Here's why you should start volunteering at HonestGamers TODAY!
June 13, 2020

This post is addressed to people who like playing video games and like writing about them too. My goal, as the editor-in-chief at HonestGamers, is to explain how your interests and that site have serious potential to intersect in exciting ways--right now--and to get you to join today or reach out to me directly to begin a proper discussion.

I hope you don't mind me being so direct, but if you're like me, you've seen offers from a lot of sites offering to welcome you on board and never pay you a dime. This might wind up being another one of those offers, but it might also be much, much more. That's if I can get enough people to participate all at once, and so here we are.

What does HonestGamers offer volunteers?

If you volunteer for the site, you'll have access to review keys for the games you review. You'll work with various team members who have years of experience writing about games and working with some of the industry's leading talent. You'll participate in a community that cares not just about games, but about writing well. And of course, we also offer that oft-maligned "E" word: exposure. It's exposure on, we hope, a site with which you'll be proud to be involved.

So that's the TLDR sales pitch. If I've piqued your interest, I encourage you to keep reading. If I bring people on board, I want them to know exactly what they're getting involved in: both the myriad challenges they'll face and the reasons I know that battle is one worth fighting.

Review Keys

The good news: PR professionals sometimes provide review keys we haven't even asked for, and sometimes even for genuinely exciting games. Or they offer keys for a wide variety of indie games for most platforms, and readily provide keys I request. Even "major" publishers have a good chance of responding favorably.

The bad news: There's never a guarantee, unless the key just lands in our lap. Though we have a good reputation and that leads to more keys than many similarly niche sites receive, our traffic isn't significant enough that we're on most PR wish lists. We are typically considered for keys after the big boys (IGN, GameSpot, Polygon, etc.) and the streamers get theirs. Sometimes, that means we just don't get access to a game that would be a perfect fit.

Mentoring and Feedback

The good news: The community has a workshop environment, and long-time contributors feel good about providing feedback that is often helpful or at least interesting. Current senior staff either have years of experience writing for HonestGamers and/or have contributed extensively to some leading sites and publications (I've personally produced content at sites such as IGN, GameSpot, Polygon, GamesRadar and others), and we'll help you polish your drafts before they go live on the site. Presently, there is also a weekly topic that offers feedback on the week's best reviews and sometimes on everything contributed.

The bad news: The community isn't currently as large or vocal as it once was, so you'll hear mostly from the same few people and sometimes won't hear at all, even in response to a request for feedback. Not everyone is equally gifted at providing constructive criticism (though most folks do a great job).

Exposure

The good news: When your content appears on the site, you can expect people to see it. We'll include it in an RSS feed (some people do still use those) and we'll often post links on social media. It's easy to click to share a post yourself, and we'll generally retweet a link if you do take that step.

The bad news: Exposure certainly doesn't pay the bills (though I have personally had exposure lead to work that did). Our traffic levels currently aren't especially high, either. The site has lately been attracting around 800 daily visitors, but that number can fluctuate. You'll tend to get a lot more attention than you would if you just set up a personal blog for yourself (and in fact, you can set up a blog at HonestGamers), but don't expect thousands of hits for each review. "Hundreds" is more typical.

So, that's the good and bad news in general. The final question I'd like to answer in this post is this one:

What is the strategy for growth?

My goal is to bring on as many skilled volunteers as I can, to supplement those the site has already attracted and in some cases worked with for many years. I'm looking for people who either already know their stuff and want to use their existing talent to build something great, or people who show promise and are looking to work and improve their craft.

History has shown that when more content is going live--regularly--all of it performs better because more people come for one thing and then look around to see what else the site has to offer. I want to harness that tendency by making sure we're regularly producing reviews, news articles and eventually guides (which do very well for the site but take a lot more time to create).

The big word here is "momentum." By getting more people involved more quickly and more persistently, I hope to expand the site's audience at a rate that leads to actual revenue. As the site produces more traffic and revenue, that revenue will go right back into the site to compensate contributors. Initially, compensation won't amount to much. In all honesty, there's no guarantee it will ever come. But the goal is to push for it. Hard.

Please consider joining that effort today, and consider yourself encouraged to invite like-minded friends. The more motivated individuals we get involved (and the sooner we're able to help them get to work creating a stream of quality content), the more likely we are to build at a rate that will compensate each of us and allow us to generate income doing something we're passionate about. I call that "living the dream," and I'm not even being ironic about it. If you feel the same way, let's talk!

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