Getting to video game blogging and reviewing is a ton of fun, but it also is a lot of work. The biggest misconception is that you are going to be moseying along, playing video games all day, and writing about them without issue. But truthfully, getting the job done is just that; a job. There will be moments of getting your foot in the door that are tough, times when you have writer’s block, and frustration when you can’t afford the newest game to review.
But when you do get started, well, it’s pretty awesome. So what can you do?
Start a blog
It’s always smart to create your own blog. Some people want to have their own successful video game blog that they are the editor in chief of and that’s great. Others might want to write for another site, but they should still create their own beforehand. Why? Because it is the easiest way to start writing and get samples up there for future other freelance work.
Starting a blog is ridiculously easy with such ample offerings online. The two best blog sites to deal with are Blogspot and WordPress. They are the most widely used, have easy step-by-step choice to set up your blog and can be customized really easily as well.
After setting up a blog, you should think about getting a domain if it is a site you want to stick with down the line. You can host blogs on any domain and the cost of a .com now is nowhere near what it used to be. Annual hosting is easy to find through Godaddy, HostGator, and even Debug Design offer cheap hosting for gamers (with free WordPress install). Pick a name you like; once you start promoting it, it’ll be hard to change.
Once you have a blog set up, whether you want it to be your home base or just a start of an online portfolio, start writing. Seriously, that’s your next step. About anything and everything. Cover relevant news, review games new and old, write op-eds about anything. You want to start churning out content, but good content. Never rush a blog post and don’t burn yourself out. Start with a post a week and see if you can increase to 2-3 without feeling like it’s a chore.
Contribute and guest post
Once you have consistent content, you can start checking out other major blogs and sites and see if you can be a contributing writer. Use your blog posts as a means to show off your work and why you are fit to write for another blog. Be consistent with work and see if you can return and write future blog posts. Creating good relationships with other owners, writers and editors is smart.
You might be thinking, “that’s all great, but how do I get free review copies?” This is tough and usually has everything to do with how well a site is doing. Publishers and developers don’t just hand out free copies willy nilly, unless they are a small start up indie company looking to get a game everywhere (and often, those can be the most fun to cover and get in touch with!). They usually are looking for a minimum number of unique visitors to a blog or site per month to reassure them that giving you the next copy of Assassin’s Creed free is a worthy investment for them. For them, that means a large audience is going to see your review.
Build your brand
That is where building your own site or reaching out to bigger sites is important. It takes time and patience to build a following, as much as it does to become a regular contributor to a fairly popular site. As in, expect weeks and months of work. But once you do, you might find yourself being handed a free game or two to cover. Never turn down even the smallest of titles; free games are still free games, and the more fresh reviews you write and write well, the more likely you’ll be considered for the bigger franchises.