: search for and save writing jobs, publish your work, as a social network you can connect with people of interest
  • BloggingPro: Comprehensive list of jobs, and blogging information.
  • ProBlogger: Excellent blogging information and writing work. High profile site, often attracting more competitive writing gigs.
  • Reputable career websites, where companies pay to post a vacancy. Mainly full time roles requiring a mix of writing skills and expertise in a specific area. As a start, try Seek (Australia), Workopolis (Canada) and Monster (worldwide, mostly USA)
  • 10 Online Gold Mines for Finding Paid Freelance Writing Jobs is a lovely list from Kelly Burnett.
Search results from LinkedIn U.S.A. (2,183 jobs) and Contena (16 jobs) on 2 April 2018.

3. Contena Academy

What is it?

After surveying our members we realized that most were either totally or relatively new to freelance writing. This is why we have such a big emphasis on Contena Academy.

— Kevin Fleming, Contena CEO

Contena Academy, at a glance

  • Some good points, albeit fairly generic
  • Emphasis on self-promotion, including referrals and being visible
  • Actionable exercises, like writing a pitch
  • Some links are outdated, information is very USA-specific
Contena Academy

Does Contena Academy encourage self-discovery?

Will Contena Academy make you a better writer?

“I already knew how to write before coming to Contena. What I didn’t know how to do was market myself effectively.

— Tim, Contena Wall of Wins (part of the Contena website)

Contena Academy and self-publishing

Will Contena Academy help you land a Freelance Writing job?

“I was a member of Contena and never landed one job from the site”

Contena customer comment, April 2018

One lackluster Contena review I found online also mentioned not finding work through Contena. The page has since been removed.

I reached out to the writer who’s review disappeared…she said she had been threatened with legal action if she didn’t take it down, even though it was an honest review.

Alternatives: learning and publishing

4. Contena Coach

Image credit

What is it?

Coaching experience, at a glance

  • Quality goes down significantly after your 30-day trial ends
  • Almost no technical or industry advice
  • Feedback is fast, mostly subjective (e.g. “I like/ dislike…”)
  • After initial contact I instigated most, if not all, interaction

“The feedback I got was not at all constructive and very thin.”

Contena customer comment, Feb 2018

Does your coach keep you accountable?

Does your coach provide useful feedback?

I asked my coach for advice. Could she recommend a few search techniques, or suggest any sites?

Her advice was “I don’t know. See what you can find”.

Does your coach know where to publish?

It’s tempting to think that you can guarantee success by shelling out $500 bucks. I’m just not seeing what they offer that other sites don’t for free

Does your coach understand publishing platforms?

“Contena Coaches don’t give you sound advice and only say their opinions”

Contena Review, 2019

Alternative Coaching Sources (far cheaper, just as useful)

  • Publication editors
  • Writing groups (in person or online)
  • Acceptance/ rejection letters
  • Friends and family
  • Getting out there and writing

Contena and your network

“I didn’t have access to other members, the companies were not super recognizable except that a few of them were also posted on other (free) job boards.

— Less than glowing ‘limited access’ member review. Disappeared March 2018

Do I like the alternatives because they’re free?

The verdict

Overall, I find this service to be a waste of money and scammy…I had a feeling that this was a case of “too good to be true” before joining… I should have listened to my gut!

— Contena Review, 2018

Accusations from Contena

“We all don’t like negative reviews but Kevin seems to threaten anyone that writes a negative review (even if it’s an honest review) with legal action.”

Contena Review, Aug 2019

Another negative Contena review, removed after the writer was threatened with legal action.

*Amendment: Affiliate reviews

Image Credit: Sharon McCutcheon

If a review has lots of links to one website, or offers a discount code, it’s likely they’re an affiliate partner to that website.



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