Saturday, December 20, 2008

Flexing Some Ignored Muscles

Back when I threw my hat in the ring when Chicagoist made a call for new writers, I wasn't certain which section of the site I should try out for. I had no basic knowledge of food writing at the time, but I could break down the taste profile for a beer, wine or spirit like no one's business. Working at HotHouse also gave me a crash course in jazz, Latin, international and improvised music that I was putting to good use interviewing artists and reviewing albums and concerts for Jazz Review, but I didn't think that there would be an audience for it on the site.

So I made my decision with the flip of a coin: heads for music, tails for food and drink. The decision turned out to be great. I was a quick study on the beat and was able to file the occasional jazz and world music review when needed. This spring a new freelance opportunity came up that I again left to the flip of a coin, along with some research and waffling.

An investment firm called PEAK6 is attempting to combine investment advice with social networking via a start-up website called WeSeed. Think of it as for the novice investor. WeSeed is trying to make show users that the interests in your life can be great investment tools (e.g. if you're an avid cyclist, you can research and then invest in companies like Trek, Cannondale and Pearl Izumi with some level of information).

An old acquaintance I knew through wine circles was hired to help launch the site and she had me in mind to write about food and drink-related issues. I immediately agreed, then changed my mind after looking at their practice site, a Wordpress shadow page with some extremely cliched writing geared more for SEO than the unique page views that now drive the most successful web sites. My friend pled her case and I started to do some research on PEAK6 thanks to my old friend Chris McMahon, who's Associate Editor at Futures Magazine. Chris vouched for PEAK6's ability to make sound investments for their clients in what was then just starting to become a recession economy and surmised that, if they were backing WeSeed, they weren't intending to see it fail.

So I went back with a tucked tail and asked if there was still room for me. I was told that there was a music spot available. I wasn't sure if it would be a good fit; I hadn't written extensively about music in years. But I accepted and immediately recognized that my musical interests could find a decent audience, and I could expand my own freelance opportunities past food and drink in the process. PEAK6 showed they were serious by hiring former Time Out Chicago editor Joel Reese to helm in the associate editors they hired. I was a big fan of Joel's editing at TOC, and both Scott and former Chicagoist editor Margaret Lyons had nothing but great things to say about him. So, with these two folks now at WeSeed, I resolved to turn in the best possible articles I can for them. Check it out for yourself.

Now if I can only take some time to sit down and create my own "Port-Foli-You."

The picture above is of classic Southern Soul singer Swamp Dogg. I'll probably be writing about him later.

1 comment:

QuietlyGoingMad said...

Chuck--this may not mean squat coming from someone who doesn't know shite about writing, but congratulations on the new gig and I'm so very impressed with your moxie in getting out there and with how much your writing has truly grown over the past few years. I, for one, look forward to reading a new dimension of it. Happy Holidays!