Ask The Freelance Dude #8 – Transitioning From Volunteer To Paying Gigs


Dear Freelance Dude,

So I’ve been writing for an average sized gaming site for a few months now (we get around 10-20k hits a day now that the holiday season is over), and now I feel like I need to seek bigger and better opportunities, mainly because writing for this site doesn’t pay anything. I mean, sure, it gets me free games, and that is nice; but I want to pay bills with my writing.

Everywhere I look, all I ever seem to find are freelance jobs that want to pay as little as $2 per article or are simply volunteer jobs. I own every current gen system, aside from the 3DS, and will be getting a Vita on day one. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.



Dear GamerDadtheGreatPlus8

It sounds like you’ve got a solid start and some published writing clips under your belt, which is one of the few good reasons to do a little freebie writing when you’re just getting started out. But like any situation where you’re providing a whole lot of something for a whole lot of nothing in exchange, writing for volunteer sites can turn into a real soul-sapping grind.

When you’re eager to make the transition to paying work, finding paying opportunities is tough. There’s an abundance of slick-looking gaming sites out there that either pay zilch ($2 an article is atrocious), and you’re not going to find many good-paying outlets by searching for freelance gigs through traditional means. Even Googling “we’re hiring” in combination with a bevy of game journalism-related terms won’t get you far, since many sites disingenuously say they’re “hiring” when they really are just looking for volunteers.

So where are all the paying gigs? A few publications, like The Escapist, have a “write for us” page where they spell out their payment and submission details. The vast majority, however, don’t publish submission info. You have to be a detective. Get familiar with the freelance game journo world, and look for sites that well-known writers in the industry contribute to. That’s usually a good sign they pay. Then conduct a little research to figure out the appropriate editor to contact, find out how to contact them, and hit them a well-written pitch for an article idea.

Don’t write editors and simply ask for review and preview work. There are plenty of other established writers they can rely on already for that. Instead, get their attention with a good feature pitch, prove you can deliver on it, and then keep the ideas coming. That’s the best way to quickly establish a foothold with new outlets and become a regular freelance contributor.

I wouldn’t aim for the biggest sites yet until you’ve made some inroads with a few reputable medium size outlets, but each new high-profile gig you score bolsters your resume and makes it a little easier to get the attention of editors you’re pitching.

The Freelance Dude


Follow @nmeunier on Twitter for more writing advice, game industry commentary, and freelance shenanigans.

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3 thoughts on “Ask The Freelance Dude #8 – Transitioning From Volunteer To Paying Gigs

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