We’re always looking for new blood at Thumbsticks. Right now, we need some freelance video game news writers.
At Thumbsticks, we’re (almost) always looking for new writers. It’s just a thing we do. One of our key goals is to provide opportunities for new talent and different voices.
But every now and then, we’re looking for something in particular. We might be looking for a new group of reviewers or some new feature perspectives, for instance. Right now, though, we’re looking for new freelance video game news writers.
So have a read of this, and if it sounds like something you might be interested in? Get in touch.
What we’re looking for
People who can write short news stories, to a high standard and in keeping with the house style, with minimal supervision. Ideally, this will be within UK business hours.
These stories will be very light reporting and will typically cover things like new game announcements, trailers, releases and updates, sales and discounts, and general industry news. (That’s not to say that longer, more heavily reported work isn’t available, but those pieces are commissioned on a case-by-case basis.)
Who we’re looking for
We’re looking for people who want to be writers, first and foremost. Yes, most people who want to write about video games also tend to love playing them, but that is not, in itself, a qualification.
You don’t have to be experienced, have any journalism qualifications or a background in professional writing, but that desire to be a writer first and foremost is key. As a result, this would be ideal for journalism students or graduates, or for anyone looking to get into freelance games writing as a main career or side hustle.
Other than that? We don’t really care who you are! We would, however, love to receive applications from people from diverse backgrounds. This industry needs some new voices and we would like to help with that where we can, thank you very much.
You can be based anywhere in the world, as long as your written English is to a high standard and you can produce news during UK business hours. We do need you to be at least 18 years old, though, so we’re not accidentally exploiting child labour.
What the process looks like
You’ll apply by email, including a little bit of information about who you are and why you’d like to write for us, and include any clips of relevant published work. (Don’t have any clips? That’s fine! Write a short sample to show off your skills.)
If you’re successful you will receive your first couple of assignments by email from one of our commissioning editors. Once you’ve got a couple of pieces under your belt and we’re all happy working together, we’ll create you an account on our CMS so you can prep your own articles, and also invite you to the Thumbsticks Slack. (If you’re not familiar with Slack, it’s like Discord, but for work.)
We use Slack as an informal way of pitching stories. This is so you can be sure we’re interested in the piece you’re planning to write, but also so you don’t end up clashing or doubling up with another writer who might have had the same idea.
An informal pitch is usually a writer asking if we’re looking for coverage of something they’ve seen, perhaps with a summary of the angle they’d like to approach it from, or it might be the Thumbsticks editorial team asking if anyone is available to cover something. Once you’ve got the nod from one of the editors you will prepare your piece then submit it for review. We’ll take a look over it and, assuming there are no major changes required, add the finishing touches and publish it.
That’s it. That’s the process. The whole thing is really simple and straightforward. An experienced writer can easily bash out a short, 250-word news story in 15 minutes and, depending on content schedules and editor availability, you’ll often see it live on the site within an hour or two.
How much we pay
At the time of writing (updated September 2020) Thumbsticks pays £0.02 GBP per commissioned word. You can always check the main “write for us” page to see if we’ve updated our rates since this advert was first written.
We typically commission articles based on four standard lengths:
- 250 words – news story, short guide – £5 GBP
- 500 words – guide, op-ed – £10 GBP
- 750 words – review, round-up – £15 GBP
- 1000 words – feature, interview – £20 GBP
The majority* of news stories we commission will be 250 words long. This means at our current rate – £0.02 GBP, as of July 2020 – you will earn a flat rate of £5 GBP for every news story you write for Thumbsticks. (We wish we could pay more! But that’s honestly all we can afford. It’s probably more than we can afford, but we’re an independent site and we’re doing our best.)
Sometimes they come out a little under 250 words. Sometimes they’re a little over. It tends to even out over time and we’re not precious about it being exactly 250 words. (But if you go well over a commission length that’s on you, and if something is really short we might ask you to flesh it out.)
*If you’re planning something that’s longer than a standard news story – like a piece with an interview component, or a round-up report on an event – then we will, of course, pay you a rate commensurate with the longer word counts listed above. Just make sure you agree this with us in advance before you start writing it!
How much you can earn
We don’t have a dodgy pay-per-view model or pay you in tokens or chits. We don’t make you write a minimum number of pieces before you can start earning. We don’t set a monthly quota that you need to stay above in order to keep earning.
You will be paid, properly and promptly, for everything you write for Thumbsticks.
We don’t set a minimum quota on writers because we know circumstances can change. The flexibility on offer is one of the things our writers tell us they love about working for Thumbsticks. You can write as little or as much as you have time and availability for, up to a budget ceiling that is agreed at the start of each month.
We will agree with you an upper limit on the number of news stories for the coming month. This is so we can assess our revenue from the previous month, then carve up the freelance budget accordingly amongst news, reviews, features and guides.
All we ask is that you don’t go over your limit without asking first, and that you try and space the work out evenly through the month as best you can. (Submitting 20 news articles on the final day of the month to hit the agreed-upon ceiling isn’t particularly useful to us!)
How we pay
For an individual, one-off commission, we’re happy for writers to invoice us immediately once the commission has been completed. We’ll pay promptly via bank transfer or PayPal, whichever is most suitable at the time. (We might use bank transfer for writers in the UK but PayPal for writers overseas to minimise currency conversion charges, for example.)
If you’re doing a body of work, like a month of news coverage, we ask that you hold off on invoicing until the end of the month. This saves us paying any associated charges more than once, and it also saves everyone a bit of admin, too. (This is a freelance gig, so you’re responsible for your own admin, taxes, and everything else that comes with it.)
But once we receive your invoice for the month’s news work – and anything else you’ve written in the period, if appropriate – we’ll turn it around very promptly. We’ve got editors who have done a lot of freelance work over the years. We know how frustrating it can be!
We’re always open for feature pitches, though our budget is limited, and there’s always room for new voices on our reviews. Guides are also in demand. The pitching process for those is fairly informal and similar to the news process described above.
Ready to get started?
Fire an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org with something sensible about news writing in the subject line. Make sure you tell us a little about yourself, why you think you’d make a good freelance news writer and would be a good fit for the Thumbsticks team, and don’t forget to include links to your clips or writing samples.
We look forward to hearing from you.
If you want to support Thumbsticks – every penny we earn goes into our freelance budget – then please consider buying us a coffee or becoming a patron. (Patrons also get access to a speedy, ad-free version of the site.)
We have a favour to ask
Thumbsticks has a couple of main aims. We want to write interesting articles and cover games that most outlets won't, and we want to give opportunities to new writers and new voices. And right now, with the current state of online publishing? It's tough! We hate to ask, but if you want us to continue writing what others won't, or to keep covering weird indie games, or to be able to give opportunities to new writers – and only if you can afford it – then please consider supporting us on Patreon.
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