Freelancing for Dummies: When first world jobs collide with real workplace problems

Well, well, well, what do we have here? It appears we have a couple of “influencers” who’ve experienced a real world dilemma, bursting their dream job fantasy. Welcome to my world, it’s a bit of a pisser.

The other day while scrolling through Buzzfeed during a busy day of work, I came across a story on influencers not being paid by an influencer marketing agency (Christ, man) called Mediakix. My first thought was “that’s because it’s not a real job”. My next thought was “sucks to be them because this could potentially turn into a thing.”

If you’ve been following me you know how I feel about influencers: I don’t consider “influencing” – the act of getting people to follow you and do things you do or like because you appear cool but didn’t we get past this in high school I swear to god we never leave high school – to be an actual job. I don’t see what the appeal is over someone who’s only talent is posting different versions of the same photo with stupid captions.

HOWEVER, as stupid as I think it is they also get a tiny bit of acknowledgement that it is something and here’s why: there are plenty of gigs that started out as something that at one point probably didn’t make sense. If you go back to the beginning of typicaljenn.com, you’ll find posts where I’m ripping into social media marketers. I believe I referred to them as people who are really just unemployed, sitting on their couch playing that farm game on Facebook. Jump to about 6 years later and it’s part of what I do for a living (social media marketing not building a pretend farm).

I’m not above eating my words, I actually enjoy eating thank you very much.

Anyway, as fairytale as their job is, what’s not is their money problems and the fact that this isn’t anything new. Just like every meme on the internet, this bit has been done before. And unfortunately, I’ve witnessed it firsthand.

Back in the early 2000s, I was preparing to move and part of that process involved job hunting. I was moving to a bigger city than my hometown so instead of looking for a boring desk job, I sent my resume to a bunch of local talent agencies – and one actually called me back.

I interviewed for the receptionist position, got hired, and started my new, exciting, sure-to-make-me-famous job a week after moving. My first day began with me meeting the 3 people who worked in the office and being given my first important rule of the job: never let anyone talk to the bookkeeper.

For everyone out there, this is a red flag for ANY job you’re starting. But I was 20 at the time so I was like “ok cool”. I just figured she was busy doing number things. She was and those number things happened to be helping the owner of the agency embezzle from herself.

About a month after I started this job the bookkeeper quit without notice. I don’t know how long she’d been there but red flag number 2 is when the person handling the finances abruptly leaves. That left the owner to handle the books and that’s when things got really bad.

I would get, at minimum, 3 calls a day from talent asking where their money was, and this was after they’d waited standard 8 weeks for payment. I knew we’d gotten the money in but the owner was using it to pay her bills. And it’s not like we had talent booking feature films. They were booking, like, local modeling gigs and Church’s Chicken commercials. We weren’t making that influencer money.

At one point I had a woman tell me that our agency owed her over $10K. TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS. I know that’s chump change to some of the popular Insta-people but back then (shit, even now at least for me) 10 grand was a lot. And that was just ONE of the individuals we represented.

Every week the owner tried to get caught up but it wasn’t happening. On top of that, overhead was insanely high. I understood we needed to have some sort of presentation but I thought what effected our reputation the most was, you know, stealing from people.

We did have alternative ways of bringing in money but they weren’t anymore credible than the way the money was handled. The owner would convince people that they could be a model if they got head shots and took her modeling class, which people actually paid for.

I know we’re all about not body shaming but I’m telling you right now, you ain’t walking the Victoria’s Secret runway if you’re built like me (5’3″, thick legs from CrossFit, looks like a baby deer walking for the first time in heels – me and the deer). Watching the owner tell every person who came in our office they had a shot was disheartening at best, fucking criminal at worst.

To me, it’s no different than the assholes selling you on the MLM of the week, convincing you that you can actually make a decent living selling their shit online. You can’t. No, you can’t. End of discussion.

Anyway, in the article Buzzfeed reached out for comment and were told that Mediakix would no longer take contracts until the money was sorted out. I’m not sure how that would work for them. At the agency I was at, we constantly had to have money coming in to try and compensate everyone we owed. So if things are that bad off at Mediakix, I don’t know how you catch up not bringing anything in.

Again, I don’t know shit about this company or what got them into this conundrum so I’m not in a position to say if these influencers will get their money or not. I don’t work there, thank god because I looked at their website and it reminds me of the advertising agency I worked at where I once got in trouble for having a meeting in the “game room” because it prohibited 2 employees from playing ping pong. All I know is I’ve seen this before and it’s pretty shit cycle for everyone involved.

I myself have, on more than one occasion, been stiffed and it was a bag of bullshit. It even happened to me when I worked a for real job that required a W4. What I didn’t have that influencers do is a large platform with a huge following (for reasons I’ll never get – there’s no delineation between influencer accounts, they all look the same, people!).

So speak up. Put that shit out there. This goes for anyone who has a job, real or pretend. If you made an agreement and somebody owes you money, don’t let them skate on you. It is not your problem that they are bad with money management. It’s no different than promising someone work and not being able to do it because you couldn’t manage your time (something I’m also guilty of but that’s for another day). You’d be held accountable, right?

They should be held accountable too.

So go on. Use your social media power. You know, the same way you do when you convince people to buy that face serum that doesn’t work or when you make people think your life is glamorous because you posted a pic on a PJ but you actually just rented the PJ for an hour to take pics on. Like that. Go get ’em!

Review: Girl With No Job | Claudia Oshry

I think the goal of just about everyone is to eventually become a person with no job, living comfortably without a care in the world aside from future plagues, a failed economy, unreasonable living prices, American Idol being renewed for 40 more seasons, and the possibility of running out of retirement money before dying. Thanks to the rise of the “influencer”, this is the goal for just about everyone aged 12 and up. But if you’re thinking that reading Girl With No Job by Claudia Oshry will give you insight as to how to make that happen, don’t bother. I’ll just tell you…

She was already rich. Yes, the Girl With No Job didn’t have to have one, so she spent all her time creating (but primarily repurposing) content on her Instagram and voilá, she became an influencer and even wealthier. Unfortunately, her knack for reposting other peoples memes (which I didn’t realize was considered a “talent”) does not translate when it comes to writing books.

First, Claudia has lived a privileged 26 years which doesn’t really afford much in the storytelling department. With the exception of the tragic passing of her father, there’s not much substance to anything in this book. She literally has a chapter on the types of fans. Not the ones with blades (hopefully), the kind that follow you on social media. She even breaks them down into categories. It’s mind-numbing.

She talks about how famous she is and how ahead of her time she was and how she was cutting edge for having a blog in 2013, something everyone with a MySpace account in 2005 had. She also wants you to know she’s funny. In fact, she reminds you that she’s funny in every chapter of the book, although she doesn’t actually tell any jokes in her book to substantiate her claims (unless you count the Lindsay Lohan reference she makes in chapter 5 to which my response is “um, 2009 called…”).

She also talks about the time she got canceled thanks to her failed mention that her mother is a right-wing conspiracy theorist – something she didn’t really need to mention, quite frankly. What does it matter who her mother is? That shouldn’t be the reason you abandon her. The reason should be that she’s openly admitted to having a hatred for reading and now she has a book that she also openly admits is because she has an audience to sell it to (let that sink in for a minute all of my fellow aspiring authors).

The worst part? It’s horrendously written. Think of all the tricks you used in middle school to make your essay longer. That’s this. Bigger font. Repeat sentences that are just restructured. Reading this book is like having a conversation with someone you have nothing in common with because you like a lot of different things and they only like themselves. It reads as though it was dictated by Siri onto a Google doc.

Aside from the fact that she’s one of the hundreds of Instagram accounts that reposts other people’s memes, I knew nothing about Claudia and now, I still don’t. If I’m going off of this book then I have to say there’s just not much to her. And even then, I can see that there’s a market for this shit. She’s living the dream of anyone trying to become “Internet famous”. If that’s you, you’ll probably like this book as you’ll get to fantasize what your life will be like if you “make it”. If that’s not you, anything with a reading level of 2nd grade and up will be better than Girl With No Job.

But what do I know? I’m a Geek With an Actual Job Who’s Writing This For Free. Book probably not coming soon. Size 12 font.