Did you ever meet someone at a work event, have an interesting conversation with them, follow them on Twitter and then never speak to them again?
Andrew Littlefield is that person for me. I read his tweets regularly and I feel like I've known him for years, but we've only talked once IRL. That was until he tweeted that he was furloughed from his role as director of content at Convene, a flexible office space provider, because of the economic impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many managing editors and content marketers have found themselves in similar situations, whether they are working on reduced hours, been laid off or have experienced a pay cut. What I know about Littlefield from reading his tweets, other than he is a diehard Florida State fan, is that he is resilient. If anyone could use their time productively in this crisis and give sound coronavirus career advice, it would be him. He did not disappoint.
As many states lift stay-at-home orders and much of the economy slowly restarts, Littlefield offers three concrete ways content marketers can come out of the lockdown better at their jobs.
Rethink Your Approach to Content Marketing
During the furlough, Littlefield spends 20 hours a week managing and producing content for Convene and the rest of his work week on freelance projects. The time has given him a new perspective on the career prospects of content marketers when the economy restarts and shapes his coronavirus career advice.
"I think we'll find ourselves in a more desirable position career-wise because a lot of companies are going to realize the value of what content marketers have to offer," Littlefield says. "That is especially true for those who have been creative in thinking of ways to still reach an audience without being dismissive of what people are facing. That's a great place for content marketing to step in because usually our first instinct is to offer resources freely for people."
Content marketing is about building a long-term relationship with customers. Brands that offer free, helpful resources during this crisis will be better positioned to succeed when things return to some sense of normalcy because customers already have an affinity for them, Littlefield says. This is particularly important for businesses that paused operations because of the pandemic.
Littlefield sees an opportunity now for brands to increase their publishing schedule and put out more helpful content as long as they maintain quality. "People are consuming more on their phones and computers now than ever," he says. Initially, people weren't in the headspace for content marketing because of the overload of critical information. As things go back to a more normal life, the hunger for distraction will return.
Coronavirus Career Advice: Upgrade Your Skills
The downtime allows you to enhance your career prospects. Littlefield has many colleagues who have taken online courses and gained certifications through LinkedIn and other digital education providers. Costs vary from free to hundreds of dollars, depending on the class. (Rep Cap, the content marketing agency that sponsors Managing Editor, provides all its webinars for free to help you sharpen your skills.)
"You have been hearing this with hobbies during the lockdown for a while, but it is translating over to professional skills as well," Littlefield says. "I've seen this across my LinkedIn feed. People want to up-skill and show that they are staying busy during this time."
Volunteer Your Services or Work on a Passion Project
During his downtime, when Littlefield wasn't working with his friend on a podcast about ska, he offered his content marketing services for free to five new clients.
Littlefield helped someone who is struggling with marketing themselves on LinkedIn, a nonprofit that was launching an online fundraiser, and a content marketer who needs to revamp their personal brand, among others. "It was almost like content speed-dating," he says.
Finding inspiration during the pandemic has paid off for Littlefield personally and professionally. "It's cool to quickly hear about a bunch of different challenges people are facing and try to offer a fresh set of eyes on it," he says. "It's a career karma kind of thing. If you put out into the world being helpful, typically those things come around and help you out in the end."
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