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writer conference

Snagging Funding From Alternative Sources, one of the panels at ASJA 2016.

My fourth visit to the American Society of Journalists and Authors Conference was to the 45th annual event last week in New York. I attended less than a handful of sessions because I got sick.  😦 Fortunately, ASJA sells audio recordings of ALL but one of the sessions. Non-members can purchase them too. I might plan my own personal ASJA encore when my schedule lightens up a bit and I feel better. Until then, here are my highlights from this year’s event:

  1. Let readers pay. I went to a session on alternative funding options for writers. The panel included John Trigonis who consults at Indiegogo and recently crowdfunded the publishing of his graphic novel, Michael Shapiro who teaches at Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism, and Esther Kaplan who is editor of The Investigative Fund. In addition to crowdfunding campaigns, the panel discussed opportunities writers have like adding a contribution option for readers. If readers like your content, they want to help support you and continue reading more. Although they weren’t mentioned during the panel, I immediately thought of Patreon, Amanda Palmer and Brain Pickings. What was mentioned during the panel, by Trigonis, was that “crowdfunding is not for the money, it’s for the audience and awareness.” It was great to hear this statement come from someone with his experience. I have not run a crowdfunding campaign myself, but I always tell authors how helpful these campaigns are in helping connect with more people – not just for the contributions.
  2. Optimize your Contently! If you don’t already have a Contently account, you’re way behind. If you haven’t optimized your Contently profile, then you’re way behind like I was. I made my Contently account four years ago and I update it occasionally, but I didn’t realize that Contently staff search the profiles for specific key terms. I thought they searched by outlets or article title terms. Nope – the text in your profile is important too! A panel on content marketing included Alli Manning, head of Contently’s talent network. She said it is super important to flesh out your profile with the topics you write about, plus – if you make infographics (like me!) it’s important to include links to samples as some of their clients are looking for content marketing writers with these skills. Another algorithm factor: How often or recently you updated your profile. Another to-do to add to the revolving list.
  3. Say no. Running a freelance career and our personal lives introduces more opportunities than we can commit to. I know I often find myself saying, “I wish I could, but I’m really busy” or “there aren’t enough hours in the day” whenever I decline something. Then I heard some advice from keynote speaker Laura Vanderkam, author of several books including What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast (which I bought and nearly read the entire book on my one-hour-and-fifteen-minute flight) and 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think. Vanderkam said, “We have to say NO in a way that means NO.” I’ve always been a firm believer in that we make time for what is important to us. That was the underlying gist of Vanderkam’s talk and what I’m finding in her book too.

Missed my re-caps of past conferences? Here they are:

ASJA 2015

ASJA 2014

ASJA 2013