What’s a portfolio career? And how can you make one work for you?

Ever wondered what a portfolio career was, and whether it would suit you? Find out whether portfolio careers really work, and how to succeed in one. 

Occasionally we get sent questions by readers to put to one of our experts. Here’s a question we recently received:

“A friend has suggested that I consider a portfolio career as I have several ideas and interests, but I’m worried that I’ll be spreading myself too thin. Do portfolio careers really work in practice?”

We asked our career agony aunt, Fiona Clark from Inspired Mums for help. Here’s her answer.

What is a ‘portfolio career’?

As a career and confidence coach who has successfully built my own portfolio career, I can honestly say that they do work in practice, but it does take hard work and commitment! First things first, let’s explore exactly what we mean by a portfolio career.

A portfolio career is when someone splits their time and skills between two or more flexible roles. For example, you could be running a small business alongside your employed role or be working on several freelance roles at the same time.

In my case, this means splitting my time between career and confidence coaching for mums and training and coaching for larger organisations as a freelancer. This gives me greater flexibility and the opportunity to follow my passion of helping people and gives me a real sense of fulfillment.

And I’m certainly not alone – more and more people are embarking on a portfolio career in order to focus on their different interests and skills and gain the flexibility they crave. So based on my experience helping mums find work they love, here are my top tips on how to build a portfolio career.

Five tips to how to make a portfolio career work for you 

If you want to build a successful portfolio career, here are five tips you need to follow.

1) Have a clear vision

Be honest with yourself about who you are and what you want to achieve. Take the time to identify what motivates you, what strengths you can play to, how many hours you want to work and how much you need to earn to make a portfolio career work for you.

2) Get your name out there

If your portfolio career includes freelance work or contracting, you need to carve out time to market and sell your services. Remember, you will need to create a pipeline of work to make your business sustainable in the long term.

3) Don’t take on the world

If you are starting to feel overwhelmed or if you find yourself doing work you don’t enjoy, don’t be afraid to say “no”. It’s ok to turn down work if you find the client difficult or don’t have the necessary resources to tackle a large-scale project.

Instead of diving in at the deep end, try to break down your goals into manageable chunks so that you can balance it with the other commitments in your life.

4) Be confident in your own ability

You need to believe in yourself if you want to convince others to buy into what you are offering. So be assertive and say ‘yes’- but on your terms.

For example, if you have been offered a new freelance contract but are too busy to do it this month, don’t be afraid to accept but say that you can only start in a few weeks. Or if you need to put your prices up to represent your true value, just do it.

5) Finally, enjoy the journey

Portfolio careers are a fantastic way to follow your passion, achieve greater fulfillment and gain the flexibility you crave as a mum. So take a moment to remind yourself to go with the flow and enjoy the journey, and manage any worries you may out by proactively managing your mindset!

Answered by our career agony aunt Fiona Clark from Inspired Mums. If you have a question you’d like Fiona to answer, please email heror call her on 07789 597209. If you feel you’d like help kick-starting your portfolio career, contact Fiona for a FREE 30 minute 1-2-1 consultation.

Need more advice? Download Inspired Mums’ free e-book For mums stuck in a career rut – 8 steps to finding work you love on their website. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter

Photo by Nathan Dumlao