Meet Contena Superstar Kenzie Bradshaw, a 26-year-old who has been growing her business as a freelance writer for the last year.
Before starting her freelance career, she earned a degree in Soil Science with a specialization in soil physics and had jobs ranging from snake handling with the Fish and Wildlife Service through the AmeriCorps program to helping create new flavor profiles for Sargento cheese.
She discovered “the reality is that many traditional professions would rather hire a specialist over a generalist.” However, as a freelancer, it has helped to have a variety of areas she’s knowledgeable about and comfortable with.
We think it’s great that Kenzie shows how pretty much any road can lead to a freelance writing career.
Her love of travel and freedom along with a 3-month trip to Thailand encouraged her to shift away from the traditional workforce and try her hand at getting paid to write.
However, before she started with Contena, she’d “been on those other websites. I’ve been there…” (We’re going to spare you the details of the first job she was offered- it’s not good), but she says, “I turned it down because it was so creepy and I had so many questions. I got all kinds of red flags.”
Kenzie quickly learned that by signing up for Contena and working with her coach, Amanda, provided the support and quality that other sites couldn’t provide. The extra eyes and ears were especially useful for a new freelancer.
Amanda was so encouraging to me. I had no idea if my writing would be commercial enough to be worth anything, and I was worried that my lack of a single area of expertise would put me at a major disadvantage.
Amanda really helped me to polish my style and encouraged me that by being able to write in a wide variety of topics, I would have a greater chance of success.
Kenzie was hired for a regular gig quickly after starting as a freelancer: “I landed my first position with Wide Open Spaces with a minimum of 12 articles a month” which isn’t surprising for someone who says, “I’m a fight to the top, butt-kicking, ‘watch me rock this’ kind of girl!”
It’s this kind of confidence that can help freelancers when they’re first starting out.
Though Kenzie still has a part-time job, (which we think is a great way to supplement your freelancing career when you’re first starting out), her goal is to “make [writing] my sole job.”
There’s no shame in taking your time to transition to full-time freelance writing, and we asked Kenzie about what has helped her grow her freelance business so far.
Here are Kenzie’s top tips for freelance success:
- Between [Amanda] and the Contena Academy, I learned to look at freelancing jobs with new eyes. I learned how to vet employers, deciding who was worth my time and who wasn’t.
- It’s hard to take that first step and say ‘I’m going to be a professional at doing this’ and put yourself out there and do it. There’s this hesitation that, if you don’t do well right off the bat, then you’ve failed and you’ll be doomed for a 9-5 forever. An instructor told me, ‘you need to look at every failure as an investment in learning, and if you can’t do that, you’ll never make it as a freelancer.’
- I didn’t feel like I had anything special to say when I started, and by the time I went to my coach and started applying this stuff, I realized all of my experiences really helped me. So you need to mine your life for these awesome nuggets you can write about.
- When you take [really low rates], that’s your new level. That’s the standard you’re accepting. What you waste on these kinds of positions is time you could have spent looking for a much bigger fish. Don’t keep a minnow on the line when there’s a bass out there.
- Professionally, it will make you feel better if you have a bit broader of a base. If you’re freelancing, you need that base of consistent clients or you’re going to be paranoid all the time…Try it all until you find what [type of work] fits.
- When I was just getting started, it was nice to have [my coach] there to run ideas by or get some positive feedback or words of wisdom before applying. That was so, so helpful.
- I mostly took my process [to be successful at freelancing] from Contena’s Academy…when you start applying for jobs you need to take and tailor that process to the industry you’re applying to but it was a great place to start.
- One of the things people forget to do is to track their income. Make a spreadsheet, see how much is coming in each month, know how much you need to live each month and what would be excess. Stay organized in the beginning and you’ll avoid stress later.
Kenzie has taken full advantage of what the Contena Academy and her coach, Amanda, have had to offer, and has made that into her own. We also love that Kenzie is one of the millennials who are crushing it as freelance writers.
Though freelancing can work for just about anyone, we’re strong believers that there are specific reasons why millennials are perfect for freelance writing, and Kenzie embodies that.
She’s tech-savvy, able to multi-task, and understands that the job market is evolving. She also pointed out that due to her age, with less responsibilities like kids and a mortgage, she can make the jump into freelancing. She says, starting freelance writing as millennial, “There’s more flexibility to take a risk earlier on.”
So, what’s next for Kenzie?
She’ll continue to create content for her anchor clients, further develop her e-commerce store, Keyringgadgets.com, and she’ll take what she’s learned through Contena Academy and keep applying for more work.
We’re confident that Kenzie will continue to grow her freelancing business and, when she’s ready, ditch the part-time job and work 100% for herself.
Keep in touch with Kenzie at: