“Dear Freelancer” – The End At Gamurs Group

What’s the most unprofessional way you’ve ever been let go from a job? For me, I thought it was when I was let go for “requesting too many days off” when I was 16/17 and taking days off for college visits. Or, when a job I had at 18 just stopped putting me on the schedule after I got into a car accident, causing me to miss time. 

Of course, that was before Monday.

I woke up Monday morning and went to check the company Slack and Trello boards, only to find myself removed from both. Then I go to check my company email…same thing. Then I checked my personal email to find something I wasn’t expecting.

An email from HR at Gamurs Group. The subject line was “Cancellation of Contractor Agreement”, and it came at…checks time… 2:16 am. 

Obviously, I was caught off guard. Then I read the email. It started with the worst way to let someone know they are being let go. 

“Dear Freelancer”

…Dear…Freelancer. Talk about informal.

The email then went on to blame the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) for the reasons to cut back operational costs. 

“Due to several factors related to the recent collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, which was one of Gamurs banking institutions, and the need for Gamurs to significantly improve its operational inefficiencies, we have made the decision to end your freelance assignment with Gamurs Group, effective immediately.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t just me who was hit by this. Some of the best people I know across the Gamurs Group network were let go this way. Even someone who I’ve grown to consider a good friend at PC Invasion (PCI) was let go in such an unprofessional way.

But don’t worry, they wanted to reassure me – along with everyone else who got this canned, impersonal email – that it wasn’t my “skills as a freelancer”.

I get time zones exist, and Gamurs Group HR has primarily been located in Australia, though they did start hiring for United States-based HR to make things easier on the staff this side of the ocean. However, maybe space these out to when your writers are awake and/or online.

My heart absolutely breaks for all of my colleagues affected by this. My goal is to help them land on their feet at any outlet I can help find that’s hiring. There are too many great and talented people out there that deserve better than this.

Gamurs Group and everyone else that owns a media outlet reliant on freelancers: BE BETTER THAN THIS.

My Time At PC Invasion

I was hired there in March 2020. Almost three years to the day I’m writing this, actually. For the most part, it was a very enjoyable time. I loved working with my EIC Cameron, my colleagues on the PCI Hardware team like Kevin and Sam, and my friends across the site. It truly was an awesome experience.

Ownership, however, was never something I had confidence in. 

When PCI was owned by Enthusiast Gaming, we were just really left to ourselves. No real guidance or anything. Which, while not the greatest, wasn’t the absolute worst on my end. I had the freedom to try new things content-wise to see what would work and also build relationships with some of the biggest and best companies in PC hardware and peripherals.

Then the site, along with a number of others, was acquired by Gamurs Group in late September.

Now we had new ownership that I had heard a lot of things about. And, to be honest, most of it was poor and I don’t feel like I should go into it right now. For me, I had never worked for them so I wanted to see how things went and give it a great chance.

My goal for PCI’s Hardware section was always twofold: to be an entry-level site for people who wanted to learn more about how PCs work and know about the latest hardware for the average user, and to be a place people came to for the best original stories. 

The first couple of months were business as usual, but then everything changed. It was clear that the vision Gamurs Group had for the site was completely different.

Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, was SEO focused from them. If it didn’t do well SEO-wise, or at least have the major potential to hit big on the first page of Google, upper management (not site-specific management), didn’t really want it.

That meant I had to tell my small team of hardware writers that we weren’t really going to cover hardware news anymore. Nor were we going to do as many reviews as we had been. Instead, it was going to be things like what the best white PC setups were going to be or what the best White controllers were. Things that SEO managers thought would rank. 

Of course, for a site with a small and growing hardware section, only focusing on that wasn’t going to get people to trust the site as a hardware source. Instead, it was just going to get random eyes that likely weren’t going to come back unless we popped up on search results again.

Nothing really felt like what I wanted it to be. Instead, everything felt like a boring grind. Writing shouldn’t feel that way. Covering PC hardware shouldn’t feel that way.

Gamurs made it feel that way.

Of course, the pay was another thing. It also left you no real incentive to bust or grind. I found myself spending countless hours in Google Trends just trying to find anything that I think would be SEO-friendly and possibly trend or get on the front page of search results. It was demoralizing work that just made me go through the motions. 

Instead of enjoying what I was doing, I felt like I was constantly walking on eggshells to provide content that appeased the mighty SEO. Otherwise, my job was in jeopardy. 

To make matters worse, they then started outsourcing content to people from “content shops”. These were people willing to push out dry, SEO content for quick and cheaper than the low rates we’re already being paid. Talk about confidence in your writers.

I really all of this changes in the future because, right now, the games journalism industry as a whole isn’t in a good place at all.

One last piece of advice that I know those in positions to make decisions Gamurs Group won’t see: Maybe, instead of sopping up any publication you can and making it an SEO grind machine, you actually focus more on the great talent you have and put them in better positions to succeed.

Oh, and maybe pick better ways to handle your finances…

For those who’ve read this far, thank you for all of your support no matter where I’ve written. I’m not done in the slightest. All of my work will now be exclusively at Insider-Gaming.com, including all of the hardware content I have been working on for PCI.

I love you all. Be kind to one another.

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