Professional writers’ organizations range from local writing groups to national and international organizations. Some have open membership, while others require members to have a significant published track record. There are general organizations for journalists or novelists and specific organizations for science writers, outdoor writers, travel writers, and just about any other writing niche you can think of.
But membership can be expensive-is it really worth it? Absolutely. Professional writers’ organizations can help you improve your skills and advance your career in a variety of ways. Here are a just a few of the many good reasons to join one or more organizations:
1. Meet other writers. Networking is important for any professional, but especially vital to freelancers. Good relationships with other writers can get you market tips, referrals, subcontracting jobs, story ideas and even help with questions about taxes and other business issues.
2. Continuing education. National writers’ organizations often hold annual meetings. In addition to the chance to meet editors and network with other writers, these meetings offer seminars and short courses that can help you improve your craft and marketing skills.
3. Legal support and advice. Some writers’ organizations, like the National Writers Union , offer contract advice and can help you collect from delinquent clients.
4. Job postings. Writers’ organizations often offer members-only job postings. These jobs are often screened for quality and not widely posted.
5. Show your credentials. Joining a professional organization shows potential clients you're serious about your work. Many require you to present a certain number of clips from certain types of markets to maintain membership, and membership in these organizations also reassures your clients that you have a track record.
Melissa Barton is a freelance writer and editor, specializing in science and travel writing. Her credits include Geotimes, Transitions Abroad, Student Health 101, and other publications. Visit her online at Rosetta Stones Freelancing http://www.rosettastones.net