Is Contently the Next Revolution in Freelance Writing?


Contently is a New York based startup that is increasingly gaining popularity in the writing community. It is free for writers to join, and super-easy to create a portfolio of your work. You can then share this portfolio with editors and other potential employers. However, it doesn’t stop there.

The Problem

The main problem with a free marketplace like oDesk or Elance is it degenerates very rapidly. Although theoretically it is a good idea, on a practical basis, it is just a race to the bottom and freelancers compete on price. This is a self-destructing process because when you are trying to pay peanuts, the good freelancers will drop out. The employers will then find the quality pool of freelancers increasingly worse and therefore reduce the average price even further.

This is a common problem that happens at both oDesk and Elance and other freelance marketplaces too. There is no easy and straightforward solution to this problem.

The problem comes down to quality of both jobs and freelancers. These marketplaces were supposed to replace the traditional routes employed by freelancers but haven’t really succeeded. I don’t think the editor of Wired or New Yorker is going on oDesk looking for a writer.

Some popular freelance writers are strongly against spending even a minute on these marketplaces, like Carol Tice of Make A Living Writing. She makes a 6 figure income being a freelance writer. I advise my readers who join these marketplaces to ‘graduate quickly‘.

How Contently Fits In

Contently, for starters, reverses the model on its head. In these freelance marketplaces, the freelancer is going through a ton of low quality jobs to find that one decent paying gig. At Contently, each author creates a strong portfolio and the editors then contact them through the site if they like the author’s previous work. For example, here is my contently portfolio.

I can use my contently portfolio to submit to editors at different magazines and if they like my work, they can offer me a small writing gig and take it from there.

Contently tries to control the quality. I highly doubt I’ll get an email asking me to  write an article for $5 through Contently.

Being Selective – Quality Control

Contently is definitely selective. That’s one way it ensures quality. This is how it works – anyone can create a writing portfolio but only a select few are “accepted” into the network. Publishers pay to have the privilege of going through quality writers and journalists at one place and it is free for the writers and journalists.

Once the editor finds the right writer for the job, Contently handles all the logistics and payment.

They have the ‘pro status’ in beta, and I am looking forward to what they offer. Here’s the beginning of an email I got from them –

The editors at Contently spotted your excellent portfolio and have upgraded you to Pro status, which means you can now access premium features, including our Freelance Marketplace. You’re part of an exclusive beta group of journalists from some of the world’s best publications! We mean it. Fewer than 15% of writers make it in.

The company is still new – started in December 2010 but definitely has a lot of potential. It already has a lot of editors looking for freelance writers.


Contently tries to solve a very tricky problem through a mechanism that isn’t completely “free market”. We’ve seen such free marketplace ideas don’t work for quality writers, although the sites would consider themselves successful (just as Amazon’s mechanical Turk can be considered “successful” based on how many tasks are posted, but from an individual point of view, they’ll have to work a day to make enough to feed one person a Subway lunch).

How well it succeeds will continue to depend on the quality of writers/journalists and magazines/editors. It will be a self-enhancing loop if you can get one of them up to the standards. Contently focuses on getting quality freelancers. The editors will come.


  1. Shiful Alam says:

    Yeah, you are absolutely right. I have a profile in odesk with 5* feedback and 1500+ working experience. Now, I don’t apply there just because of the payment structure. I do only translation jobs. This is only because the number of applicant is so high that the rate naturally declines. Contently could be a better option. Thanks for your article.

    • Sid says:

      Shiful, that’s very true. A marketplace like oDesk doesn’t do justice to the quality writers. It is simply a bidding war which is a race to the bottom. Contently can succeed where a site like oDesk never can. There are “actual” writers on Contently who can really produce some amazing work. Such writers wouldn’t even consider joining a site like oDesk. Contently is definitely something I am excited about in the future.

  2. I’ve heard about ODesk. But I never knew it allows mediocre writers. I think the service don’t have strict guidelines on content submission. But there are employers who doesn’t care about it, but in a rush to post some content in their sites.

    • Sid says:

      That’s unfortunately true at oDesk. However, Contently seems to maintain a far higher standard for writers.

  3. Freelance Jobs says:

    First time I have heard of this Contently. Seems worth a try for this one. Thanks for sharing this info about it.

  4. Thanks for sharing.Point of view is very unique

    thank you

  5. Hi,Sid.
    Very happy to see your website with a lot of useful knowledge, success always!
    Thank you for sharing these.

  6. Hai Dude is great sharing and nice posting. I should thank you as I have actually discovered a whole lot from your article and the means you communicate with every person with kindness is a discovery for newbies.

  7. jobs for cia says:

    That is very interesting, You are a very proressional blogger.
    I have joined your rss feed and stasy up for iin search of
    extra of your magnificent post. Also, I have
    shared your web site in my social networks

  8. R Konsavage says:

    Excellent article, very well written and too the point!

  9. You’ve probably seen a lot lately about Bitcoin…including speculation that it may drop in the future. There are thousands of new crypto-millionaires… But will people continue to get rich investing in cryptocurrency? Follow the link below to read the full report and find out what the future has in store…… AND how you can profit in the months and years to come. Find out more here: Best regards

  10. Mannabase a new Cryptocurrency is actually giving away FREE coins every week to new users. The best part is they are a Humanitarian organisation set to be bigger than Bitcoin. This could be the Biggest Free Investment you ever make. If you have 5 Minutes spare read the Whitepaper these Guys are something else.

  11. As I website possessor I believe the content matter here is rattling great , appreciate it for your efforts. You should keep it up forever! Best of luck.

  12. senuke proxy says:

    I have really learned result-oriented things through your blog post. Yet another thing to I have found is that generally, FSBO sellers are going to reject people. Remember, they can prefer never to use your solutions. But if you maintain a gradual, professional connection, offering aid and staying in contact for around four to five weeks, you will usually be able to win a business interview. From there, a listing follows. Many thanks

  13. In these days of austerity and relative anxiousness about incurring debt, a lot of people balk up against the idea of having a credit card in order to make acquisition of merchandise or pay for any gift giving occasion, preferring, instead just to rely on a tried and also trusted procedure for making payment – cash. However, if you possess cash on hand to make the purchase entirely, then, paradoxically, this is the best time to be able to use the credit cards for several reasons.

  14. Lee Dastrup says:

    I really can’t believe how great this site is. Keep up the good work. I’m going to tell all my friends about this place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *