At the time I had no idea what a portfolio career was.
I stumbled on the idea of a portfolio career about 2 months into my self-employment journey, and it turns out it’s exactly what I’m doing.
Here’s what I’ll cover in this article:
- What is a portfolio career?
- What does it look like in practice?
- Is now a good time for one (spoiler: yes)
- Pros, Cons, and my experience
Real quick, I started a newsletter that details my portfolio career journey.
Every week I write about what it was like to quit my job, what I’m working on, and exactly where my income comes from every month.
Seriously, I tell people how much money I made every month. It’s something no one else is doing right now.
If that sounds interesting you can subscribe below.
What is a portfolio career?
A portfolio career is a unique and fulfilling way of working where you pursue multiple income streams and professional interests simultaneously.
Unlike traditional careers that focus on a single job or industry, a portfolio career enables you to diversify your skills, experiences, and income sources.
Here’s what my portfolio career looks like now:
- I’m a consultant
- An affiliate marketer
- A writer (on my newsletter about qutting my job)
- A podcaster (on my Notion podcast)
Many people are turning to portfolio careers as a way to find fulfillment, flexibility, and variety in their professional lives.
I was personally fed up with the politics of a corporate job, building bullshit powerpoints, and having meetings about things that didn’t actually matter.
I had spent the last 10 months building up side income sources by exploring my passions and hobbies and decided it was finally time to take the leap.
But that’s just my story, why would you want to have a portfolio career?
Why would you want a portfolio career?
A portfolio career is really about embracing a hybrid professional life.
Rather than relying on one job or company for income, people with a portfolio career intentionally cultivate multiple income streams through a combination of part-time jobs, freelance work, consulting projects, personal businesses, and even passion projects.
These different income streams are often interconnected, allowing you to leverage your skills and experiences across various industries and professions.
I talk with people on my podcast who live all around the world building portfolio careers, some as young as 16 years old.
The traditional career path is becoming less attractive for younger generations like Gen Z who have access to remote work and digital income streams like no generation before them.
A portfolio career is more than just a means to earn a living; it is a mindset that embraces versatility, adaptability, and continuous learning.
It is about taking control of your career path and creating a professional life that aligns with your unique skills, passions, and values.
In a portfolio career, you have the freedom to choose the projects and opportunities that resonate with you, allowing for greater fulfillment and personal growth.
One of the passions I see right now is Notion templates.
Notion is a productivity tool that’s quickly become loved as a flexible tool to organize your life.
There are young people making $30,000 selling Notion templates now and that’s just one example.
Are you actively creating Notion templates? Drop a 👋— Ben Lang (@benln) April 26, 2023
Imagine waking up in the morning, excited about the different projects and opportunities that await you.
This is exactly my life right now, by the way.
Before I quit my job? I dreaded logging into work.
And it’s a common theme among people I talk with on my podcast.
Here’s one example of someone who hated their job at Amazon and decided to take action.
One of my favorite questions to ask guests on my podcast is this:— Nick Lafferty (@LaffertyN) June 26, 2023
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would you say?
Here's what @TheHunterBohm said and I 100% agree with it 👇
Episode 7 of Template Titans drops on Wednesday :) pic.twitter.com/t4VNcoxF3r
I wasn’t motivated by the projects I was working on.
But as a portfolio careerist, you have the flexibility to work on a wide range of projects that align with your interests and skills.
One day, you may be working as a graphic designer for a local startup, helping them create visually stunning branding materials.
The next day, you might be consulting for a non-profit organization, using your expertise in marketing to help them reach a wider audience and increase their impact.
But it doesn’t stop there.
In a portfolio career, you have the freedom to explore your passions and turn them into income-generating ventures.
Let’s say you have always had a love for photography.
With a portfolio career, you can start a side business as a freelance photographer, capturing beautiful moments for clients and turning your passion into a profitable endeavor.
You can also use your photography skills to collaborate with other professionals in the creative industry, creating stunning visual content that tells compelling stories.
One of the great advantages of a portfolio career is the ability to diversify your income streams.
While traditional careers often rely on a single job for income, a portfolio career allows you to have multiple sources of income.
This was a major reason I started looking for additional income streams too.
I hated that my family relied on the success of one company for our entire livelihood.
Diversification not only provides financial security but also allows you to weather economic downturns more easily (like the one we’re in right now in July 2023).
If one income stream slows down, you can rely on others to keep you afloat.
For one of my income streams, the summer is a period of slowness. So I use this opportunity to ramp up consulting to bridge the gap.
A portfolio career also encourages continuous learning and personal growth.
Charlie Rogers writes a popular Substack called Mastery in your 20s where he talks about portfolio careers for people without much experience.
He made this great graphic that illustrates the different ways a less experienced person can pursue this path.
As you navigate different industries and professions, you are constantly expanding your knowledge and skills.
You may find yourself taking on new challenges and learning new technologies to stay ahead of the curve.
This constant learning keeps your mind sharp and opens up new opportunities for advancement and success.
You can and should learn core skills like:
- AI tools like ChatGPT
Another benefit of a portfolio career is the ability to build a diverse network.
As you work on different projects and collaborate with professionals from various fields, you are constantly expanding your network and building valuable relationships.
These connections can lead to new opportunities, partnerships, and even mentorship.
Your network becomes a powerful asset that can help you navigate your career and open doors to exciting possibilities.
I’ve grown my personal network in many ways:
- Posting on LinkedIn
- Starting a podcast
- Starting a newsletter
Each gave me the opportunity to connect with people that followed me.
I’d literally DM people and ask them to hop on a call with me to learn about what each other is working on.
In conclusion, a portfolio career offers a unique and fulfilling alternative to traditional careers.
It allows you to embrace versatility, adaptability, and continuous learning while cultivating multiple income streams.
With the freedom to choose projects and opportunities that align with their skills and passions, portfolio careerists can create a professional life that brings them joy, fulfillment, and personal growth.
What does a portfolio career look like?
Portfolio careers can take on many different forms.
They can be a combination of part-time jobs, freelancing, consulting, and personal projects, or they can include a mix of traditional employment and entrepreneurial endeavors.
The possibilities are virtually endless, and it all depends on your interests, skills, and professional goals.
Here’s some examples.
Imagine a graphic designer who has crafted a truly dynamic portfolio career.
This designer spends a few days a week working remotely for a renowned design agency, collaborating with a team of talented individuals to create visually stunning masterpieces.
The agency allows the designer to work from the comfort of their own home, providing flexibility and freedom to pursue other exciting ventures.
In addition to their agency work, this designer also takes on freelance projects in the evenings.
These projects allow them to explore their creativity even further, working with a diverse range of clients who have unique visions and requirements.
From designing logos for startups to creating compelling illustrations for established brands, the freelance work adds a touch of variety and excitement to their portfolio career.
But it doesn’t stop there.
This designer has a burning passion for entrepreneurship and has embarked on a personal side project.
They have created their own line of greeting cards, showcasing their artistic flair and love for design.
Through their online store and various marketplaces, they sell these beautifully crafted cards to individuals who appreciate the art of handwritten notes and heartfelt messages.
This side project not only allows the designer to express their creativity in a different way but also provides an additional source of income and fulfillment.
This is just one example of how a portfolio career can be structured.
The beauty of a portfolio career lies in its ability to adapt to your unique strengths and aspirations.
It allows you to explore multiple avenues, whether it’s working in different industries, pursuing diverse projects, or balancing traditional employment with entrepreneurial pursuits.
The key is to identify your passions, leverage your skills, and create a harmonious blend of opportunities that align with your goals.
So, if you’re considering a portfolio career, take inspiration from the graphic designer’s story and start envisioning your own path.
What combination of work, projects, and ventures excites you?
How can you leverage your talents and interests to create a fulfilling and rewarding portfolio career?
The possibilities are limited only by your imagination, so embrace the freedom and flexibility that a portfolio career offers and embark on a journey of professional growth and personal fulfillment.
Is now a good time for a portfolio career?
Now is the best time for a portfolio career.
Companies are laying off experienced and tenured workers every day.
Companies do not care about you.
They only care about profits.
I’ve met 16 year olds in India who are making more money per month than I was in my old career.
I’ve met people with years of experience that quit their job to pivot into something they’re passionate about.
Here’s another clip from my podcast about how someone is building a Notion consulting business.
Want to start a Notion consulting business?@ASimpleNotion just quit her job to do this full time.— Nick Lafferty (@LaffertyN) June 5, 2023
Don't miss the full episode on Wednesday where we talk about:
- how much you should charge
- how to get consulting clients & more
Follow me to get notified when it drops 🎉 pic.twitter.com/MRVIu33Tb4
Anyone can do this! And there’s never been a better time.
Technology has revolutionized the way we work, making remote work and freelance opportunities more accessible than ever before.
COVID-19 pandemic forced a seismic shift in how we view work, with many people reevaluating their priorities and seeking more flexibility and autonomy in their professional lives.
With these shifts in the job market and a growing emphasis on work-life balance and personal fulfillment, now is an opportune time to consider a portfolio career.
Read my newsletter about why playing it safe is actually the biggest risk you could be taking right now.
Pros and cons of a portfolio career
- Flexibility: One of the key advantages of a portfolio career is the flexibility it offers. You have the ability to choose when, where, and how you work, allowing for a better work-life balance.
- Variety: With a portfolio career, each day can be different, as you navigate between various projects and industries. This variety can help keep your work engaging and exciting.
- Personal Growth: A portfolio career exposes you to a wide range of experiences, allowing for continuous learning and development. It challenges you to adapt, acquire new skills, and expand your perspectives.
- Independence: As a portfolio worker, you have more control over your professional life. You are not tied to a single employer or industry, giving you the freedom to chart your own course.
- Uncertainty: A portfolio career can be inherently unpredictable, as income and projects may fluctuate. It requires a strong ability to manage uncertainty and create stability through effective planning and diversification of income streams.
- Self-Management: With a portfolio career, you are essentially your own boss. While this can be liberating, it also means you are responsible for managing your workload, finances, and professional development.
- Overcommitment: Juggling multiple projects and income streams can be challenging, requiring excellent time-management and organizational skills to ensure you can maintain a healthy work-life balance.
How to get started with a portfolio career
Embarking on a portfolio career may seem daunting at first, but with careful planning and a willingness to embrace new challenges, you can successfully navigate this exciting professional path. Here are some steps to help you get started:
- Identify Your Skills and Interests: Take the time to reflect on your skills, experiences, and passions. Consider the areas you excel in and the types of work that bring you joy.
- Research Different Income Streams: Explore the various ways you can generate income within your chosen field or across different industries. Look for opportunities that align with your skills and interests.
- Building Your Network: Networking is crucial in a portfolio career. Connect with professionals in your desired industries, join relevant communities or organizations, and seek mentorship from individuals with experience in portfolio careers.
- Develop a Financial Plan: Understand your financial needs and create a budget that accounts for the fluctuating nature of a portfolio career. Consider setting aside emergency funds and exploring ways to create financial stability.
- Market Yourself: Establish your personal brand by creating a compelling online presence, showcasing your skills and experience. Leverage social media platforms, professional networks, and portfolio websites to promote your work.
Tips for Succeeding in a Portfolio Career
While a portfolio career offers exciting opportunities, it also requires discipline, resilience, and adaptability. Here are some tips to help you thrive:
- Stay Organized: Develop systems and routines to manage your workload effectively. Set clear professional goals, prioritize tasks, and create a schedule that allows for a healthy work-life balance.
- Embrace Learning: Continuously invest in your professional development. Seek out opportunities to learn new skills, stay updated on industry trends, and expand your knowledge base.
- Be Proactive: Take charge of your career by actively seeking out new projects and clients. Pitch your services, attend industry events, and stay connected with your network.
- Cultivate Resilience: Expect setbacks and challenges along the way. Develop resilience and a growth mindset to overcome obstacles and learn from failures.
- Maintain Balance: Ensure you create time for self-care, rest, and relaxation. A healthy work-life balance is essential for long-term success and well-being.
A portfolio career opens up a world of possibilities, allowing you to shape a professional life that aligns with your passions and values.
It requires courage, adaptability, and a willingness to explore new opportunities.
With careful planning and a commitment to continuous learning, you can embark on a fulfilling journey of self-discovery and professional growth.
It’s possible to live a rich and fulfilling life outside of a corporate job.
I hope my experience illustrated that.
And while a portfolio career isn’t for everyone, the risk of not even trying is greater than sticking it out in a shitty job that doesn’t bring you joy.
My final advice is this: start something.
Build, try, experiment, fail, iterate.
Make an effort and good things will happen.