I Investigated a Curious, $997 Writing Platform to See If It’s Worth It

My honest experience with Contena’s website.

Zulie Rane
The Startup
Published in
14 min readMar 5


Up-close of a white man drinking from a whiskey glass. He looks kind of angry.
Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/close-up-photo-of-man-drinking-from-glass-of-whiskey-7266013/

Edited on May 5th, 2023: I received an official reply from Contena founder Kevin Fleming, provided below. Kevin declined to speak with me on the record beyond this official statement and did not provide any further official information regarding what claims I may have gotten wrong.

Official Response from Contena:

“The author of this article, Zulie Rane, did not reach out to Contena or anyone on the Contena team for any fact-checking, context, or clarification before publishing this article. After learning about the article, the founder of Contena, Kevin Fleming, immediately contacted Zulie through LinkedIn and email to discuss these issues in a call with our team, but Zulie initially declined to speak with us.

After receiving our initial response, Zulie made several edits to remove existing errors without offering a correction or partial retraction before finally offering to speak with the Contena team — while simultaneously stating she stood by her article as it was originally written.

Contena takes issue with almost everything in this article. We believe the author did not follow even the most basic journalistic principles, ethics, or guidelines. It is extremely important for journalists, and even those acting like journalists, to follow these guidelines, which is something we teach our members at Contena. It’s also important to point out that Zulie did not sign up for Contena or experience the platform firsthand. We believe that Zulie’s research for this article, or lack thereof, reflects that.

Perhaps most troubling is Zulie’s unfounded suggestion in the original article (which has since been removed) that Amanda Fleming, wholly referred to by the author originally as “the founder’s wife,” is unqualified for her job as a Contena Coach and Team Leader. In fact, Amanda has worked with thousands of writers over the last decade, and holds an undergraduate degree in Education and a Master’s Degree in English. This inflammatory statement directly minimizes Amanda’s dedication and hard work, and potentially harms any future prospects.

We are open to speaking with Zulie at any time — and we would like a complete retraction. We believe Zulie followed an incorrect process, there are more issues in this article than can be corrected through any reasonable number of edits.

Maybe you haven’t heard of Contena yet; maybe you have and you’re deciding whether Contena is legit or not.

Let me start by showing you a selection of emails I have received from Contena:

Screenshot from author.

Note: these are not all the emails I got from Contena. Just some. In total, I received 29 emails over the course of the month since I applied, and today, as I write this article.

I also would like to mention that I’m not actually going to definitively answer the question of whether Contena is legit, in part because I’ve heard from other writers that the CEO, Kevin Fleming, has threatened them with legal action over their honest reviews. (We’ll get into that below, in the “red flags” section.)

I can’t say, 100%, if Contena is legit.

I didn’t spend any money on Contena.

So this is just my experience with Contena’s website, pre-purchase. I will present all the information I experienced, my conclusion, and allow you to decide for yourself whether Contena is worth it.

My process: I applied to Contena (twice actually, which I’ll get into below). I researched reviews and comments made online. I also reached out to several of the success wall members that I could find, to ask them about their experiences firsthand.

TL;DR: I did not find any evidence that personally persuaded me Contena is worth spending a grand (or more!) on.

The slightly longer TL;DR: Honestly? If you’re a new freelance writer, I believe there are better sites out there to learn, find jobs, and get feedback on your work.

I found Contena to be heavy on the sales side. They also engaged in plenty of practices I find to be ethically dubious, which I’ll list below in the “red flag” section.

OK, let’s get into the meat of the review.

Table of Contents

· Table of Contents
· What is Contena?
· What’s the signup process like?
· How much does Contena cost?
· What do you get for the cost of membership?
Job board
· Red flags
I don’t love pay-to-play
All those emails
Threats of legal action
Many negative comments
No price info
Many of the positive reviews I found were affiliate links
Big promises
Some oddities around the job posting
That refund policy
Undated, but out-of-date blog posts
· Final thoughts on whether Contena is a scam or if Contena is legit

What is Contena?

Disclaimer: I never paid for Contena, because they charge more than what I was willing to pay for science.

I did thoroughly research the claims of members who say that they did pay. If you did pay and disagree with what I’m saying, please comment! I’d love to hear if this is a suitable place to send beginner writers.

Screenshot of Google search results for the Contena homepage.

I’ve been looking for writing platforms that pay. One of my favorites, of course, is Medium. But I’ve recently reviewed Fiverr and Scripted, too.

Contena is one of the platforms that cropped up during my research. It is a job board site that shows up on a lot of “best of” lists. On the home page, says it is the “#1 Site for Writing Professionals.” It claims to have helped thousands of people to get started freelancing.

All sounds good, no?

After reading their sales page, it seems that paying for membership gets you 12 modules, remote job alerts, access to a company portfolio, and varying levels of access to one of their two Contena Coaches, who help “thousands of people.” There are many other benefits mentioned, which I’ll screenshot here.

Screenshots taken from Contena’s site.

What’s the signup process like?

I actually signed up twice.

The first time, I applied properly, with my experience and resume filled out appropriately. I received my acceptance a day later.

After that, I was bombarded with emails almost daily both from Contena and writing.io, Kevin Fleming’s other business venture, for which I signed up for a free trial after being prompted by Contena.

The second time, as I’ll show here, I applied “improperly” — with lies and blatant typos, just to see if I’d make the cut. (So far, I haven’t heard back.)

I found that if I watched the welcome video, I was allowed to select and pay for membership anyway.

Screenshot of the Welcome video you have to watch to make it through to the sales/payment page after you’re accepted.

When you are accepted, you’re directed to an unskippable video, which is basically another sales pitch. After you watch all five or so minutes of it, you are directed to the feels-miles-long sales page, which I have Gif’d here in its entirety so you can really feel the length with me.

Gif of Contena’s sales page. Warning, this gif is 20s long.

Scroll and scroll and scroll, until finally you land on the pricing. Here’s where you finally find out how much Contena costs.

How much does Contena cost?

As of this writing in February 2023, Contena costs $997 for the Gold membership, $1497 for Platinum, and $2497 for the Elite membership.

What do you get for the cost of membership?

Wow! Those are some big numbers. But more importantly, it is worth the price?

I can’t say! When faced with the opportunity to pay between $997 and $2,497 for membership, I opted not to go there. I’ll do a lot for science, but not that.

But let’s break down what you get, as far as I can work out based on the sales page.


You get twelve modules designed to walk you through “[e]verything you need to start with remote writing,” along with “video training, proven scripts, and templates to help you get started.” (source as of February 16, 2023.)

Screenshot of three of the modules offered.

I can’t speak as to the content of the modules, since I didn’t take the course. Others have said in the past that they are “not impressed” or that they found the content “lukewarm,” though I wasn’t able to find more up-to-date reviews specifically about the content than what I show here:

Source: Comment from Yule on Family Time Income’s blog
Source: comment from Melissa Sahaj on Jacob McMillan’s blog post

Others have said that they felt the promises were a bit lofty.

Source: screenshot from Millennial Money Man


One of the big sells was the coaching. Honestly, I thought this would be the biggest draw since I know how much coaching can help with writing and confidence.

But, I think that if Contena really does help thousands of folks, then two coaches is an awfully small number of people to hire to meet the needs of those coaches.

One of the coaches is Amanda Fleming. She does, as far as I can tell, have a real teaching background. However, others who have paid for the coaching have said that they found the quality of the coaching to be underwhelming.

Screenshot from Carol Moynham’s awesome article on Contena. She was a paying member.
Another screenshot from Moynham’s article.

The other coach, Kelsey Evans, is a previous Contena member. She currently describes herself on LinkedIn as a “highly analytical and results-driven professional with extensive experience in creating bottom-line impact through targeted marketing campaigns.”

Source: Kelsey Evans’s LinkedIn profile

Job board

Contena claims to do a lot of the heavy lifting for you to find the best jobs. Again, since I didn’t pay for the service, I can’t say that I can validate the claim.

However, I will say this: On their welcome/sales video, they go through multiple jobs. I was able to find many of these on free job boards like LinkedIn, Indeed, and others.

Maybe they really do offer the best freelance remote writing jobs. But I would recommend you try those *free* places first before shelling out a thousand bucks.

Red flags

It’s possible many writers have successfully used Contena to get writing jobs. I reached out to three of the successful writers I could find and identify on the platform. If I hear back from these members, I will update this article.

However, throughout the course of my research into this platform, I found a lot of red flags — things that made me feel like Contena might not be as good as it promised to be.

I don’t love pay-to-play

Paying to access jobs that I can find elsewhere seems like a bad idea to me.

I have never had to pay to get a job, and it’s important to me that other writers know you shouldn’t have to, either.

All those emails

I never like being hassled into something. To me, if your product is good, it shouldn’t take 29 emails with increasing (and apparently untrue) urgency to make me buy something.

The emails used typical marketing scare tactics like saying “Your Application Has Been Closed.” Three days later, they emailed me to reopen my application.

Source: Author’s inbox.

Threats of legal action

One thing that came up time and again during my research is the fact that Kevin Fleming is apparently issuing cease-and-desist letters to many negative reviewers.

Source: Conny Manaro’s blog.

Many reviews that were still up cited blog posts that have since been taken down after being threatened with legal action.

This is concerning. I have left many, many positive and negative reviews in my life. It’s a protected class of speech, as long as you’re not outright lying.

Pursuing threats of legal action against small, indie bloggers is not a sign of good business practice in my eyes.

Many negative comments

Here is just a small selection of the many negative comments I read about Contena while I researched it.

They speak for themselves, huh?

No price info

You don’t actually find out how much the program costs (Contena costs $997-$2497, depending on your membership tier) until you:

  • apply
  • get accepted
  • watch an unskippable and un-speed-up-able video that is basically a long sales pitch
  • scroll for a very long amount of time

before you find out how much the program costs.

Many of the positive reviews I found were affiliate links

I have nothing against affiliate links. I use them myself. If you have something awesome you genuinely want to share with your audience, it makes sense that you’d sign up with an affiliate program like Bookshop so you get paid for sharing your recommendations.

The way affiliate links work is like this: I make a recommendation that you buy a great book through Bookshop. I say, hey, this is an affiliate link! If you buy the book after clicking on my link, I make a small commission at no cost to you.

That’s fine.

But there’s also a danger that this incentivizes slightly dubious choices. You might want to recommend a platform because you get a bit of a kickback, not necessarily because you love it.

And when almost every positive Contena review I could find was an affiliate link, well, it felt curious.

Source: Elna Cain’s blog, the link directs to https://elnacain.com/go/contena which redirects to https://www.contena.co/join.

Source: Family Time income, that button points you to https://familytimeincome.com/Check-Out-Contena which redirects you to https://www.contena.co/join

Big promises

The platform made a point of saying that if you don’t need any experience to join Contena:

You can start freelance writing totally from scratch within a week:

You have the potential to earn six figures:

Not saying it’s impossible. But I’ve never met a single freelance writer who started from 0, learned everything they needed to, and was ready to launch their career within a week, much less approaching six figures.

Some oddities around the job posting

I also tested out how to post jobs on the platform, just to see.

First, the initial message says you can add a job posting for $99. But then once you start submitting, I was only able to see an option to post a job for $299.

Source: Contena’s job posting.
Source: checkout of Contena’s job posting.

Just to test this out, I tried to post a job with absolutely garbage credentials. I was able to get as far as the payment page, where I stopped because, again, $299 is a lot to pay for research.

That refund policy

They offer a 100% satisfaction guaranteed refund policy.

However, when you closely read the T&Cs, you learn that you have to prove to their satisfaction that you completed all the modules and exercises.

They can deny your refund if they think you didn’t put in enough effort.

Undated, but out-of-date blog posts

Under the “Contena Community” benefit, this is a link that appears to point to a blog post full of posts written by writers and editors. Great stuff.

However, the blog posts have no date on them. Curious. With a bit of detective work, I was able to find that Contena’s blog content was at least two years old, maybe older.

source: Contena’s community tab.

This post was the second-most recent on their blog. It doesn’t have any dates, but…

Source: Sara Robinson’s Muckrack profile.

On Muckrack I can see it was published several years ago.

This isn’t a red flag in and of itself, but it just solidifies my impression that much of their free content is geared toward pointing you back into their paywall.

Final thoughts on whether Contena is a scam or if Contena is legit

As mentioned, to hopefully avoid threats of legal action, I can’t say if Contena is a scam. It’s possible that the thousands of paying members really feel like they got their money’s worth from this platform. I did find positive comments on Contena’s own Wall of Success (though I did not hear back from any of the members I reached out to about these claims).

But my opinion is that even if Contena does all that it promises, it’s not worth it for me. Based on the reviews of others and my impressions of the site, it seems that you can get many of the benefits for free online elsewhere.

And after seeing how aggressive the CEO is in sending cease and desist letters to small bloggers, I’d prefer to spend my money elsewhere.

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Zulie Rane
The Startup

Content creator, cat mom, 6-figure entrepreneur. She/her. Get 2x weekly emails on how to make money writing online: https://zuliewrites.ck.page/3e3d3a8187