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

How to Draw the Line: Your Reputation vs. Your Check

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the website gamejournalismjobs.com, but if you’re not, it’s a site for (usually smaller) gaming sites to post their job listings. It’s a minefield of unreliable and often unpaid work, but that’s not what I’m here to ask about since you’ve already addressed that. It’s not unusual for a site that’s looking to hire writers who “Won’t include politics in their writing,” or staff who want the politics to “Stay out of video games,” which, even as a games industry baby, I know is bs. They usually offer more consistent (still not great) pay than most other sites that have listings on the site, but they’re clearly an environment that fosters a toxic mindset. So on to my question: In a medium and industry where every by-line and post sticks with you, how would you weigh your self-worth against a work environment that might be bad for you and your reputation if it means you get published and paid?

Asked via email to Gameindustryguides@gmail.com

Value yourself and your reputation above all else. You can always find money somewhere else. And if you are gonna sell your soul (not recommended) why would you do it for cheap? On paper this is an easy question to answer but I know this dilemma all too well so let’s get into the reality and the nuance of it.

Continue reading “How to Draw the Line: Your Reputation vs. Your Check”

What Looks Better?: Self Publishing vs. Working for Others

I was wondering how impressive it is to employers to show that I run my own gaming news site and focus on that rather than trying to get a bunch of freelance writing gigs. I’ve been wanting to get a job with an outlet like IGN for years but it seems like I’m not showing off the right stuff, even though I’ve been writing about gaming news, reviews, and even producing my own videos for years. 

asked via email to gameindustryguides@gmail.com

Both. Both is good. Now that the short answer is out of the way, let’s get to the nuance.

Continue reading “What Looks Better?: Self Publishing vs. Working for Others”

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”

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?”

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