Side Hustle Stories: Getting paid to play video games

Colette Bennett

Colette gets paid to review videogames.

This article is part of the Side Hustle Stories.

Think you can only earn extra money by doing tiring work that you don’t enjoy? Think again.

Colette Bennett is a video game reviewer. That’s right. She gets paid to play video games. I’ve brought her in to show you the exact steps you can take to become one yourself.

You’ll notice that many of Colette’s tips can apply to other areas as well. You can definitely make extra money doing something that you enjoy.

Here’s what Colette had to say in her own words.

Her story

I did years of full time work for a video game blog. Now I spend most of my time running Tomopop, a collectibles culture website which is within a blog network called Modern Method.

I also do small freelance projects for other blogs such as Colourlovers, a design and color theory blog, and GamesRadar, a video game news website.

What she gets paid

With my freelance projects I am normally paid per article. With one blog that I currently write for, I bill $75 per interview/feature.

But it also depends on the place. Some places will make an offer and others will ask what you want to be paid.

For example, Colourlovers asked for my rate and I quoted it to them, whereas past projects with other websites have ranged between $40 and $250 per feature length article.

How long it takes

For GamesRadar, I do iPhone game reviews, so it takes me about an hour to play through and get a feel for the game and another hour to write the review, which is usually under 800 words.

For the game reviews that I do for consoles such as the Playstation 3 or Wii, we are required to complete those games before we write the reviews, so the process is longer. It can take anywhere from a day to a week to complete the game depending on length, and then usually an hour to two hours to write the review once it is complete.

How you can become a video game reviewer

In my circles, you must have something to show to start.

Start a blog and sketch out some of your ideas in feature form or try writing news in a way that offers something your competitors don’t have. These resources will help you get a blog up and running.

When I started my own game blog, I wrote about a dozen full length features (over 800 words each) on topics that I felt strongly about that I thought gamers would relate to.

For articles under 800 words, I would suggest having a larger portfolio (about 20 or so) just to give the editor a backlog to read and get a better feel for your voice.

Once you have a small body of work, try emailing the editors of different outlets you enjoy and asking about freelance work. Many outlets openly accept pitches from freelancers. The Escapist is an example of one in the video game world.

To give you a better idea of what to say, here is a screenshot of a successful pitch that I sent to an online outlet.

Video Game Tester

 

In my email, I linked to some sites that I worked at previously. If this is your first time, then you’ll need to point the editor to what you have already written.

This is why starting a blog on the topic and building your portfolio is important. Always show off what you have already done, tell the editor what you are available to do, and once again, try to offer them something unique.

The work is there … but you have to get out there and go after it.

What to do once your pitch is accepted

If your pitch is accepted, then you can begin the process of negotiating. This includes what you’ll be paid, how many words the article will be, and the format of the article.

Usually, the editor will tell me what to do after a pitch is accepted.

For instance, Colourlovers frequently says that they like an idea and then the editor and I will discuss whether it will be an interview with an artist or a feature on their work. From there, I sketch it out in their style format and write it.

As another example, once a pitch is accepted at The Escapist, they tell you how many words the article will be and then edit the first draft after you send it.

Most outlets will have a format, so all you have to do is get in the entryway and they tell you what to do from there.

How to negotiate your price

Negotiating price is extremely difficult for many freelancers.

When I am asked to supply them, I make prices based on what other outlets have paid me for similar work.

So if I get $75 for an interview in one place, I’ll ask for the same in another. Also, as my name becomes more known within certain circles, I may feel comfortable enough to increase my price.

If I can, I try to let them name the price first. It just makes life easier. I rarely ask for more than they offer me — if a price doesn’t suit me, then I simply pass on the job.

(Editor’s note: For strategies on getting the other party to name a price first, check out the article on salary negotiation.)

Interested in learning more?

Thanks so much to Colette for sharing her experiences and knowledge!

If you want more tips on freelancing and negotiation, then please join Passive Panda’s Free Newsletter.

What other types of freelancers would you love to hear from? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

5 Responses to Side Hustle Stories: Getting paid to play video games

  1. Cool. If I will be a freelancer, I want this same line of work too! Thanks for the advice and thanks James for this kind of exposure. :D

  2. Tram Tran says:

    Cool. It sounds easy, but I’m sure she works hard for her success. Awesome jobs both Collette and James. ;)

  3. Imtiaz Nabil says:

    I think that example of her e-mail to an online outlet is the most educational part of this story. She seems to be at such ease with herself, confident about her ability, proud of her accomplishments so far, yet she has managed to sound humble and polite and let the editor to take the lead from there on yet never removing herself from the driver’s seat. E-mailing is a piece of art and Collete has done a wonderful job of it.
    Thank you!

  4. Marci says:

    Good for you, great advice, Thank you.

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