The Importance of Side Projects

How much importance do you give to your side projects? Do you focus solely on working on your current projects or your job and forget about everything else? These are questions you should be thinking about, specially if you are interested in developing your abilities and getting that cool position you always wanted. In days where the good old college degree + resume are gone, specially in the design/tech industry, you have to keep in mind that side projects are the new resume and are the way you can show your potential to the world.

In times where a lot of people talk about their amazing ideas but very few of them actually put these ideas into practice, being a doer will get you miles ahead of the talkers. Just the fact that you worked extra hours to ship something you believed in, will show a lot about your skills and dedication. The main idea is that you have to create something. It doesn’t matter if you will develop an app, website, typeface, jQuery plugin, game, service or something else, as long as you ship something that you really care about.

The Importance of Having Side Projects
Image by Kotki

Finishing a side project can show a lot about your personality, persistence and decision making, besides also showing that you are passioned for what you do. Going all the way from having an idea to actually shipping it, means that you are good with the whole process of creating something. From concept to planning, production to delivery, you can manage everything, all the steps. And the great part about side projects is that they are free terrain for you to explore options and follow your own ideas. They are really good playgrounds where you can experiment options that you wouldn’t be able to if you were working for a client.

On side projects you will be totally free to explore your creativity in different ways, doing things you always wanted to but never had the chance. And besides that, when working on a personal project you are the only one in charge of deadlines, so you can work the way you want to better deliver what you have in mind. You will face your own pressure to deliver, no one else’s.

The Importance of Having Side Projects
Image by Ty Wilkins

Think of side projects as a way to show what you can do, and to show that you are able to build something. This will certainly make a difference, the more you show your projects to the world, more people will notice what you do and how you do it. Besides that, side projects are always good case studies. You can let people know how was your creative process, your decision making and the technologies and strategies you followed to get your idea done. This way not only will you build something but you will also be able to share your knowledge with the community.

Putting your ideas to work can also result in financial benefits. A lot of people are interested in paying for quality stuff, so if you put together an paid app or typeface for instance, you will start making some money from it. Or if you deliver an app that is really killer, someone may get interest enough to give you bigger bucks for the idea. The main thing is that side projects are all about your passion and will to ship something you believe in. Don’t start a side project thinking about how much money you will make from it, start because you believe in the idea. Think about money later. Create something for the pleasure of it, for the thrill, to learn something, to experiment… to show that you can have your own ideas.

Days where college degrees and cv remarks as “great working with teams,” “good response under pressure” or “highly motivated and adaptable” are gone, so make sure you are doing your part to keep up with the market, this way you won’t get behind. Start to think more seriously about delivering your side projects and good things will come your way.

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