The Next 90 Days: ASJA’s 2021 Fall Membership Drive

The final quarter of the year marks a special time for ASJA. The Fall Membership Drive serves not only as a reminder for members to renew their dues but also as an opportunity to look forward with excitement about possibilities to come. Since ASJA’s budget relies on the health of our membership dues, the success of the Fall Membership Drive can indicate what we’re able to do in the next year. Our dedicated volunteers give their time to put together the events, webinars, and client networking programs that make our dues worth it, and in turn, our dues make these programs possible.

This year’s Fall Membership Drive comes at a perfect time as we debut the new website, launch new membership categories, and plan for the in-person 2022 Annual Conference. You may have received a recent email about the Oct. 1 soft launch of the new website — I’m excited about the member pages that will allow you to showcase your skills, writing niches, and recent clips. It’ll be like a calling card for editors.

Around the same time, the other October launch — of the new membership categories — brings me particular joy. The board has been considering these categories since a strategic planning session in 2018, and several group members and I who served on that subcommittee shepherded the initiative through this year. You may have read about the new categories in recent ASJA communications (and ASJA President Laura Laing will delve a little deeper into some of them in her column next week), but just in case, I wanted to mention them again here:

– Student: Full-time students in writing programs will be able to learn from professionals and understand what it takes to run a business. This is how I began my own journey as a freelance writer — by attending professional writer’s conferences as a graduate student and making it my goal to join organizations such as ASJA after graduation. (Hint: That’s what I ended up doing!) This category is meant to begin the pipeline from school to professional life, encouraging students to learn and consider our Associate and Professional member categories as they pursue their careers.

– Retired: For years, the ASJA board has looked for new ways to redefine the half-dues membership offered to older members. Rather than set an age requirement or stipulate a certain number of years of continuous ASJA membership, the new Retired category will serve those who have retired from publishing. Members who currently have reduced rates will continue to receive them, but moving forward, this new category will be available to anyone who retires and wishes to continue to support ASJA.

In addition to these individual-focused categories, we’re also introducing opportunities for organizations to become members:

– Collegiate: The colleges and universities with those writing programs have often supported ASJA through sponsorships at the annual and regional conferences. With a year-round membership, we can deepen those partnerships and the opportunities for special programs for our members. This also bolsters the pipeline for students and other professionals to become aware of and appreciate ASJA’s national standing as a professional writers’ organization.

– Corporate: Similar to the collegiate category, the corporate category creates a new way to streamline our sponsorship programs. In the past, businesses and other organizations primarily supported ASJA through conference-focused sponsorships. This new category extends that connection through year-round communication and collaboration.

These new categories make me excited about the possibilities. It feels like a glimpse into the future as ASJA plans for growth and face-to-face meetings again. I can feel the buzz and energy in the air, and I hope you’ll be part of it, too.

That’s because this year’s drive will have a different feeling — one that emphasizes personal outreach. As part of the newly formed Membership Engagement Committee, we’re aiming to connect the various pieces of ASJA and help people to feel “at home” with their fellow freelancers. I agree with the large majority of members who said in this year’s member survey that ASJA is a place of community. And in the last 90 days of each year, we welcome new people into the fold through the Fall Membership Drive.

The committee has big plans for this fall. We’ll be contacting the non-member attendees who participate in awards, conferences, and virtual events throughout the year. We’re reconnecting with those who have sought help and freelance resources during the pandemic. We’re sharing details about your member success stories and how people can become involved.

We welcome your help in reaching out to others and recruiting new people, too. Each year, we find that the most engaged new members come through connections with current members who are proud of their membership and the assignments they’ve landed. Please join us in sharing ASJA emails and social media posts as they pop up on your feeds. In the private Facebook group, for instance, the committee will post prompts and templates that you can use.

As a “thank you” for joining us in this endeavor, AJSA offers a 25% discount on your membership for each new person who joins during the Fall Membership Drive. We have members who do this each year and receive a free membership for referring four new members! It’s an easy and fantastic way to give back and grow our membership base, which provides greater latitude as we speak with editors, sponsors, and other writing groups in the next year.

With a stronger voice, we can also speak loudly against state and national laws that threaten our viability as independent writers. Let’s pull more people together to show lawmakers and policymakers that we are business owners united under a prestigious, respected national professional organization. We’re at a pivotal moment where we can elevate ASJA’s profile and be a fierce advocate for freelancers and their rights in 2022.

Thank you for joining me and the Membership Engagement Committee in making this year’s Fall Membership Drive a special one. When the renewal notice hits your inbox next week, please take a moment to open the email. Either renew then or set a reminder on your calendar to renew as soon as you can.

And between now and the end of the year, please keep your eyes and ears open for fellow freelancers who may benefit from ASJA membership, whether at the professional, associate, student, or other levels. They could become our new colleagues who share insights in the Facebook group, join us at the 2022 Annual Conference, or bring new editors to Client Connections. When our membership is stronger, so are our individual members.

If you have any questions about the Fall Membership Drive — whether regarding renewals, referrals, or other ways to get involved — don’t hesitate to message me online or send me an email at  asjaoffice@asja.org. It’s time to focus on our members and new applicants for the remaining 90 days of this year!