Ever thought about joining one of those writer organizations?
You probably have. Sometimes being a freelance writer can feel a little like living on a deserted island that happens to have a wifi connection.
You spend a lot of time working alone. Besides client calls and interviews with sources, you might not talk to many people besides your family, or your pet.
Writer organizations can help bridge the gap of working in isolation.
But more importantly, writer organizations can connect you to a community of other writers and freelance professionals, writing jobs, training, and a host of resources to help you grow your business.
And you don’t have to look far to find a writing organization designed to help you dominate your niche.
Travel, science, health, education…there’s an organization for almost every type of writer to help you develop your skills, and ultimately move up and earn more.
So which of the many writer organizations should you join? Check out this list to help you decide:
Should you join? Benefits of writer organizations for freelancers
If you’re on the fence about joining a writer organization, take a closer look at what they have to offer and what you get for a monthly or annual membership fee. Writer organizations can help you:
- Get tips and info about the business and craft of freelance writing
- Make connections with other writers in your niche
- Find prospects and freelance writing jobs
- Tap into resources, benefits, and training that might be out of reach for you as a soloprenuer
- Ask for advice from editors, legal counsel, and writing professionals
- Stay on top of trends, news, and developments related to the type of writing you do
- Give yourself an excuse to plan a tax-deductible trip to a writing conference
Did you know only 12 percent of adults in the U.S. can pass a basic health literacy test, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention? Part of the problem is the complexity and jargon of health information. But it doesn’t have to be that way, says the American Medical Writers Association.
If you want to develop your freelance career as a medical writer and improve content and communication for patients, consumers, and healthcare providers, check out this niche organization.
Founded in: 1940
Annual membership: $195
Includes: Member directory, free training, job board, discounts on conferences and events
Last year the American Society of Journalists and Authors celebrated it’s 70th year as an organization that was created to represent independent journalists and non-fiction writers.
Fun fact: It didn’t start out by that name. It was originally called the New York Society of Magazine Writers. The primary purpose back then? It gave writers a way to compare pay rates at consumer magazines, says Executive Director of the American Society of Journalists and Authors Alexandra Owens.
Founded in: 1948
Annual membership: $235+
Includes: Networking, job leads, professional development, mentorship opportunities, emergency fund program for writers, discounts on conferences and training
Florida-based writer Dennis Taylor launched the American Society of Professional Copywriters after a 40-year career in advertising, public relations and journalism to help writers develop copywriting skills. “Membership is about the cost of one specialty coffee per month for the year, but is sure to kick-start your occupation more than the caffeine would,” says Taylor.
Founded in: 2017
Annual membership: $29.99
Includes: Mastermind group, monthly copywriting tips newsletter, awards program, discounts on coaching, certification
If you’re a published author, have a book contract, or want to write a book, but need help navigating the publishing world, Authors Guild is your writer organization. “Our mission is to support working writers,” says Authors Guild President James Gleick. “We advocate for the rights of writers by supporting free speech, fair contracts, and copyright. We create community and we fight for a living wage.”
Founded in: 1912
Annual membership: $135
Includes: Publishing industry news, workshops, marketing and social media training for book promotions, writer website tools, and discounted liability insurance for media professionals
Here’s a sobering fact. In the United States, about 16 percent of high school students drop out before graduation, according to the U.S. Department of Education.
Why is that? And what can be done about it in the classroom or by elected officials to change that? It’s the kind of education-related issues journalists have been writing about and reporting on for years. Do you write about education on a local, regional or national level? Take a look at this niche writer’s organization.
“We want to strengthen the community of education writers and improve the quality of education coverage to better inform the public,” says Education Writers Association President Greg Toppo.
Founded: 70 years ago
Annual membership: $50
Includes: Education listserv to share ideas and sources, monthly webinars, database of education experts, resources for writing about education issues, discounts on seminars and workshops
Did you know an estimated 57 million people in the United States are independent contractors? That’s a lot of people, and many of those are creative types like writers, journalists, and designers. Want to connect with other freelancers, collaborate on projects, or check out affordable health insurance options? The Freelancers Union can help you with all three of those things.
Founded in: 1995
Annual membership: Free
Includes: Discounted health, medical, and other insurance plans, network of freelance professionals, resources for independent journalists, writers, designers, and more
What has 300+ hours of recorded trainings and has served nearly 12,000 writers since 2011? The Freelance Writers Den, created by Carol Tice (a/k/a the founder of this-here blog). The Den is the Lynda.com-style, all-you-can-eat learning and support platform for freelance writers looking to grow their income — fast.
Whether you’re a newbie or a mid-career, working freelance writer, the Den can connect you with other writers, get feedback on pitches, offers monthly live events, 24/7 forum help, and more. Notice an opening to join The Den? Seize the day. The doors to join are only open to the general public twice a year. It’s one of the few writer organizations where membership is month-to-month, no obligation, leave anytime — plus, there’s a 7 day tryout refund guarantee.
Founded in: 2011
Monthly membership: $25
Includes: Bootcamps, podcasts, and resources about the business and craft of freelance writing, pitch reviews by professional writers and editors, job board, coaching, and more
Is content marketing hot? Take a stroll across the Interwebs, and you’ll see every brand and business from small mom-and-pop shops to billion-dollar corporations tapping into content marketing to get more likes, shares, follows, subscribers, and customers in a variety of different ways. The secret: great content combined with smart marketing. If that’s your style of writing, check out what the MCMA has to offer.
“We’re devoted to helping our members achieve excellence and success in media and content marketing through education and networking opportunities,” says MCMA President Jeff Hartford.
Founded in: 1970
Annual membership: $75
Includes: Networking with content marketing professionals, continuing education, industry trend updates, discounts on industry events, and more
One of the most popular features for freelancers that the National Association of Independent Writers & Editors (NAIWE) offers is a plug-and-play website builder. But you’ll also find resources to help you develop your skills, along with proven systems you can adopt to earn more as a writer. Fun fact: Carol Tice is the 2019 resident content marketing expert for NAIWE (which she recommends as an affiliate partner).
Founded in: 2007
Annual membership: $99
Includes: Writer website builder, networking opportunities, training materials, webinars, and discounts on products and services
When romaine lettuce started making people sick because of e. coli contamination earlier this year, public health officials ordered the leafy-greens be pulled from the shelf. Thank a science writer for learning about it before you munched on this mistake. Or maybe you covered this for us.
What followed the initial outbreak was a long list of stories, graphics, videos, and tutorials designed to help people understand the risk factors of e. coli, how produce can get contaminated, and the science behind what happens if you are exposed to this bacteria. That’s just one example of the intersection of journalism and science writing the National Association of Science Writing is proud to be part of.
Founded in: 1934
Annual membership: $88
Includes: Access to a network of 2,300-plus science writers and editors, job leads, free access to scientific journals, monthly newsletter, and discounts on travel and training
What’s the difference between the National Writers Union and other writer organizations? It’s the only labor union that exists for freelance writers. And it’s primary objectives, make sure you get paid fair wages, navigate bad-client issues, provide contract advice to prevent you from getting burned, and protect your rights and your work.
Founded in: 1981
Annual membership: $12.50 to $400, based on annual income
Includes: Press pass, discounts on health and medical insurance, contract advice, free legal counsel for writing-related issues, webinars, workshops, and more
General interest magazines may be nearly dead and gone, but that hasn’t slowed the popularity of outdoor magazines, niche blogs, reality shows, and sales for outdoor gear and equipment companies. In fact, a recent U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis Report shows the outdoor industry generates an estimated $887 billion in spending annually.
And that means there’s ample opportunity to succeed writing about camping, backpacking, kayaking, hunting, mountain climbing, wilderness survival, and much more. Do you write about the outdoors? This is where you’ll find writers and editors in your niche, and connect with potential clients, and sharpen your skills as an outdoors writer.
Founded in: 1927
Annual membership: $150
Includes: Job leads, monthly newsletter and tips about outdoor writing and industry trends, grants for continuing education, client-dispute resolution services, annual conferences, and discounts on products and services
You write for a client that’s just received an infusion of investor funding, launched a new product, recruited a heavy hitter to take over as CEO, announced an acquisition, or achieved a milestone. How do you get the word out? A PR campaign with press releases, interviews, and digital marketing.
Every step of the way requires great writing. Or maybe you’re a journalist or freelance writer who knows the smell of a story from one whiff of a press release. If you’re on either side of the fence, the Public Relations Society of America may be your writer organization.
Founded in: 1947
Annual membership: $115 to $295, based on experience
Includes: Free training and webinars, discounts on conferences and events, monthly newsletter about issues and trends in PR, networking opportunities, discounts on insurance and other products and services
Ever wonder where you’ll find author, freelance writer, and writing coach C. Hope Clark? Two of her hangouts include Make a Living Writing (check out her recent advice about how to earn more), and the Small Publishers, Artists, and Writers Network. SPAWN was created to help authors with the process of writing, publishing, and marketing fiction and non-fiction books.
Founded in: 1996
Annual membership: $75
Includes: Book promotion services, The Chicago Manual of Style Online, monthly tips on book marketing and industry trends, expert interviews, and more
Blame it on Ernest Hemingway. He’s one of the most recognized travel writers in American history, and wrote extensively about life outside the U.S. from one romantic adventure to the next. His personal solution to writer’s block: “I would stand and look out over the roofs of Paris and think, ‘Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence…”
Travel for recreation has certainly changed dramatically since Hemingway’s most prolific years. But travel writing is still a thriving niche for freelancers with opportunities to write for consumer magazines, in-flight magazines, travel agencies, resorts, and more.
Founded in: 1955
Annual membership: $125 + application fee
Includes: Networking opportunities with travel writers and marketing professionals, training and development, monthly newsletter about travel writing and industry trends, discounts on insurance, products, and services
Where would we be without a free press and journalists willing to track down sources, dig up information, and write about the issues, trends, and people that impact daily life? Think about that for a minute. If you’re a freelance journalist, SPJ has your back. It’s one of the oldest writer organizations in the United States, and was created to help protect First Amendment rights, the free press, and foster ethics and excellence in journalism.
Founded in: 1909
Annual membership: $75
Includes: Professional development, networking opportunities, job board, awards program, legal counsel, Quill magazine with news, information, and trends about the journalism industry
It might be hard for you to imagine a time when business news didn’t dominate the headlines. But when the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing was founded, Inc. magazine didn’t exist. And it would be 20 years before every major metropolitan city would have its own business journal. It’s founding mission: promote superior coverage of business and economic events and issues. And that’s still the focus of the organization 55 years later.
Founded in: 1964
Annual membership: $60 to $75
Includes: Networking opportunities, professional development, updates on industry news and trends, awards program, annual events
Tap into the benefits of writer organizations
The next time you’re feeling like you’re working on a deserted island that happens to have a wifi connection, tap into your writer organization to check in with other freelancers, stay motivated, and level up your marketing efforts to find your next great-paying client.
What’s your experience with writing organizations? Let’s discuss in the comments below.
Evan Jensen is the blog editor for Make a Living Writing. When he’s not on a writing deadline or catching up on emails, he’s training to run another 100-mile ultra-marathon.