If you didn’t already know, side projects are IMPORTANT.
In whatever industry you are daring to work in. Even the ‘irrelevant’ projects. If you didn’t already know this, you are super late to the party. I have heard so many great professionals, artists, and entrepreneurs speak about the importance of side projects, so listen closely.
In my opinion, and again, from what I’ve read from great people, side projects are arguably more important for your personal sanity and career of choice than school in a chosen field, or even employment experience in a chosen field. This is because it shows:
2) potential (no client!! no limits!),
3) dependability and dedication, and
4) SAMPLE WORK
These four things are so essential for any hard working individual who inspires. Initiative and hustle are very important with everything being so fast and available these days (-> laziness runs rampant). You have to be the one to grab it! Also, when you work on a side project on your own time and money, it can literally be anything you want it to be, and thus holds so much potential. It can be long-lasting and over the top and epic and beautiful, but also, if you fail, no big deal. Just start again tomorrow.
Dependability and dedication are a given with side projects. There are no real deadlines, you are not getting paid to do this and maybe no one will even see it. Its almost more the opposite – often friends don’t get it, tell you its not as important as hanging out with them, and you run into at least two snags during the process (its becoming not what you were planning, you run out of materials, you are off schedule, your dog pooped on part of it). But from this, you become self-motivated AND you become dependable.
It’s also a great way to build a portfolio, and continue to let your creative self naturally evolve. Even if you are really great at writing fiction revolving around 9/11, sometimes you just have to move onto the next phase of your creative life and write romances taking place in the turn of the century. You are no longer that person who wrote your first novel – you’ve grown, you’re happier/more depressed, you’ve explored it. A side project is a great way to do that without pressure, or your editor saying that they’re not really interested in this new kind of novel from you at the moment. It is really one of the best ways to get the kind of clients you want and to focus your work in the area you want.
One fabulous example of a side project is starting a blog….. but there are SO many people doing all sorts of different side projects out there.
Here are some amazing examples:
– Jessica Hische. Jessica works as a letterer and illustrator, and with her early web presence started posting many different side projects on the internet. Some of those include Daily Drop Cap (where she created a new letter of the alphabet every day. So far she has gone through 12 alphabets, but has since stopped the project). She also made Mom, This Is How Twitter Works, Don’t Fear The Internet, Inker Linker, Should I Work For Free?, a doodle blog, etc. etc… All while working and maintaining her own personal blog…. She makes me feel so lazy. Check out way more of her side projects right here (since she is the Queen of Side Projects, for reals).
-Tina Roth Eisenberg, aka SwissMiss. In addition to starting her design blog as a side project, which has since become one of the most popular design blogs of all time, Tina has also created Creative Mornings a free, creative, conference-like lecture series that has since spread to major cities across the globe, Tattly, a design-y temporary tattoo company, and the design-y to-do app, Teux Deux.
–Ji Lee. Currently a communication designer at Facebook, Ji Lee created and started the famous Bubble Project, the word as image project, and so many other side projects.
–Aaron Draplin. Graphic designer who created Field Notes as a side project!
–Kate Bigaman-Burt. Drew copies of her receipts until they were paid off, and then drew everything she bought in a day, everyday. She’s been drawing daily since February 2006. Crazy.
I could go on and on, but alas, I must go floss. Go start a side project! Tell me about it in the comments! (Also, if you need some tips or encouragement, re-read this post or check out this link or this one.)