We’re so excited to introduce you to Contena Superstar: Tim White. He’s had fast success after signing up with Contena Acadmey so we asked him to share his best tips. One thing we want to tell you: He was hesitant to join, which is part of why we wanted to share his story with you.
In January 2018, Tim began his full-time, professional writing career. Prior to that, he spent most of his adult life in medicine as a paramedic and a nurse, starting a dog training business in 2016 after he left medicine.
He said, “I would occasionally find opportunities to write about medical things, sometimes paid, sometimes unpaid. But, I never actively looked for it…I got a few short stories and things published and I’ve always written just for myself.”
As a professional in the medical field, that’s where Tim focused his energy.
Even though people would tell him he could get paid for his writing he’d always say “Well, I love writing, but I love medicine a little bit more.”
Eventually he decided to leave the medical field and “writing was the next obvious choice, because you gotta love what you do.”
To get to where he was in his first profession, he obviously spent a lot of time studying. So, it’s no surprise that when he decided he wanted to shift gears to writing, he took a similar approach, learning as much as he could.
Tim says, “I started doing research on how to actually make money writing, what kind of writing is profitable and what is not. I realized the kind of writing that you need to do to make any kind of significant money is not the kind of writing I had experience at.”
Some people would be discouraged by that, but instead, Tim dug in, “and started to look at other freelancers and their personal websites,” learning from each one and paying special attention to the people who had careers like the ones he aspired to have.
It was during this research that he stumbled onto Contena Academy.
He says “I back-burnered [signing up for Contena] for a while because the price tag kind of scared me away.”
We love this honesty. We know there can be sticker shock.
But, he told us, “I’ve always been an investor; you’ve got to invest or spend money to make money kind of attitude. I kept seeing reviews from other writers who said they don’t use Contena anymore, but that they did. Or that they hadn’t used it, but had positive impressions. And when I saw that there was a 30-day guarantee and you could get your money back, I said ‘Screw it, let’s see what happens.’”
And what happened is impressive!
Very quickly, Tim was able to go through the training lessons in Contena Academy, work with his coach Amanda, and secure several lucrative contracts.
While Tim is the first to tell you that there are many ideas of what success is (the idea of success is actually a topic he loves to write about), we’d say he’s been quite successful.
So, we decided to round up some of his best tips and share them here. You might want to print this out, or take some notes, because Tim told me “In the first major round of pitching 8 or 9 clients, the three main clients I wanted to work for all ended up eventually hiring me.”
Tim White’s Words of Wisdom
- My primary criteria [when looking for jobs] was that I’m not going to write about something I don’t care about, I don’t want to write about or I don’t believe in, so I looked for clients who deal with subjects I like to write about and went from there.
- None of first three contracts were posted in Contena’s writing leads or job finder; I was just using the skills and knowledge to look at other places.
- The obvious advantage of Contena’s job finder (not everyone is willing to do this; I’d rather pay money than deal with a lot of BS), is the fact that Contena filters all of that out and only shows me legit clients. I’m perfectly happy to pay for that.
- The approach I’ve had that’s been by far the most successful, if you can, don’t compete on the same grounds that everyone else is competing on, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience…for two of the three jobs, there was an enormous amount of applicants, so my advice is be completely honest with what you do and don’t know and really push your strengths. Look for strengths that other people aren’t thinking about.
- My writer’s website didn’t help at all in the way I wanted it to, and it helped in ways I wasn’t expecting. I’ve had no paying traffic come through my website, but it has helped in the sense of learning semi-competent web design. I’m learning about what makes a good website and how to do that myself. In that skillset are things that are relevant to writing, like SEO. That’s been far more important than getting paying clients…by the time I was applying for these contract jobs, I already had a dozen or more posts on self-improvement (the niche I was applying for) and I could show that this is an area I’m passionate about, have written about and researched.
- Interacting both with writing and other writers, I’ve been very independent, do-it-myself kind of type…I think the biggest problem I’ve seen or heard about from other writers is an issue with confidence, and it tends to be one extreme or the other. Some writers are not confident enough in their skills and ability to write or find work and others think they’re way better than they are, and they pitch that to the client and the client finds out you’re lying and that’s not good either…first and foremost you need to be honest with yourself and the client about what you do and don’t know. Clients respect and respond to a willingness to jump into something you don’t know and learn it (to an extent).
- If you know 70% of what they want, and 30% is unfamiliar, just do it. Devote some extra time to the part you don’t know: research it and practice it and that’s gotten me much farther than just playing it safe and sticking to only what I know.
- When I first joined Contena, I was already pitching to clients, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. I was kind of using the fact that I don’t know how to pitch to figure it out. I was sending emails to people and seeing who responded and who didn’t, and figuring things out that way. Once Amanda got on board and I used the Academy’s modules on pitching and marketing, the single most important things that’s helped me is that everything needs to be framed in terms of what can you do for the client to specifically increase their success.
- You almost have to phrase your pitch as a very soft assumption that you’re going to work for them. If you ask a question, like “Will you hire me?” it sounds weak. I have several pitch templates saved in my gmail now. They’re variations on the same thing, which is “I love to write about what your company does.” If I’m responding to a specific add, I’ll talk about how I can help with that need. Or if they didn’t post an ad, I’ll say “I think your site can do much better with these simple changes. Can I write just one article for you, no strings attached at an introductory rate.” People respond to sincere, confident offers of help to make their service or product better. Too weak and too strong are both bad.
- I would really stress to people don’t write about things you don’t care about. If you have 2 clients and one wants to pay you half as much but you really, really love the topic, do that. Don’t just follow the money or the prestige of where you’re working. The fastest way to burnout is to write about things you don’t enjoy.
- Don’t just meet your deadlines, absolutely slay your deadlines. If they give you a week, get it done in two ways. The quality of your work should always be your top priority but make speed #2. One client mentioned fast-turnaround times is why they hired me.
Tim is obviously passionate about writing and sharing that information with others.
Before we wrapped up our conversation, I asked him “If someone was skeptical to join Contena Academy, like you were, what would you say?”
For me, the 30-day refund period was instrumental. I doubt I would have signed up without it. You really have nothing to lose. I don’t think I would have been unsuccessful without Contena, I would have eventually gotten here anyway, but it’s a question about how you want to spend your time. It saved me a tremendous amount of effort and saved me from doing a lot of trial and effort. Not everyone will think that’s worth the money, but I certainly do.