As an introverted teenager, I found solace in the corner stroking my iPod and listening to the voices of the Internet i.e. podcasts. They were the only ones that shared my passion for games, anime, and geeky culture in general so it was a dream of mine to become an Internet writer. Getting review copies, going to events, staying up late chatting about the themes and intricacies of some bizarre 16-bit japanese indie game sounded like the life of Riley’s nerdy brother.
There aren’t too many Internet origin stories documenting the rise of a common Internet writer but for those who want to join the ranks of bedroom journalists maybe interested in my beginnings.
It has been documented that I was a massive fan of Destructoid in the late nouties. Topher Cantler was one of the writers that had left to find his own site and populate a forum full of likeminded people, one of them being me. We chatted about Japan, video games, Japanese video games, and sometimes video games about Japan. It was a great community so naturally I started to add them on twitter to stay connected.
One of the members was in charge of his own gaming site and sent a tweet looking for news writers. It was a moderately sized site garnering over a thousand views daily so I responded with interest. At this point I had left education and have never done any formal writing for any publication. All it took for me to be hired was a kindly worded email explaining my passion for video games, and interest in writing about them. Later I learnt that my application was one of few that were actually grammatically water tight and spelt correctly showing the Internet’s low standards for writers.
Anyways my foot was in the door and I spent nearly two years there churning out news posts, editorials, reviews, and live blogged big events like E3. I learnt a lot about how a news site was organised, ran, the people that inhabit the industry, and the skills needed to produce different types of content. I also made friends there. People that I will carry on correspondents with over social media long after I left the site.
Leaving my first internet job was due to reality forcing me out the Internet. I had to focus on studies so blogging was the first thing to let go. At this point I experienced freelancing and it wasn’t as fun as I thought. Romanticising the freelance writer lifestyle as a rogue mercenary is a fallacy. I found most of my time perusing game journalism jobs for positions, and fruitlessly emailing sites for a gig. Whenever I landed one, I quickly left. Maybe it was due to the change in the gaming climate causing me to lose interest or maybe it was because I disagreed with many site policies due to their restriction on liberal expression via photoshop. I just couldn’t find that perfect temperature porridge I had first tasted at my first place. It was at this point I made this site.
With my own site I could write what I want, to the limit I wanted, and when I wanted. I was my own boss. A kind boss that often allowed 6 month holidays but one that also got results. The perks of review copies and early access were non-existent but I was writing again and a lot. The fringe benefits weren’t material but rather pride. I enjoyed expressing my views in words on a topic and sharing them with the world. I also made it a judgement call to only review positively. I didn’t want to be a huge news aggregate site but rather an advocate for quality goods. This way I didn’t make any enemies and always kept people on my good side whenever I linked them to my site.
Like with 97% of dream jobs, I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Browsing Japanator I noticed they were hiring interns to replace departing staff. This was on the back end of summer 2014. Fortunately this call lined up with the large amount of anime content I had been producing for this site, so I sent an email application the same day I saw the ad and then played the waiting game.
This waiting game went on passed fall, the holidays, and up until Valentines when I was set up with the credentials to blog. In that time I still plugged away at my site while responding to the odd email regarding the internship. Even though my dream job was secured I never stopped writing on this blog. It was no longer a means to an end, it was something I started to enjoy despite not reaping the perks of internet blogging.
So that’s my story of how in ~3 years I went from a person that has only read news posts and reviews, to a blogger that will be supplying the news posts and reviews. It may sound more personal than what I usually post, but it’s a story I thought would be nice to tell any aspiring writers.
Top tips for getting into Internet writing
- Stay connected. That’s mostly how I got my foot in the door. I saw a tweet from a forum goer looking for news writers and I applied. You may dislike the whole facebook, twitter, google plus malarkey but this is how the internet is communicating.
- Aim low but with your eyes to the sky. I got cocky and thought I was worth more than volunteer writer so wasted a lot of time not writing but searching for jobs. If I didn’t start this blog then I’ll probably still be looking at Games Journalism Jobs.
- Start a blog yourself. Sometimes your dream job doesn’t have vacancies and you don’t see yourself at other place. Starting your own site may be your best option. It gets the word out there that you’re blogging allowing employers to see your stuff.
- Linked with the last point is; write what you like/know/ passionate for especially if it’s your own site. I’ve posted tons about The Walking Dead games recently because that’s what I’ve played and wanted to talk about. It’s horribly out of date and I’m sure readers are sick of it already but it’s what I wanted to write about. The litmus test to whether you’re cut out for the job is; how does it feel to hit that publish button and see your work completed? If it feels good, looks good, and you want to do more then you’re in good position to becoming an Internet writer.
- Don’t beat yourself up about it. From comments to emails to life catching up with you, Internet writing can be the last thing on your mind causing you to struggle to jot anything down. Don’t worry cause it happens to all of us. Leave it for a while. Especially when you’ve first started, it is hard to write cognitively and coherently. Having regular practice is far better than binging for hours on multiple posts.