Random Tips from ASJA 2014

I just returned from the annual American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) conference and wanted to share some tips I took away from it.

–If you’re interested in getting content marketing gigs, send lots of letters of introduction. 20-30 letters is not a lot. Send hundreds. It’s a numbers game, says Jennifer Goforth Gregory.

–To get some content marketing gigs, you may need a strong social media presence, even a high Klout score, says Land du Pont of Federated Media. For these gigs, you might be sharing your work on your social media channels.

–“Don’t tell me you have 9 specialties – I won’t think you have any,” says Dan Davenport of Meredith Xcelerated Marketing (by the way, he also hates the incorrect spelling of Xcelerated – I have to admit, I was glad he said that!).

–Dust off your resume for content marketing agencies, because many of their clients want to see it before you get hired for a gig.

–Conferences like this are about building community, not just networking.  The community can motivate you and can give you what you want in terms of work, but you have to put yourself out there saying who you are, why what you do matters, and what you want. If people know what you do, they can give you work

–“I don’t think you realize how good I am. No writer should say that,” says Daniel Jones, editor of the Modern Love column at the New York Times.

–Modern Love receives 6,000 submissions  a year for 52 slots. About 1 in 12 of essays run resulted in book deals.

–For science pitches, it’s more important that you have a great pitch, than you have a science background or top notch publication experience. Editors may look at your background and clips, but less than you’d think. Your pitch speaks for itself.

–Persistence in all things. Pitching. Reporting. Investigating. Following up.

–(Some) pitches can be very short. Editors will ask for more information if they’re interested.

–If you don’t want to pay for coaching, find an accountability partner or group, do the foundational work (introspection, develop insights and test them) and then make changes. It’s hard work and you can get there on your own if you’re open to learning from others and digging deep within yourself.

–Observation (not a tip): It’s funny to see someone at the conference who you’ve know from two writer groups and Facebook for a very long time, but every year at the conference, this person sports a blank look when seeing you, clearly with no clue who you are, even after you act friendly and remind the person of your name. And this happens every year.

–Mentoring writers through the ASJA mentoring program is beneficial. You realize you know more than you thought, and your mentee takes home actionable tips to improve their careers. You might even see the AHA! light go off while you talk. It’s inspiring to see the professional strides made by my mentees from past years.

–If you want to go out while at a conference, don’t sit around waiting for an invitation. Plan something yourself, inviting people you want to hang out with or putting a blanket invitation out there. You’ll get more takers than you expect, and people appreciate it.

–I’ve gotten a lot of work from fellow writers I met at the conference, not just the editors/panelists. Walk up to random people or introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you, and stay in touch.

Additional reading:

My live tweeting from the conference

The #ASJA2014 tweet stream

Kelly James-Enger’s best tips from the ASJA conference 

Jennifer Goforth Gregory’s 5 best tips

Vanessa Lewis’ tips

Stephanie de Ruiter’s take on Constance Hale’s Sassy Sentence and Wicked Good Prose panel


One response to “Random Tips from ASJA 2014

  1. Thank you for including my tips in your additional resources! I’ve learned a few more great things from your post. Glad we could share knowledge!

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