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Virtual Conferences: 18 Top Training Events for Writers in 2021


Looking for new opportunities for networking and professional development this year? Need to sharpen your skills and make new connections in the world of freelancing? Thanks to COVID restrictions, there’s more virtual conferences than ever before. 

While many in-person writing events were canceled last year, numerous organizations have come up with ways to safely bring them back for 2021-either with virtual conferences or in-person events with social distancing protocols in place.

As a freelancer, you might be wondering what you’ll get from attending virtual conferences or in-person events.

Here’s a snapshot, you’ll…

  • Network with editors, agents, and fellow writers
  • Develop your writing and marketing through workshops, trainings, and panel discussions
  • Get expert advice on the business of freelance writing

In the past, writers with limited travel budgets had to stick to conferences close to home. This year, there’s no shortage of virtual conferences, making it easier than ever to find the right event for you-no matter what corner of the world you’re in.

Want to grow your network and boost your freelance writing career? Take a look at this list of 18 socially-distanced in-person events and virtual conferences for writers in 2021:

1. AMWA 2021 Medical Writing & Communication Conference

The AMWA (American Medical Writers Association) Conference promotes opportunities for professional development, continuous learning, and networking for writers in the medical niche.

The 2021 conference will feature a variety of professional focus areas, including:

  • Freelancing
  • Grantsmanship
  • Writing for scientific publications
  • The mechanics of writing and editing
  • Enhancing core knowledge and skills

The AMWA conference is currently scheduled to be held in Chicago, IL, but organizers noted that the event might be moved to an online format due to Covid-19.

Date: Oct. 27-30, 2021

Location: Chicago, IL (tentative)

Registration: See website

Contact: Email conference@amwa.org

2. A Rally of Writers

Entering its 33rd year, the Rally of Writers Conference is the largest, longest-running writing conference in the state of Michigan.

During this one-day event, friendly, knowledgeable published authors will lead breakout sessions for writers of all ages. Various workshops and discussions will also be offered with the goal of providing resources, guidance, and inspiration.

Organizers hope to be able to hold this year’s conference in-person in Lansing, Mich., updates will be posted to the Rally of Writers website.

Date: April 17, 2021

Location: Lansing, MI (tentative)

Registration: See website

Contact: Email info@arallyofwriters.com

3. ASJA Writers Conference

The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) is a professional organization for freelance journalists and nonfiction writers.

The annual ASJA Writers Conference provides a unique format featuring “speed dating” type sessions that allow freelancers to pitch ideas to editors and agents.

This year’s conference will feature three different tracks, the:

  • Journalism Track
  • Book Track
  • Content Marketing Track

You can pay one price to access all three, or sign up for just one or two individual tracks.

Date: April 13-29, 2021

Location: Virtual

Registration: $215 for members, $315 for non-members. Single-session and single-track registration options are also available. See website for details.

Contact: Email asjaoffice@asja.org or call (212) 997-0947

4. Association of Health Care Journalists Conference

Healthcare writers, this conference is for you. Held by the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ), this annual event features speakers, panels, workshops, networking opportunities, and even field trips!

Organizers are tentatively planning to hold this year’s conference in person in Austin, Texas.

AHCJ has a robust community of freelancers-they’ve even established a freelance center to offer extra support to independent health writers-so you can expect plenty of relevant resources and information.

Date: June 24-27, 2021

Location: Austin, TX (tentative)

Registration: See website

Contact: Email info@healthjournalism.org or call (573) 884-5606

5. Atlanta Writers Conference

The Atlanta Writers Conference is always a popular event, and this year, it’s being offered in a virtual format.

Featuring New York Times best-selling author Lisa Gardner, this event is geared toward writers hoping to publish a book.

You’ll connect directly to agents and editors in an online workshop format. You’ll also be able to:

  • Gauge whether or not there’s interest in your project among the marketplace
  • Learn more about the publishing industry
  • Get expert advice on how to improve your manuscript and query letters.

An a la carte pricing model is available so that freelancers can register for the specific activities they’re interested in, or take advantage of an all-activities discount package. 

Date: May 7-9, 2021

Location: Virtual

Registration: See website

Contact: Email awconference@gmail.com

6. BIO Conference

Interested in writing biographies? Consider checking out the BIO conference.

Held annually by the Biographers International Organization, the event will be completely virtual this year, allowing more writers than even to participate.

Experts in the craft of biography writing will provide valuable mentorship, guidance, and advice spanning a variety of topics, including writing, researching, and selling biographies.

The conference will also provide opportunities for some of the genre’s most renowned writers to share their stories, and the event will feature the presentation of the Plutarch Award for the year’s best biography.

Date: May 14-16, 2021

Location: Virtual

Registration: See website

Contact: Tweet @biographersintl or use the website contact form

7. Blue Ridge Writers’ Conference

The Blue Ridge Writers’ Conference is held to educate and inspire writers of all levels of expertise.

You’ll be able to receive feedback from editors and agents on a variety of topics, such as how to successfully sell a magazine article, market your writing, or write your first book.

This year’s conference will feature a keynote speech from Melissa Fay Greene, an award-winning author of six nonfiction books.

You’ll also have opportunities to participate in numerous workshops, network with other writers, and submit your work for a professional critique by one of the knowledgeable conference speakers. 

Date: April 9-10, 2021

Location: Blue Ridge, GA

Registration: $60 for early registration; $75 for registration after March 2

Contact: Email blueridgearts@gmail.com or call (706) 632-2144

8. Cape Cod Writers Center Conference

The Cape Cod Writers Center Conference aims to offer career-enhancing information for writers of all kinds.

The event will feature agent panels and craft sessions on topics such as nonfiction, fiction, and publicity and promotion.

The list of presenters includes expert editors, author-instructors, and agents. Keynote speaker Julia Glass, National Book Award winner, is also scheduled to appear.

Date: Aug. 5-8, 2021

Location: Hyannis, MA

Registration: See website

Contact: Email writers@capecodwriterscenter.org or call (508) 420-0200

9. Content Marketing World Conference and Expo

Learn how to create highly-effective marketing content and network with some of the industry’s best at the Content Marketing World Conference.

A four-day event featuring some of the foremost leaders in the field, over 100 different sessions and workshops will be led by brand marketing experts from throughout the globe.

This year’s list of speakers is still being finalized, but past presenters have included bestselling authors and high-level marketing executives from companies like Adobe and Orbit Media.

Date: Sept. 28-Oct. 1, 2021

Location: Cleveland, OH

Registration: $699-$2,399 for regular rates; early-bird discounts are available for registrations prior to June 26.

Contact: Tweet @CMIContent

10. Creative Nonfiction Collective Conference

Usually held in Canada, the Creative Nonfiction Collective Conference (CNFC) is moving to an online format this year.

While organizers are still fine-tuning the details of this year’s event, CNFC’s conferences are geared toward enhancing writers’ understanding of, and appreciation for, the genre of creative nonfiction.

CNFC members will have access to free bonus monthly webinar content, featuring workshops from published authors throughout the year.

Date: May 2021 (exact dates TBD)

Location: Virtual

Registration: See website

Contact: Tweet @CreativeNFCollective or use the website contact form

11. Kachemak Bay Writers Conference

The Kachemak Bay Writers Conference features four full days of:

  • Classes
  • Workshops
  • Discussions
  • Panels
  • Readings
  • Networking

While the conference is normally held in person in Alaska, this year’s event will be converted into a fully-online format. A limited number of manuscript reviews will also be available for an additional $50. 

Date: May 15-18, 2021

Location: Virtual

Registration: $80-$150

Contact: Email KachemakBayWritersConf@alaska.edu or call (907) 235-7743

12. MarketingProfs B2B Forum

The MarketingProfs B2B conference will feature two sessions this year.

One in the spring and one in the fall. Each packed with two full days of inspiring presentations by keynote speakers and sessions on the topics most relevant to B2B content creators.

In addition, all attendees will receive a year of PRO membership, which provides VIP access to a webinar series, master classes, a marketing writing boot camp, a storytelling summit, and an exclusive Facebook community.

Date: April 7-8, 2021; Oct. 13-14, 2021

Location: Virtual

Registration: $595 for non-members (price includes one year of PRO membership); free for PRO members.

Contact: Email events@marketingprofs.com or call (866) 557-9625

13. MozCon Virtual Conference

Learn cutting-edge information on key topics and trends in SEO and digital marketing at the MozCon virtual conference.

Content marketers will have opportunities to learn strategies for getting articles and blog posts to rank higher in search engines.

Leading experts will also present their best tips for navigating through the complexities of marketing in the digital era.

Date: July 12-14, 2021

Location: Virtual

Registration: $149

Contact: Tweet @Moz

14. Nonfiction Writers Conference

The Nonfiction Writers Conference (NFWC) is geared toward writers interested in publishing nonfiction books.

You’ll learn techniques to successfully:

  • Market your book
  • Develop a plan for achieving your publishing goals
  • Gain knowledge about how to establish yourself as an authoritative voice in the field

The three-day event will feature keynote speakers, Q&A sessions with industry experts, and an array of informative presentations.

Date: May 5-7, 2021

Location: Virtual

Registration: $125-$690 

Contact: Email service@nonfictionwritersconference.com or call (877) 800-1097

15. Northern Colorado Writers Conference

The Northern Colorado Writers (NCW) conference aims to provide support for writers within a variety of genres, including nonfiction, fiction, and screenwriting.

The event will feature more than 40 Zoom sessions with interaction and networking facilitated through Whova. Pitch opportunities will also be available.

NCW members can sign up for in-person workshops for $100, but space for these events will be limited to maintain social distancing protocols.

Date: April 24-May 1, 2021

Location: Virtual/Hybrid

Registration: $200-$225 for an all-access pass.

Contact: Call (720) 552-0054.

16. STC Technical Communication Summit

The Society for Technical Communication (STC) Summit is geared toward technical writers and other technical communication professionals.

The annual event provides education and networking opportunities, and it also features vendor showcases, keynote speakers, and social events.

Conference sessions will cover topics such as:

  • Writing a proposal
  • Avoiding the pitfalls of self-employment
  • Becoming a successful freelance technical editor
  • Developing an effective content strategy

Date: June 5-9, 2021

Location: Virtual

Registration: $950 for early registrations (non-member rate); see website for additional rates and available discounts.

Contact: Email stc@stc.org or use the “Contact Us” form on the website

17. SXSW Conference

While SXSW is not a writing conference in the traditional sense, it could offer valuable opportunities for networking if you’re a writer within the digital technology space or if you write about music, film, or culture.

The SXSW conference is one of the largest annual conferences in the nation and attracts worldwide media coverage. Though it’s traditionally held in Austin, Texas, the event will be moving to an online format this year.

Details for this year’s conference are still being finalized, but SXSW promises to feature a slew of inspirational panels and presentations showcasing renowned global thought leaders.

Attendees will be able to participate in different programming tracks based on individual interests.

Date: March 16-20, 2021

Location: Virtual

Registration: $249

Contact: Tweet @SXSW or call (512) 467-7979

18. WriterCon

The details for this year’s annual WriterCon conference are still in the works, but the event annually brings together veteran and novice professional writers, editors, and agents for a three-day event.

WriterCon is one of the top conferences for writers in the Midwest and is geared toward propelling writers’ careers.

You’ll learn how to:

  • Get your work published
  • Form new connections
  • Benefit from one-on-one training sessions with experienced professionals

Date: Sept. 3-6, 2021

Location: Oklahoma City

Registration: $299.99 (early-bird rate)

Contact: Email renegutt@flash.net or use the chat feature on the WriteCon website

Sharpen your freelance writing skills at virtual conferences

Want to sharpen your freelance writing skills and grow your network? There’s a lot of virtual conferences for writers this year to do just that. You can pick from a wide variety of offerings based on your interests, niche, or budget. Keep in mind, COVID-19 is still unpredictable, so if you’re planning to attend an in-person conference, be sure to check the event website periodically so you can find out about any potential changes or updates.

Do you attend virtual conferences or in-person events? Share in the comments.

Christin Nielsen is a freelance writer based in Virginia. She specializes in writing for digital and print publications as well as nonprofit organizations.

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