Thursday, April 26, 2007

How to Develop a Lucrative "Portfolio Career"

I first heard the term Portfolio Career a few years ago when I was talking to a girlfriend about a mutual friend. This particular friend had resigned from a high-paid sales job that required her to travel a lot.

Tired of the grindstone, she quit and launched a portfolio career. So, what exactly is a portfolio career?

What is a Portfolio Career?

Freelance from home! Just a reminder, Inkwell Editorial's work-from-home, how-to freelance writing e-books will be back on this weekend.

A portfolio career is one in which you do several things. You don’t work for any particular employer, you work for several doing very different jobs.

As defined in the article Portfolio Careers: Creating a Career of Multiple Part-Time Jobs by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D., “Portfolio careers are usually built around a collection of skills and interests, though the only consistent theme is one of career self-management.” Source:

For example, the friend who quit her sales job started doing promotions for a record company. In addition to that, she worked part-time in her previous career – leveraging contacts she’d made during her career in the field.

What makes a portfolio career different from being a freelancer? Technically, there’s no difference as they are both self-employed. However, a portfolio career is one in which the professional holds down several different jobs -- in extremely different fields.

In the past, professionals might have hidden this type of “split career.” As more and more job seekers seek more time in their personal lives, however, many are coming out of the closet, if you will, about their career choices.

So, how do you go about developing a lucrative portfolio career?

A) Assess your interests and abilities: Are you, for example, good at marketing and at crafts? There’s no reason not to do both.

Make a list of all that you’re good at or have an interest in. Select two or three that you might want to turn into part-time ventures and go for it.

B) Leverage existing contacts: Like the executive mentioned above, this is the easiest way to get your portfolio career off the ground. If you want to do marketing for small businesses, for example, get your company off the ground by telling everyone who knows you the new career path you’re about to embark upon.

C) Marketing and networking: Marketing can be as simple as getting a website. For networking purposes, join a chamber of commerce.

NOTE: In my 2/27/07 post, Networking No No’s: What NOT to Do When You Network, I discuss some things you should not do when networking that may seem to run contrary to portfolio. Specifically, I’m referring to representing the right business.

So, how do you network effectively if you have a portfolio career? I would select one of the things that I do and promote that at networking events. If you have a website, for example that explains your portfolio career, then potential clients will eventually discover all that you do anyway.

BUT, the reason I would only promote one thing at networking events is that, in marketing, too many messages confuse people. So if you say I write marketing proposals for small business and I design jewelry as well, what are they likely to remember you for?In my opinion, this sends a confusing, unprofessional message.

FYI, joining two or more networking groups will allow you to promote one business at one group, and the other business at another group.

Just because you work for yourself does not mean you don’t need to be professional about it. Treat it like a real, full-fledged business; because, that’s what it is. It’s just a business with several arms.

Wondering if a portfolio career is for you? Take a FREE test at

NOTE: Graphic courtesy of Learn more about portfolio careers at this site.
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Lillie Ammann said...

Another great post.

I've awarded you the Thinking Blogger Award and tagged you to select five more thinking blogs. You can find the details on my blog.

Inkwell Editorial said...

Thanks Lillie. Wow, an actual award -- what a way to kick off the weekend. I will pass the award on in a post next week.

Thanks again for reading.

FYI, loved your March 27th post in Lillie's Musings on creating a balance in life -- it's something I struggle with constantly -- as I'm sure a lot of busy professionals do. Keep up the great writing!