Let’s travel back to the beginning of Jennifer Barrett’s story. Barely a teenager, the young Texan picks up a newspaper and realizes, “Wait a second. You can get paid to write?
“You can get paid to learn about things you want to learn more about?!
“You can get paid to interview really interesting people and travel?!”
Jennifer decided she wanted to be a journalist working at Newsweek in their New York office. She set goals of working her way up to senior writer and creating a book that would inspire and educate others. Soon she began to make it a reality. It took a year and a half of trying, but Jennifer officially joined the Newsweek team in 2001.
Six years later, Jennifer realized something: Journalism was about to change. Quite simply, the future of print ad revenue wasn’t looking so hot. This left Jennifer with two choices: Stay and insist on writing print and soon become obsolete or lean into the growing digital path.
Jennifer recognized dreams can change with the times and discovered more opportunities than she imagined.
We sat down with Jennifer Barrett, author and Fidelity Investments’ head of content, at Managing Editor Live 2021. We discussed Jennifer’s impressive past from her years at Newsweek, her transition from print into content marketing, her book Think Like A Content Boss and what’s in store for her in the future.
Transitioning from Journalism to Content Boss
Leaning into content’s digital path led to Jennifer’s role as a general manager at Hearst Digital and editor in chief at DailyWorth.com. She gained a broader perspective of how the business works and its objectives, leading her to grow increasingly curious about content consumption habits. “I was constantly saying, "How can we evolve? How do we stay ahead of this?" Jennifer recalls.
Jennifer wanted to create content that could inspire, inform and impact the lives of those who consumed it. Eventually, she became the personal finance editor at CNBC, where she helped to educate readers about personal finance. However, she realized there needed to be a change in how journalists interacted with and inspired their audience. Writing what felt like the same headlines and even the same stories grew frustrating.
Then Jennifer started using the platform, Acorns. It offered solutions on how to help Americans invest and guidance with their retirement and other financial goals. She hadn’t been looking to leave her job, but when Acorn offered her a chance to build their educational site from scratch, she couldn’t refuse.
At Acorns, Jennifer was able to track the content and see the impact that it has had on those consuming it. She eventually moved into the chief education officer role and mastered integrating educational content into the consumer experience. It was also during her time at Acorn that her dream of creating her book started to come alive.
What it Takes to Write a Book on the Job
Jennifer first had her idea to write her book Think Like a Breadwinner seven years ago and began writing the outline. Writing a book is no simple task. “Anyone who’s thinking about writing a book, it’s not easy; it takes time,” says Jennifer. Writing one while working makes it far more difficult. But know this: It’s possible.
When Jennifer was ready to write her book, her family’s active support system was essential. When she needed to write, they protected her time. She also joined a writing group that helped to maintain her commitment and build important accountability mechanisms: “I had other people who were working on books, and we were sort of checking in with each other, ‘How are you doing, how are you doing? Are you getting there? Have you hit this goal?’ And that accountability helped.”
It enabled her to complete that book and give us all a new perspective on our financial lives.
Wealth Instead of Wages
Think Like a Breadwinner was created to change our mindset on how we view ourselves and progress through our careers. “I think probably the most important message is to think of yourself not just as a wage earner, but as a wealth builder,” Jennifer declares.
Jennifer had come to look at her paychecks as an opportunity to become less dependent on her next paycheck. When she was living paycheck to paycheck, she approached her career differently than she might have otherwise because she was scared of offending someone or otherwise doing something that would cause her to lose her income. It prevented her from approaching work with the best state of mind.
“Knowing that you could actually walk away from a job and you'll be okay financially, that's really powerful,” Jennifer says. She urges taking steps to make certain at least part of each paycheck will work for you, in the process changing you from a wage earner to a breadwinner. Then you put yourself in a position to take advantage of new opportunities and seize chances for growth. This is what Jennifer continues to do, as her career evolved yet again after her book’s publication.
Managing Fidelity’s Content Team
Earlier this year and just a few months after her book’s publication, Jennifer decided to move her expertise to Fidelity. She joined a business with 55,000 people. By contrast, when she arrived at Acorns, she became their 75th employee. (They had grown to 350 employees by the time she left.) Now she was part of a massive company, including over 70 remote workers on her team. It was a bit of a jump, but she discovered that they could still connect, build relationships and be productive.
This position also provides her a chance to do something she’s always prioritized: Checking in on how content is consumed. Jennifer regularly meets with the heads of the UX Design and UX Research teams to track overall user experience.
Jennifer says that they're “all working towards the same goal.” Quite simply, they want to figure out how to “better connect with people” with a focus on how they “make the experience simpler and easier and make education fun.” With the team’s expansion, Jennifer is excited to keep up with content consumption trends.
What You Can Do to Be a Content Boss
Our industry continues to evolve, which means that we continually get new tools and solutions to help us learn and grow. To be a content boss, it’s essential to utilize the tools and solutions available to you. You must understand the impact you want your content to have. You need to remember that the path of content marketing is dynamic.
Jennifer showed us just how important it is to evolve with changes and the opportunities they create. Content marketing will continue to develop. Like Jennifer, you will be faced with the choice of clinging to how things were even as they become obsolete or taking a leap so you can seize your chance to become a content boss.
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