What’s a Normal Writing Quota?

[I’m considering a potential gig where] I’d be writing listicles and [I] have to post a minimum of three articles per week. [Is] this quota [a] standard for gaming websites? Was it the same, or similar, at IGN? Do freelance contributors have a minimum amount of articles that they have to submit and publish?

Question asked via email at gameindustryguides@gmail.com

Short answer: It’s not an unusual quota. In my experience, staff jobs do not have quotas (in the same sense) since you work a set amount of hours and have wider scoped duties and projects. And yes, sometimes freelance contributors have a minimum amount of articles to submit/publish.

Now here’s my longer answer

Listicle Jobs

3 listicles a week could be a lot in the sense that it seems like they want a lot of clickable, appealing content quickly which may not be the best trait for a site to have. Without knowing more about the site I can’t make a real meaningful judgement though so take that with a grain of salt.

Potentially related: I remember once taking a listicle job that paid only a few bucks an article ($25 max? maybe less, I can’t remember) but the requests were really… uninspired. Things like: 10 times video game logic made no sense and 15 things that never made it into X franchise. I quit the job almost immediately when it became clear that the site didn’t really care about me putting effort or accuracy into the pieces and just wanted words to publish on their site.

Freelance Work: My Quotas and Pay

Every job is different but here’s a quick overview of some writing gigs I’ve had over the years as a freelancer:

It’s hard to remember all the word count requirements for each outlet but I believe news stories were 250-300 words. The highest I can imagine any going is 500 (as a cap). Features were usually 750-1,500 words. Reviews were about the same.

  • Outlet A
    • News: 5 stories a day, 5 days a week. $500 a month; $5 a day.
    • Reviews: $25; whenever I wanted to as long as they got approved first.
    • Features: $25; whenever I wanted to as long as they got approved first.
    • Note: this job eventually shifted to a point system where different articles were worth different points and to get my $500 I would need to reach X amount of points in the month. I could do that with my regular news work or cut back on some news and pick up some features/reviews in exchange. I believe one review or features was the point equivalent of one news day.
    • This was the beginning of my career (2018) but is still a criminal rate. At the time though $500 a month and some experience in my field was more appealing to me than getting a job outside my field to keep myself alive.
  • Outlet B
    • News: 5 stories a day, just covering some shifts for other writers occasionally. $25 a day(?).
    • Reviews: $25; whenever I wanted to as long as they got approved first.
    • Features: $25; whenever I wanted to as long as they got approved first.
    • Beginning of my career (2018). Below industry rate.
  • Outlet C:
    • News: 5 stories a day, a one-off gig that lasted 2 days. $500 total; $250 a day.
    • Post IGN (2021). At or above industry rate depending on who you ask.

So what’s an appropriate quota for me to have?

Typically when I was a “staff” member at these small outlets I only had quotas for news (I use staff in quotes because I was not committed to a single site despite being listed on the staff page; I was part of the team but it was just one of many teams I was part of).

At outlet B I was a more general writer and was allowed to do as much or as little work as I was able to take on. My boss was really understanding because he was also did other work beyond the site so there was never any pressure to pull my weight and hit a certain quota. The pay rate was the similar to outlet A but my time at outlet B felt better in that I had more control over my work.

The question about what’s an appropriate quota for you depends on a lot of factors. Below are some things to consider:

  • How much time is this gonna take me?
  • How much energy is this gonna take from me?
  • Am I getting paid appropriately for what’s being asked of me?
  • Is this role helping me grow as a writer? Am I getting thorough feedback/edits regularly? Or am I treated like a fully established writer without the fully established check and benefits?
  • Will saying yes to this role force me to say no to better opportunities (because I will be too busy)?
  • By saying yes to this role what am I saying no to now (ex. YouTube, podcast, streaming, gaming more) and is that trade off worth it?

At the end of the day though remember you can leave at any time if it’s not working for you. This isn’t to say you should be flaky, leave unannounced, or take every job and then quit immediately. But you have to continue to make moves that are good for you and your career. It’s okay to outgrow and outlet or a job.

Note: These guides are provided for free because I want everyone to get their industry questions answered. However, if you’d like to support me continuing to create content consider joining me on Patreon or drop a tip anywhere below:

This question was asked to me via DMs. But you can send your questions to gameindustryguides@gmail.com. Questions are always kept anonymous.

Photo by Roman Bozhko on Unsplash

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