Last weekend I went to the American Society of Journalists and Authors annual conference in New York. The organization is especially for independent journalists and nonfiction authors, and I know at least two other SPJ freelancers were there, too. I wrote a little about the conference on my personal blog, and I wanted to share it with you. Hope it’s helpful.
By Amy Green
My dad asked how the mood was.
“Is it real poopy?” he asked.
Instead, I found the mood at this year’s American Society of Journalists and Authors conference in New York to be masochistically upbeat. The unavoidable recognition that it is getting harder to make a living as a writer was there. But the underlying message was positive: That while the challenges we face are difficult there is opportunity, because all the old rules no longer apply.
Today start-up bloggers are competing directly with major magazines for advertising dollars. The trick is to understand the new technology, to understand the ways in which our industry is changing and to think creatively and innovatively about how to incorporate these changes into a business that works. America’s old journalistic framework of magazines and newspapers is collapsing, but rather than worry about what we can’t control we need to arm ourselves with some personal entrepreneurship skills and embrace this time as one ripe for new ideas.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself as I watch my workload dwindle.
As journalists we managed to find some dark humor in our plight. Keynote speaker Molly O’Neill joked about whether the conference after hours might become one about sadomasochism.
“I’ll play the writer,” she said, “and you play the publisher.”
It is getting harder. No longer can we learn from the paths of our more experienced peers because their choices and opportunities no longer are relevant. They no longer exist. We really need to learn to cut our own paths and to do so bravely. From this perspective it is an ideal time to be a freelancer. Our entrepreneurship gives us a strength and drive that are our own, putting us ahead of those who are only beginning to learn how to sell themselves on an ongoing basis.
If you are a hold-out, as I was, it is time to embrace new technology. Twitter. Facebook. Try to understand the networking and marketing benefits of these. You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/amybgreen.
Try not to get discouraged. In our business we need to be such little fighters for ourselves. Remember no one else will do it for you. Keep pitching. Review old stories you’ve already written for new ideas and new ways to sell the story again. If a pub wants to place your story online ask the pub to take it down or pay you an additional fee.
I’ve been trying to get real quiet and listen to myself. What do I really want to do? What is the best way to move forward? These answers lie within each of us and no where else.
Amy Green is chairwoman of SPJ’s freelance committee. Her work has appeared in PEOPLE, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor and many others. She is based in Orlando, Fla. Visit her Web site at amybgreen.com.