Membership Has Its Privileges: Special Interest Groups (SIGs) and Virtual Client Connections (VCC) Boost Careers

Want to learn about Glitter Spank SEO? Ghostwriting for profit? Writing a blog that will draw readers or ways to obtain and maintain B2B content marketing gigs? How about connecting virtually with editors from high-paying, diverse markets like, in the past,, American Heart Association News and Endless Vacation to, coming later this month/early next, Natural Foods Merchandiser, Elks Magazine or Stripe Press, which specializes in technology and economics? Professional members of ASJA have full access to the latter via Virtual Client Connections (VCC), while the former, Special Interest Groups (SIGs), are open to both professional and associate members.

But first, what the heck is Glitter Spank SEO? It sounds kind of naughty but is actually “building a personal brand that shines, including creating a website and content that sparkles, social media presence with passion, and embracing your ‘weird,’” according the SIG description. In other words, branding, 21st century-style.

SIGs, a set of four-week online discussion groups consisting of up to 12 ASJA members “focus on a specific topic with the goal of learning tips, sharing information and making connections,” explains SIG wrangler Kate Silver. Established in 2015 through the vision of ASJA member Jennifer Goforth Gregory, “we’ve had three to four SIG sessions per year with three to five different groups per session and up to 12 people in each group. That’s a lot of SIGs!” And members, too, which SIGs have helped.

But as with anything, you reap what you sow. “Those who are in active groups with the majority of the members participating tend to get the most out of it because it’s just more fun, energizing and insightful with more voices in the mix,” Kate continues. The wide array of topics have included, among others, SEO, biography writing, health writing, public speaking, travel writing, history writing, B2B writing, content marketing, blogging, six-figure freelancing, tech tools, nature and writing about pets. Some topics are also more popular than others, she acknowledges. “Those that directly relate to earning more income and landing more clients or editors tend to really do well. Three topics that we’ve offered a number of times are six-figure freelance writing, content writing and pitch perfection.” Along with new ideas, skills and contacts, “members have also made lasting ASJA connections.”

Virtual Client Connections (VCC) provide another way to expand your clientele. An outgrowth of the immensely popular face-to-face Client Connections “speed dating” type meetup with editors, agents and others during the New York City Conference Member’s Day, VCC moves it into cyberspace, or at least through fiberoptic cables. Professional members and clients meet either by phone or via Skype, so you and the client are each in your own locale. As with the in-person meetups, VCC events, offered three to four times a year, may include three to 10 literary agents, media editors, associations, hospitals, universities, and agencies seeking content for corporate brands. The number of available signup slots can vary. Potential clients “can choose to commit to as little as one hour or a series of half days between the VCC’s four-day period,” observes VCC chair Kristine Hansen.

Members sign up on a first-come, first-serve basis. “I’ve been surprised to hear that some of our members are literally hovering over their keyboards a few minutes before sign-up begins,” Kristine continues. “That tells me this program is needed!”

As with face-to-face Client Connections, VCCs claims several success stories. “Some of our members have landed gigs with, Midwest Living, Endless Vacation and American Heart Association, to name a few,” she goes on. As with SIGs, it only works when people are willing to put in the effort, in this case a team of volunteers, for whom Kristine is eternally grateful. “From helping to recruit editors and agents to serving as hosts to them during the actual program, we make sure it’s easy and stress-free.”

“We are helping facilitate relationships that, frankly, can be hard to launch given the high number of emails an editor might receive,” she points out. “My hope is that an appointment brings one of our members ‘to the top of the pile,’ so to speak. I always tell interested editors and agents that our membership is highly vetted. They know they are working with a certain caliber of writers.”

Together and individually these programs are worth their weight in gold—and Glitter Spank—as well as applying for or renewing your ASJA membership.

Registration for SIGs is now taking place for the next session, the last of 2018, which runs Oct. 22 through Nov. 18. Members can check out the SIG page to learn more. Sign up quickly because registration is first-come, first-serve and generally fills up fast.

VCC sign-ups begin today, Oct. 9 at 2 p.m. EST and close tomorrow, Wednesday, at 5p.m. EST and runs from Oct. 30-Nov. 2.  Sign-ups are first come, first serve through the Client Connections page. You can also review the list of editors/agents who are participating in the next VCC. Appointments notifications will be sent out to writers by Friday, Oct. 12 by 5 p.m. EST.