Side projects are an important part of your growth and development. They provide value in many forms, from a potential future commission to bolstering your artistic toolkit to giving you the freedom to run wild with your beloved, batty ideas, unafraid of a client’s critique. So how do you differentiate between the kinds of personal projects worth undertaking and the ones best left to your imagination? By pursuing the ones that ultimately benefit your craft and career like these five types below.
The problem isn’t really coming up with side project ideas. It’s the challenge of being able to move away from the self-centered ‘me me me’ marketing trap and focus on building things that are useful to your audience. Nobody cares about your business, they care about how they look in front of their customers. They care about how they can get better at what they do. They care about how to impress their own clients.
And side project marketing helps you to do exactly that—to move away from ‘me-focused’ marketing and start seeing how you can actually help, be useful, and create extreme value for your customers.
“We’ve always tried to create web products that are helpful in the development process, and that we would use ourselves for building websites for clients.”
The good news: You don’t have to create a million-dollar company to get your time’s worth from a side project or creative hobby.
Spending your time in this way can make you happier, healthier, and more productive.
Set your fear of failure aside and get that nagging idea out of your head, once and for all. The benefits can help take your creative career to new heights.
It’s easy to have an idea for a project and then shoot it down quickly. That’s far less work than actually doing the project. It’s safer, too, since the idea can live and die in your mind, without the outside world ever knowing about it. But that means you’ll never get any of the awesome benefits—and never even have the chance for success.
The Muse examines some of the most common self-criticizing assumptions that keep us from creating—and see how you can push past them and pursue your side project today.
Instead of setting a selfish goal like, “We need 1000 unique visitors in 30 days,” we should ask ourselves, “How can we help 1000 people? What can we give away that is related to our core business?”
Chances are, if they like what you put out there, some of them might want to know more about your core business.
This is the story of how a weekend project and 276 lines of Python got Tom Critchlow a job at Google. But it’s also a lesson he often tells – that side projects should be art or poetry. To be useful for your life they don’t need to be businesses.
Side projects work best when they live at the interaction of “Things you enjoy” and “Things that help you practice a marketable skill.”
The secret to a side hustle for the soul is to believe in the power of incrementalism. Know that 20 minutes here and there add up. We can make it a priority to find time to devote to personally meaningful endeavors. And collectively, we can work toward building a culture that understands our creations are no less meaningful if they don’t pay the mortgage or the rent.