GameSkinny's JTP - What I've Learned In 8 Weeks

The things I've learned during the JTP at GameSkinny will last a lifetime.

For some writing is a hobby, others it's a means for food on the table. In the last eight weeks being involved with GameSkinny's Journalist Training Program (JTP), I've changed my tune on what I'd like writing to mean for me.

Thanks to numerous exercises and working out my writing muscles daily, I've learned a few things to hopefully better prepare me when looking for my first paying gig. Hopefully one day I can look back on this as a stepping stone to greater things.

Lets talk about how YOU feel

If you would've asked me last April when I started writing again, "do you really think you'll be able to make money doing this?" After the initial burst of laughter, I'd of told you "No." The JTP really made me do some soul-searching on the subject. Do I not take myself seriously enough? Is this just a fun hobby, or do I plan on feeding my kids with this career path?"

I used to be a musician and always enjoyed the attention, but more importantly I enjoyed the emotions felt creating that piece of music. Much like writing, I feel like I've accomplished something with each article posted. The feeling of knowing someone may actually enjoy your art, your opinion, your understanding of the industry - that feeling is like none other. That is what draws me to writing.

Through my head-in-the-clouds feelings 'n' all, the JTP kept me grounded. Not to say the editors knocked me down and rained on my parade, quite the opposite. They let me know what I was doing wrong, and how to fix it, daily. Not unlike a teacher, both Jay Ricciardi and Katy Hollingsworth (the only JTP editors) were very patient - and still are - with my lack of commas and understanding of proper punctuation.

Over the course of days and weeks, Jay and Katy repeated themselves over and over and my writing began to slowly improve. Along with better writing came better comments and notes from the editors. That in turn built up my confidence. Confidence, come to find out, is imperative in this industry. Despite my improvements, at times I'd measure myself to others, something that is not wise to do.

I went from having 10k views in 8 months, to an additional 10K views in 8 weeks(!). There were some other JTP-ers who were doing that on a daily basis. The feelings of inadequacy set in. My writing began to suffer briefly, making obvious mistakes, and having a pretty bad outlook on what I was doing. I eventually overcame this issue, but hate to admit it still happens.

Oh, I get it now

Part of the reason my views increased wasn't the fact I created some quality content. The JTP and its participants showed me how to use social media efficiently. With the basic knowledge and understanding of those sites, my page views increased.

Once I understood where to put content, I learned all about SEO tactics (Search Engine Optimization) from GameSkinny's very own Ashley Shankle. The series of articles encompass the basics of good titles, to tags in your articles, even how to link correctly in-article. One thing that stood out to me was knowing how to title an article, it can make or break the article in some cases.

For example I wrote about how Rock, Paper, Shotgun mistakenly thought a jazz musician named Eric Reed, was voice acting for a non-violent indie space sim, RymdResa. In reality it was a college kid with the same name.

Thanks to that week's challenge we had to write out 5 good, and 5 bad titles for a few articles and submit them for review. "Rock, Paper, Shotgun Misfired With RymdResa’s Voice Actor," was one of the alternate headings I sent in. The original was much longer, included their ages, names, and what happened. Needless to say, it was a rambling train wreck. Changing the title doubled the traffic on the article.

The importance of taking that extra step shows through so much when writing, from the research you do on the topic to taking time and playing with Google Trends. "What you put in to it, is what you'll get out of it," applies to the JTP, the games journalism industry, and life in general.

It's share time

What have I learned from the last 8 weeks? I've gained confidence in my writing. I've learned invaluable knowledge of SEO tactics. I've learned that I'm one in the hundreds of thousands vying for the same paid writing positions.

This is an industry crowded with talent, and that's scary. I've also learned this is something I want to pursue. I still have a lot to learn, but I want to learn. I want to grow as a writer, I want to experience success by doing what I'm passionate about.

However, I will not be returning for another session of the JTP. I feel I need to retreat into some books that will give me a better understanding of how to write, and how to thrive in this industry. I will however, continue to write for GameSkinny and be a part of its awesome community. Hopefully one day I can look back on this as a stepping stone to greater things.


Featured Correspondent

I'm a stay at home dad who writes about video games. I enjoy my family, video games, and music.

Published Mar. 17th 2014
  • TumsST
    Very interesting take on the whole game journalism scene. I'm in a similar situation to you. I'm trying to break into the game scene and get paid for my writing. I think it hit me that I wanted to try and make a go of this as a living when I got home from E3 last year. I was always interested in writing but I studied Criminal Justice/History in college.

    I'm always interested in working on my writing by means of what GameSkinny has to offer. Might think about this program more from your experience with it
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    It's a rough place to be in, but knowing Gameskinny has my back makes me that much more confident.

    You should certainly give it a try. Someone made the point to me earlier, "you can't get worse by writing more." And that's a very true statement.

    Writing daily with helpful feedback is imperative if you want to grow as a writer.

    Thanks for reading AND taking the time to comment. :)
  • Tommy Roberts
    Featured Contributor
    Good job man. Keep on keeping on y'know. It will all fall into place for you, I'm sure. It's good to know you learnt so much from the JTP and made the most of it all. I'm rooting for you breh.
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    Thank you too Tommy, you've been a great pal over the last year. I appreciate all the support.
  • Venisia Gonzalez
    Featured Columnist
    This was an awesome read!
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    Thanks Venisia, I look forward to yours. :)
  • Amy White
    Former Editor in Chief
    Greg, it's such a pleasure having you in the GameSkinny community. I'm so glad you enjoyed this phase of the JTP, and I'm looking forward to enjoying your writing for a long time to come - wherever your career takes you!

    Regarding Fathom's statement on backup plans, the nice part about writing is that it's a transferable skill (though many are). So if this particular niche doesn't pan out, you can always apply that skill set to copywriting, advertising copy, novel writing, marketing, and a variety of other careers outside of online journalism.

    That said, I'm rooting for you to nail your dream job ;)
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    Very true. While it was pure drudgery, having a copywriting gig for a little while last year really helped me. That being said, I'd probably rank those listed jobs in terms of realistic income potential as follows-

    Ad Copy

    Novel Writing

  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    Thank you Amy, and to think I found Gameskinny when trying out EVE Online.

    You guys helped me refocus my creative side, and for that I'm very grateful.

    I look forward to the day I that dream job. I'd love to work for OXM, GameSkinny, GamesRadar, and Joystiq. Who knows, hopefully sooner rather than later. :)
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    Excellent stuff!

    Glad to hear you're taking advantage of this great program they have here at GameSkinny. I wish there had been something like this back in the day when I first started...just had to figure it all out myself. Now, 15 years later, I realize how much an edge I would've had had I been given the advantage of great tutelage.

    That all being said, take it from me: If you do plan to pursue this, make sure to have a Plan B. I mean, best of luck and everything but unless you're going whole-hog - and that would likely necessitate a move out west where you might actually earn a living doing this - always have a back-up plan. Hell, even if you DO go whole-hog, have a back-up plan anyway. ;)
  • Coatedpolecat
    Featured Correspondent
    Thanks for taking the time, and that plan B is always on stand-by - operation gas station attendant. :)

    No, but really, thanks for reading. GameSkinny has been holding my hand since day one. Just a great community here all around.
  • Fathoms_4209
    Featured Columnist
    Like Amy said, being here can benefit you in a number of ways. Some years down the road, you might find being part of this helped in a way you never imagined.

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