Whether you’re freelance, employed or a business owner, we each have our own daily routine, which usually involves doing work to please someone else, whether that someone else be a client, end user, reader etc. But every once and a while I think it’s important to work on your own projects.
As I work on my major Masters project (due December), and while doing the odd freelance job, I take inspiration from the likes of Carsonified and Contrast who have been known for their ‘drop everything else for a week’ approach to work on other projects, and I work on my own side projects.
Their approach to taking a week to focus on 1 new project (from start to finish) is great but working 1 or 2 hours a day on a side project is also beneficial.
Why bother with side projects?
Luck favors the people who try stuff
1. Take a break
Take a break from your normal routine and refresh your head. Exploring different ideas can get you out of a creative block and bring inspiration.
2. Expand your skill-set
Try out new frameworks, see what you can do with different APIs, test your design skills. The creative community never stops moving so you need to make sure you stay up-to-date.
3. Brand awareness - raise your profile
Whether you’re a freelance designer or a large corporation, side projects can help raise your profile simply by having your name associated with it.
4. Contribute to the community
It’s always good to contribute something to the community. It’ll be appreciated.
5. Have fun
You can have a lot of fun working on your own stuff because you’re in control of the brief and there’s no one to tell you what to do.
6. Passive income
It’s hard to beat an application that makes money while you sleep or get on with the rest of your life. You might not make a fortune, but a few extra bucks a week to fund your Saturday night on the rip is a welcome addition :)
7. Try stuff
If you want to be successful in life I believe you have to try stuff. If it works, happy days! If it doesn’t, learn from it and move on. “Luck favors the people who try stuff”, says entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki.
Where to start
a. Take notes
Take notes when you think of projects and put them on your to-do list. I carry around a small notebook in my laptop bag and constantly add ideas to my ‘Someday’ list in Things.
b. Talk to other creatives
Talking to others will spark new ideas.
Read a book from an inspiring designer or look at a book of visuals to get ideas.
e. What would you find useful?
Chances are that if there was a website or tool that you would find useful, then there are 100s or 1000s of people who would also find it useful.
What side projects are you working on?
A successful side project I co-founded was The Big Word Project and I’ve just launched an Irish web design gallery (Web Designire) which only took a couple of hours a day for 5 days to develop (read more about it here).
Please feel free to share the side projects you’re currently working on or have produced in the past. It would be great to have your input.
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