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

Do You Need a College Degree to Be a Video Game Journalist?

Will lack of college degree cause major outlets to overlook me? If I have a successful channel or just high quality content will that hard work be enough to potentially carry me to get hired one day? I’ve decided to put my career focus into this channel rather than being a student again and I just want to know if this effort is worthwhile or if I’m making the wrong decision.

asked via email to gameindustryguides@gmail.com

You don’t need a college degree. It’s always possible that some people in the industry still prefer a degree and having a degree never hurts. But if you have no interest in it, are already working in the industry, and don’t feel like formal schooling will help you build the specific skills you’re looking for I don’t think it’s worth going specifically to “look good” to employers. Admittedly, I do have a B.A in English and Secondary Education and absolutely list it on applications.

Continue reading “Do You Need a College Degree to Be a Video Game Journalist?”

Beginner’s Guide: Going From 0 to 100

Question: How do you begin to take the first steps for writing in video game journalism out of college and where do you go from there? How do you work yourself up to a company like IGN?

asked via email to gameindustryguides@gmail.com

My answer to this isn’t specific to college grads (though congrats if you’ve just wrapped up a degree!). Anyone can go from 0 to 100 regardless of professional background, educational training, or age. Of course, this isn’t to make light of the hurdles you’ll face or the years of hard work ahead of you. It’s worth noting that I’ve touched on this topic a bit before so definitely check out How Do You Begin? and My Biggest Piece of Advice for College Students for more insights. For the sake of brevity I’m going to assume that you already love writing and video games and are just ready to get started. Here’s a very short version of what you need to do.

Continue reading “Beginner’s Guide: Going From 0 to 100”

Tips for a Successful Freelance Pitch

Question: Should I wait for a freelance callout to apply? Should I pursue the lead editor of specific publications regardless of a freelance call? Should I pursue maybe not the lead editor, but another member of the same company who may understand my vision best to try and get them to take my idea to the editor? What does a successful pitch actually look like? If I fail to make any traction at one of my target sites of application do I keep applying and tweaking the idea/keep applying and stand firm behind my initial vision/at some point give up and target other smaller publications? 

As usual, we begin with rapid fire answers and then break them down into something more nuanced. Here it goes! Do not wait for a freelance callout to pitch. Follow the guidelines. There are times where it’s appropriate to approach the lead editor directly but not as many as you may think so be careful not to overstep or annoy. Other people at the publication cannot pitch on your behalf. Don’t put them in a position where they have to tell you that. However, you can contact to ask who to send your pitch to (this is for cases when the site has no calls and no posted guidelines and no staff page and essentially no way of you knowing how to pitch them). A successful pitch is clear, concise, interesting, fits the site, explains how you’re gonna execute, and why you’re the best person for the job. If it’s an evergreen pitch and a larger publication doesn’t want it, try it elsewhere sure! You can tweak it as well. Maybe run it by peers for feedback if the editor didn’t give you any. Also shift your mindset on smaller publications in general.

Continue reading “Tips for a Successful Freelance Pitch”

How Do You Begin?

Question: How do you begin as a games writer. How do you get your work out there seen, but also use it as a step-up to start your career? Or, let me put it this way. How do you make yourself stand out from all the other aspiring game journalists or writers?

You begin by writing.

It seems obvious to the point of being rude, but it’s the truth. Writers write and love it (even on the days they hate it). So if you want to be a writer, open up google docs and get to writing. Have your own blog, channel, etc. Pitch like crazy. Do the work you’re hired to do and do it well. Repeat forever.

But you’re probably already writing so allow me to unpack some of the specifics as they relate to the question above.

Continue reading “How Do You Begin?”

My Biggest Piece of Advice for College Students

Question: “What is your biggest piece of advice for a college student who wants to enter the industry?

asked via Instagram.

Start now.

Start a portfolio website, start a blog, start a YouTube channel, start a podcast, stream on Twitch, Mixer, YouTube, go to conventions, get business cards, send pitches, play a lot of games, try to get a freelance gig writing news (or being in freelance rotation for reviews etc), read things about games, read things that are not about games, study the industry, set goals, and overall just got for it.

Continue reading “My Biggest Piece of Advice for College Students”

Should You Work for Free When Starting Out in Video Game Journalism?

This question was asked to me in response to my call for questions on Instagram Stories. You can ask me questions directly or email questions at gameindustryguides@gmail.com (I will never share who asked). These FAQ posts will be filed under the Ask Gameonysus Category of my blog.

Would you recommend doing unpaid work/writing articles for free to grow your resume/CV?

Asked via Instagram 


Anything you can do for free you can do for yourself or for someone who pays you which means no one needs to work for free in order to grow their resume. 

However, I did work for free so I think it’s important for me to discuss that experience. It’s funny because before writing this post I wasn’t completely against the idea of working for free. I thought, “sure, I did it and it was great.” But it turns out that view was skewed by my own false memory. I thought I worked for free when I was first starting out, but I actually worked for free before I really got started.

It wasn’t until I sat down to write this post that I realized I only worked for free because I didn’t know if I wanted to do this. So if you know you want to do this, I do not recommend you work for free.

Continue reading “Should You Work for Free When Starting Out in Video Game Journalism?”

How do you stand out when there are thousands of people going for your same dream?

This question was asked to me in response to my call for questions on Instagram Stories. You can ask me questions directly or email questions at gameindustryguides@gmail.com (I will never share who asked). These FAQ posts will be filed under the Ask Gameonysus Category of my blog.

How do you stand out when there are thousands of people going for your same dream?

Asked via Instagram

Try not to think about it too much.

Don’t Think Competitively

I’m a big believer in seeing my peers as community members instead of competitors, even when we “compete” for traffic. Make your goal being the best but don’t get caught up on being better than others specifically. Focus on being the best (you can be). Not being better than others because, let’s face it, you’ll never be better than everyone.

The truth is you never know who you’re up against. Not getting a job, opportunity, or pitch doesn’t always mean that you or your idea is a bad fit. It could just mean someone else had more sauce.

So my first piece of advice is to shift that mindset.

Practical Tips for Standing Out 

Secondly, to me the best way to stand out is, to make a list of every “required skill” and “preferred skill” out there. Then start getting those skills.

Continue reading “How do you stand out when there are thousands of people going for your same dream?”

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