From Side Project to Not So Side Project

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  1. Nicolas Chevallier

    I agree completely in this article: I started in 2007 a ​​site comparison of French car garages ( http://www.allogarage.fr/ ) next to my job as an engineer, I was surprised by its success when there was no financial goal, there was also no ads on the site until 2009! For 2 years the website is my main project and it’s very exciting (and scary at the same time!) to make a living with his project.
    Good luck to 8 Faces in 2012!

  2. Chris

    Really inspiring, sir! A couple years ago I spent my lunch breaks slaving over a pet project, transcribing hundreds of pages of data into a digital format and building a silly little application to scratch my own itch.

    It was great, and I made a little money from it and made a handful of people happy.

    I need to do this again, so thanks for reminding me!

  3. David

    Earning money should be a by-product of doing what you love. And who doesn’t want to spend their life doing what they love?

    For many this sentiment could sound like wild idealism; but we—as an industry—are in such a fortunate position to (mostly) love what we do and be able make money from it. It’s a beautiful thing but we should try not to forget how privileged we are.

  4. Jason Stone

    Nice and inspiring article Elliot.

    I love side projects – have created a few bits and bobs on the side for the love of it, then when I get to the ‘end’ of those private projects (bored of them, usually) I sell the site as a ‘congratulations’ to myself. I love the work but a little reward at the end always sits nicely!

    Note to self: Must find time & start new side project.

  5. Sean Conaty

    Say what you want about Jason Fried, but I recently read this article (Section 3 “How, and why, to charge real money for real products”) in which he argues that you should charge for the things you do.

    His argument boils down to the fact that both the buyer and, more importantly, the creator will have more respect for the product. The creator will have the time if not the necessity to make the product great.

    I love side projects but sometimes they’re hard. The fact that they’re a “side-project” or “just for fun” is sort of a cop out. It’s like you’re saying, “I really would love to go all the way with this but I doubt if anyone would support it or if I’d even be able to do it.”

    That said, I think some people really do want just a side project. Some are more timid that others. No matter how you look at it, having side projects is a wholesome healthy hobby. If you want to get serious about it, however, mix in some money.

    Disclaimer: I have not put my money where my mouth is. My side project is nowhere near where I’d like it to be, but I see the value of charging something as a means to spur me into action. If you’re curious, visit PlaidMaker

  6. Jamie Brightmore

    Nice article Elliot. Must be very rewarding to see 8 Faces take-off. It’s a really great product that sings quality and craftsmanship.

    Agree with your thoughts on the money side of things, this is always a tough line and your approach is admirable. Anyone who manages to get this balance right are clearly privileged and it’s a great trait to remain humble.

    Btw. Top job for paying the Insites interviewees! Highly enjoyed the Bristol event and looking forward to the book ; )

  7. John

    Thanks for the great blog post, but there’s a big challenge that I’d like advice from either the author of this article or other readers in the community.

    So let’s say I had a pet project. Now I’m working full time on it. I am a really good backend developer, I am willing to begin learning about business, I am a terrible at graphic design. It’s clear to me that for my pet project to financially succeed, I need to find partners to make up for my weaknesses.

    I’ve been in several equity partnerships on past projects, but they never worked out because of one reason or another (eg. someone not pulling their weight, not being able to compromise or agree on things, different outlook for product/business etc…). Now I’m at a loss as to who I can ask to join in my mission. I’d imagine this is a common problem for young entrepreneurs/developers with limited network, insignificant reputation, and minimal influence in the industry.

    So does that mean a good developer’s first priority for his pet project is to actually NOT be the pet project? But rather interfacing with the world and getting his name out there?

  8. Camille

    You know I just stumbled across this article in search of inspiration for a blog I am about to start with a a university pal of mine! Which ironically enough came from me having started a blog of my own (as a side project) to try and drive traffic to my main website. I’m a relative newbie on the Freelance graphic design block you see! So it appears to be working slowly but surely and I am learning more about blogging all the time. Whats more my classmates seem to like my ramblings so who knew I actually have something interesting to say.

    I am therefore an advocate of the side project, my only bug bare though is that you have to find the time to do it in. It’s a shame that we don’t value this kind of ethos more because if society as a whole gave a little more flexibility to people to pursue there own interests they would be inadvertently giving the economy a boost through the rise of local trade but hey ho that’s a wider issue.

    Perhaps if we encourage form the ground up, we will see a resurgence of the community based business and a little less of the mega corporation. Just a thought.

  9. diseñador madrid

    Thanks for the great blog post.

    Agree with your thoughts on the money side of things, this is always a tough line and your approach is admirable. Anyone who manages to get this balance right are clearly privileged and it’s a great trait to remain humble.

    I think some people really do want just a side project. Some are more timid that others. No matter how you look at it, having side projects is a wholesome healthy hobby. If you want to get serious about it, however, mix in some money.

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