Score Clients on Contently Paying Hundreds or Thousands per Article!

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Zina Kumok is a former 30 Days or Lesser, coaching client and a great personal finance writer who managed to pay her student loan debt off in less than three years. She has a great story – I’ve loved watching her grow as a freelance writer and take her side hustle full-time over the last year.

So when she told me that she landed not one, but TWO, high-paying clients on Contently (a portfolio platform), I asked her to share her story on Horkey Handbook. Take it away Zina!

A month ago, I shared a huge win with Gina, my business coach and mentor. I had scored my highest paying freelance writing client – at $1,000 per post. The best part? I had scored two of them! And both of my high-paying clients came from Contently.

I was so excited about what I was able to accomplish, that I wanted to share my secret with everyone. Here’s how I did it and how you can score clients on Contently too.

How I Set Up a Portfolio

These major clients came from Contently, which acts as an agency for companies needing content and writers looking for work.

Contently attracts writers because of the free portfolios they allow writers to create.

I first decided to set up a Contently portfolio because a fellow freelance writer told me she’d gotten great clients from them.

Here’s how Contently works: You set up a free online portfolio where you add links of all your work. Staff from Contently scour through these profiles to find people who would be a great fit for their clients.

That’s why your portfolio is so important – it’s the only way you’ll get noticed.

Pro Tip: Make sure to add relevant photos to all your clips and include a summary of the article.

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It doesn’t matter how old the clips are – no one cares. I’ve added in articles I wrote for my college newspaper and various internships. You can even add in PDFs if your clips are from pieces not available online.

I’ve had a couple magazine clients who have not published my work online, only in print. I’ve scanned in these pieces and uploaded them manually to Contently.

Why go through all the work when I have hundreds of other articles?

Because I want to show everything I’ve written.

Not only is your portfolio the only way you can get asked to be a part of Contently’s stable of writers, but it’s also great to use when applying for other gigs.

I regularly send out the link to my Contently portfolio to editors; they can see the variety of stories I’ve done and how many publications I’ve written for. Even if Contently didn’t match me with clients, I’d still use their portfolio services.

This is what my portfolio looks like now:

How to get writing clients with Contentlyh

On the left you’ll see links to my social media platforms, a short bio and my email address.

Contently also tracks how many stories you’ve uploaded, how many different publications you’ve been published in and how many words you’ve written total. They also track your social shares and likes.

Every month or so, I go through and add new articles to my Contently portfolio. Not only does it help me stay connected to the Contently Talent Managers, but it makes me feel good to see the variety of articles I’ve written over the previous month.

How to get high paying clients on Contently-HorkeyHandbookBe Patient – It’s a Long Process

I started my contently portfolio in the spring of 2015.

By July, I received an email from the Contently Talent Network saying they had noticed my portfolio and that I was on their radar. But it wasn’t until October that I was added to a team.

That’s why it’s important to stay patient and persistent. Even though there was no guarantee of work, I still faithfully added my clips.

Be Consistent

Even when you’re added to a company’s team, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get work from them. Contently adds writers who they think will be a good fit, but you still have to pitch stories to them.

Sometimes they already have story ideas and just need writers, but that’s rare.

They’ll give you general ideas on what to pitch, who they’re targeting, how to format your pitch and more. Make sure to read these directions carefully.

When you format your pitches, include a brief outline with a few bullet points. You want the editors to have a clear idea of what you’re going to write about. The easier you make it for them, the smoother the process will go.

After your pitches are accepted, you’ll be given a deadline. Make sure to mark it on your calendar – sometimes Contently will remind me that a story is due, other times it won’t.

After you submit your story, a slew of editors will work on it. I’ve had to make some edits on stories, but not any more than usual. Plus, once you submit your story, you’ll automatically get paid. You can withdraw the money to your PayPal account. It’s the easiest payment process I’ve had with any client.

Why I Like Contently

The best part of Contently is that they only partner with organizations that can afford to pay writers good rates. Both clients I’ve had pay me more than 50 cents a word – higher than you’ll find on most other blogs and job boards.

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Plus, Contently cares about writers. You get paid immediately and sometimes you can set your own rates. Even though Contently takes a cut of what the client pays, they’re a great agency if you’re looking for name-brand companies that pay you what you deserve.

Please remember that while I’ve scored some awesome gigs, I’m no better than the average freelancer out there. (Gina: Zina has a drive like no other though and has been hustling like crazy since I’ve known her!)

Anyone can apply the tips I’ve outlined and use them to beef up their client list.

Go for It

Too many writers fall for content mills and writing for exposure. That might be okay while you’re getting started and building clips, but it’s not how you should build a living. Finding great clients is the key to staying in this business long-term.

The great news is that clients like that out there. You just have to find them.

Have you tried Contently before? What has your experience been?

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Zina Kumok on how to get clients on ContentlyZina Kumok is a personal finance freelance writer. She writes a blog about paying off her student loans in three years. A former newspaper reporter, she’s covered everything from murder trials to the Final Four. You can read more about Zina on Debt Free After Three and on Twitter.

32 thoughts on “Score Clients on Contently Paying Hundreds or Thousands per Article!”

  1. Loved your experience, Zina. It’s great to see that Contently can bring in such great leads! I’ve just received my first assignment there with a b2b company, so now I’m ready to pitch some high numbers 😉

  2. Wow! Incredible work Zina! This piece was so inspiring to read & VERY motivating. I just love the high caliber people writing great articles on here! So many great people like you to learn from & emulate. I’m still waiting to hear back from Douglas at investopedia thanks to your tip about them looking for writers a few weeks ago. Time to follow-up again today with him. 😉 Looking forward to seeing you get more high paying gigs! You go girl! 🙂

  3. So glad to have met Zina last year at FinCon. Her drive definitely inspires me to keep pushing forward with my writing goals. I have a Contently account but haven’t used it to its fullest potential. Will be tweaking that today. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great job Zina! Thank you for sharing your experience and insight into the Contently world! I’ve had my own for awhile but haven’t put much effort into it and this definitely inspires me to keep up with it for future possibilities!

  5. Hi Everyone,

    My name is Alli and I run Contently’s freelance network. I’m really pleased to see Zina had a good experience. One more tip I will add about getting noticed by my team: Use the Bio section of your portfolio to list the topics you specialize in – that’s how we search for and staff great writers. Another tip – your portfolio should show strong expertise in several topics, no more. Our clients get nervous if portfolios are too diverse. It may seem obvious, but we have a much higher demand for finance and tech journalists than travel and lifestyle writers. The more specialized you are, the more we need you.

    And don’t forget about The Freelancer ( – my team and I regularly announce what specialties we’re looking for there. Check it out!

    Finally – I think its important to mention how important a good pitch is on Contently – our clients respond to well thought out, creative ideas from our journalists. If you’re not prepared to pitch, we’re probably not the right place for you.

    Thanks for the piece – I really enjoyed it.

  6. Great piece, and timely information. I’m so over content mills but need a push to try something that really puts me out there. Sounds like this might be it!

  7. I’m so excited to finally read this after first hearing about your success. I’ve already put your tips into action on my own contently portfolio and am looking forward to adding more clips as they come my way. All the best to you!

  8. Great information. I’ve been posting on Contently for a month but not consistently. I was a little confused as to how to get it going but I’m going to put in more work. Congrats on your success!

  9. Awesome information about Contently and I am a brand new freelance writer. I am like a stubborn old mule that just looks at you and will not move. I have not posted anything anywhere yet. Can I write articles and blog posts and post them to Contently as examples of my work. I am a retired computer programmer and believe strongly in documentation so technical writing will be a genre that I will pursue very strongly.

    Again thanks so much for an awesome blog post.

  10. I created a profile over there awhile back, even added a lot of clips. Thanks for motivating me to revisit it and start making some traction with it!

  11. This is amazing! Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’ve been published by the Huffington Post a few times, and would like to branch out elsewhere. I’m going to go create a profile now!

  12. I found this really inspiring and just set up my portfolio. I’d love some insight on how editors “notice” you – is it number of articles, hits, follows, etc? Thanks for any additional insight!

  13. I just completed my first post for Contently – $319 for 500 words! Pretty righteous rate for me, and the process was easy. Here’s how I got on the platform: I noticed that an Outreach Associate from Contently had viewed my LinkedIn profile, so I shot him an InMail asking if he was looking for a legal writer (that’s my niche). He explained that one of his clients was, and invited me to set up a profile on Contently, and send him the URL. About a month later, I got an email from them saying that a company wanted to add me to their team, so I accepted. Within a week, I started getting emails with stories “ready for me to work on.” They were getting claimed in a matter of minutes by other team members, but I snagged one of them. I was given five business days to turn it in (I got it in one day early) and the day it was due, my editor made a few minor changes (serial commas!) and it was approved. The next day, the money was deposited in my PayPal account. Their platform is user friendly, they are extremely responsive to questions, all in all, a great experience!

    • Way to go Jan – this is great! And once you get “in” with Contently and deliver good work, there’s a ton more opportunity to be had. Congrats!!

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