Game BusinessGame Education

How to Become a Freelance TTRPG Writer

How to become a freelance TTRPG writer

Freelance writing is the core of the TTRPG publishing industry.

Who knows? You might stumble upon opportunities to write fascinating articles, thrilling adventures, or even contribute to core rulebooks.

 

The beauty of freelancing goes beyond just earning money. It also allows you to build valuable connections within the vibrant TTRPG industry.

 

So how do you become a TTRPG writer?

Here Are Some Of The Benefits Of Becoming a Freelance TTRPG Writer:

  • Earn money while doing something you love.
  • Build valuable connections in the TTRPG industry.
  • Work on a variety of projects, from articles to adventures to rulebooks.
  • Set your own hours and work from anywhere.

If you want to become a freelance ttrpg writer, here are some tips:

1. Do Your Research. (skip to here)

Learn about the different companies and magazines that publish TTRPG content. What kind of content do they publish? What are their submission guidelines?

 

2. Build A Portfolio. (skip to here)

Start collecting your best writing samples. This could include articles, adventures, or even just short stories.

 

3. Network With The Community.  (skip to here)

Get involved in the TTRPG community and meet other writers who can help you get started.

 

4. Deliver Professionalism & Quality.  (skip to here)

Your passion for game design will show in your work and make you more attractive to publishers.

 

Want to Write Your Own TTRPG Adventure?  (skip to here)

The Organized Game Master

Your Toolbox for Tabletop Mastery!

1. Do Your Research

The first step to becoming a freelance TTRPG writer is researching. This means learning about the different companies and magazines that publish TTRPG content. What kind of content do they publish? What are their submission guidelines?

 

Technically you could sell more than just game writing. You could also sell blog posts and articles or magazine articles. We’re going to focus more on game writing opportunities in this post.

 

Start by visiting the websites of different publishers. Check out their social media accounts. Their gig listings should tell you what their submission guidelines are. They should also be up front and honest about what their pay is, as early in the process as possible. It’s a really big red flag if they ask for thousands of words of proposal work from you without discussing compensation.

➡️Learn About The Different Genres

The TTRPG industry is made up of a variety of genres, including fantasy, science fiction, horror, and mystery. Each genre has its own unique conventions and expectations. So, it’s important to learn about the different genres before you start submitting your work. While you can show off your horror portfolio when reaching out to a sci-fi game company, you may want to consider angling your portfolio to match the work you’re trying to get. Make sure to create samples in different genres so you have the range you want to show off. 

➡️Learn About The Different Systems

There are also a variety of TTRPG systems, such as Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, and Call of Cthulhu. Each system has its own rules and mechanics. It’ll be important to understand the mechanics and system of the game you’re hoping to write for. (Unless they’re totally new, in which case you can expect a basic education from the team.) If you’ve only ever written 5E content but you’re hoping to write for a Mork Borg supplement, it’s time to learn how Mork Borg works real quick. 

➡️Learn About The Submission Guidelines

Once you’ve learned about the different publishers, magazines, genres, and systems, it’s time to start learning about the submission guidelines.

 

Each publisher and magazine has its own submission guidelines. So, it’s important to read the guidelines carefully before you submit your work. They often outline important details such as preferred submission formats, word count limits, specific topics of interest, and any specific formatting or style requirements.

 

Adhering to these guidelines demonstrates professionalism and respect for the publisher’s time, increasing the likelihood that your submission will be considered seriously.

Here Are Some Tips For Learning About Submission Guidelines:
  • Read the guidelines carefully. Make sure you understand all of the requirements before you submit your work.
  • Follow the guidelines exactly. Don’t deviate from the guidelines, even if you think you know better.
  • Ask for help if you need it. If you’re not sure how to follow the guidelines, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Something business owners genuinely can’t stand (and believe me, we talk about it a lot in our mastermind groups) is when someone doesn’t read the submission or application guidelines for a job posting. I’ve seen people go so far as to put a secret keyword somewhere in the meat of the posting as part of the submission requirements so they can immediately toss applications that didn’t notice that particular guideline. (For example: “If you have read this far, please put the word ‘Pineapple’ at the top of your application.”)

 

Follow the guidelines.

Build a Portfolio

What Is A Portfolio?

A portfolio is a collection of your best work. It’s a way to show potential clients what you can do. Your portfolio should include a variety of samples, such as articles, adventures, rulebooks, supplements, and more.

How To Create A Portfolio

There are a few things to keep in mind when creating your portfolio:

➡️Choose Your Samples Wisely. 

Not all of your work is created equal. Choose samples that showcase your best writing, design, and creativity. Focus on creating polished and well-structured materials that demonstrate your understanding of game mechanics, storytelling, and player engagement.

 

It’s beneficial to develop compelling sample materials that highlight your versatility and range as a TTRPG writer. This could include writing excerpts, NPC profiles, world-building snippets, or even simple encounters.

➡️Organize Your Samples. 

Ensure that your portfolio is well-organized, visually appealing, and easy to navigate. Use an aesthetically pleasing layout, include engaging visuals or artwork where applicable, and present your work in a professional manner.

 

Consider creating separate sections or categories to showcase different types of content, such as adventures, supplements, or world-building materials. Providing a diverse range of samples will give potential clients a comprehensive view of your abilities.

➡️Format Your Samples. 

When compiling your portfolio samples, it is crucial to ensure that they are well-formatted and easy to read. Opt for clear and legible fonts that enhance readability. Avoid overly ornate or unconventional fonts that might distract from the content itself.

 

Additionally, make effective use of white space to create a visually balanced layout. Provide ample margins and line spacing to give your samples room to breathe, allowing the reader’s eyes to navigate the text effortlessly.

 

Remember, a clean and visually appealing presentation enhances the professionalism of your work, making it more inviting and accessible to potential clients.

➡️Promote Your Portfolio. 

Once you’ve meticulously crafted your portfolio, the next step is to actively promote it. Share your portfolio across various channels, including your website, social media platforms, and any other relevant online spaces.

 

Embed your portfolio directly on your website, creating a dedicated page or section where potential clients can easily access and explore your work. Leverage the power of social media by posting links to your portfolio and accompanying it with engaging captions or teasers to generate interest. Utilize relevant hashtags and join TTRPG communities to connect with a broader audience.

 

Additionally, consider participating in online forums, discussions, or industry events where you can share your portfolio and engage with fellow enthusiasts. By proactively promoting your portfolio, you increase its visibility, making it more likely to catch the attention of potential clients and collaborators in the vibrant TTRPG community.

➡️Make Sure Your Portfolio Is Easy To Navigate. 

When presenting your portfolio to potential clients, it is essential to ensure that they can find the specific samples they are looking for quickly and easily. Organize your portfolio in a logical and intuitive manner, making it effortless for visitors to navigate and locate relevant content.

 

Consider categorizing your samples based on different genres, themes, or project types. Provide clear headings, subheadings, or labels that accurately describe the content of each sample. Incorporate a search function or filtering options if feasible, allowing clients to refine their search based on specific criteria.

 

Additionally, include a table of contents or an index page that provides an overview of the available samples and their locations within your portfolio. By prioritizing easy access and efficient navigation, you maximize the chances of potential clients discovering the samples that best align with their needs and interests.

➡️Bonus Points: Use High-Quality Images And Videos. 

This one may not be as applicable outside of crowdfunding, BUT, if you have the opportunity to include images or videos alongside your writing samples in your portfolio, it is crucial to ensure that they are of high quality. Visual elements that complement your writing can greatly enhance the overall impact and appeal of your portfolio, making it stand out from the crowd.

 

Use high-resolution images that are clear, well-composed, and visually engaging. If including videos, ensure they are well-edited, with good production value and appropriate length. The visual content should seamlessly align with the tone and theme of your writing samples, enhancing the reader’s experience and immersing them in your work.

 

High-quality visuals not only grab attention but also convey professionalism and attention to detail, leaving a lasting impression on potential clients who are seeking exceptional talent.

➡️Keep Your Portfolio Updated. 

Continuously updating your portfolio with new samples is a powerful way to demonstrate to potential clients that you are an evolving and improving writer. As you embark on new projects or develop fresh content, be sure to integrate them into your portfolio.

 

By showcasing your latest work, you convey a sense of dedication and passion for your craft. It also signals to clients that you stay current with industry trends and are actively refining your skills. Including a mix of recent samples allows potential clients to witness your growth and versatility, gaining confidence in your ability to meet their specific needs.

 

Regularly updating your portfolio is a testament to your commitment to excellence and shows that you are consistently striving to deliver the highest quality work to your clients.

➡️Highlight Your Unique Style

When building your portfolio as a TTRPG writer, it is essential to infuse it with your unique style and voice. Your portfolio should be a reflection of your creative identity, showcasing the strengths and qualities that set you apart from others in the field.

 

Whether you possess a distinct narrative style that captivates readers, a gift for crafting immersive descriptions that transport players to vibrant worlds, or an innovative approach to game mechanics that breathes new life into gameplay, it’s crucial to emphasize these elements throughout your portfolio.

 

By highlighting your individuality, you not only stand out from the crowd but also attract potential clients who resonate with and appreciate your particular style. Let your portfolio be a canvas that showcases your strengths, leaving a lasting impression on those who are seeking a TTRPG writer with a unique and compelling voice.

 

➡️Collaborate With Other Creatives

Collaborating with other creatives, such as artists, cartographers, or fellow writers, can broaden your experience and add depth to your portfolio. Working as part of a team showcases your ability to collaborate effectively and integrate your writing with other creative elements. It also helps demonstrate your versatility in adapting your writing to fit within a larger project or collaborative setting.

Network Within The Community:

Networking plays a vital role in the TTRPG industry, as it enables you to build connections that can open doors to exciting freelance opportunities. 

Why Is Networking Important In The TTRPG Industry?

The TTRPG industry is a small and close-knit community. Everyone knows everyone else, and word of mouth is a powerful force. If you want to get your work published, you need to get your name out there and build relationships with people in the industry.

 

How Can You Network In The TTRPG Industry?

There are a few different ways to network in the TTRPG industry:

➡️Attend Conventions, Local Gaming Events, And Industry Conferences. 

This is a great way to meet other game designers, publishers, and enthusiasts. Engage in conversations, seek advice, and share your passion for game design.

➡️Join Online Communities, Participate In Forums, And Contribute To Discussions On Social Media Platforms. 

This is a great way to connect with people who share your interests and learn about new opportunities.

➡️Reach Out To People You Admire In The Industry. 

Send them an email or message, introduce yourself, and tell them about your work.

 

What Are The Benefits Of Networking In The TTRPG Industry?

There are a number of benefits to networking in the TTRPG industry:

  • You’ll meet new people who can help you get your work published.
  • You’ll learn about new opportunities and trends in the industry.
  • You’ll get feedback on your work from people who know the industry well.
  • You’ll build relationships that can last a lifetime.

Here Are Some Additional Tips For Networking In The TTRPG Industry:

➡️Be Genuine And Interested In Other People. 

People are more likely to help you if they feel like you’re genuinely interested in them and their work. Remember, networking is not just about self-promotion; it’s about building genuine connections and actively participating in the TTRPG community. 

➡️Be Helpful And Supportive. 

When you meet new people within the TTRPG industry, it’s valuable to foster a spirit of collaboration and support. Demonstrating a willingness to lend a hand not only shows your generosity but also establishes you as a reliable and supportive member of the community.

 

By offering your expertise, insights, or skills to assist others in their creative endeavors, you contribute to the growth and success of the TTRPG community as a whole. This collaborative mindset can lead to meaningful connections, reciprocity, and potential opportunities for future collaborations or referrals.

 

Moreover, offering your assistance or feedback can deepen your own understanding of the craft, broaden your perspective, and help you refine your own skills as a TTRPG creator.

➡️Be Persistent. 

Persistence is key in the TTRPG industry, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t immediately find your desired opportunities. Instead, keep networking and forging connections, as it’s through these interactions that you’ll discover the right people who can help you achieve your goals.

 

Building a career in TTRPGs often requires time, patience, and a resilient mindset. By continuously putting yourself out there, attending events, engaging in online communities, and actively seeking collaborations, you increase your chances of finding like-minded individuals and mentors who can guide you on your journey.

 

Remember, each interaction and connection you make is an opportunity for growth and discovery, and with persistence, the right doors will open, leading you closer to your aspirations in the TTRPG industry.

The Organized Game Master

Your Toolbox for Tabletop Mastery!

Deliver Professionalism And Quality: 

Being a professional game designer means being able to deliver high-quality work on time and within budget. It also means being able to communicate effectively with clients and other designers.

Why Is Professionalism Important In The Game Design Industry?

The game design industry is a competitive industry. There are many talented designers out there, and publishers are looking for the best of the best. If you want to be successful as a freelance game designer, you need to be able to demonstrate your professionalism.

How Can You Be A Professional Game Designer?

Here are some tips on how to be a professional game designer:

➡️Meet Deadlines. 

Meeting deadlines is paramount for freelance game designers. It is one of the most crucial aspects of maintaining credibility and building strong relationships with publishers.

 

Consistently delivering work on time showcases your professionalism, reliability, and respect for the collaborative process. Meeting deadlines demonstrates your commitment to the project and allows publishers to trust in your abilities.

 

Conversely, consistently missing deadlines can tarnish your reputation and hinder future opportunities. To excel as a freelance game designer, it is essential to manage your time effectively, set realistic expectations, and communicate openly with publishers regarding project timelines.

 

By consistently meeting deadlines, you establish a reputation as a dependable professional, ensuring publishers’ confidence in your work and increasing your chances of continued success in the industry.

 

➡️Communicate Effectively. 

Maintaining open and clear communication with your clients is paramount in freelance game design. Regularly updating your clients on your progress helps establish trust, transparency, and a sense of collaboration. By providing status updates, sharing milestones, and addressing any challenges or delays, you keep your clients informed and involved throughout the process.

 

Additionally, be clear about your expectations regarding timelines, deliverables, and revisions. Clearly outlining project scope, deadlines, and any potential limitations ensures that both parties are on the same page and minimizes the risk of misunderstandings or unmet expectations.

 

Effective communication and clarity foster a positive working relationship, allowing you to navigate projects smoothly, address concerns promptly, and deliver high-quality work that meets or exceeds your clients’ expectations.

➡️Be Open To Revisions And Feedback. 

In the world of freelance game design, it’s important to embrace the fact that no work is perfect, and publishers may request revisions. Being open to feedback and demonstrating a willingness to make changes is essential for maintaining successful working relationships.

 

When publishers provide feedback, view it as an opportunity for growth and improvement. Listen attentively, seek clarification if needed, and approach revisions with a constructive mindset. Responding positively to feedback shows your commitment to delivering the best possible outcome for the project. It also highlights your adaptability and professionalism as a game designer.

 

By actively incorporating feedback and making necessary revisions, you demonstrate your dedication to meeting the publisher’s vision and ensuring the final product aligns with their expectations. Ultimately, a collaborative approach to revisions enhances the quality of your work and strengthens your reputation as a flexible and responsive freelance game designer.

➡️Respect The Intellectual Property Of Others. 

Ethical conduct is paramount in the world of freelance game design, and one of the most important principles to uphold is avoiding plagiarism or using other people’s work without proper permission.

 

Plagiarism not only undermines your integrity as a professional but can also lead to legal consequences and damage your reputation within the industry. Respect the intellectual property rights of others and seek appropriate permissions when using any existing material. Instead, focus on cultivating your own unique ideas, creativity, and storytelling abilities.

 

Honoring the work of others and giving credit where it is due not only showcases your professionalism but also fosters a spirit of collaboration and mutual respect within the community. By creating original content and respecting intellectual property, you contribute to the integrity and creativity of the freelance game design field while building trust and credibility with clients and fellow professionals.

➡️Follow Publisher Guidelines And Legal Requirements. 

Before embarking on a freelance game design project, it is crucial to thoroughly understand the publisher’s guidelines and legal requirements. Familiarizing yourself with these guidelines ensures that you align your work with the publisher’s expectations, style, and vision for the project.

 

ake the time to carefully review any provided documentation, such as style guides, brand guidelines, and submission requirements. Pay attention to specific instructions regarding formatting, word count, content restrictions, and any intellectual property considerations. Additionally, be aware of any legal requirements, such as contracts, non-disclosure agreements, or licensing agreements, and ensure you comply with them to protect both your own rights and the publisher’s interests.

 

By demonstrating your attentiveness to the publisher’s guidelines and legal requirements, you establish yourself as a reliable and professional freelancer, increasing the chances of a successful collaboration and fostering a positive reputation within the industry.

➡️Be Organized And Efficient. 

Being organized enables you to stay on top of deadlines and meet client expectations. By implementing effective organizational systems and time management techniques, you can optimize your workflow and maximize productivity.

 

Create a clear project plan, break down tasks into manageable chunks, and establish realistic deadlines for each phase of the project. Utilize productivity tools, such as task management apps or project management software, to track progress and prioritize tasks.

 

Additionally, maintain a well-structured file management system to easily locate and access project files when needed. By staying organized, you can minimize the risk of missing deadlines, efficiently allocate your resources, and deliver high-quality work that meets or exceeds client expectations.

 

This not only enhances your professional reputation but also fosters positive relationships with clients, increasing the likelihood of future collaborations and opportunities in the freelance game design industry  expectations.

➡️Be Reliable And Trustworthy. 

Being a reliable and trustworthy game designer is crucial for establishing strong relationships with publishers. They need to have confidence that you will consistently deliver high-quality work on time.

 

By demonstrating your dedication to meeting deadlines and consistently providing top-notch content, you become a valuable asset to publishers. Building this trust allows for smoother collaboration, as publishers can rely on your skills and expertise to bring their projects to life.

 

So, approach each project with a commitment to excellence and a focus on timely delivery, and you’ll earn the respect and confidence of publishers.

Want To Write Your Own TTRPG Adventure?!

Check out our course and grab your seat in our next cohort to bring you from aspiring TTRPG writer to published author on their way to a best-selling supplement. Find it here.

Written by
Beth the Bard (@ItsBethTheBard)

She/Her | Pro DM & Coach | ADHD | Best-Selling DnD Author of Feminist Curse of Strahd Book | D&D in a Castle DM | Creator of TTRPG University

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