On Becoming an ASJA Associate Member

Carolyn Crist

If you’re looking for a professional association for independent writers who focus on journalism, content marketing, and books, you’re in the right place! Our members love to talk about ideas, pitches, and opportunities in this rapidly-changing industry.

People sometimes ask me about the two levels of membership — professional and associate — and which is the right fit for them. Most of this information lives on the ASJA website, and I thought I’d bring you the answers to the most common questions people ask as they decide what to do next.

What are the membership levels?

Professional membership is available to freelance writers who have published in national publications. As part of the application process, you submit six published articles from national outlets or one nonfiction book from a major publishing house with a second under contract.

Associate membership is available to writers who don’t yet meet the eligibility requirements for the professional level but want the resources and support to become national-level writers. Staff writers at media companies can join ASJA at this membership level, too. As part of the application process, you submit five published articles from regional or national outlets or a book from a major publishing house.

What are the different benefits?

Professional members attend conferences, network with other freelancers in-person and online, advocate for independent writers, and receive the ASJA Magazine and ASJA Weekly newsletter. They can also meet with potential editors and clients in person or by phone or video.

Associate members attend conferences, network with fellow writers in-person and online, receive the ASJA Magazine and ASJA Weekly newsletter, and join a mentorship program to develop their businesses and brands. They don’t participate in client meetings but can listen to Virtual Pitch Slam events as part of as ASJA’s educational resources.

What can I expect to get out of associate membership?

The main focal points of the associate membership are networking and mentorship. The goal is to help associates grow their businesses and publish the clips that will help them apply for professional membership.

Associate members often attend national and regional conferences and participate in online Special Interest Groups, the ASJA Forum and the members-only ASJA Facebook group. The ASJA Magazine, ASJA Weekly newsletter and ASJA Direct podcast feature big editors and clients and offer insights on the freelance writing experience.

Which membership should I apply for?

If you’re unsure which qualifications you meet, apply for the professional membership. If you meet the associate membership requirements but not the professional, you’ll be offered an associate membership. You can reapply for professional membership later with no additional application fee.

What’s the application process like?

Create an account on the ASJA website and apply online. It’s a straightforward process that asks for your required clips, links, and other documentation you’d like to submit. You can save your application and return as many times as you need before submitting.

Once submitted, each application is reviewed thoughtfully by the Membership Committee, which considers applications on the first Monday of every month. The committee takes a week to review the applications, and then a list of new member names is sent to the full membership, according to our bylaws. You’ll be notified of your acceptance by the end of the month.

Here are a few tips:

  • When listing your publications and providing links, feel free to include details such as the publisher, circulation, payment structure, and content type. This helps the application review committee, especially if they may not be familiar with the market.
  • Custom content that doesn’t have a byline can also be included if you can show evidence of authorship, such as a contract or assignment letter, and the work is for national organizations such as content marketing agencies, corporations, and large nonprofits.
  • Submit your largest clips from national-level publications and clients.
  • Personal blog posts, fiction, and poetry can’t be used on the application.
  • Don’t include advertising copy or work from markets that require advertisers to be used as sources.
  • If you submit shorter articles (fewer than about 1,000 words), submit more articles to show your experience. You can list up to 10.
  • If possible, submit articles from a variety of markets rather than one place.

What’s the mentoring program like?

New members are invited to participate in a new member orientation session to learn about all of the opportunities ASJA offers. After that, associate members are invited to join a one-on-one mentorship program, which pairs them with a professional member for an eight-week program that covers story ideas, pitching, marketing, and business tips. I work hard to make matches that will help the associate member to move forward with freelancing and accomplish the next steps they want.

When and how do I apply for professional membership?

As soon as you’re ready and have the clips, you can apply for professional membership. You’ll simply return to the same application from the first time and add your latest clips. Then the application will go through the same process as before, and we’ll update you. Voila!

Photo by Amer Mughawish on Unsplash