Fall Membership Drive

For more than 70 years, ASJA has supported freelance writers across the country through seminars, workshops, professional development activities, our annual conference and Client Connections events.

If you’re just get started as a freelance writer or are trying to grow your business, consider joining ASJA. Our Fall Membership Drive runs until Dec. 9. Use code MI-NewMem to get $50 off the initiation fee when you’re accepted for membership and join by Dec. 9.

Want to learn more about the benefits of ASJA membership and how to grow your freelance career? Check out our Q&A series below with ASJA professional and associate members.


How I Became a Freelance Writer: Q&A with ASJA Member Ilima Loomis

Ilima Loomis covers health care, HR and the sunny paradise she’s lucky to call home — Hawaii. Ilima works with hospitals, healthcare companies, professional employer organizations (PEOs), hospitality companies and all kinds of local businesses. She also occasionally writes magazine articles for some of her favorite editors. 

In this Q&A, Ilima shares how she pivoted from journalism to content marketing, why freelancing has been so empowering for her personally and professionally and why she decided to join ASJA.

When did you become a freelance writer? Why was it the right path for you?

I spent more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, then three years as a magazine editor. Through it all, I would freelance on the side for fun, experience and extra money. I always wanted to freelance full-time because I wanted the flexibility but never had the confidence to take the plunge. I knew my magazine job wouldn't last forever, so I started making plans to transition. I ended up getting laid off earlier than expected. It was the push I needed. I went straight into freelancing.

What does a typical workday look like for you as a freelancer? 

I'm a single parent, so my day revolves around the hours my daughter is in school. I try to protect my work time from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., so I don't meet friends for coffee or schedule appointments during that time. If I have writing or creative work, I try to do that before lunch when I'm fresh. If I have phone calls, I try to do them in the afternoon, although that doesn't always work due to my time zone. I always plan my schedule for the next day before I go to bed, and I check my calendar and to-do list first thing in the morning before I wake up my daughter.

What’s the best thing about being a freelancer?

I love being the master of my time. I get to decide what hours are most convenient for me and my family, and I make it happen. I've been fortunate to have wonderful clients, but on the rare occasion where they haven't been wonderful, I've let people go because they didn't value me or treat me well. On a personal note, I can say that freelancing has been incredibly empowering for me as a woman. Of course, it's also nice that I make more money, have more job security and work fewer hours than I did when I worked for an employer. 

What’s the hardest thing about being a freelancer? 

Walking away from journalism was the hardest thing about being a freelancer for me. I made it work for several years, but in the end, I decided that financial security and freedom had to be the priority for my family. Fortunately, I still enjoy the work I do and I'm at peace with my decision.

Why did you decide to join ASJA, and how has it helped your freelance career?

My friend recommended ASJA to me. I'm pretty isolated living on an island in the middle of the Pacific, so I value being connected to an extended network of other writers.

What’s some advice you’d give to new or aspiring freelance writers about how to grow their business? 

One mistake I've seen new freelancers make is staying too long with low-paying clients. They think they need to spend years paying their dues, but that's not true. Sometimes these clients can be a good foot in the door, but that's it. Get in, get your clips, and get out. Think of yourself as climbing a ladder and don't get stuck on the bottom rungs. You should be constantly looking for the next opportunity to move up. Most writers can move up much more quickly than they believe.

What about long-time freelancers? What advice would you give them? 

Play the long game. It can take a long time to start seeing results when you make a change or try something new. After I started marketing myself as a content marketing writer, it took six months before I started getting new clients, and a year before I felt I was getting momentum. Eighteen months after making the change, though, I was earning more than twice as much money as I had the previous year. It was worth it. Don't give up. Think of yourself as driving a battleship, not a motorboat.

Any other words of freelance wisdom?

Freelancing was a great fit for me, but it's not for everybody. If you give it a shot and you don't love it or feel it's making your life better in some way, it's ok to admit it's not right for you.

Have questions about ASJA membership? Contact recruiting chair Satta Sarmah Hightower at satta@sattasarmah.com or visit these pages to learn more about our Professional Membership and our Associate Membership. 

If you’re ready to grow your freelance career, start your application today.


How I Became a Freelance Writer: Q&A with ASJA Member Poornima Apte

Poornima Apte has been freelancing for the better part of 15 years, going full-time in 2015. The Boston-based engineer-turned-freelance writer covers AI, robotics and smart technology and has worked with a roster of name-brand clients, including Samsung, Adobe, Autodesk and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. 

In this interview, she shares the thing she loves most about being a freelancer, how ASJA has helped her career and what she does nearly every morning before starting her workday.

When did you become a freelance writer? Why was it the right path for you?

I was a part-time freelancer for a long time (15 years?) doing mostly book review editing and reviewing literary fiction. I switched to full-time freelancing in January 2015. I am trained as an engineer, but I had moved far away from anything engineering by the time 2015 rolled around. I had done a lot of technical writing but I knew I didn't want that. 

I wanted to write about technology and wanted to explore that. The trade magazines I was editing were being sold. My kids were ready to leave home and I felt like it was a good time to take the leap. I continued to do the freelance book review editing and maintained ties with the trade magazines I edited, so I started out slowly. I was looking for ways to leverage my engineering degree.

What does a typical workday look like for you as a freelancer?

Most days, I go to the gym at 6:00 a.m. After coffee and breakfast, I start work at 8:00 a.m. I’m done by 5:00 p.m. 

My day usually includes writing mixed in with a few phone calls. I try to keep a couple of days for only writing, as I find that to be more efficient and it gets me in the "zone" faster. I don't work beyond 5:00 p.m. and don't work weekends either.

What's the best thing about freelancing?

My eggs are not all in one basket, so the income is spread among many clients. Even if one were to leave, my income wouldn’t drop to zero. 

What's the hardest thing about freelancing?

Not knowing if/when edits are coming back. I usually pack my days too tight and then if an editor requests edits, I’m unsure of where to fit it in. I need to get better about that.

Why did you decide to join ASJA, and how has it helped your freelance career?

The honest answer: Fellow freelancer and friend Lisa Rabasca Roepe kept insisting I would love ASJA. She and I have been accountability buddies for a while and she knew my work and clips and encouraged me to apply. ASJA has increased my visibility among colleagues. I have received work referrals from ASJA colleagues. Melanie Padgett Powers and Satta Sarmah Hightower come readily to mind who are now also friends. It's the camaraderie that I love the most. Writing can be a lonely sport and ASJA makes it less so.

What's some advice you'd give new or aspiring freelance writers about how to grow their business?

1. Don't just sit back and assume work is going to come to you. People kept telling me things would "snowball" but it took some time to get there. Even today, I don't assume work is ever a given. 

2. Don't make every relationship with a colleague a transactional one. Build genuine relationships and focus on that first. The work follows. 

3. Hit your deadlines every single time. Be easy to work with. Don't balk at edits. Soon, you'll be your editor's pet and get more work.

What about long-time freelancers? What advice would you give them? 

Spread the love. If you can't take on an assignment, remember a colleague. Build up plenty of good karma. Attend the annual ASJA conference. It buoys my spirits every year. I am an introvert but I love meeting my colleagues — and fellow introverts. 

Have questions about ASJA membership? Contact recruiting chair Satta Sarmah Hightower at satta@sattasarmah.com or visit these pages to learn more about our Professional Membership and our Associate Membership. 

If you’re ready to grow your freelance career, start your application today.

  • A blank piece of paper is God's way of telling us how hard it is to be God.
    – Sidney Sheldon
  • A critic is a man who knows the way but can't drive the car.
    – Kenneth Tynan
  • A good many young writers make the mistake of enclosing a stamped, self–addressed envelope, big enough for the manuscript to come back in. This is too much of a temptation to the editor.
    – Ring Lardner
  • A young musician plays scales in his room and only bores his family. A beginning writer, on the other hand, sometimes has the misfortune of getting into print.
    – Marguerite Yourcenar
  • All the words I use in my stories can be found in the dictionary – it's just a matter of arranging them into the right sentences.
    – Somerset Maugham
  • Asking a working writer what he thinks about critics is like asking a lamppost how it feels about dogs.
    – Christopher Hampton
  • Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.
    – Lawrence Kasdan
  • Copy from one, it's plagiarism; copy from two, it's research.
    –Wilson Mizner
  • Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them.
    – Flannery O'Connor
  • I just wrote a book, but don't go out and buy it yet, because I don't think it's finished yet.
    – Lawrence Welk
  • I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.
    – Douglas Adams
  • I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.
    – Stephen Wright
  • It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.
    – Robert Benchley
  • It's a damn poor mind that can only think of one way to spell a word.
    – Andrew Jackson
  • Most writers can write books faster than publishers can write checks.
    – Richard Curtis
  • No fathers or mothers think their own children ugly; and this self–deceit is yet stronger with respect to the offspring of the mind.
    – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
  • There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.
    –Somerset Maugham
  • Writing a novel is like paddling from Boston to London in a bathtub. Sometimes the damn tub sinks. It's a wonder that most of them don't.
    – Stephen King
  • Writing a novel is like spelunking. You kind of create the right path for yourself. But, boy, are there so many points at which you think, absolutely, I'm going down the wrong hole here.
    – Chang–rae Lee
  • Your manuscript is both good and original, but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.
    –Samuel Johnson