Collaboration Nation #ASJA2019: A True Shared Effort

The theme of the 48th annual ASJA conference is “Collaboration Nation,” and the agenda for the event, which is being held at the New York City Marriott Downtown on Sunday, May 5 and Monday, May 6, represents a true collaborative effort.

Co-chairs Carolyn Crist and Jodi Helmer wanted to step outside the box from previous ASJA conferences to make it an incredible event. Some of their biggest changes include:

Expansion of members-only events: The ever-popular Client Connections will be held on Monday, but the new this year, Sunday will offer small, intensive Mastermind Programs for $20. “These group coaching sessions are designed to really amp up your career,” explains Crist, adding that participants must be committed and willing to work hard during the sessions. Topics include “Get the Attention of the Big Five: A Book Proposal Mastermind Class,” and a “Growing Your Business” mastermind.

More ways to interact and network: New this year for all attendees are two early-morning movement sessions—Creativity in Motion and Yoga—designed to get the juices flowing as well as a hospitality lounge for all to relax and connect.

Additional creative programming: Along with the always well-attended breakout groups, pitch slams and networking lunches, there are new offerings, which include a “Face Off,” where participants debate the merit of niche vs. non-niche writing and a “First Pages” session which provides critiques of participants’fiction book projects. Other on-trend topics include “Goodbye Email, Hello Slack and Trello,” “The Art of Writing and Reporting About Trauma,” “Get More Thought Leadership Clients” and the intriguing, “Cannabis Writing 101” and “How to Negotiate Like a New Yorker.”

In taking the conference to the next level, “we wanted to maintain what participants loved–networking, great sessions, meeting new editors and for members, Client Connections,” states Helmer. “So we carefully reviewed post-conference surveys and, based on feedback, included sessions and options that would allow all types of writers to continue to move forward, from the novice to the most experienced.” Organized by area of concentration (Journalism, Content Writing, Books, and Business of Freelance), attendees can tailor the experience to their own needs.

Another major departure: The conference is hosting its first “Freelance State of the Union.” Led by ASJA President Milt Toby, the keynote session will also include Caitlin Pearce of the Freelancers Union and Adam Pawlus from NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists. They’ll discuss the First Amendment, “fake news,” #freelanceisntfree, reporting with diversity and covering news during turbulent times. “We wanted to bring together diverse voices and get a holistic picture about what is going on in our business,” remarks Crist.

“As freelancers, we work alone,” says Tobin, half-joking that his Dalmatian always agrees with his decisions, both good and bad. “It can very difficult to come together as a community and ASJA helps provide that community.” And thanks to the gig economy, freelancing is becoming more the norm. “People increasingly like the notion of setting their own hours” and not having to deal with rush hour traffic or the drama inherent in a closed-setting workplace. The gig economy, which Milt discusses in more detail in his recent column for ASJA Magazine, “has resulted in a fundamental shift in the whole labor market. People coming into it are going to turn to the experts who help make it work.” And that is where an independent writer’s organization such as ASJA comes in.

The world of freelance writing is changing. Regardless of where you are in your career—whether starting out or a seasoned journalist—Collaboration Nation has something for you.

What are you waiting for? Sign up today for ASJA’s Collaboration Nation, this year’s NYC Conference! Extra Early Bird rates are available through January 31 only, and Mastermind event enrollment is limited!