Dear Freelance Dude,
I’ve been writing for a volunteer website doing news, reviews, and features – mostly news. However, being recently laid-off has forced me to search for paying opportunities, and I feel I don’t have the experience yet to attain one, freelance or staff (I’ve only been in games journalism for six months). Should I focus on writing features to submit to other websites or should I continue developing my skills until I feel ready?
And are there websites that hire staff writers that work remotely or is that, basically, freelancing?
It sounds like you’re at a crossroads. We’ve all been there before in some way, shape, or form. Your drive to cast off the volunteer yoke and venture into paying territory is admirable. Depending on where you live, your best bet in pushing into paid games writing is to freelance rather than hold out for a staff position. The vast majority of gaming outlets – online or otherwise – hire staff that works on-site. Polygon may be the more recent exception. The good news is many sites also use freelancers too, which is why that’s sometimes the only route to go if you don’t live near their home base.
One word of caution: if you don’t already have actual freelance income filtering in from different source, you’re still going to need a day job of some sort ot keep you afloat. It takes time to line-up steady freelance gigs and break into new outlets – whether they pay decently or not. Once you get the work rolling, it’ll still be a bit longer before you start getting paid.
That said, you should by all means start dabbling in pitching paying outlets while continuing to tighten your chops. It’s good practice, even if your pitches don’t pan out at first. In some cases, you may also get feedback from editors you’re pitching that’s useful down the road. Most folks find it easier to break into new outlets by pitching features or special content.
Lack of published experience can sometimes be overcome with good writing and good ideas. If you can write well and string together an interesting, unique feature idea, then you have a chance to wow a prospective editor. Get those ideas cooking, start drafting short pitches, and fire away! If you’ve been writing volunteer work, you should have some published clips. Pick your best three pieces that showcase your creative spark and writing ability, and include links to those articles when you pitch.
The Freelance Dude
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