Shortly after I lost my job I immediately set about combing Craigslist and every other listing of media jobs for opportunities that didn't involve the phrase "turn-key operation" or "stuff envelopes at home." Thanks to some friends who I assigned to comb different parts of the Web, I landed my first and only gig thusfar with Groupon.
For those of you who haven't clicked the Facebook ads in Chicago, Boston or Denver the premise of the Web site is simple.
When the moon is in the Seventh House and the seventh son of a hanged man is in a trance state, the site's sales force hits up businesses with a proposition. In exchange for the business offering a discount, Groupon agrees to drive a certain amount of traffic to the business. The dicounts will only apply after the number of people have agreed to use the coupon, or - if you're a Malcom Gladwell fan - when the offer hits a tipping point.
Ritual human sacrifice and dances naked beneath the moon may also be involved. I suspect that black magic is a significant part of their business model since they've agreed to pay me.
It's odd writing ad copy, it's even more bizzare to write ad copy that reads more like what Kurt Vonnegut might have scratched down at 2 a.m. after a bender. Generally they're services I know nothing about and would never patronize (like bars, massage parlors, acupuncturists), so it takes a wholly different side of my brain than reporting did.
But they're paying me, maybe.
The problem is that rather than telling me that I needed to fill out the contract and my W9 form after they accepted my freelancer application, they told me at the end of the billing cycle. So while I have poured a few hours into their coffers I've yet to see any cash come out while my paperwork makes its way slowly through the mail.
Truth be told, it's a little frustrating to watch the countdown on all of your bills tick away while you wait for a check that might never come. Hopefully their idea of payment is not to ask three blessings of the earth mother and hope that I'll win the lottery with the extra luck she gives me for giving obeisance to the virtuous child.
Still, it's an interesting break from what I've become used to and engages a whole new creative side while I wrack my brain trying to bring the funny (or what my editors might claim is funny). It's also bizzare to have such airy deadlines, with assignments coming in a week in advance it's to adjust to something that doesn't demand the news now.
I'm still looking for work, since I have a lot of free time sitting on my schedule and the Department of Labor would prefer that I keep my search going. Plus $50 an article and two articles a week barely even covers bribing my niece these days and it quickly disappears into the black hole that is my student laon.