I’ve always had Side Projects – it’s just the way I am – a little workaholic that has a head full of ideas that sometimes seep out.
Personal projects take time, energy, commitment and resources. Quite often progress is made after-hours or on weekends and not always results in financial gain, but the long-term benefits can be worth it. It’s a great way to grow, both creatively and professionally
My first “fantastic” ideas:
- web kiosk – a portal where all magazines could be viewed like at a newsagent. There were already a few online magazine stores available, but I came up with an idea on how to get ALL magazines in one place. You’d be able to flick through a few pages (just like in the shop) and if you liked the magazine you could buy an online version, download it to your e-reader or order a paper copy to your house. I had it all planned and drawn out – sadly, lack of funds buried the project.
- Hyde Hammocks – I had this cool idea that there could be posts all around Hyde Park, you could buy a hammock and use it there. When you were ready to go home it would change into a handy bag to take home with you, ready to be used next time.
- To-do list / bucket-list / passion list – these were supposed to be “challenge” websites. Either you’d challenge yourself (to-do/bucket list) or you’d have a list of challenges, find people who have similar aspirations and do them together. This idea kind of grew into BLAGchallenge, later incorporated into Blagers.co
Blagers.co was probably the biggest “published” side project up to date. It started off as a blog that I was going to write with one friend, then another and, in the end, we had multiple writers and a whole website full of challenges, events, articles etc. It was fun, but we just didn’t have the knowledge (or finances) to keep it going. We made a few critical decisions/mistakes in the beginning which led us into an alleyway, from which there was no return. We bit off more than we could chew. The website is still live, but no one is running it. We’ve decided not to take it down for now – it makes a great portfolio for people who worked on it.
Some ideas work better than others. But no one really knows which ideas work until you try them out. After launch – that’s the time you really start working on your ideas. The faster you test a strategy in the real world, the faster you can get feedback. That’s when the ideas evolve – just like in nature.
The next big project was Blagmag.co. This was a kind of sister project to Blagers, created with the same people. The idea was to publish the first “themed” magazine in Poland. First theme – “Skin”. I’m actually quite proud of this project. Again it was a bit too much for a limited budget and even more limited know-how of running a magazine. I had a lot of experience in magazines – but as a designer. Which came in handy when designing the magazine… not so much in running it.
We published it using the, then new, publish online tool in Adobe Indesign. You could click through to the magazine from the main Blagers page. Even though we didn’t go past #0 – I still think this project was a success. I single-handedly designed a magazine that was interactive and fun.
Blagers definitely helped me grow. I not only gained experience, I also learned a lot about myself – my limits. While working full time I still found the time to design a website and publish a magazine. These projects helped me get the job I have now. Indicating that I’m a passionate and dedicated designer, who thinks outside the box.
Samdiary is something that I started a couple of months ago. It’s evolved quite a bit, although the initial idea is still there. I read newspapers every day and had the idea to make collages out of all the interesting stuff. After a couple of months, I decided to make them more design themed. There wasn’t enough information daily to do a good collage, so I started the weekly option. Then I decided to make it more personal and only get inspired by other people’s work while designing my own.
My newest project is SamBlog, also my first ever blog. This is just for self-development. No one knows about it, there isn’t even a share or like option under the articles. For now, this is just for me – a way to learn how to write. A bit like a diary.
Side projects are kind of go-at-your-own pace project and the overarching goal is to explore your surroundings by doing something you love. Figure out your personal strategy and make enough space in your calendar. So you don’t over-work yourself – section out time. Remember to prioritise and ALWAYS ask yourself about the importance of what you are doing – try using a 0-10 scale for this.