Hello! This guide should cover everything you need to know to either get started or refine your current skills. Feeling lost about how to start writing professionally is normal. There are only a few public resources out there, and they either correspond to just one experience in particular, or are sadly outdated.
This is a recollection of advice from over 30 freelancers who all asked the same questions at some point. Hopefully, and following the site’s ever-present statement, this can serve as guidance for you as well.
- What’s a pitch?
- Things to keep in mind (subject lines, length, structure, introductions, clips)
- What’s an angle, how to find and explain it
- How to pitch features and ask for interviews
- How to pitch guides
- How to pitch reviews
- Follow ups (when to follow up, time in between, what to say)
- Where to pitch/how to find someone’s email
- Where to look for ideas
- Payments and Invoices
- How to best use Gmail (scheduling, tags)
- Scale of rates
- Useful links
- Advice Snippets
- People to reach out for further questions
What’s a pitch
A pitch is an idea you’re trying to sell to a site. It can be anything: an opinion piece about how Super Mario Sunshine is the greatest 3D Mario game, a reported piece about how community managers deal with increasingly toxic fanbases, or a researched-based essay about microtransactions and how they’ve evolved in a specific genre.
Pitches should be succinct yet filled with enough information to show that you have a strong grasp of the topic you’re pitching. They should be no more than 2-3 paragraphs, include informational links to other reading in case the editor wants to know more, and start with a strong and identifiable hook. Here’s a quick example.
“It was barely a year ago when Bethesda was flaunting tournaments for Elder Scrolls: Legends, a card battler similar to Hearthstone with ties to the other Elder Scrolls games, and now it’s been shut down after it couldn’t hold a steady player base. Dozens of Hearthstone clones, even from major companies like Capcom with Teppen, have been trying to replicate a piece of Blizzard’s success. Few have come close.
Hearthstone is the clear leader in the genre with over 100 million strong player base, over 40 million in revenue per month since August 2017, and 80,000 peak viewers at their most recent championship tournament. With Teppen in its infancy, Gwent at a fraction of interest, Elder Scrolls: Legends shutdown, and other similar competitive games getting nowhere near as much attention, can anyone compete with Hearthstone?
Only a year after launching into open beta, Magic: The Gathering: Arena might be doing just that. While the player base is still a fraction of what Blizzard has with Hearthstone, MTG Arena esports viewership is rising quickly almost matching Hearthstones numbers and revenue predictions have MTG Arena passing Hearthstone in annual revenue by 2021. I’m pitching a 2,000-word story including trips to the Teppen World Championship and the Hearthstone Summit 2020 looking at how and why MTG Arena is creating a more stable and exciting competitive environment.
Please find some clips to my work below, along with my portfolio:
You should look at a pitch as the beginning of a story. The work you do to research and draft a pitch should go directly into the final piece.
You can find three other examples below. The first is about a community story:
It feels like Harmonix’s weird and ambitious card rhythm game has been out forever, but it hasn’t even been two years already. Only that during that time, despite the efforts from the community to keep it alive, its strange and confusing marketing with Hasbro along with expensive booster packs ruined its otherwise clear potential.
Last year, Dropmix’s logo was erased from the studio’s official Facebook page, though one developer assured that they still have plans to support the app and the service. I’d like to reach out to both Harmonix and Hasbro for comment, along with diving into the community and speak to players that remained active hosting tournaments with the resources they have.
The Discord server is still active with hundreds of users, and it would make for a great story to see how they’re keeping DropMix alive, especially considering the fact that, even with its digital component, it’s still pretty much a board game that needs players on the same place. But many are also playing it either solo or in parties, sharing their creations online and looking to either trade or spot a deal on rare cards.
The second is an opinion piece:
My time with Death Stranding felt like a never-ending process, travelling in the worn boots of Sam from point A to B reconstructing America while he put literally everything from himself. Luckily, private rooms are perfect to sleep, go to the bathroom, and take a shower after a long day of work. They are also a perfect place for emerging stories, watching the protagonist being tormented by lucid nightmares and understanding how devastated he was with environmental storytelling.
The hall of Racoon City’s Police Station is the safest place during your first few hours in Resident Evil 2: Remake, but it later becomes unsafe, while the only sane person in there is finally taken over by the infection.
Silent Hill 4, I think, it’s the one that played with this concept the most. From the very beginning the room feels much safer than the horrors you find on the outside of the hole in the wall, but it becomes more hostile as time passes. By the later half of the game, navigating the space becomes a living nightmare. The house is no longer a home.
Rather than diving into the history and purpose of safe rooms, which has been done more than a couple of times, I want to explore the times in which these supposedly harmless places deceive the player, and when the mundane becomes an enemy.
Lastly, a pitch about how indie developers have been making use of streaming platforms as a way of playtesting:
Ever since Hades was released on Steam a new popularity surrounded the game, which came as a surprise to Supergiant Games. This roguelike is now making waves on Twitch, counting several streams on a daily basis and almost 20k followers as of today, while still being in Early Access. It makes sense for the studio to find this completely unexpected considering they’re exploring a new territory, but it made me think of how streaming is now being taken into account during development.
Other indie games like Slay The Spire, Risk of Rain 2 and Darkest Dungeon saw a huge impact on Twitch during early access. The fact that they all carry a replayable value in which randomized elements rule each time is key to understand the value for streamers, but also for the developers themselves. They can spend months play testing procedurally generated games and never run out of bugs and aspects to tweak, but if they have hundreds of players doing it already, this changes things considerably. In addition, the fact that they are able to witness all kinds of characters experimenting with builds, weapons, or coming up with new metas is huge.
I want to reach out to these indie studios and ask how their games have been benefited by streamers, how much dedication they’re putting on taking feedback from broadcasts alone, and if this could become a new way of play testing in the near future. I think the line between these two mediums is becoming even more thin as time passes, and it’s a great time to explore how devs are thinking and evaluating this new channel of information to make changes in their on-going developments.
Things to keep in mind
Pitches need to be short and concise, but also provide all some necessary details about you:
Feel free to include a very short intro about yourself after the initial greetings, which shouldn’t be longer than a sentence long. Unless you’re using links to your social media in a signature, this can be a good way to include one or two. For example:
I’m Diego, freelance journalist from Argentina published in X, X, and X. It’s great to meet you!”
As a second option, which is the most common way of doing it, you can leave your intro for the second half of your email. Meaning, there should be as less information as possible between your greetings and your pitch. Your idea should be the first thing that your editor is able to see; they’ll ask for any additional info later, or rely on your introduction in the second half.
Keep this short and simple, too, and always include clips (links to already published articles you have, whether from a publication or a personal blog), along with your portfolio. One neat and clean way of doing it is the following:
To keep it even shorter, especially if you have relevant clips that showcase a previous expertise/coverage on the topic you’re pitching, you can also intertwine clips in the second paragraph of your pitch using keywords.
Here’s a cool example (thanks Jay):
“I’ve previously done interview focused esports pieces, for example about [Brawl Stars esports], as well as this overview of the troubles Overwatch League is facing at [Polygon]. You can find my portfolio [here] if you like.”
What’s an angle, how to find and explain it
An angle is how you approach a story. It can be considered the “theme”
- Writing about game design degrees through how expensive the American education system is.
- Looking at a specific esport through how it’s broadcasted.
- Looking at representation in Animal Crossing by drawing from personal experience playing as a black character.
- Reporting on a local movement/activity/project/trend
Angles are usually one of the first things you find about the story, they are the biggest part of what makes a story interesting. You use it as the hook in the pitch, in many cases. You should be able to explain your angle clearly if you want to convince an editor to accept your idea. The thumb rule for this comes down with subject lines for your pitch email: you should be able to condense your idea to a short sentence – in general, subject lines read as “[PITCH] Here goes your concised idea.”
Finding an angle can still be tough, but it’s likely one of the most important parts of crafting a pitch and story. The best way to find it is by picking a topic you want to explore and then reading and researching that topic. Look for what pops, what’s interesting. If you read or hear something that you’d like to know more about, then it’s worth looking into as a possible angle.
Here are some clips for reference:
- Video game development in Iran: Limited tools, front companies and a specter of war
- Games Are Discovering an Expressive New Tool: Internet Grammar
- I’m all-in on Cyberpunk 2077, but one element of the E3 demo disappointed me
- The Yakuza Series Treats The Homeless With Empathy And Respect
- Persona Can’t Do Women Justice Without Fixing Its Conservatism
- To Be Gay in Mass Effect Is An Act of Rebellion
- In Argentina, A Pro-Choice Advocate Protests With A Doom Mod
How to pitch features and ask for interviews
Features are the bread and butter of the industry. They profiles, interviews, reporting, long form pieces with multiple interviews diving into an specific topic, oral histories, retrospective pieces, and more.
Along with opinion pieces, features make for great first pitches. You can talk to an independent development studio about an awesome game that more people should know about, or tackle how gaming and technology are intertwining with our modern cultures in interesting ways.
Our previous examples focus on features already, so you might already have a general grasp of how to structure them. But, there’s a common question that we wanted to address in this section, which is whether you should contact the interviewee or the outlet first.
Well, there’s not an easy answer for this. The thumb rule is that indie developers tend to be more willing to do interviews (their busy schedules notwithstanding) than, say, AAA studios and publishers. In this case, if you approach them with a secured outlet already, there’s a chance that they’ll be interested in taking part of your work. Of course, they can say no for a number of reasons, and if they were essential for your piece you won’t be able to do it.
Editors will usually understand, but just to be safe, something common to do is to reach out to developers before you send over your pitch, indicating that you are asking if they’d be available for a potential interview with X outlet. Variations of this can be something along the lines of “I’m interested in covering X about your game/talking to all of you about the project, and will be pitching this to X, X, and X. Would there be availability for this?”
Oh, and we know that interviews might sound scary at first, but people are always more than happy to talk about their work. And there’s also a chance that you’d end up doing an interview via email instead (sending over questions), but if you have the bandwidth for it, Skype calls are a great way of developing your interview skills.
How to pitch reviews
There’s a saying that outlets don’t tend to commission many reviews, since they’re usually covered either in-house by the staff. While this is usually true, publications still need help from time to time. Don’t be afraid to pitch them, especially if an editor has done a call on Twitter or actively expresses that they’re always on the lookout for freelancers.
If you want to pitch reviews, this is a template we tend to use. Just add your own voice to it! The key info that always needs to be on your pitch is your expertise on the games you’re looking to cover, why you would be the perfect person to do so, or any interesting angles.
“Hello [editor’s name] / Hello [outlet name’s] team,
My name is X and I’m a freelancer for X, X, X. It’s a pleasure to meet you!
Since we’re approaching [month], I wanted to pitch a few reviews for [outlet].
Game (release date, platform): explain a bit of the game, and why you’re a great fit to do it
Repeat this as many times as needed (best try is two indies, one mid-big game)
Here are a few examples of reviews I’ve done, along with my portfolio. Please, do let me know if I can provide any further info.
Thank you very much for your time!
Here’s another cool example (thanks Ginny):
“Hi I’m X, freelancer from Y. I’m reaching out to see if Z outlet has any reviews that need picking up as the year heats up for releases.
I’m somewhat of a genre specialist in -list genres and have links to reviews or work about them-, but am open to opportunities to cover indies as well which are a personal interest of mine. I’ve been a longtime reader of Z outlet and would look forward to the chance to collaborate professionally.
I’m particularly interested in covering the following titles, so I’m floating this list even though there’s likely some overlap there with interest from your staffers:
I covered Game of Same Genre as Three for Z1 outlet, and am pretty familiar with the ins and outs if you need someone to hit the ground running.
Cheers for your time and let me know”
Be mindful that sites schedule reviews ahead of time, and may or may not have a pool of freelancers to reach out already. Don’t let this discourage you! But pitching nothing but reviews isn’t advisable. These should coexist with features, opinions, guides, and such. Moreover, if you have a review assigned, you can ask about guides or pitch them somewhere else to make the most of that early access, along with opinion pieces after you’ve played it.
How to pitch guides
If you want to pitch guides, you can follow a similar structure to review pitches, whether you’re just sending an introduction detailing your availability and genre preferences or listing upcoming games. These are preferably pitched before release, but if it’s a live service game or a big update is coming to a popular title, you should make the most out of these opportunity windows as well. In addition, Google Trends might help you to find interesting angles to pitch, but in most cases editors are the ones who suggest them (which can go from a top X tips list to a collectibles guide).
Following up is an essential part of being a freelancer. In many cases editors will not reply to you. They might be busy, out of office, or they might not be interested in the idea at all. You won’t know until you follow up.
There is no rule defining when and how often you should follow up. There is no rule defining when and how often you should follow up. If it’s not timely (not tied to a current event or game release) one week is advisable, otherwise 2-3 business days are a good rule to follow. If an editor doesn’t respond after three follow ups then it’s safe to consider that a rejection. You shouldn’t follow up more than that.
Follow ups should be simple. They are friendly, quick, and offer a quick reminder of what the pitch is. Here’s an example:
I’m following up on this pitch about how indie developers are getting locked out of PPP benefits (COVID relief), can you let me know if you’re interested? I’m planning to send this pitch elsewhere on Thursday.
Quick and harmless. You don’t want to take up an unnecessary amount of an editor’s time.
Here’s another example:
Hope you’re keeping up well.
I just wanted to do a quick follow up on this and see if it still might be of interest. Do let me know if you have any questions or would rather hear a different idea, and thanks so much for your time!
All the best,
How to find someone’s email
If you’re thinking about pitching a site or editor you haven’t worked with before, the main thing you’ll need to do is find an editor to pitch. This will be the managing editor or the editor of a specific section (like video games) in most cases. There are a few ways to track it down if their email isn’t clearly posted somewhere:
- Check for an author profile on the site to see if an email is listed.
- Check for a ‘Staff’ section on the site to see if an email is listed.
- Search for the editor on Twitter and see if they have a profile. It’s ok to DM or @ them if you find them but they don’t have an email listed. They aren’t required to respond to you, though.
- Check if the editor has a personal site with an email listed.
- Check LinkedIn.
Some sites have pitching guidelines to follow. If they are not clearly visible on the site, searching for the outlet name + pitch on Google might just do the trick. Just keep in mind that this isn’t the norm, and sometimes they might be outdated, but it’s always best to double check before sending over a pitch.
Where to look for ideas
Ideas can come from anywhere. You can browse forums, subreddits, Twitter, and Facebook to find different communities and then cover what they’re doing. There are groups of Animal Crossing hackers on Facebook, communities for every game on Reddit, and constant discussions happening on Twitter. Follow them and they will help jumpstart your brain when thinking of ideas to pitch.
You can also read other writing from sites all around the industry (Kotaku, Eurogamer, VICE Gaming, etc) and build off the type of stories they write. Ideas can also come from conversation or playing a game. Never disparage an idea before you pitch it (let them say no to you!) and also, consider other places outside from games as well. You never know what might give you an idea or that missing angle.
Payments and Invoices
Invoices are how you get paid. Invoicing procedures differ from site to site, but they are the documents you send to your editor (or a sites account department) once work is complete. They usually include your name, address, email, banking info, work completed, along with whatever information the site requests. Many sites will give you a template to use, but you can find your own on sites like Zoho. Here’s an example:
Check with your editor to see how the site handles invoices before you send one. And don’t worry, most editors are more than willing to help you regarding this, especially if it’s your first time, so send over all questions you might have.
If you need a quick example of an invoice template you can make on Excel or Google Sheets in a couple of minutes, you can follow the template below:
One thing to keep in mind if you’re based outside of the US or the UK is that not many sites will offer PayPal as an option. Only a few do so, sadly, and you’ll need to have a bank if you’re planning to make this a profession. In addition, unless it’s stated otherwise, you’re going to need to fill a W8-Ben form instead if you aren’t on the US. Always ask your editor for one during the onboarding process if they haven’t provided with a copy already. Don’t be afraid to consult on what you need to add depending on where you’re based.
Lastly, and this isn’t meant to scare you but it’s best to know beforehand: payments will be delayed often. The usual is always 30 days, but these can be extended exponentially, or just be delayed for different reasons. Don’t be afraid to follow up on this, and never give up on a payment even if it’s been months since you finished the commission. In addition, and whenever possible, you should always sign up an actual commission document before starting working on a piece. Just keep in mind that not many sites will give you this document in advance, though.
How to best use Gmail (scheduling, tags)
Gmail (and other email tools) is your best friend and worst enemy. It’ll be where you pitch editors, how you get in contact with many sources, how you invoice, and possibly how you track your stories as they progress. It’s important to keep your email organized.
We recommend starting a new email and dedicating it mainly to freelancing. Don’t subscribe to promotions or newsletters with this email. Keep it as your contact for PR, editors, studios, and other professionals.
If you inevitably end up using your personal email for freelance work, at least in Gmail, enabling the social and promotions tabs will help to keep things organized. Some PR emails may be automatically filtered, mind, so make the habit to whitelist them whenever necessary. Also, check your spam folder periodically. You can thank us later.
For further organizing, we cannot recommend tags/pins enough. Classifying your emails in categories will even make the general reading way more easier, as you can just recognize colors on a quick glance. Some common tags can be: pitches, interviews, PR, invoices, events, reviews, feedback, and anything in between.
Mark every email as a “to-do”, or if you’re in a rush, mark every important read email as “unread” again.
Scale of rates
Talking about rates isn’t common practice, and chances are that you won’t find out how much a site pays until an editor is interested in your idea and offers a commission. It’s up to the publication to either disclose their rates or not, but we wanted to share a scale of rates of what you should be expect writing and covering video games.
There are a number of independent sites that are self-funded thanks to Patreon or similar crowdfunding platforms. Rates here are usually on the lower side of things, ranging from $10 USD to $50 USD. For this, you should check out Uppercut and Unwinnable, along with having us in mind of course.
Some pieces in that range will usually be less than 1,000 words long. Above that, you should expect for no less than $100 USD, with the usual being around $150 for short to mid features, reviews, and guides. $175 to $200 are preferable depending on the work, and it can be found in some sites, while $300 to $400 are less common, but again, depends on the outlet and the type of work you’re pitching.
The best cases scenarios we’ve encountered offered $1 per word, or around $500 to $700 for features. Depending on the outlet, long form guides can be around the $250 to $500 scale, but it’s more likely that you’ll instead get multiple $100 or $150 commissions for individual guides on a particular game.
Sadly, we are not able to disclose rates for specific publications, and if you find a public spreadsheet on the internet, that one is sadly outdated. That being said, if you’re curious about an specific outlet, feel free to reach out to us for additional information.
Keep conversion in mind when working with international outlets. $150 USD for your work can be very different if you’re not based on the US, either lower or higher. Take this into consideration when you’re offered a commission, looking at how much you’d end up getting directly on your pocket (taxes, conversion, and bank fees will also affect this).
Lastly, avoid publications that offer pay-per-view (meaning that you will only get paid, usually a low amount, depending on how many thousand clicks your piece gets on the site after publication), and don’t write for free in exchange of exposure (a word you will be hearing often when starting out).
This should be a conscious decision on your end, either a choice once you’re established and perhaps someone invites you to write a short GOTY list for them or similar, or if the editor of a volunteer publication isn’t gaining any money with the work they’re doing, but offers great feedback on your work. Editors will always welcome clips that are just posts on your personal blog (either hosted on WordPress or Medium, to give some examples), and you should be pitching and getting paid for your work as soon as possible. There are many sites out there who will exploit you for their personal gain.
Avoid them like the plague, and reach out to other freelancers if you have questions.
Yes, COVID-19 has been affecting freelancing as well. There’s several outlets that aren’t commissioning at the moment, and the remaining ones have been super wary of their budget with the increased demand. It’s tough, but it’s still feasible. Do keep in mind that this is only temporary, and everything will go back on track rather sooner than later.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to any of us for any further inquiries. Most importantly, prioritize taking care of yourself, whether freelancing is your primary income or a secondary activity. Working from home is already isolating, and not being able to go out only makes things worse. Rely on your peers, reach out to other freelancers for support, and stay safe. We’re all on the same boat, but we’ll get through it together.
Should I pitch during the weekends? – Some folks have gotten lucky with pitches during the weekends, but it’s not advisable at all. Editors have a weekly schedule and work routine to follow, and weekends are, well, their break. You won’t get a higher chance of receiving a reply, and whether or not they might actually get back to you, it’s always best to be mindful of everyone’s time. This is true for holidays as well.
What’s the appropriate time and day to pitch? – Regular business hours are the safest bet. One quick advice is to always keep editors’ timezones in mind (you don’t want to send over an email at 10 pm or 2 am their time). Some editors will always reply during the morning, while others vary greatly. As long as you’re reaching out during a reasonable time, you should be good. As a side note, editors receive hundreds of emails per day, so be mindful and patient with their time (but don’t be afraid to follow up!)
I have a timely pitch, how should I address this? – Start your email’s subject line with “Timely Pitch”, followed by a short description of your idea as usual.
Someone on Twitter said that my opinion doesn’t matter and should focus on reported pieces instead, is this true? – No. Games criticism is invaluable in the industry, whether it’s in the form of an opinion piece about the latest AAA title, an essay, an analysis of a trend, or anything in between. These are great to shape and let your voice be heard. It’s thanks to diverse perspectives that criticism is elevated and pushed forward. That being said, the reality is that most outlets will be more inclined on accepting a feature with interviews rather than an opinion piece. Not all of them, and some even have dedicated editors for it, but the disproportion is sadly a reality (rate-wise especially). Always try either way, and if they tend to run many of them, make sure to read a couple pieces to get a feel of what they’re usually keen on.
My idea got rejected, should I just give up on it? – Not at all. There’s multiple reasons why your idea might have been rejected, but you shouldn’t let that discourage you. Updating and refining it to better suit a different publication is just common practice, and something you’ll be doing a lot. If your gut tells you that your idea is worth it, then keep shopping it around.
I introduce myself as an aspiring writer/journalist/critic/freelancer, is this okay? – If you’re already writing, then you’re a writer. There’s no such thing as an aspiring writer.
The Thesaurus: The #1 way to not use the word “plot” 30 times in an article.
Write or Die: A site/app that makes you write or you have terrible consequences. WRITE!
Write or Die 2: So you don’t spend 2 hours looking at cats instead of writing.
Grammarly: Take this one as a suggestion. It’s not perfect, and many writers avoid it, but it may prove useful. The free version is pretty worthwhile, and you can decide whether or not to obtain the premium version later on.
Boomerang: An extension for Gmail that can have your e-mail get scheduled to send at later times, have them come back in your inbox if you get no response, etc. (keep in mind that scheduling emails is now a native option for Gmail).
Checker Plus: If you use Chrome, lets you know when you get an e-mail. Pray it’s from an editor and not Costco for the 45th time.
Animal Crossing Music: Relaxing Animal Crossing music to soothe your writing sessions.
Google Keep: One application that can be used for keeping track of pitches. Good for getting down quick thoughts, voice to text, and saving links for later use.
Trello: Another website/application that’s good for tracking pitches. Great for storing your better-formed pitch ideas (so not just the random ideas you’d put into Keep) and keep track of where pitches are in the writing process.
Sejda: An HTML to PDF site. Essential for saving work on sites that are getting shut down, though it’s always advised to have a backup of everything you write.
Advanced Renamer: Quickly rename files and set up rules for renaming. Great for renaming a million screenshots!
Top 6 Audacity Apps: Apps to record interviews if you’re using Audacity.
Dek/Subhed explanation: Not many editors ask for them during pitches, but it’s useful to know what they mean as early as possible.
I’d say the number one pitch tip is just fucking hit send! Also, in the grand scheme of things, editors care about the strength of your idea, and not your background or bylines. There’s no narrative arc to your career, don’t be afraid to pitch the big sites early with your best ideas – the worst thing they can do is say no! – Jordan
Two short paragraphs. Start the first with an “attention grabber,” something that hooks them. Make it a lead in for the info of your pitch- use the first paragraph to give context to your idea and explain why it’ll be interesting/explain your angle. At the end of that paragraph, put your thesis, your core idea. Paragraph two is where you break down HOW you’re going to write the piece. Word count, what points will you hit, where will the piece go? Give a brief outline of it all – Dylan
Just because someone doesn’t like your article doesn’t mean no one will. I don’t write a lot of timely pieces for a lot of reasons, but there are places for me in the industry. Get your shit out there, and remember to rest – Liz
On pitching events, I normally say I’m gonna be around for X event and have experience in Y or Z topics. Link some coverage examples and state availability. Also if you have a selling point that makes you super good for the role ie know lots of the publishers who are gonna be there, already in open dialogue or have some topical ideas floating around it doesn’t hurt. It’s good to also show off the stuff you’ve done that lines up with how sites usually cover events i.e. if a place usually does showfloor or dev interviews then link interviews, just check how they’ve covered events in recent years – Ginny
Social media is a necessary evil. Twitter, in particular, is a valuable tool to have. If you read something that you enjoyed, the author’s bio at the bottom will display their Twitter username most of the time. Give them a follow, tell them you enjoyed their piece. Build significant relationships with other freelancers. At the same time, follow publications and their editors. They will often tweet calls for writers on specific topics, or just in general. Keeping up with these opportunities is key. That being said, social media can be rough to stare at 24/7, so don’t be afraid to take breaks, mute, or unfollow people. Curate your own spaces with your well being in mind – Diego
Don’t get too caught up in how the interview looks before you write your piece, it’s less about the order and more about the content – Ginny
Someone suggested to me once doing your recording as a video (just turn your phone face down on the table) and uploading it to YouTube and then downloading their auto-captions. Apparently it’s pretty accurate, though you’ll need to clean them up obviously – Jay
“I use OBS to record calls on my PC if they are over the phone, I just put them on speaker. Skype Recorder is great for Skype. Then I use push to talk on Discord” – Aron
“I usually have OBS setup to record my mic and my desktop audio, which will put both into the same video. Then I play it back at half speed and speak into Google Doc’s voice transcription.
-Open Google Docs
-Play your recording at half speed or slower
-Open Docs’ speech to text tool
-Repeat what’s being said in the recording
-Clean that shit up cause it’ll be rough
-Hell yeah you got it” – Dylan
“Don’t trust Google Meet, run a quick test with a friend first” – Diego
When typing out words with annoying accents or capitalization (like Pokémon, or NAtURAL DOCtRINE), just type the name normally throughout your piece, then Ctrl+H the corrected version in. Saves a ton of time! I also used it when I was in the habit of double-spacing after each sentence to remove the double space so editors wouldn’t kill me – Liz
In a list (especially ones that start with verbs!), every statement in that list needs to able to finish the stem at the beginning.
So: “I adore petting dogs, taking walks, and eating ass” is good
But: I adore petting dogs, taking walks, and people love it when I eat their ass” is bad
It may seem obvious in shorter lists, but in longer ones with intricate phrases, it can be easy to forget. It helps to look at each piece of the list and match it to the stem to see if it’s right – Alyse
If you need to download an image from a Google Doc, right click, save them on Google Keep, and wait for the right sidebar to open. You’ll see the image displayed there – right click and open it on a new tab – Diego
You don’t owe sites anything. Respectfully extricate yourself if need be, don’t throw out blunt truths – Dylan
Hot accountant tip since I saw this one too many times in job opportunity threads: your new job will usually assist with relocation, including monetarily. If they don’t, you get to write it off your taxes. Too many people being like ‘but it’s expensive to move’ while living in the same country like, apply bitch – Liz
Don’t have a scanner? Google Drive has a ‘scan’ option for uploading docs. Take a picture of a sheet of paper on your phone, and Google will attempt to scan the page in. It’s not flawless, but if you don’t have easy access to a scanner, it saves a lot of time. You can also press the + button to add multiple pages to one file – Liz
Words of wisdom from us (and others):
You don’t need to be selling tons of pitches every week – prioritise being good to yourself and write when you can – Cian
If the outlet wants you to do coverage that requires video capture, know your worth. If they want footage, tell them you want to be paid extra on top of the written – Kyle
Pitch, then forget about it, start working on a new pitch immediately – Nic
In my view, a short, well-written review beats an overly-long, overly-detailed, overly-repetitive review every time. Give me the essence of the experience in as few words as possible, and then let me worry about whether or not I want mountains of more detailed information – Kyle Orland on the topic of exhaustive, ornately detailed reviews.
You are not your next gig. Or the gig after that. You’ve accomplished things that most people would die to do. We take our careers for granted. Journalists are mean to themselves. Like, really really mean. It makes taking that next gig even harder – Lindsay Goldwert on a thread about media layoffs.
I know impostor syndrome is a thing and I get it too but my 2020 wish is really for everyone to just value how fucking great they’re doing – Jay
We have to be braver with our writing – Jason
Let them say no to you – Jay
if ur hesitant about sending a pitch, just follow the wise words of our lord and savior, pitbull……..dale – Natalie
People to reach out for further questions
If you have any following or rather specific questions, feel free to reach out to the people below. Just be mindful of everyone’s time, please!
Diego Nicolás Argüello: email@example.com / @diegoarguello66
Jay Castello: firstname.lastname@example.org
Violet Adele Bloch: email@example.com
Caitlin Galiz-Rowe: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jordan Oloman: email@example.com
Stacey Henley: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lauren Morton: email@example.com
Jack Yarwood: JackGYarwood
Ben Sledge: firstname.lastname@example.org / @BenSledge
Dylan Bishop: @dyl_byl
Chase Carter: email@example.com
Autumn Wright: firstname.lastname@example.org / @TheAutumnWright
Ewan Wilson: email@example.com
Andrew King: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nic Reuben: email@example.com
Ginny Woo: firstname.lastname@example.org
There’s also some additional links that could prove useful:
Haywire Magazine has hosted a guide to freelancing for a good while now.
Critical Distance has a great resource page with outlets you should keep in mind.
Javy Gwaltney put a really interesting guide together a couple years ago that feels as true as it had been written yesterday.
Janet Garcia also has some interesting posts over at her blog.