Since its inception, ASJA has been all about supporting freelance writers in any way possible: providing guidance, support, job leads, and a thriving network of professionals. We realized that one of the best ways to do this is to tap into the existing knowledge of our ASJA and wider writing community and promote ongoing knowledge sharing. This was the seed that grew to become the Virtual Education Committee we have today.
What’s the Virtual Education Committee?
We’re a very small team of two — ASJA member Karen Blum and myself (with an amazing ongoing support from Kellen staff and ASJA) — working on bringing members and non-members relevant and ongoing educational content throughout the year. These events are independently organized, however, we do make sure that they build on or offer something different from the annual ASJA conference. We focused on virtual for two main reasons:
- COVID-19 proved that virtual events are not only necessary, but can be an absolute success when the right group of people come together to learn and share ideas.
- We have a growing community of freelancers across and outside of the U.S. and we wanted to make it easy for everyone to take part.
The events are spread out throughout the year and come in two main formats:
- Webinars: an hour-long session where we bring experts to talk on any topic that freelance writers might find relevant. So far, we’ve had sessions on the secrets of book publishing, how to deliver a TEDx talk with seasoned TED speakers and organizers, and the latest developments with the PRO Act. These sessions are open to anyone and either free of charge or come at a very low cost in order to make them accessible to as many people as possible.
- Masterminds: these are deep dives into a topic where you have a unique opportunity to learn a new (or improve on an existing) skill. They last between 90-120 minutes and have limited seats because of their interactive nature. Participants are often given “homework” before the session and have specific exercises to work through during the session itself. It’s a great place to master a skill if you’ve been thinking about it or haven’t had a chance to do it before. Examples of topics we’ve covered recently are how to enhance your writing coaching business and how to become an idea machine and make the most of your stories.
Even though we’re a relatively new committee (started operations in January 2021), we’ve already had five events take place this year with over 200 attendees and we have another eight scheduled for the rest of the year.
What Topics Do You Cover?
When we started at the beginning of the year, we already had a plethora of topics to work with that came either from ASJA members or other freelancers. These covered book publishing, building a personal brand through TED talks, growing your business etc. We also often reach out to ASJA-ers for more topic suggestions, so you may see a call on our Facebook group asking for your thoughts on what we should cover next. For instance, on one of our recent calls many of you have expressed interest in the latest SEO techniques — and we’re going to cover this at the beginning of November.
Other topics you can find in our repertoire relate to negotiating contracts, navigating the anti-freelance laws that affected so many freelancers in the U.S., and how to write reported vs. personal essays for major publications. Our speakers are experts in their fields with bylines in The New York Times, Fortune, Washington Post etc., which makes us that much more grateful for their time and shared knowledge to support ASJA and our community.
We’re already looking at our events calendar for next year, so we always welcome new ideas on what to cover next. We still have two slots open for this year, so if there are any questions burning on your mind do send them our way. The best way to do that is to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We make note of any suggestions and will do our best to have them covered if we have a big enough forum.
How to Stay Up to Date?
Considering freelancers have to juggle about 100 different balls at any given time, it can be difficult to keep track of everything going on around us. We understand this so we really want to keep things simple.
The best place to access the recordings of past sessions (webinars-only) and find out about upcoming events is to visit ASJA’s webinar page here. We usually post a call on ASJA’s Facebook group and in our weekly newsletter to let members know well in advance of upcoming events. We promote the events one to two months in advance to give people enough time to plan and book their slot.
Can I Get Involved?
I’m glad you asked because the answer is a resounding yes! Our speakers and moderators so far have made our lives easy as they’ve been great to work with, but there’s always more to do. We’re currently looking for 1-2 more volunteers, so if you’re passionate about freelance writing and education, want to help us out while also getting free access to all sessions then feel free to get in touch with me at email@example.com.