Side projects: Are they worth it? What I learned from them.
While I was designing my UI Designer portfolio, I wondered if it would make sense to talk about Design side projects that I‘ve done.
Days later, the same subject came up in a conversation with a friend, to whom she believed that, in her case, as a UX writer, side projects could demonstrate a lack of experience. From my point of view, their exhibition would be a way to show a desire of exploring or even to get more practice about something. We agreed with the ideas.
The truth is that a side project doesn’t need to be exclusively related to your area.
Then came an introspection about the different side projects I’ve been included in — not only design, and I realized that the common feeling among them is freedom.
Over 14 years, I have been involved in some side projects.
Here, I’ll talk about four, of which two of them are related to Design.
- The first, a writing blog. Where I wrote about love, life goals, bitterness, and everything that can exist in a teenager’s life. I’ve always enjoyed writing, and I believe it’s one of the aspects that any designer should take into account when deciding to join this field.
With writing, I learned to give more value to each word, even if it is a “but”.
Nowadays, this blog doesn’t exist anymore, with a lot of regrets, but the leaning for writing remains.
- Years later, at the end of college, together with my partner in crime, we decided to create a studio dedicated to digital design — from branding until UI Design — the 2Dot. We tried to complement this with our full-time jobs, considering freelance pages like Upwork.
We got some proposals but decided that each of us, as an individual, needed more time to invest in our career, so we had to dedicate less time to this project.
Although there is always a freelancer inside us, embracing a daily project, extra to the working hours, it is still a challenge to our well-being.
- The third was an Instagram page about food. It’s called The Pepper Cherry. The whole process was something that took more time from me than I was ready to waste. You need to make the food, prepare the scenario, while people ask if it takes too long, take pictures, edit, choose the most appropriate one, write the description, choose the right hashtags, and so on. Although this page still exists, I haven’t been sharing anymore.
I realized that cooking is a hobby and not a passion that needs more time to devote.
- The fourth, and that still on, is my professional Instagram account, where the goal is to share my daily life as a designer, some difficulties that I encounter, and where anyone can identify themselves, and feel better about it. I tried to get out of my comfort zone by showing more about me through photography.
The main goal was to create a community that is also focused on the same as me and to share experiences, as well as knowledge.
From there, came design challenges, including a project about the Goodreads app redesign, whose case study can be found here.
With those 4 side projects I’ve learned a few things:
- I improved my methods of organization, not only professionally, but also at a personal level.
- When we have a project in hand we have all the freedom to create what we want and to use our creativity as we wish.
- It’s not worth being afraid to leave the comfort zone, we’ll feel better later.
- A side project is always worth it if it teaches you something about yourself.