Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Building a portfolio career: the pros and cons

Since having my daughter 9 years ago the way I make a living has completely changed.At the time of getting pregnant I was a TV Director and Manager of Sony's Film and TV department. I was convinced motherhood wouldn't make me miss a beat and I would continue to fly around the world on filming jobs with the baby strapped to my back. Earth mother and career girl all rolled into one.

I might need to find a new way of working?
Once my gorgeous bundle of joy arrived and had in the very best possible way turned my life upside down I realised that not only was it not practical to continue as I had before but actually my priorities had changed. I no longer wanted to be away from home for weeks on end and whilst being creative and in employment were both vital,I needed to be able to do these things in a more flexible way which would allow me more time at home.

Time to create a new way of working (drill optional)
So Betty Pampers "Portfolio Career" was born. I didn't realise at the time this is what it was. To my mind I was doing a number of things which added up to a living but I've since discovered that more and more people are embracing the idea of having two or three income streams (a portfolio of work) rather than putting everything into one thing. For some its a necessity because the thing they love doesn't make enough money on its own and for others its because the flexibility and variety it offers works more coherently within their lives.
Showing ladies how to do vintage inspired beauty on a workshop
For me its been a mixture of the two. I run a tee-shirt business Nicky Rockets with my husband,I run workshops in Vintage inspired beauty with my friend Lilly with the Vintage Pamperbox, I teach one day a wek at a university and of course write columns for magazines, newspapers and this blog which is now a business all on its own called Betty Pamper Social 

If you look closely you can see a theme. All my ventures centre around my love of vintage inspired beauty and plus size fashion and all of them compliment each other beautifully. I carve up my time quite strategically so certain days are "writing days" others are "Tee-shirt" days and Saturdays are often "Vintage Pamperbox workshops ". I without a doubt work full time (and so much more) but as I work for myself I am able to finish in time to collect my daughter from school, take time off when she is on her holidays and have a certain freedom that working for others wouldn't allow. 
The downside is that I often have to start work again once my little one has gone to bed but as I enjoy what I do so much its never really a problem and I'm great at closing the door on work and concentrating on my family (a skill that's been hard won I can tell you)

A rare chance to sit down-well I didn't say a portfolio career was easy did I
So do you think a portfolio career might suit you? Need some extra income or ready to leave working for just one company to perhaps working for two or three? here are the pros and cons.

  • Work flexibility. Depending on what your jobs are you may well be able to make the hours work for your lifestyle.
  • Variety. Working on two or more jobs means you will never get that "groundhog" day feeling again.
  • Opportunity-By earning money on a couple of part time roles you can continue to do the one thing you really love or make headway in a new career. Part time work allows you to volunteer or even take a low paid internship which can pave the way for new ventures.

  • Brain fever-Unless you are very organised you can feel quite scattered as you attempt to switch off from one responsibility to another.
  • Lack of security-If you are someone who likes to have a regular income and to know exactly what you are doing from one month to the next portfolio working might not be for you.
  • Overlap-Learning to close the door one set of responsibilities to start doing something else  can be very hard especially if you work from home.Its easier if at least one of your jobs takes place outside the home.

Designing Tee-Shirts with my husband  is something I love

Portfolio working is nothing new.Actors and artists have traditionally "waited tables ' or "taken a second job" to keep cash flow coming and often people on low incomes have to take additional work just to make ends meet. The difference with this new way of working is probably the approach.People like myself are not doing it for a short amount amount of time or until a well enough paid job turns up but because they genuinely love working in a few different roles. It allows work to be a rewarding varied part of their lives.
With the recession biting at our heals and more and more people facing unemployment and reduced hours I'm hoping this post will wave the flag for  a different way of working. I'm on the other side and the views not bad at all.
Could portfolio working be for you? or do you enjoy the benefits of one full time job? I would love to know your thoughts.

All content (text, photos and other) are the property of Betty Pamper (aka Perelandra Beedles)  unless otherwise stated. Please refrain from copying any material without recognition of the author and a link to the source on this blog.


  1. Great advise - I became self employed just over 2.5 years ago when I got made redundant (twice!) from 2 different fashion design jobs in the space of 6 months. I thought I'd give it a go and see how I got on...and I'm still doing it and love it so much designing and making for my own brand, Dolly Cool. I do work silly hours though, it really is very hard to 'switch off' from work mode when you live where you work! The pros FAR outweigh the cons however. To anyone thinking about doing it, just do it. What have you got to loose? :)

  2. Thanks Dolly. It can be so daunting when you set up on your own but having gone through two redundencies ythe stress is nothing comparde to that and being mistress of your own destiny is a wonderful thing.

  3. I'd never heard of this term before but it perfectly describes what I do!

    I'm a single mom to a 3 year old (who I've just taken to his first morning at nursery school!), I'm a childminder, I run an online craft business, A Little Bit of Annie, with which I attend craft/vintage fairs and do sewing workshops and I've also just started The Vintage Directory, a printed directory distributed at vintage fairs and events! I've got lots of other plans too...

    Working from home is really hard, but now my son is at school I'm hoping to separate my days up for different jobs like you do Betty and also make time for some fun with him - you've definitely shown me it's possible!

    Right, I'd better get on... But first, I think its coffee time...

  4. LOVE! I want to be totally self-employed by the time I have kids. xo, rv


  5. Hi Kate-Ive find it all abit easier now my daughter is at school although the 3.30pm finish still arrives so quickly. It does take a while to find out what way of working is best for you, some people are better in the morning or prefer to work late at night. Its about finding something which keeps teh wolf from teh door and fits in with your life.
    Rae, being self employed once you have kids is a bit easier I think so good plan x

  6. This post is very reassurring! I'm not at your level yet Betty but for someone that's been doing something similar since Jan this year, you've shown if can be a success! Thanks xx

  7. I can't even begin to explain how interesting and useful this post has been. I've never heard this phrase before. This is very inspiring to me as for the last 2 years I have been having the thoughts and business plans about where I can go and what I can do.

    I do have a full time 'day job' and whilst I don't dislike it - (far from it, I'm lucky I work with lovely people everyday) It's not vintage and that is where my heart is. Rather than beat myself up wondering if I can make a full time job out of vintage I should just try it and be open to other things that spring up from it. I *really* like the term 'portfolio career'. Very inspiring blog post. x

  8. Hi Missy and Susie-Im so glad you found my blog post helpful. I remember when I first started out on this slightly unconventional approach to employment I couldnt really find anything which related to how I made my living. Hopefuly this give reassurance that no way is the right way when it cmes to earning a crust-you just have to find a way which works for you x

  9. Hi Betty
    I stumbled across your blog today while looking for something else, which couldn't of been important as ive forgoten what i was origanlly looking for. I was made redundent from my totaly mind numbing 9 t0 5 at christmas. I love being at home, but need to earn as I feel it's only fair to add to the income coming in to the home. This post is so usefull as today I decided to "Portfolio" my businesses. I do cake decorating, selling vintage jewlery , make cake plates sew and paint . Reading your blog has made me realise that i can make a career of all these. Thank you for informative and inspiring words xx

  10. This post is really helpful as I want to become self-employed but, it's not all easy! I think the best way is when you settle down and after you have had kids! You can make your career fit around your lifestyle! Loved Loved the post xo

  11. I totally understand that feeling of "this baby isn't going to change my life", "she has to go with the flow".I was in the middle of launching a restuarant when I had my little bundle of joy and thought nothing in my life would change - how wrong I was. That little tiny person totally changes your life, nothing will ever be the same again. The resturant got dumped and I know make a living buying vintage items and selling them mainly online. It gives me the time and space to be a Mum but keeps the wolf from the door, just about. It was all worth it though, I wouldn't change a thing.

  12. Hi Betty,

    Thanks for sharing this on Facebook again, good timing in my case. I started retraining to be a Counsellor last year, and was handed a massive curveball in my civil service career in September, when basically they wouldn't support me with my studies any more. So i did a scary thing and quit, with no job to go to. I got the first job i applied for (in local government) but I don't start until the end of January. I turned 30 this year and until i started counselling training i never had any real direction, and didn't know what i wanted to do in life. Ok, so i took every development opportunity going in my last role, but the good old glass ceiling stopped me in my tracks. Now i am in my 30's i want to start a family but work too. Thinking about it, multiple roles are what i am used to. From the age of 16 i had two jobs, and was at school, so working full time almost, and studying too. I was never tired and always thrived because i luckily enjoyed those jobs. While i want to be a counsellor i am very aware it is difficult to make money solely from this unless you are lucky enough to be taken on by a charity full time or go self employed. Even the latter is sketchy as there is a high percentage of no show clients to each counsellor. I have other passions, one being makeup and the other jewellery making. Both more creative and different from the helping profession. I've always wanted everything or nothing and perhaps that's why, even after a degree, i could never settle to one role. But by thinking differently about this and seeing it as an opportunity rather than a flaw in my character i can use this to my advantage. So, thank you first for a wonderful blog that, as a plus size woman gives me body confidence, but thank you also for thinking outside the box and sharing your experience and knowledge in an honest and thought provoking way.


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