Dear Freelance Dude,
Do you need to have a degree in journalism to get your foot in the door? I’m doing a degree in engineering, and I can’t change to journalism, but I have a blog and enjoy writing about tech and video games. Do you think that good examples of previous writing will be enough to be considered? Also how would I get started?
Sneaky, sneaky! That’s three questions in one, but I’ll bite. To be blunt, having a journalism degree doesn’t matter much in the gaming industry. Lots of successful freelancers and writers covering games don’t have a journalism degree – or any writing-related degree at all, for that matter. That hasn’t stopped them. Learning the ropes of good writing practices, journalistic integrity, and proper reporting is certainly helpful. It’s a great skill set to have, but a fancy piece of paper saying you’ve spent the obligatory absurd sum of money to plow through college isn’t as necessary these days, particularly in this industry.
Do you need to be able to write well and have a firm grasp of the core fundamentals of proper grammar and punctuation? Absolutely. Editors are far more interested in your writing ability than your schooling or lack thereof. If you can craft great pitch ideas tailored to the publications you’re seeking to break into, and then follow-through with tightly written articles that deliver on what you promised, then you’ve got a great shot at getting an editor’s attention.
Writing clips are important. Having published samples of your work to give editors when they ask is often a key step in the pitching process. Higher profile clips from more established publications may carry a heftier weight, but writing samples you’ve posted to your own website or blog can suffice if they’re error-free and representative of quality work. That means purge them of any spelling issues or grammar snafus, and make sure you’re putting your best work forward.
Pitching is the best way to get started too, by the way. Start pitching editors with ideas for features to get your foot in the door. Finagle that, and it’s a lot easier to book other kinds of assignments.
The Freelance Dude
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