The rise of the portfolio career

It can be hard defining our work ‘status’ after becoming parents

So what do you do?

It’s an odd question, isn’t it?  What do you do?  We all want to know what each other does and that’s understandable. It’s a defining piece of who we are and where we sit amongst ‘things’ – people, society and whatnot.  It helps us ‘put’ someone somewhere and build up a view of what they are like and what they believe in.  But it’s not so easy if you have a portfolio career.

Portfolio Careers are the new black, where you have two or more earning activities on the go – “fingers in pies.”  Whether it be working part-time in an office and selling cakes on the weekend; a freelancing copywriter who is a property investor.  The 9-5 is becoming an old-fashioned model and it’s now easier than ever before to create alternative incomes.

Why would I consider a portfolio career?

Protect your income

I once read that millionaires have on average seven different income streams.  What a jolly sensible approach.  Spreading your eggs into many baskets takes the risk out – if one disappears it’s not the end of the world.  Remarkable irony, really, that those who are most risk-averse often to stick to one job and don’t explore other options.  This is one occasion when stepping out of convention is a mitigating action.


A top one for Mums.  Often having multiple work interests gives you more control over how and when you fit in your work.   Tutoring or teaching pilates means you pick your evenings and the time of day that suits you.  You can choose the late night shift if you’re copywriting websites.  You can do your baking during nap time.

Variation and adventure

My personal favourite.  Some people just don’t like doing the same thing all the time.  You like what you do but it’s not enough and there’s a bit of you yearning to do something more or different.  Your job is simply not going to be creative enough for you – so you teach pottery painting in the evenings.

Start a new business

Life doesn’t always have to be like the movies with a dramatic swishing out of the office, striding into the horizon like a lone figure, ready to start the life you’ve always dreamt of.  Contracting part time whilst setting up a business takes out the risk and allows you to set up something new without putting the kids’ university fund at stake.

Self discovery

Perhaps you don’t feel like you’ve found what you really want to do.  Take the opportunity to explore different options – test the water before making the leap.  Always fancied being a massage therapist?  Do an evening course and build up clients on the side before moving across.  If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter – just move onto the next thing.

Keep yourself invigorated and ‘fresh’

Regularly ticking all boxes without a doubt makes me fresher.  I was a happier IT consultant by day, because I ran Another Mother on the side.  I get to be creative, meet new people, bring communities together which gives me a real zest and freshness.  And what a great counterbalance when it comes to my IT roles, which tend to be highly analytical and detail-focussed.

So what are the disadvantages?

Well, this route is less cruise-control then clocking in and out of a job:

  • Often portfolio career involves some part of being your own boss so you need to be prepared to take that on

  • If you run as a limited company or self-employed, you have to be up-to-date with VAT regulations, company registrations, annual accounts, etc

  • You will experience fluctuations in income

  • Life will be unstable with less predictability than a regular job

  • You will have to go out to sell yourself and find work

  • It’s a balancing act – more balls are being juggled

It can be hugely rewarding and make sense to your life in terms of flexibility, being around for the kids and earning more.

How could you expand your income streams into a portfolio?

So, consider the following:

  1. If you could change one thing about your life right now, what would that be eg more interesting work, more time for passions, more money?

  2. What’s stopping you from doing that today?  (eg no time on top of job/ kids/ etc, not trained, etc)

  3. What one change could you make to overcome that barrier?

Think of work not as a job, but a selection of activities that give your life what you need whether that be £X per month, picking up the kids from school, getting into an office in grown-up clothes.  And then have a think creatively about how you could achieve that.

Do get in touch if you have made some changes to find a way of working that works for you – I love an inspiring story!