You know the ones, where you get the shoot ‘for free’ and then have to remortgage your house for the photographs.
I was interviewing someone for my ‘Real Women. Real Business’ series (you can find them all here) and she said she had a portfolio career.
‘What’s that?’ I asked.
‘It’s where you have a number of different business or jobs rather than just one full-time job”
“Oh! That’s exactly what I’m doing!” *facepalm*
I started the I Want My Life Back Project in April 2018. I saved up enough cash to see me for a year and then quit my corporate job. I work on this blog but I also have a couple of other streams of income.
I own 3 rental properties and I also freelance 2/3 days a week back at my previous company.
This has been perfect in helping me build the I Want My Life Back project as I can let it grow more organically than if it had to make money NOW.
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Instead of one full-time job, a portfolio career means you have a number of part-time jobs, freelance work or anything else that makes you money.
The idea is that you make money from a number of different sources. You may be doing this to set up a business or simply because you enjoy doing lots of different things.
It’s not necessarily a new concept, but with the internet and the gig economy, it’s become much easy to make money in a variety of different ways.
Gone are the days of one career for 40 years. Now you can 3 careers all at once if you so wish!
I don’t think there is any hard and fast rule on the difference between a portfolio career and a side-hustle.
The way I see it is that a side-hustle is something you do while working a full-time job.
Whereas a portfolio career is a collection of part-time jobs and freelance work without any of them being full-time.
If you can deal with starting a business as a side-hustle while working full-time, that’s awesome and you should do it.
I personally tried to start a side-hustle on top of a stressful career and nearly caused myself some serious mental damage.
A portfolio career is much better for me. I can flex the hours I work on IWMLBproject and pick and choose when I do freelance work for money.
A portfolio career can be any combination you choose with any number of income streams. If you want to start a business it could look like this:
Startup business →Go part-time at your current job
Startup business →Uber Driver→Rent a room on Airbnb
Startup business →Consultant→Coach
Startup business →Freelance writer→Babysitter
Startup business →Online English Teacher
Startup business →Web Designer→Copywriter
You could choose any combo you wanted depending on what your skills and interests are.
That’s the beauty of a portfolio career, there are no set rules about what you should and shouldn’t do.
For a themed portfolio, all of your income streams would be anchored to one theme.
So if you were into health and fitness, you could be a personal trainer, online health food shop owner and speaker at health and fitness events.
If your portfolio career was more seasonal, you could be a ski instructor in the winter, scuba instructor in the summer and travel Instagrammer across both seasons.
I’m just making these things up here, but you could create any combination you wanted while you set up your business.
If you aren’t sure whether you want to start a business but you want to quit your job, have a read of my blog post below, which goes through 9 alternatives to starting a business.
Starting a business is bloody hard work. And confusing. And overwhelming.
If you add the stress of making money into that, you’ve got the potential recipe for a meltdown.
If you worked on your business around other things that made you money, you reduce the risk and the stress of putting all of your eggs in one proverbial basket.
Of course, like anything, there are negatives and positives of having a portfolio career, so you need to weigh up whether it is right for you depending on your personal circumstances.
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages to help you decide whether it would suit you.
Having other streams of income while you are setting up a business has a number of advantages.
It’s less of a risk. If your business doesn’t work out, you’ve still got the other jobs or businesses to rely on
You have the space to experiment with ideas in your business
Your business can grow in a more authentic way as you are not trying to force it to make money
You can have an interest in a lot of things rather than just ‘one passion’
Multiple sources of income are safer than just one
You can be more creative with multiple jobs or businesses
Boredom won’t be a problem!
You are broadening your skill set
Hours won’t be lost to commuting if you work from home
You have the freedom and flexibility to set your own working hours
It could result in a new career/business opportunity you never even thought of
Having a portfolio career has been great for letting IWMLBproject grow in an authentic way.
For example, IWMLBproject doesn’t have ads because I hate them. Or sponsored posts as I hate them even more.
With rental income, investment income and project income, I can make the choice to wait until I can create courses or products that I feel proud of and that don’t make me feel gross selling them.
It isn’t all upside with a portfolio career so you do need to consider the downsides too…….
You will need to juggle ALL the balls.
You’re going to have to be a calendar ninja to make sure you keep on top of everything
You may have periods where you don’t have that much work
You’ll need to work hard to get it going
Your income will fluctuate
You will need to self-regulate your working hours so you don’t burn out
You will need to arrange your pension and health care separately
When someone asks what you do at a party, you’ll make them very confused
If you are somebody who needs stability, a regular income and likes to focus only on one thing at a time, a portfolio career may not be for you.
You need to be okay with working on a number of different things at once, having irregular income and being willing to try different things until you find a combination that works for you.
If you have decided that the portfolio life is for you, what do you first?
There are loads of ways you could work it:
If you want to do this you are going to need to find other ways of making money.
If you have reached a senior position at in a corporate job, you could start reaching out to consultancy agencies to find out about short-term or part-time projects.
If you could make money by speaking at events or freelance writing, you could start to build that up before you quit.
Or if you could coach people then you could start taking on clients in the evenings to get some cash flow going.
Whichever option you decide to go for, I would highly recommend building up an emergency/escape fund first before you quit.
With a good cushion of cash behind you, it will be a lot less stressful while getting your portfolio career or business up and running.
If you are going to have a portfolio career, make sure you have done your due diligence beforehand.
I’m not saying these things to put you off, there are a bajillion people that are self-employed and apparently, 50% of the workforce will be self-employed by 2020.
The above points aren’t deal breakers, you just need to be aware of them in case you need to make some changes.
A portfolio career could be the answer to quitting a corporate job you hate and building a business you love.
When trying to set up a business, having the time and money to support it while you start up is invaluable.
Better that than trying to squeeze in the hours on the weekend or shitting your pants that you can’t pay the mortgage next month.
Who knows, it might end up that you love your portfolio career so much that you keep all your projects going even once your business is successful!
We don’t usually have just one passion in life, so why should we have just one way of making money?
Hi, I am Laura. I set up the 'I Want My Life Back Project' after burning out in a corporate job. I quit in May 2017 and set about getting my life back. I now freelance 2 days a week, run this blog, manage my rental properties and am SO MUCH HAPPIER! All the content on this blog is to help you to get your life back too :-)