5 Reasons Why Freelancers Should Enter the Azbee Awards

As a freelancer, submitting your work to professional journalism awards can feel daunting, especially when you don’t have a staff editor encouraging you or footing the fee. But entering your freelance work in ASBPE’s annual Azbee Awards of Excellence can bring huge benefits to your career, by:

1.  Validating your capabilities.

As a freelancer, you don’t have a managing editor critiquing your work regularly. Without direct feedback, how do you know if your work meets the highest quality standards? Through the validation of your industry peers, that’s how.

Regional or national recognition of your writing or design capabilities can be a huge boost of confidence as a freelancer, knowing that your work gains the approval of the best and brightest publishing professionals who judge the Azbee Awards. Their nod of acknowledgement gives you the personal gratification of knowing that you’re not just churning out content — you’re producing top-quality, award-winning work worthy of national recognition.

2.  Establishing credibility.

Besides the personal conviction of knowing your work is outstanding, the Azbee Awards also prove to the rest of the B2B publishing industry that your skills meet ASBPE’s standards of excellence. An Azbee is like a badge of honor that gives you credibility throughout the business publishing world. To quote one of my favorite Christmas movies, “It’s a major award!”

For freelancers striving to establish themselves and be taken seriously, an Azbee Award can instantly validate your credentials. The name recognition of having your byline or design credit displayed on the ASBPE website or — better yet, on the big screen at the winners’ showcase — essentially advertises your work to the B2B publishing echelon.

3.  Attracting new clients.

An esteemed publishing award can be a magnet to draw new business to you — whether editors and art directors come to you seeking the best talent to bolster their publication, or whether you use your award as a foot in the door when pitching new clients. Introducing yourself as an “award-winning journalist” or “nationally-recognized designer” rather than just a “freelancer for hire” carries a certain expectation of excellence.

I’ve had new clients approach me with freelance assignments as a direct result of my Azbee wins. Just last year, after sharing news of my award on LinkedIn, an editor messaged me with a potential project. She later told me that her boss saw her reaction to my post and said, “You know an award-winning writer? Could you get her to write for us?” Voila!

4.  Expanding your network.

Whether you win or not, entering the Azbee Awards is an excellent opportunity to network with other reporters, designers, editors, and folks in the publishing industry who are pursuing the same level of excellence as you — especially if you attend the regional and national Azbee Awards of Excellence banquets. Some of the pros you meet could be potential clients down the road, while others might be fellow freelancers or like-minded media mavens you can connect with, learn from, and collaborate with in your mutual quest for excellence.

5.  Strengthening client bonds.

Typically, staff writers depend on their publications to select notable work, complete the entry details, and front the fees. Most business publications have funds set aside specifically for awards. But freelancers can’t necessarily rely on editors (or their corporate budgets) when it comes to entering awards on their behalf — and that’s because many freelancers never even ask.

I see the Azbee Awards as an opportunity to end each year on a strong note with my clients — an opportunity to bring attention to both of us through a mutually beneficial award recognizing their publication. Don’t be afraid to approach your clients about submitting a successful project, but be willing to meet them in the middle.

I start by asking my editors if they plan on entering any of my stories along with their other entries. I suggest my favorite pieces from the year, but ask the editors’ input, too, since they’re technically the original judge. Then, I ask how we can work together to highlight our project — whether they have funds set aside to cover part or all of the fee, and whether they’d like me to handle the submission to save them the administrative work.

Even as a freelancer, anytime you win an award, you don’t really win alone. Sharing the victory with the rest of the team is part of the thrill of winning.

Become an ASBPE Member and Save! Quit procrastinating, freelancers. Since ASBPE’s annual freelance membership fee is only $50, your Azbee member discount pays for your membership  if you submit at least two entries. Plus, your membership unlocks access to webinars, networking events, and other resources geared specifically toward freelancers. What are you waiting for? Join ASBPE, then enter the Azbee Awards.

Plus, Judge the Azbees: ASBPE’s Awards Committee recruits judges each year for the Azbee Awards. Want to grab a sneak peak of other publications’ best work while you help us rate the best of B2B media? Judging can be a great opportunity to see first-hand what award-winning editorial and design look like. Learn more and sign up to judge the Azbees. Judging takes place online throughout January and February 2024. Volunteer judges earn $75 in Azbee Bucks that you can put toward your membership dues, event registration, and future Azbee submissions.

Brooke Bilyj

Brooke Bilyj is a national award-winning journalist, published author and PR/marketing consultant. Since founding her Cleveland-based content marketing firm, Bantamedia, in 2013, she has worked with marketing agencies, trade publications and brands to provide content, PR, SEO and digital marketing for industries ranging from healthcare to horticulture. Her work has been published in more than 50 publications and nearly 60 client websites, earning 30 journalism awards.

Bilyj currently serves as vice president of the ASBPE National Board of Directors.

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