The Ups of Downtime 🙏 Content Heaven

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Alan Wanders
Alan Wanders
Hi everyone,
I’ve come to the end of a big client project and right now I’m facing the challenge and privilege of having too much free time.
So this week I’m going to look at the strange relationship between downtime and producing your best, worst, and most interesting content.

Content’s wonky trajectory
When a job ends you’ve got three options: (a) do nothing, (b) scramble for new client work, (c.) or try something new.
I’ve tried all three and (c.) is the most fun, especially when combined with (b).
Going straight to (b) is the safest bet, but you will usually get hired by companies that want you to reproduce work you’ve basically already done.
So unless you’re already where you want to be, you’ll want to change things up.
Here’s a list of things I’ve done since graduating to try and do that:
  • 2014: Wrote an Ed Fringe play about two contraceptive companies that can’t merge
  • 2015: Wrote and produced a short film called Gimp Tiger.
  • 2016: Scraped rent + £200/month writing on Upwork and doing Deliveroo
  • 2019: Started a one-shot PR business called Opa
  • 2021: Built a choose-your-own-adventure video game for founders
No one ordered from this Deliveroo competitor so I just sat around Shoreditch reading my book.
No one ordered from this Deliveroo competitor so I just sat around Shoreditch reading my book.
This reads as a very confused list, because it is. It’s everything that I’ve left off my CV because it doesn’t ‘tell a strong story’ about where I’m going.
And although none of these things have been a huge success, putting them out there has helped me understand what should or shouldn’t come next. It all helped bring my next move into focus.
I expect this wonky trajectory is pretty common for content folk. Who starts and ends their career producing white papers for professional services clients?
Lots of us got started making content for strange corners of the internet. Lots of us still do.
Some unsolicited career advice...
… from some random with a newsletter.
A career is not what I used to think it was. It’s not a ladder climbing competition or a random sequence of jobs.
Instead a career is just 40+ years of you figuring how to balance these two tricky forces:
  • Things that help you find gainful employment: stability, track record of results, financial reward, practical skills
  • Things that help you find fulfilment: challenge, creativity, autonomy, social recognition
When you start out, the scales will be tipped way too far in one direction. Then you shuffle things around, trying to find a balance. Then you have a child and shuffle it all again.
Instead of the impossible-to-answer question ‘what do you want to do with your life’? you’re asking ‘what do you want from your life’? That feels more honest - and less ridiculous.
And the more you tinker and adjust - inside, outside or instead of full time work - the more fun things get. You’ll produce better content, get more focused, and build confidence.
So what will I do with my time?
I’m about to launch a new thing called Greenhouse.
It’s a simplified version of what I do for my B2B SaaS clients - all the important work that needs to be done to grow with content, without any of the fluff or false starts.
Wish me luck with the launch! I’ll do a teardown of how it all goes for this newsletter. Would love to hear what you think too.
👉 Over to you
Thanks for reading! Now you’re done there are two ways you can help. Either would be amazing.
  1. Forward it on to someone who you think would like it
  2. Reply and let me know what you thought of it
Thanks, and see you in two weeks!
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Alan Wanders
Alan Wanders

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