Shaun Lowthorpe explains why business journalism, content marketing and communications are key to Content Connective

How writing things down helped me turn ideas into reality (and develop a portfolio career)

Have you ever wondered about how to develop a portfolio career?

For me the answer lay in the power of writing things down. I am a great believer in writing things down, and it is something I do regularly not least because I’m a writer but also because so often when I put pen to paper it seems to make things happen.

This year it has even helped me develop a portfolio career – not that I realised it at the time.

In fact, writing things down inadvertently helped me work out a way to earn enough to live on when Covid struck.

But even now I am constantly amazed at how the simple act of writing crystalises ideas into reality. And it has helped me pivot from running my own business into developing a portfolio career. So why not try it for yourself?

The Linked-in post where my portfolio career options started to take shape

Below (in italics) is an example from the start of 2020 from a Linked in post I wrote.

When Covid-19 struck most of my ‘plans’ for 2020 went out of the window – bookings were suddenly cancelled, clients understandably had to mothball projects.

What I hadn’t appreciated was that even before the pandemic struck I had already outlined the ways that I was going to find a way through the crisis.

Looking back on it now I’m struck by how many of these things have come to pass. Take a look, and then at the end see what happened.

Is it wrong to say on LinkedIn who you’d like to work with?

Based on my experience of what worked really well for me in 2019 my Top 5 for 2020 would be:

1. More owner managed businesses looking for help and extra capacity to create and publish blogs, articles, press releases, and case studies – or looking to train their staff to do it 2.

2. Councils and public sector bodies (particularly working in economic development or business support and investment) to help rewrite policy documents or train staff in the ways of the press

3. FE colleges and universities running business programmes or journalism courses

4. Charities in need of an in-house journalist or PR support

5. Agencies and media companies who need an ad hoc content writer and editor or help to train and mentor content writers

How’s that for a New Year’s wish list? What do we think, a bit un-British to be so bold? <my other ones would be a gig presenting a business podcast, and a publishing contract to write a business book – though based on my own story, I don’t think anyone would believe it..>

So what happened next?

Well while I struggled with options 1 and 5, I succeeded in picking up work through options 2 and 3 namely as a business trainer for Menta, a lecturer in Business Management at City College Norwich, and a lecturer in Media Law at the University of East Anglia.

I also secured some presenting work for the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership’s Restart Festival and have been asked to help a local council with the delivery of a major policy strategy.

All of this has not only kept me going it has also been in areas where I have wanted to work. The only ‘issue’ if it is one is that a lot has been through PAYE part-time work where I have had to knit different roles together. But as someone who operated as a limited company instead of being self-employed my options to receive any government support were limited so I had to do something else instead. And I’m still working on my own business too ready for when things Bounce Back.

I’ve long been interested in the idea of a portfolio career ever since I interviewed Charles Handy while working as a journalist at the EDP.

More recently I was also inspired by reading Shoe Dog by Phil Knights who writes about how sometimes when you are trying to build your own business you sometimes have to do paid work. And why not?

Not only has it helped me work out how to develop a portfolio career I’m just grateful to have found the opportunities to work with some great people and in areas I really believe in.

And that can’t be a bad return – whatever line of work I am in, Covid-19 or no Covid-19.

Now I can’t wait to see what 2021 brings – when I finally get round to writing it down!