The big gamble of becoming a games journalist [and how to do it]

If you’re anything like me, at some point in your life, you’ll say: “I can do that!”. In fact, I’m sure some of you are thinking that right now, or have thought it as you read one of our reviews or guides. The truth is: you can! The advent of the internet brought with it a change in the way we create and consume information. The middlemen and gatekeeping are mostly gone. But the fact that you can get into writing or making videos about games without any barrier of entry, doesn’t mean that it’s just as easy to do it well, or to get paid to do it. Today, I’m going to share my journey to becoming a writer, in the hopes that it may help you achieve your goals, too.

START AT THE BOTTOM

I’m sure this is perhaps not what you wanted to hear, but it’s the truth: you have to start way, way at the bottom. The reality is, most of what you make at first won’t be up to snuff. And that’s OK! There is no shortcut to getting good at writing, much like there’s no shortcut to getting good at anything else. I suggest that, for the time being, you keep your job, make use of any casino bonus you may find, and find other ways of monetizing skills you already have. As for writing: start doing it. Getting a blog going is easy and free. I suggest writing first, even if what you want to do is video creation or streaming, because being a good writer will help you engage your audience in whatever other format you choose to approach. But, in the end, it’ll take time. Don’t let that prevent you from having fun, though: this is the time to experiment, find your voice, try anything and everything.

I started writing in a publication I co-founded with a friend who is living in Spain. Though I’m no longer part of that publication on a managerial role, it has now become one of the biggest outlets dedicated to metal music in Spain. And it all started with me, whining about the new Nightwish album. And a lot, a lot of writing stuff for free. Which brings me to point 2.

APPLY TO OTHER PUBLICATIONS

At first, it’s more than likely that you will not get paid for your writing. That’s OK. I would not expect people to pay me for doing their cabinets if I’d taken up carpentry a few months ago. At least, not much. One of the biggest changes of my career as a writer came as a result of applying to be a member of this very publication. Even though I knew there was no financial compensation, I’d get the odd game to review, and most importantly, I’d be part of a bigger structure.

Having an editorial team keeping me in check, making sure I was adhering to the publication guidelines, trying to keep mistakes to a minimum, dealing with publishers… it helped tremendously in building my work ethic and the way I interact with others.

Though I may not have gotten paid, the stuff I learned by joining smaller publications helped me become a much better writer, and a much better overall professional. Which brought me to point 3.

PITCH BIGGER PUBLICATIONS

When you’ve honed your craft for a year or two, and the number of pieces you’ve written approach the triple digits, you are most likely ready to pitch to bigger publications that pay their writers. Now, a lot of you may be ready before this point, which is fine. But remember that bigger publications, the ones who pay their writers, will only select the very best pitches. These come from experienced writers, with ample track record to back up their work ethics and writing skills. Though it is totally possible for your pitch to land on a paid publication if you’ve only just started, you’ll have to be a really proficient writer, and it’ll have to be one hell of a pitch. Remember: this is their publication’s money they are trusting you with. They need to know it’s in good hands.

This is perhaps the most difficult part of the process. Writing professionally involves a lot of rejected pitches and sometimes not getting replies at all. I’ve been writing since 2007, and some of my pitches don’t even get replies to this day. Don’t let that get to you. Send the publication another pitch, and send that pitch to other publications. Sometimes, the two just aren’t meant to be, and while a pitch might not work at one outlet, it may be the perfect fit for another.

I will leave it there for now, but if you guys are interested, I’ll make more specific posts about how to write pitches, how to approach publications, and more. Be sure to let us know in the comments!

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About Marcos Codas 320 Articles
Lover of portable gaming and horror cinema. Indie filmmaker and game developer. Multimedia producer. Born in Paraguay, raised in Canada. Huge fan of "The Blair Witch Project", and "Sonic 3D Blast". Deputy head at Vita Player and its parent organization, Infinite Frontiers.Like what I do? Donate a coffee: https://www.paypal.me/marcoscodas