"Master Dayton" might be humorous, (I mean if Ph.Ds are called "Doctors," shouldn't MFAs be called "Masters?") but in all seriousness I have made a living freelance writing and after several years I have tons of information I want to share to help out my fellow writers, regardless of age, experience, goals, situation, or background. This blog isn't pretty-but it will help if real freelance writing information is what you want.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Freelance Writing: Make Money Writing Video Game Reviews

Make Money Freelance Writing: Write Online Game Reviews for Profit

One of the best things about freelance writing is that there are literally tens of thousands of subjects and topics that people want articles for, and there are just as many different ways of making a living as a freelance writer. One way that gets searched for online a lot is to make money writing video game reviews. I figured since this blog already ranked #1 for a lot of the "writing video game reviews" type of keywords, even though there wasn't a post on that topic yet, now was a good time to actually write a blog post on this topic. At least then there would be some information directly related to these questions, and I imagine as gaming isn't going anywhere, the desire to make a living writing about games will only continue to grow.

So how do you make money writing video game reviews? The answer to that isn't completely clear cut, since what most people have in mind when they think about this is very different from the reality of what options you have when it comes to gaming articles. The actual ways there are to make money online (and off) writing about video game are two very different things. This isn't a blog that is going to focus on this one topic and stick on it. It's not about gaming, and at no point do I see making that shift.

However it's important to know that the desire of gamers who want to write far outnumbers the demand for online articles about video games. If you imagine somehow making a full time living off of just writing video game reviews, you're setting yourself up for major disappointment. Unless you work for one of the big name websites or print magazines, that's not going to happen. But you can make money from writing video game reviews, and I will go over some of the options you have if this is the writing you really are interested in.

Freelance Writing Option #1

Write articles and post them on Constant Content. Here you can pick the rights you're willing to sell your articles for and to set the prices. Full rights sell the most articles, and make the most money, but if you're looking to build up a name or reputation for yourself, then usage rights is probably the best choice. Here you can upload a lot of articles, set the prices high, and then if you're worried just check the box that allows buyers to make a counter offer.

This works best for reviews of brand new video games and systems, and is also for comparative video game articles like "Why Oblivion Destroys Fable II" or "PS3 vs. XBox 360, Which System Is Best for You?" If you write game reviews like this, there is a good chance you can find a buyer as opposed to being one of thousands of reviews on a specific title, and at that point why would anyone want your opinion over the major websites that are already established? In my experience the best articles (when it comes to actually making money writing about video games) are list articles. "Top 10 RPGs of All Time," "Top 10 XBox 360 Games of 2008," or "Worst 20 Nintendo Games Ever," are three examples of good list articles that have a decent chance of finding a buyer.

In general, I've found the newer the game, the more likely it is to sell as a "true" video game review that most people are used to reading, and maybe writing. A freelance writer, especially a freelance writer who is looking to tackle such an oversaturated topic, need to be able to think outside the box and diversify.

If you are writing game reviews for Constant Content and only selling usage rights, then after those articles are accepted and put up for sale in the CC database, consider publishing the articles on Associated Content for both up front pay and a Pay Per View (PPV) bonus, that ranges from $1.50-$2.00 for every 1,000 views. Having articles on AC can also catch the attention of individuals who might be looking for freelance video game writers, and they might contact you for more work.

This hasn't happened to me on Associated Content for writing video game reviews, but I have gotten jobs for sports writing, book reviews, and other writing gigs based on my AC articles, so make sure your articles are up to snuff, because you never know who might stumble upon them.

Freelance Writing Option #2

Search everywhere for work, including print markets. It will most likely be very difficult to find people willing to pay for gaming articles of any kind if you don't already have an in or some type of connection that makes your particular take on the topic more valuable or authoritative than the many online that are already provided for free. There are several major video game review websites online, and you can go to each and contact them asking to become a contributing author - and maybe you'll find someone willing to pay you, although this blog is about transparency, and so I have to say it's unlikely that this will work in letting you make a lot of money writing about video games or any type of topic in that field.

A better option might be to check out the many print magazines that deal with video games like PC Gamer, Electronic Gaming Monthly, X-Box, or Nintendo Power. Many of these magazines accept certain types of freelance writing submissions, and that might include video game reviews. You might have to break in with quick blurbs, but eventually that could build up to full blown video game reviews, and at least you're getting paid for writing about video games.

Don't just look for print magazines, either. There are plenty of online magazines that are often looking for freelance content writing. These can range from online versions of well established magazines like Maxim, to completely online magazines that are geared towards being online magazines for men, college students, or gamers. It's not just video game magazines looking for video game reviews, so look around and see what you can find.

Freelance Writing Option #3

This one could make you more money than option #1, but it's also more complex. Another option for making money by writing video game reviews is to start your own blog and/or website. Sign up for Commission Junction and Amazon Associates to become an affiliate, and sign up for Google Adsense. By monetizing your site and building up an exceptional blog/website full of great content and reviews, if you can bring in the traffic then there's a chance you could make a lot of sales and a lot from advertising and advertising clicks. This might be the best way you could potentially make a full time living writing video game reviews.

Before getting too excited, this step will take a lot of time, work, and knowledge - and this isn't a guarantee that it will work. Freelance writing can be hard enough, but this step also involves extensive knowledge of SEO, keywords, Search Engine Rankings, Internet Marketing, traffic, and many other factors. It's a good idea for any freelance writer to learn all of these skills, since these skills all make a freelance writer more valuable, and make it easier and more likely for you to make money online.

The key to this is to set up a site that gets tons of traffic, and ranks highly for the search engines, especially for Google. Social traffic traditionally doesn't translate to sales or Adsense clicks, while search engine traffic does. So getting ranked for the literally thousands of long tail keywords you can get when writing about video games will be the first step, since that will be huge in the process of ranking for all the major keywords that will bring literally thousands of visitors to your site a day.

Once you have those numbers, you might not get paid per article for your video game reviews, but you should be making some pretty good scratch between Adsense clicks and affiliate sales. If you get that kind of traffic, you might find people e-mailing you about advertising and create another income stream.

In Summary:

Writing video game reviews is not the most lucrative way to make money online, but if you are a major gamer and enjoy writing, even doing something simple like writing for Constant Content and then writing for Associated Content might not make you a fortune freelance writing, but it can get you paid for writing video game reviews, giving you some side income for something you would do anyway (play video games). If you write enough to make decent taxable income, then the video games can even become expenses and tax write-offs, but you need a very clear record of how you made money by writing video game reviews.

There are many ways of writing to make money. Writing video game reviews sounds like a dream job, and for those who write for the big time video game magazines, it probably is. But it's not the easiest or most efficient, way for making a full time living writing.


  1. Boy, did I read this at the right time! Here I am, trying to set up a blog about games that includes reviews, and I read this exact article. I kept reading it, going, "When is he going to start talking about blogs and AdSense?" And then, there you go. Thank you, sir.


  2. Hi Judd,

    Glad you found this post helpful! I will say from further experience since I wrote this that I'm becoming a big fan of Squidoo lenses and HubPages aimed at specific groups of games or gaming systems that aren't covered very often. Those have done very well for me over the past year or so. Thanks for reading, and I hope you found this freelance writing blog post on writing video game reviews for money helpful.

  3. This really is a great article, thank you so much for the post! The key words and tagging seem to be very important on the SEO side of things but as I am beginning several blogs on various topics myself, I found that because of the changes in SEO, working on several fronts and diversifying look to be keys in becoming successful on the freelance blogging side. I'll look through some more of your articles to see if I can see more tips to help me along.

  4. A great read, informative, honest, and as you said: no sales pitch.

    However, as good a read as it was, I found it extremely discouraging, perfectly summed up by the last paragraph.

    When I try and plan how to break into the game-writing market I'm always left feeling like a French peasant during the middle ages, staring at the shining knights riding by and dreaming of slaying dragons... while idly mucking dirt.

  5. Hi Guys,

    I think I have come to the right place since I really enjoy both gaming and writing. I would like get some feedback on the following idea: I want to create a website where I post video game guides / walkthroughs written by me. Would that be a good video game related niche?

    Thank you for all help

  6. Dear Master Dayton,

    I would like to thank you for this article. I love gaming and I have also come to enjoy writing - it is something that always came naturally to me. I would like to somehow combine my enjoyment of both video games and writing. Does writing video game guides / walkthroughs sound like a good niche?

    Thank you again for your article

  7. Hey Anonymous,

    While it sounds good on the surface, there are so many walk throughs or video game guides that I'm not sure it's a good niche. However a gaming blog can still do very well by writing articles on common questions asked about video games, giving some tips, or writing list articles like "10 best zombie games" or "10 most violent games of 2010" or stuff like that. Think niches like "best wii games for grandparents" or writing reviews of the various colors of handheld video game systems - stuff like that. Given enough time and once you get enough traffic you should be able to get a sense of what posts make you money and get traffic and which don't.

  8. Hi Master Dayton

    I found your blog entry while looking for a way to sell my video game related articles. Very informative *Thumbs up*

    I'm writing a 3 page article about the differences between Infamous and Infamous 2 right now. I'm really suffering with the layout though.

    Therefore my question: Do I even need to make my own layout, or is the "buyer side" (IGN, Gamespot, etc) usually doing that on their own?

    My issue with an own layout is that most of the content I was going to use with that feature article (including the background) is trademarked by Sony or Sucker Punch.

  9. I have a question. I am using my blog as a reference point for the websites who ask for a "snippet" of writing or a link. I never know how long a "snippet" is so I just provide the link. But the direction of my blog is my journey into the gaming industry, not necessarily reviews, even though it contains some. My question is: Is it appropriate to send potential clients to that blog? Or should I create another one? Also, can I copy and paste a review, or article, I did on my blog and put it into Associated Content and Constant Content? Thanks!