Contently Projects: Freelancers Weigh in on Their Favorites

By Jessica Benavides Canepa November 16th, 2023

Contently’s Creative Marketplace is teeming with talented freelancers. Whether our clients need writers, designers, editors, or videographers, they have access to some of the best creative talent in the market.

But that’s not to say that our contributors don’t have some perks of their own. One of the advantages of being in Contently’s Creative Marketplace is the variety of projects available at any given time. Some of our creatives have landed incredible opportunities working with brands on pieces that they are also passionate about.

Read on to learn what these four creatives consider their favorite Contently project and how they landed the opportunity.

What made your favorite Contently project so special?

What makes a project stand out is as varied as our freelancers. Many contributors have had unique opportunities that they’ve connected with on a personal level.

Sissy Yee

Sissy Yee’s love of cooking came in handy when the freelance UI/UX and graphic designer was tasked with designing a recipe-builder infographic for a pasta brand. The concept pulled cuisines from all over the world and showcased alternative ingredients for recipes while using various types of pasta as the base.

Yee researched and analyzed the company’s brand to create an inspiration board and sketches of how she imagined the project could look. The client was a yes. “The imagery of the ingredients were vibrant and fun to work with, and the project itself was really interesting,” she said. “I learned a lot about different cuisines and techniques and was able to actually use these recipe builders in the kitchen. So it was cool to interact with the project in different ways beyond design.”


Barbara Balfour

Barbara Balfour, a freelance journalist, TV host, and public speaker, used expert knowledge of her hometown of Ottowa, Canada, to add a unique perspective to her travel story reviewing the best places to go for ice cream.

Balfour figured a local angle and business owners’ rich backstories could sell the ice cream pitch to the editor. “I offered some interesting tidbits behind the story of every business, including one gelato maker who met her husband on the back of a Ducati in Rome and married him three days later and another who quit her job in tech to play with unconventional ice cream flavors such as heirloom tomato and balsamic vinegar,” she said.

“I knew that photography would be everything for this piece, so I worked with a local photographer who took evocative images. The end result rewarded me with many more clients from other outlets.” Sweeter still was her experience reporting the piece. “Not only did I get to feast on countless frozen delights in the name of research (and a few libations, too—I’m still dreaming of Prosecco popsicles)—but I also won an honorable mention for my piece in the Ottawa Tourism Travel Writing Awards that year.”


Nick Vaka

Nick Vaka, an art director and motion picture graphic artist, was matched with one of Contently’s finance clients to create a series of graphics and photos. His favorite was a series of graphics for an article adapted from a formal report that included the marriage of vector illustrations, iconography, typography, and photographs.

The project was his favorite because, like others he worked on with this client, it forced Vaka to explore ideas outside his comfort zone. “To achieve what they wanted, it all boiled down to letting the information take center stage and allowing the photography to act as a supporting character,” he said.


Anne Shaw

Anne Shaw, a freelance writer and business consultant, prefers to reflect on favorite clients versus favorite projects. “I have clients who stand out because of their collaborative spirit and focus on providing valuable content,” she said. “Clients with this attitude are willing to let me ask questions and explore new avenues, which empowers us to put out content that adds something new to what’s already out there — whether simply a different angle or outlook, or entirely new research — rather than just regurgitating information.”

Shaw lands clients by considering their goals and how to better attract buyers by serving customers what they need. “I consider the project they want me to work on, ask questions, and bring other ideas,” she said. “While we don’t pursue every idea, it starts and maintains a good working relationship that goes beyond a transactional nature.”

Advice for freelancers trying to land a dream project

After working on their favorite project, our Contently contributors continued to hone their skills and build up their portfolios. Most even went on to work with their top clients many times over. Naturally, we were eager to learn what wisdom they could offer to new contributors just getting started.

Vaka suggested ensuring you have all the information you need and, if required for the project, invest time in your pitches. He also believes in nurturing a relationship with clients. “Building that rapport allows them to see what you’re capable of,” he said. “Afterwards, you can expand their content and produce something you can be proud of.”

Yee thinks that going the extra mile is key to getting the client’s attention—and keeping it. “Do your research and make extra efforts that are beyond what’s expected to help you stand out from the crowd,” she said.

Freelance journalist Balfour goes back to her favorite project when giving her advice. “Many outlets were commissioning Canadian travel-related content that year, so I knew I had to make my pitch a little different from the rest, [although] versatile enough to be relatable for the average tourist,” she said.

Meanwhile, freelance writer Shaw suggested a variety of ways to attract amazing clients, from networking to maintaining solid contacts to always seeking ways to add value. “In my experience, giving more than what the brief asks for pays dividends for future work,” she said. “Take every assignment seriously, do it well, and consider how it may lead to an exciting next project.”

If you’re looking for exciting creative projects, apply to be part of the Contently Creative Marketplace and subscribe to The Freelance Creative for more tips.

Image by Prasong Maulae
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