Why build Side Projects that are Not Startup
(2 Min Read) Because not building them is creative injustice 😛
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I love building stuff, especially side projects. But we live in a world where every side project must or should have the potential to be converted into a startup. I don’t buy that notion. I argue that because of this expectation, we, as a community, are building far fewer side projects (that are not startups) than we should.
In the last post, I presented an idea that 99.999% of our ideas are side-project ideas and not startup ideas, but we should still build them. The collective feedback I received was, why bother building them at all? I guess, the sole reason presented, “Just for the fun of it,” seemed too abstract. So here are my other reasons why we should build more side-projects:
Solve your repeatable problem fast: Small recurring problems can be solved with some bash, TCL, or python scrapped together in an hour1, for yourself. I say “for yourself” because the initial version of the project will be gnarly, and only you can understand them. That’s not something you can distribute to others. But it will solve the problem FAST.
Learn a new language: People often ask where I get time to learn new programming languages/tech. I tell them, not at work. Today, choosing boring technology is the mantra for building reliable software at big companies. The opportunity to explore new programming languages or tech can come from side projects. If you are not strapped for time but have a idea for side-project, try solving it with a new language. I have built a calculator in Swift because I wanted to learn Swift and macOS app development.
Save money: If you like software/tools you want to use, but they are paid, build your own. It’s going to be free, and you’ll love it. Why pay for a subscription or an annual license2? Bonus, you can build features you like and skip the bells and whistles.
Miscellaneous: Side projects boost creativity, act as proof of work, make you better at your current job if you use the same stack, and even boost your GitHub followers. If they motivate you, use them.
And, my favorite, Just for the fun of it!: As I said, I love building them. They are fun (for me) and scratch my creative itch. Following gif perfectly captures how I feel if my side-project was a duckling.
And that’s all. It’s simple. Have fun building.
Same is applicable for frontend with different stack.
Yes, I know that there are cases where buying something is worth it. But the context here is side-project.