I’m pretty excited. I recently was accepted into the American Society of Journalists & Authors — a process that involved a review of my portfolio and credentials — and just registered for its annual conference that’s held in New York City at the end of April. It’s always a good idea to meet your colleagues, shmooze with editors and maybe exchange a business card or 10, right? Even a writer-hermit like me can see the value in it.
But I didn’t realize how much two days among some of the leaders in this biz might teach me about aspects of it I’ve barely grazed. It’s going to be mighty difficult to pick which seminars to attend — including those on marketing, technology, craft and blogging — from among the dozens offered.
During one time slot, I can choose “Tweet, Blog, Like and Link! Using Social Media to Build Your Platform” or “What Else Can I Write? Adding Income Streams to Your Portfolio.” During another, I have to decide if I’d rather learn about “Negotiating a Book Deal” (hmm. . . maybe someday) or “Producing a Podcast” (which has never crossed my mind).
In the health field, it’s called “continuing medical education.” In education, it’s known as “professional development.” But no matter what you call it, time spent adding to your knowledge base can never be a waste. Here’s why freelancers should never stop learning:
* Ka-ching, ka-ching: Obviously, the more you know, the more you can convert your knowledge into money. If I learn to podcast, for example, I will add another income stream to my business. This could help protect me from losing income during down times.
* Name recognition: All of that platform-building I’ll be learning about at the conference can only enhance my ability to get my name out there — which is half the battle to getting clients, I think. We don’t need to become famous, but I’m always gratified when a new editor I’ve contacted tells me she’s already seen my work. Names matter.
* It’s fun: Really, when you’re in a field you love, how can learning more about it be boring? It’s a kick to find out even better ways to do what you’re already good at, and it fans the desire to take your business up a notch.
I’m sure there are many more reasons I don’t touch on, but I’ll bet you’re already thinking of your own. How do you keep your “student status” active while running your freelance biz?