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Discover how to do side projects right
I’m incredibly lucky to have found a job that pays well, has a wonderful team, let’s me do what I enjoy most, and even has a great bit of equity too! Sadly, the vast majority of people aren’t so lucky.
Many of us, including previous versions of myself, are stuck at jobs that we were told by our parents and others were “safe places to work”; unfortunately sucking our souls day-by-day, attempting to squeeze out every bit of creative juice we possess to generate millions or billions. And in return we were given… fictitious titles, a yearly 5% salary increase, and a pat on the back.
There’s a few ways to escape this nightmare. You could get a new job—the most obvious and unfortunately the hardest option. Alternatively, you could form a side-project.
Let me share with you some thoughts that can jumpstart your next side project.
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Before we continue, check out our interviews on YouTube where you can see me interview top tier designers and hear their stories, strategies, and tactics that make them successful.
Deciding the side project
What do I actually pick to make my side project?
It’s not easy to set out on an endless journey to find your passion. But it’s worth it.
I decided a few things I wanted to do in my spare time: talking to other creatives and hearing their stories, strategies, and frameworks, writing my thoughts on design for the world to hear, and of course making Framer templates.
I love these things because they give me a sense of experimentation and don’t interfere with my day job. But they aren’t always easy.
I’d recommend thinking first about what gets you excited and worry less about the difficulty.
It needs to make you feel like you want to work on it more than anything else
You can’t look at it like a chore
You would be ok doing it for a long period of time
How do I motivate myself to invest in my side project for a long time?
There are no time limits or minimums to your side project. Do realize a side project can become another commitment. You probably don’t want to take on another full time job. But you do want to spend the time you can dedicate to this purposefully.
So how do you get off your butt to actually stay with it?
Some tricks you can use to get yourself to commit and keep at it for longer:
Publicly announce it: this gets others to hold you accountable, and your not going to want to let them down.
Track progress: if you get into the habit of noting down updates or progress, that habit will be less likely to break over time.
Find a why: whatever drives you to pick that idea, think about why you’re pushing yourself to complete the side project each morning.
What to avoid
Don’t buy a domain until the website is ready to be public.
Don’t pick something overly ambitious (yet).
Don’t pick something somebody else is doing because you want to be just like them.
Don’t chase money.
Some starter ideas
But what should I pick as an idea to start?
Great question! But I can’t be the one to tell you what your passionate about. I can, however, help you find a reason to pick an idea:
Counter to your job
Hate your job? Try an idea that does right what your job gets wrong. If you aren’t able to make beautiful landing pages at work because of greater bureaucracies or bad clients, make something they would never accept.
This very newsletter/podcast is counter to my older jobs where I wasn’t able to express myself creatively, nor was I allocated time to talk to others and form relationships with. Therefore I worked to build https://shaping.design.
A missing piece
Maybe there’s a service your enjoy using but it could be a bit better if it had that one missing thing. Take that one missing function and carve out an idea for it. Take a project my good friend Aleks’ is working on.
It’s a library of Framer overrides. He and another found a need for exciting components that were not natively supported by Framer, thus launching into filling that void.
A random idea
Any fleeting thought could be turned into a fun side project. Take Benton’s Footer project: a collection of high quality web footers.
You don’t need to have a serious idea. Just pick any thought you have and make it into something, even if it only lasts a week. That will give you motivation to further explore and experiment.
If you wanted to kickstart your web design career, I highly recommend use try out the best no-code tool for creating your piece of the web: Framer
Get my first Framer template, 15% off using the code DOKSLAUNCH