The pandemic upended our lives in more ways than one. It changed the way we communicate; it changed our motivations, and it changed the way we think about work. Suddenly, the concept of a 9-to-5 felt archaic and out of touch. We realised that we didn’t need to be bound by tradition. We had all the tools at hand to innovate and create our own definitions of success.
So people started to break free of the old working styles and explore better, more flexible ways of working. They left behind the one-job-for-life belief system and started making money on their own terms. Without even realising it, they were entering the booming world of portfolio careers.
So what is a portfolio career?
Chances are you’re familiar with the concept, but the phrase may be a bit new to you. Portfolio careers have had many names over the years – gig work, entrepreneurship, freelancing. In the simplest terms, a portfolio career allows you to earn money in a variety of different ways – and there’s nothing that says those money-making ventures can’t be wildly different.
You could be a lawyer and a circus performer; a helicopter pilot and a beekeeper; a shoe designer and a startup mentor (which are all real examples of portfolio professionals from our community). You can even keep your day job and launch a side hustle based on something you’re passionate about. There are no limits and no rules. You are in complete control.
It’s all about finding your ikigai – that sweet spot between what you love, what you’re good at, what the world needs and what you can get paid to do. In other words, you can do work you’re passionate about, and make a living at the same time. It’s never been so easy to take control of your career, which is why 58% of people who started freelancing during the pandemic have no plans to go back to the way things were.
The rise and rise of portfolio careers
The concept of a ‘career for life’ has long been falling out of fashion. Even before the pandemic, it was predicted that 50% of all UK workers would have a side hustle by 2030. What the pandemic did was force businesses to become more agile. Remote working opened new opportunities for independent workers to step in and provide vital services. This helped keep costs low, so more companies started turning to portfolio professionals. Now, 70% of executives expect to use more independent talent than they did before the pandemic.
That means more work for portfolio professionals, which is great news for anyone who is thinking of making the switch to portfolio work.
It’s easy to see why this career path is so popular. You don’t have to have just one job to pay the bills. You can monetise your skills however you like. Plus, you can now work remotely, or from a co-working space, meaning you’re not tied down by location. You can work with anyone in the world as long as language and time zones aren’t an issue.
But what’s even better is that you can shape your career around your values. Do you believe in sustainability and social responsibility? Then you can choose to only work with clients who feel the same. A portfolio career puts you in control of how and why you work. You’re the one setting the rules, and if you don’t want to work with someone, you absolutely don’t have to.
How can you start a portfolio career?
The good news is that you don’t have to quit your job cold turkey. You can ease yourself in slowly to get a feel for how in-demand your skills are and what you could be earning. Some people keep their day jobs and do portfolio work on the side, whilst others choose to go part-time as they build up their portfolio business.
Our advice? Skill up and learn as much as you can. It helps to reach out to others who have done it before you. Find a mentor or join a community so you can ask questions. And try to grow your network as much as possible – social media is a great tool for creating connections, and there are plenty of communities like The Portfolio Collective and Othership which can help you build vital professional relationships.
Then, take an online course. It could be one specific to launching a portfolio career (like The Portfolio Collective’s Catapult course) or it could be something focused on a particular skill. No matter what, you should always be learning and always be adapting. In the end, it’s about having the freedom to build a career you love, and what could be better than that?
This article was written by The Portfolio Collective, the fastest growing global community for portfolio professionals.