5 steps to creating a portfolio career

Decided that you might like to try your hand at a portfolio career, but don’t know where to start? Here is our step by step guide to help you plan out your portfolio career and make it work for you. 

1. Career likes and dislikes

What is it you like about your work-life set-up currently? Is it the fact that you get to develop your skills, abilities and talents on the job, or is seeing the impact your work has on other people what gets you up in the morning. 

And what is it you don’t like? Is it getting up at five in the morning ready to catch two buses to start the day on time, or is it the fact that the position doesn’t give you enough money to live in a stable environment?

A portfolio career would ideally have more of what you enjoy and less of what you don’t enjoy, striking a balance between the time you put in for each and the ability to live, pay rent, provide for your children and those little extras we all crave. 

Once you’ve a better understanding of what you want in your working life, you can then build your portfolio career around it. For example, if you already earn a sizeable wage, and feel as though it’s more than enough to live on, but that you aren’t making an impact on those around you or don’t have enough time to see friends and family, perhaps you could consider two part-time jobs that offer you these further experiences.

Or if you have a very stable job, where you can use your talents, but it doesn’t give you an outlet for your creative side, perhaps a side hustle, which may eventually turn into a part time or even full time role may be for you. 

Having worked out what you like and dislike about your current set-up your first step is to write a list of all the things you want your portfolio career to offer. 

2. Brainstorm

Once you know what you’d like your portfolio career to offer, what’s missing from what you currently do? They’ll probably be a couple of items just can’t be achieved with your work life as it is. 

What’s the best way for you to achieve them? Could you try taking on freelance work, starting a side-hustle, or finding a part-time job and cutting your hours with the current one? Do you need more experience before your next step or can you jump straight into it? 

3. Try something our for size

Regardless of what you consider, once you’ve narrowed down your options, they next step would be to undertake a branching project in that option. A branching project is a project which can be taken on either inside or outside of the workplace which offers you the ability to experiment around your existing career.

Branching projects can include:

  • Work shadowing to understand the day-to-day activities of a different career
  • Volunteering to understand an industry or job role you’ve yet to be involved in
  • Taking a training courses/online course
  • Developing a blog or website for a business idea you have
  • Taking on a project at work to help understand a different side of a business
  • Taking on a small job (freelance) in a different line of work

It also offers you the ability to try something out for size - there’s every possibility you won’t enjoy the branching project, and it doesn’t give you the benefits you anticipated.

If you know someone that has a portfolio career, or someone in the industry or space you are looking to work in, you can also set up an informational interview to help you understand whether the career move is right for you.

4. Does it all add up?

Once you’ve done your research, you can decide on whether your course of action stacks up.

Does your new portfolio career offer everything you wanted from your list (or will it offer it in the future when you’ve got your feet off the ground)? 

Can you put together a plan of action that gets you to where you want to be? For example do you need to:

  • Retrain
  • Gain more experience
  • Put together a savings pot so you can jump in the deep end

5. Next steps

Finally, all there is to do is follow that plan of action!