Is Portfolio Working For You?

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What is Portfolio Working?

Portfolio Working describes people who work on a number of projects for different organisations or individuals sometimes combining this with permanent full or part-time work. Others describe themselves as freelancers, but even they may have the occasional fixed term contract for an employer. 

Why do it?

This ‘mix-and-match’ approach is becoming more appealing to those who wish to take control over their work, focus on what they really love, achieve a better work-life balance or just want to earn some extra money.  

What are the attributes of a Portfolio Worker?

 Good time management, self- discipline, self-knowledge, initiative, confidence, multi-tasking, networking skills, business awareness and great organisational skills are important. You may not have all of these all at once, but it’s more than likely they will develop if you’re motivated and fired-up because you’re following an interest.

The idea appeals, but do you have something to offer?

Do you have a product, service, knowledge or skill set clients will pay for.

1. Look at your current job. Will people pay you to deliver an aspect of your present job as a consultant, working for an agency, or as a freelancer? Could you also write about it, talk about it, train others to do it?

2. Do you have hobbies or interests which could earn you money? Don’t discount anything whether it’s sports coaching, DIY, web design or teaching languages. 

3. Do you have an unfulfilled passion? Is there something you have always wanted to do, but have never quite got around to checking out what training, advice, financial support you’d need, or indeed if there’s a market out there. Be wary of talking yourself out of doing some investigation before you’ve even started.

Ask friends, family and colleagues for their views; you don’t want to underestimate what you have to offer. 

Who can help you?  

  • People who are already working in those areas that interest you 
  • Professional Association websitesoften have freelancer pages
  • Organisations like Business Link who offer free advice on setting up a business, including tax and accounting issues
  • Self-help books on Portfolio Careers
  • Friends or professional coaches who can help you: clarify what you can offer, work out your priorities and develop your goals and an action plan
  • If you’re currently working for an employer – check any other work you do is not prohibited by your contract under conflicts of interest or intellectual property
  • Accountants – get professional advice before you start earning. They won’t charge for an initial meeting and you can pick up a lot of advice for free – it’s in their interest to impress you with their knowledge from the start. 

What next?

The great thing about the idea of Portfolio Working is that you can start small and test the water with small-scale projects. If it sounds appealing, then think through the following stages:

  • brainstorm your portfolio ideas
  • decide on your goals
  • look at what might be relevant to those goals,
  • think about what your options are
  • … and plan what you’re going to do next.

Whether it’s a boss who’s driving you bonkers, a desire to earn a little more or a passion to set up your windsurfing academy in the Maldives, what have you got to lose by a little light brainstorming to start with?


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