Marking Twenty Years of Matching Writers with Well-Paid Freelance Markets

KJ Bannan

Sometimes it takes a major life event to inspire you. That’s what happened to me back in 2003 when I came up with the idea for Personal Pitch, what we now call Client Connections.

KJ Bannan

I was getting ready to give birth to my oldest child, and I was already feeling the effects on my writing career.

I had been freelancing since October 1999 and was making amazing money. It was the height of the dotcom boom, and I was a tech writer who took my tech writing into mainstream pubs. I was a six-figure freelancer right out of the gate.

But the year I was pregnant, my income was down about 25%. I was still getting plenty of work, but I was no longer interested in doing daily news coverage or anything that had super-tight deadlines. I was also tired of pitching story ideas. Wouldn’t it be great, I thought, if there was a way to bring editors directly to me?

The rest is history.

Putting the Idea Into Motion

I remember floating the idea of holding a matchmaking session for writers and editors to the ASJA board and, once the okay came down, stupidly jumping feet-first into the planning phase. That year, in conjunction with the annual conference, then board member (and long-time ASJA volunteer) Sandra E. Lamb was hard at work as the ASJA Members Day chair. The powers that be decided she and I should work together. At the time, I was young and, I think, there was some concern that a new mother couldn’t get everything done in time and successfully. Also, I wasn’t the easiest person to work with at the time. I hadn’t learned the adage that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Plus, I hadn’t learned the benefit of delegation, which is a nice way to say I was a control freak. (I’ll gladly admit now that this combination could have derailed the event’s success, but I digress.)

Still, that first year about 40 editors, agents, and book publishers attended thanks to old-fashioned internet research, phone calls, and loads of suggestions and help from other ASJA members. Attendees included Laura Petrecca from Prevention, Ron Geraci from AARP, and Stephanie Abarbanel from Woman’s Day. Sandra Lamb was especially instrumental bringing the bulk of the literary agents and publishers who participated that year.

Pre-Automation, Writers Got Matched Manually

Once the prep work was complete there was still lots more grunt work to do. I can close my eyes and see myself sitting in my office chair with my daughter on my lap asleep. At that time, the process of matching writers to editors or agents was first come, first served, but wasn’t automated. When it was time for writers to sign up for meeting slots, the requests came in as emails, dropping directly into my personal inbox. I painstakingly went through all of them to build meeting schedules. It was a lot of going back and forth, person by person and email by email, making sure everyone got at least their first or second choice.

That first year, I personally met with editors and agents from More, Power & Motor Yacht, Self, AARP Segunda Juvendad, Kneerim & Williams,, and Reader’s Digest. I got assignments from everyone I met with aside from literary agent Kneerim & Williams. I know my experience wasn’t unique. Over the decades, ASJA members have earned tens of thousands of dollars from what was then Personal Pitch and is now called Client Connections.

As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Client Connections, I am so proud of what the event has done for ASJA members and the organization as a whole. Today, the Client Connections team is comprised of three co-chairs: myself, Cari Shane, who now handles Client Connections welcomed me back and is a joy to work with, and Richard Eisenberg, who brings us the unique perspective of someone who sat in the editor’s seat. We’re aided by an army of committee members, volunteers who clean up the database, offer to personally invite people they know to participate, and raise their hands to help out on the day of the event.

Interested in getting involved? We’d love to have you help out. Did you have an amazing experience at Client Connections? We’d love to hear your story.

In the meantime, get ready for another epic event this coming September. We’re shooting for at least 40 editor and agent attendees. Can’t wait to see you all there!

KJ Bannan is an experienced journalist, content writer, editor, moderator, and script writer. She covers a wide variety of topics including technology, health, personal finance, human resources, and marketing, among others. Her work has appeared in publications such as the NY Times, the Wall Street Journal, Parents, Time, WebMD, and Marie Claire.