Dear Freelance Dude,
My question is short and simple: what are reasonable rates for freelance writing for games? Personally, I would be just starting out, but I’d also like to know how rates change as you gain experience. I’ve tried looking up average pay for freelance writers, but haven’t found any clear answers.
Good question. “Reasonable” is a slippery little term, since one person’s idea of what that means can be completely different from another’s. The good news is the game journalism world keeps it pretty simple and takes a bit of the guesswork out of the equation. Most freelance pay rates in this industry are dictated by what an outlet is willing to offer rather than by the writers themselves, and there’s not always a lot of room for negotiation. If you’re just starting out, you’re more likely to be stuck taking whatever you can get. Once you’ve established yourself, it’s easier to score gigs with better pay rates, and you can be a little more selective about what work you take on.
Bigger publications tend to pay better, with writing for print magazines being the most lucrative format. Print rates for established gaming magazines tend to hover around $1 a word on average. In comparison, good rates for similar work online can range from 20 cents to 30+ cents a word. It’s more common to work for a flat-rate fee for a piece rather than a per-word rate, but mentally breaking assignments down into per-word rates makes it easier to calculate what you’re getting for different kinds of pieces from one outlet to the next.
It’s ultimately up to each freelancer to decide what they’re willing to work for. The rates I just mentioned are pretty average across the more established gaming publications. Some pay more or less. It’s possible to break into outlets that pay this range early on in your freelancing career, if you’ve got the writing chops and pitching skills to wow the right editors, but a lot of folks starting out in this business work for lower rates until they build the clips and experience needed to propel them higher up the ladder. Good luck and happy hunting!
The Freelance Dude
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