Building a Portfolio Career from the Ground Up

As the world around us changes, full-time employment is taking on a very different persona. Building a portfolio career is now an exciting prospect. Even those who previously considered themselves working within a traditional job are considering taking the plunge.

Contemplating more than one income stream is a crucial incentive, but a portfolio career’s advantages extend beyond this benefit. An increasing number of us are seeking a more successful work-life balance. A large part of this includes translating side hustles into full-time employment.

Here at Voyageur U, we are dedicated to helping you get the most of your working life. Whether you opt for traditional careers or are looking to break into the gig economy, we have the assistance you need. 

Head over to the site today and become a member for access to a range of tools, tips, and resources.

portfolio word in wood type to represent building a portfolio career

What Is A Portfolio Career?

Before building a portfolio career, it is crucial to understand precisely what this entails. As the name suggests, this concept is essentially a career made up of multiple jobs and work types. In a sense, a portfolio career takes something many professionals have been doing for years.

It involves taking on a range of multiple responsibilities, projects, and roles — the same things you’ve already been doing at your current job. The difference here is that individuals can make the most of their existing skill sets. It is a chance to use what you already have to earn some serious cash.

Using What You Know

A portfolio career path offers an opportunity for workers to take charge of their own working situation. Juggling multiple babysitting, retail, and fast food gigs may not feel like an appealing long-term solution. Portfolio careerists, however, will make the most of the skills they already have. All of a sudden, they find that those multiple side hustles make up a full-time job.

Alternatively, you might find that your niche skill — whether it’s as a CFO of non-profits or accounting for accountants, or something else entirely — works well when you do it part-time for several different client. Maybe that startup or non-profit can’t employ a full-time Marketing Director, but 3 start-ups who need part-time work might be able to collectively give you a pretty nice annual salary for one person.

The potential income streams from building a portfolio career can span several different fields. Many will often have overlaps. For example, a copywriter might also work in social media, while graphic designers can also act as consultants. A CFO might work part-time as a freelance accountant or tax consultant.

In some cases, workers will take one primary skill — for example, writing — and use this to generate multiple income streams. In the case of writers, this could include copywriting, journalism, book writing, and copy editing.

A portfolio career operates in three main ways. It may be entirely through freelance, through a series of short-term contracts, and the third a combination of the two. Some portfolio workers also run their product or service-based businesses alongside these two options.

The real secret is to utilize the skill sets you have and see how they can apply to a multitude of different jobs. A portfolio career offers the chance to acquire many skill sets. It also requires the flexibility to take on new challenges and projects along the way. If an opportunity knocks, you need to be ready to take it.

successful business woman working on multiple screens

What Are The Advantages To Building A Portfolio Career?

Building a portfolio career comes with a huge range of bonuses compared to the traditional model of working full time.

Work-Life Balance

A better work-life balance is perhaps the most significant appeal of building a portfolio career. It allows you to enjoy the freedom and benefits of a part-time role, with the income of a full-time job.


A portfolio career offers the chance to enjoy several different types of work. This is a significant appeal to those tired of the mundane repetitiveness of a typical 9-5 gig. Instead, you could be working on a unique design one day and advising a major corporation the next. No two days are the same, and this allows you to build and develop a career you genuinely love.

Financial Stability

It may seem counterintuitive, but building a portfolio career can offer you a higher level of financial stability. This is especially true in an unpredictable economy. A typical full-time role requires you to be solely dependent on one single form of income. A portfolio career, however, allows you to take charge of your earning potential.

You can build and develop your career in any way you choose, and this includes setting up multiple sources of income. If one plate falls, you will still have a number of others spinning and ready to go. This structure allows you to earn even when the economy is less than ideal. 

As an added bonus, if one of your clients goes under, you will be less severely impacted. However, if you are entirely reliant on a single employment source, their loss quickly becomes your loss.

business professionals working at a desk to build a portfolio career

How Do I Get Started Creating a Portfolio Career?

We have good news: building a portfolio career is far more straightforward than you may have previously anticipated. In fact, you may even have the building blocks right in front of you.

The first stage is creating a portfolio or a way to show off your skills to potential clients. For writers and artists, this could be a physical item, with examples of previous pieces for potential newbies to pursue. Often, a portfolio can also be digital; this can be useful if you have had success as an online writer, for example.

For other fields of expertise, you might include customer testimonials (anonymous, if necessary). It’s also a good idea to ask any current clients you’ve had if they know of any other work available for you.

Have Examples

Having clear, quality samples of your work is a good sign for your future customers. You are proving that you have done this before and that you are to be trusted. It also helps to establish you as a professional, with a clear plan and evidence of your success.

Who Do You Know?

Finding clients and customers is always a concern, but good old fashioned networking is always a winner. You can go with old-fashioned business cards and physical networking, or take things digital. Don’t forget to use the resources you already have at your disposal. Explore your existing networks carefully — you may have a ready-made client waiting in the wings.

Overcome the Mental Challenge

Many workers are reluctant to pursue a portfolio career due to the perceived instability. This is a hurdle, however, which is primarily psychological. Any part-time employment can be a risk. Somehow, however, many of us feel more confident when we have a boss and a clear position.

However, as we have seen, any role is precarious, and portfolio work actually increases your chance of financial stability. By placing your eggs in different baskets and diversifying your income streams, you are helping set yourself up for success.

How Can We Help?

Here at Voyageur U, we are dedicated to helping you make the best of any business. Our site is packed with dedicated resources, toolkits, and tips, to help you kick off a portfolio career in style. 

Why not head over today and become a member to see how we can help you take those all-important first steps? You can thank us later!


John Arms.

Co-founder and Author.

I get my energy from helping professionals succeed in their independent businesses. I get to help people who were once stuck in their careers get unstuck. It’s truly an amazing thing to witness that transformation. I believe that success in the independent economy does more for a person’s pocketbook, health, life balance and sense of purpose than any other type of career choice.