Freelance Writing to Full-Time: Keep the Hope

I almost gave up. Last year, I wrote about getting into freelance writing in games media. When I decided I wanted to work in games media full-time, I went all in on the idea. In a nutshell, I worked full-time, attended a university full-time to earn a Bachelor Degree, and was a full-time family man with two baby boys coming along during a short two-year stretch.

“Keep grinding.”

Of all of the advice I was given over the last few years, that piece of advice kept me going. Just keep grinding it out and it will pay off. I started out with Kill Screen and I lucked out by latching onto IGN’s freelance news squad. From there, I spread my wings to numerous other sites like GamesRadar+, ZAM, the 4 P’s – Playboy, PC Gamer, Pixelkin, Paste – and of course, Red Bull eSports. I wrote everything from news to previews to features. I even quit my full-time job last July because I couldn’t take working in a toxic environment anymore after 7 years.

The goal was always to find full-time work in the industry. I applied and applied for a lot of different jobs. I never got interviews. Other than not being able to beat out a human resources test in the cover letter/resume round, I never really figured out why. I could only assume my experience and skills were lacking, even after two years of heavy freelance work and being published at some of the best games media outlets.

Getting a job, freelance or otherwise, requires hard work and determination, but also some luck. Okay, sometimes a lot of luck. While I wasn’t getting even a sniff at job interviews, I started to have doubts about having a reputation as a fighting game guy. I was afraid I might have painted myself in a corner by focusing on too niche of a subject in video games.

You’ll hear a lot of writers say find your niche. I didn’t know how early on but I did by landing a gig at Red Bull eSports and covering pretty much 90% of the fighting game news on IGN. Reflecting on it now, doubling down on fighting games might have been the best career move I’ve ever made. But for a while, I was losing hope and hope is what kept me going during the hardest times when I was struggling with work, school, freelancing, and home life.

About a month ago, I had come to the conclusion if I wasn’t working full-time in games media, I would finish out the year freelancing and look for another job. In other words, I was going to throw in the towel on freelancing and working in games media. Six days after I made that decision, someone from Yahoo was trying to get a hold of me. Three weeks later, I’m preparing to make the biggest leap of my life into a dream job I didn’t even know I wanted when I started this whole writing journey.

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As you may know, I’ve accepted a full-time position to become a Yahoo Esports Content Creator, covering, you guessed it, Street Fighter V and the fighting game community. I’m fortunate because the work I’ve done at Red Bull eSports and within the FGC put me in a position to land this job.

IGN Features Editor Justin Davis said it best on Twitter:

“Freelance games writers: you’ll have 10x the success if you specialize. Be the VR guy, MMO gal, etc. Sports, Japan, retro-all needed niches.”

He could’ve added esports to that list but you get the idea. Diversify if you must get published or put food on the table but specialization works. I see it all the time in esports and I’m one lucky example of it.

It’s easy for me to say it now but for all of you still swimming in the freelance waters, hoping to land a job somewhere, but don’t lose hope. If you’re doing great work, someone will notice. It won’t be easy. The reality is you’re fighting for a limited amount of space against hundreds or thousands of other people. The one thing I love most in video games helped create an opportunity to make a huge career move. Find a way to stand out and keep grinding to get what you want.

Image credits: (feature) Eric Stewart and (Final Round) Chris Bahn

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