The American Society of Journalists and Authors has long been the go-to database of accomplished professional writers. With the inclusion of “custom content” in its list of application-friendly work, it’s clear content marketing is now mainstream.
For decades, the best place to find a professional freelance writer was the American Society of Journalists and Authors. In recent years, however, the very qualities that made an elite ASJA member attractive to media have changed. For this reason, the sexagenarian organization has begun making itself over.
In the past, to qualify for membership, writers needed to have a portfolio consisting primarily of nonfiction freelance articles written for print newspapers and magazines, or be able show they were credible nonfiction book authors. If you worked on staff at a publication, you had to show proof of substantive freelance work when applying for ASJA membership.
Accepting Content Writers
For more than half a century, membership in ASJA was an instant badge of credibility. However, with the contraction of print newspapers and magazine and the meteoric rise of online writing, the ASJA has had to re-think its membership criteria.
Now the acceptable work submissions on an ASJA application include “custom content,” including non-bylined articles and work done for content marketing agencies and performed directly for brands. In recent years, ASJA launched Content Connections, regional events that bring writers face-to-face with brands and content agencies.
The FAQ page of the ASJA’s website does note the exclusion of some brand and SEO content from potential applicants: “The Membership Committee does not accept as qualifications articles that must mention the advertiser or are part of magazines publicizing an institution or company.” Articles that earn writers pay-per-click revenue only also don’t count as acceptable submissions.
Other Steps Forward
During the past several years, ASJA has taken more than a few steps to modernize the organization. These included hiring a new executive director, retaining an association management firm to run the organization; re-tooling the association’s member magazine; adding regional conferences to serve more members; and creating new special interest groups.
The association’s Client Connections, events that bring writers and those who hire them face to face, have been expanded to include Virtual Client Connections. ASJA is also co-hosting a writer/brand networking event with IZEA, a custom content and influencer marketing company, at the 2016 Content Marketing World Conference and Expo.
“ASJA and IZEA are a perfect match,” the ASJA’s new president, Sherry Beck Paprocki is quoted in an ASJA press release. “By teaming up at Content Marketing World, the writers’ salon will further ASJA’s mission of connecting independent writers with clients who are in need of expert storytelling.”
Just as freelance writers have had to change or die during the past decade’s upheaval in how content is created and distributed, so have their trade associations.