These days, the field of arts and entertainment journalism is not for the faint of heart. To read Taylor Cocke tell it, building a sustainable writing career in gaming requires years of perseverance: internships, constant story-pitching, and the ability to shake off rejection.
Cocke has reported and reviewed games for Yahoo, Polygon and Red Bull in his career as a games writer but currently practices as a freelance journalist. Read on to hear from a professional whose made his bones covering all aspects of the gaming world.
Find Your Grind: Tell us a little bit about yourself, Taylor. What professional and educational journey did you take in becoming an esports journalist?
Taylor Cocke: I’m a born-and-raised Californian writer who got into esports by way of games journalism, which is something I got into thanks to an internship at Official Xbox Magazine while in college. While in school, I studied English at UC Berkeley, which was great for working on my skills as a writer but didn’t really prepare me for a career in journalism.
For that, I’ve been writing about games for about 10 years and been in esports for five, working for everyone from IGN to Polygon to MLG to Red Bull to Riot Games to Yahoo. Over the course of my career, I’ve reviewed games, written news for gaming outlets, covered dozens upon dozens of esports events, interviewed hundreds of people from game developers to pro esports players. Basically, I diversified myself enough to be able to write about just about anything in games and worked my way into the industry from there.
FYG: What kind of lifestyle does your career allow you to live?
TC: At this point in my career, I’m not making a whole lot of money, but I love what I do. It gives me ample opportunity to travel and the ability to make my own hours, which are massive bonuses for me. I have had full time employers that pay reasonably well, but that’s not the norm in esports, especially for those on the creative side.
FYG: What advice would you give to kids in high school, especially kids from rural areas, who want to get into esports?
TC: As for advice for kids looking into esports, the best I’ve got is to just start. If you want to write about games for a living, just do it. Build up a portfolio of your own stuff and start pitching bigger and bigger publications. Also, don’t do any work for free, especially if the person running whatever site you’re working for is making money. If you’re getting school credit, great! If you’re getting paid just a few bucks, great! But if they’re not going to pay you, you might as well just be doing things on your own. No, “exposure” isn’t payment. Great work will prove itself, above all else.
FYG: What does it mean for you to Find Your Grind? Why is it important?
TC: My Grind is my hustle. I’ve been at this for a long time, and I’ve never stopped hustling. It’s cliche, but you’ve just got to put yourself out there. Go for jobs you never think you’ll get. Pitch outlets that you’ve never written for. Keep pushing higher.