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24 ways to impress your friends

A Pet Project is For Life, Not Just for Christmas


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Ryan Seddon

Pet projects are a must if you really want to develop your skills, and it’s a good way to keep up with all the new and fancy APIs.

I find Evernote an invaluable program for keeping track of idea’s. That way I don’t forget them and can investigate the idea when I have some spare time. That’s how font dragr started, crazy idea born into a pet project.

Your link to Jos Buivenga site keeps timing out for me, I put a www in front and that stopped the timeout issues.


Great, great piece, Elliot. Everyone and all should have a pet project — outlets for passion, obsession and creativity. Looking forward 2010!

Elizabeth K. Barone

I have several pet projects. I wish I had more time for them, but they are a huge help when I’m working on a client’s project and just need to get away for a while, while keeping the work atmosphere intact.

I strongly believe that, as creatives, we all need to have our distractions. I can’t imagine only building websites for other people. Sometimes, I have to satisfy myself, as well. It’s even better knowing that one of my projects, a pen pal support group, helps others, while the other complements my bookworm side.

Life is good with pet projects. (:

Luke Jones

You’ve got some great points here. I’m looking forward to seeing your pet project with TIm Van Damme. No doubt I’ll hear about it on the ol’ Twitter.


Thanks for the mention Elliot.

My take — after going a extremely long time without a truly satisfying pet project, is that unless you happen to have the freedom to spend all your time doing work that you’re completely engaged with and that hits all the right buttons to excite and challenge you, pet projects are something of a “must” to maintain some level of sanity and creativity.

In other words, they’re a good way to balance the things you have to do with the things you want to do. The trick is to treat them as you would real projects though – give yourself deadlines and be realistic with your expectations.

Dan Millar

Great article Elliot! As someone with a pet project I totally understand the necessity for one.

The thing I always struggle with is the ‘client vs pet’ work balance. Do you have a structured way of splitting time between client work and your pet projects?

Looking forward to see your new pet project when launched!

Mike Kus

Hi mate,

This is sound advice. :)

Two thirds of my portfolio is made up from pet projects or jobs I’ve done for nothing for friends. As well as being a lot of fun, these projects are a great opportunity to populate your portfolio with work that you’re not only really proud of but that says something about you. These projects let you express yourself and keep you fired up, which I think is really important.

Have a great Christmas and New year, mate!

Dennis Coughlin

Excellent read Elliot.

First off, it’s great to see such a positive article. We need more of these in the web community and less of our techie arguments.

Anyway, completely agree with the points you raise and it’s an idea I’ve always tried to follow in my career. Over the years, 75% of what I’ve learned has been self taught through pet projects.

You really can’t overstate the benefits: Pet projects are always fun, they always teach me something new and they keep me motivated.

That’s exactly what my works mates and I are doing right now. We have our full time jobs together on a web team, but have started a gaming site on the side (sorry, shameless plug – see above URL). And it’s been another great learning experience.

Merry Christmas and look forward to seeing more of your inspiring work in the New Year.

I already work on my own pet project but this article gives me some confidence. Another reason is to fill its timetable. I just started working as a freelance and it makes my work less depressing :-)

Phil Ricketts

It’s true, pet projects allow you to produce something you REALLY love. Even better if you make something that other people will love (and is useful to them) too!

I have about 10 pet projects in my head, I need to pick one, make some time and do it!

Thanks for the article, Elliot.

Tiago Pedras

This was a great reading! I think everyone just loves pet projects. And the fact that you might be able to achieve something in your professional/personal life through it.

And I agree with Phil: I really gotta take one of my ideas out of the drawer QUICK!

Best regards Elliot.

Tracy Osborn

Fantastic article! The only downside is when pet projects (which should include redesigning your personal site, I think) start taking over every evening and weekend hour.

I’ve built or helped built,,, (and redesigned in the last month alone with friends or by myself. But the best part of pet projects is that it doesn’t feel like work when you’re doing it; more like play (and takes the place of TV watching time too).

Seun Lawal

A nice one there Elliot.
Perhaps, also worth mentioning is that when picking a pet project that is intended for public use, you should pick a project that has not been done before, or a simplified version of what people already know (and it should be understandable why a simplified version is needed).
The reason is that it doesn’t feel too good to spend so much time on that project only to find that you’ve been the only one using the application for over a year after launch. People have taste for the best, and will rather stay with the best.
It is also a good idea not to waste you efforts on duplicating other people’s creative idea, unless you are refining it. Or proving an important point.
Yea, it wouldn’t matter if you had built it for in-house use.


It was a good reading. There’s no Christmas mentioned (except the title), but it was full of Christmas easiness and generally inspiring.

Is your own (in the article called “pet”) project a great solution to make your day, your life more colorful? Absolutely YES. As talked about, it’s a pursuit of happiness. Remember, that it’s not enough to have an idea. Without acting it’s worth nothing. So if you have it – do it!


Outside of the website(s) I work with every day at my day job, I just have my own personal site as a pet project. I should probably find another project to play around on the side.

Speaking of pet projects, I’m really enjoying 24 ways.

Christopher Meeks

Outstanding advice.

Creative work is primarily about ENERGY. When our day-to-day tasks are able to drain our energy so easily, there needs to be a way to gain some of that energy back.

You could strap a solar panel to your body, carry around a 2-ton wind turbine or just do something because you love doing it.

I’m guessing the last one will be the most successful.


I made pet projects since i started to work because i realized too early That working in a big company will teach me how to work, but not on fun projects and not the way i want. Two years ago i had troubles with my car and my mechanic, so i created allogarage, a comparative website to find a good mechanic in France. Since july i leave my Job to be full Time on my project. Thanks to that i understand that i don’t want to work in a company anymore, and i realized that i can earn money with my pet project. A fantastic experience, i hope that 2010 will be even more succesfull.

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