Tired of 9-5? Try this revolutionary way of working.

Sarah* is 27. Her profession? Portfolio working.

It’s a new term to describe an established concept – that of working on different projects, on a contractual basis, for the purpose of spending time on what you love.

It’s more than a work-life balance The Telegraph reports. It’s about building a portfolio that you’re proud of. Creating a life that you want to live and shaping your own career (yes, career) to fit that life.

The goal is not necessarily to work part-time, or avoid the office. The goal is to dedicate your professional / creative / consultative hours to a portfolio of work that you have chosen and you are proud of. (Working part-time and avoiding the office are just happy coincidences, I’m sure).

“As a young writer, I skipped around various industries trying to settle into something. I worked as a copywriter, interned with advertising firms, worked in fashion marketing, and even skipped back to academia for a time,” Sarah said. “I was always under the impression that a writer had to choose one thing, stick to it, and be the expert. It wasn’t until a friend suggested it- at a point where I was feeling really uninspired by the type of writing I was doing – that I decided to try juggling a few roles at one time. I started my own content company, and have worked on such an amazing range of work since… There have been interviews with Helena Christensen, national advertising campaigns, helping startups get off the ground, even futurism conferences when we talk about the world 200 years from now!”

Sarah says the concept pays off in the freedom it offers, as well as the creativity is inspires. “The variety keeps me sharp and interested. The idea of working in the same role, with the same work, all week absolutely horrifies me!”

What horrible bosses in the past have made us do. Post continues below video. 

Hear, hear. But it’s not easy. Dedication and discipline are non-negotiable. Your portfolio is nothing more and nothing less than what you make it – a thought that is empowering professionally, but certainly challenging in the day-to-day, my-kids-need-me-at-this-event, the-beach-is-looking-more-appealing-than-my-desk, it-actually-counts-as-work-if-I-watch-this-episode-of-Girls-right? requirements (yes, requirements) of life. 


“When it’s your clients, your business, and your money – it pays to get things done,” Sarah said. “Come rain, hail, or shine; I make sure I am sitting at my desk by 8am every morning. While, I don’t believe working until 5pm every day is absolutely crucial (work smart, not hard!), I do think structure around the start of your day is really important. I go to yoga every day, either at lunch, or after work. It really helps me stay on top of the stress and busyness, and keeps me focused.”

So how can you set it up? First off, identify your skills and passions – how do you want your portfolio to look? Then, The Telegraph suggests, set yourself up as a professional – from the basics like LinkedIn, to the “fake it till you make it” essentials like a website and business cards. Following this, you need to network, network and network. (Oh, and it’s time to completely conquer your fear of hard work and cold calling.)

“Once I decided to go freelance, I was like a dog with a bone. I called in all my contacts, and begun networking. I called strangers. I advertised online. I did everything I could to start the ball rolling. I reckon it was around six weeks between my last pay, and scoring my first client,” Sarah said. “Now, I spend two days of my week in an office, and the rest with my clients. Although I juggle anywhere between five and 10 clients at any given time, I would say that I knock over three standard-sized projects a week.”

The only drawback? Sometimes it gets lonely. Still, Sarah says, the sometimes-isolating nature of a portfolio career is well and truly outweighed by the positives of the profession. 

“It can be lonely when the only person you see is the postman all day, but the biggest benefit is the freedom,” she said. “I can take my work anywhere in the world, and pick and choose the clients I want. I am still exploring different industries to work in as a writer and a strategist, so it’s great to be able to shift gears at any time. I find managing my own income and finances really liberating, too. I would hate to be under the thumb of a contract. This way, if I want to earn more, I work more. It’s that easy.”

One phrase comes to mind:


*Name has been changed.