A crazy side project is exactly what your creative business needs.

A crazy side project is exactly what your creative business needs. >> violetanedkova.com

A lot of creatives come to me asking how they can make money.

How they can make their business sustainable.

And I look at their brands and see... products, packages, selling.

I ask myself, What would make me buy from this person? The answer? Nothing.

If you want people to buy from you, you need them to discover you.

For example, I find people from social media, but I don't really care about the screaming messages where they announce it's the LAST DAY to buy their discounted packages. I mean, if you made it to finishing a product and selling it, kudos to you. But-

I don't want products from you. I want to know you. 

People find people in a myriad of mysterious ways, but one sure way is through side projects. For example, you might find an article called "this artist travels the world without dealing with money" or "this brand redefined what stock photography should look like," and you might want to follow up and find out everything there is to know about the person who started it all. You might feel compelled to know them and to draw parallels between yourself and them, and finally, if you're a match, you might start buying their stuff.

That's a natural connection. That's the stuff that makes "1000 true fans."

And it all started from a simple side project! A project that is "just for fun" and that guarantees no results, no profits, and no way of knowing what happens next. Ironically, it's because of these projects that a lot of creatives have moved up into the world. 

You never know whether your crazy idea will end up in a book deal or endless speaking engagements or a multi-million dollar business. However, don't start with the end result. It's a bit counterintuitive, but when it comes to side projects, it's best to start from fun. And while it is best to start from small, you shouldn't ignore your big ideas either.

Ideas don't come in sizes or degrees of crazy, they just come. 

Because I have spent so many hours pouring over crazy projects for the Creative Rebel Database (coming in January), I have started seeing patterns and I have started understanding why people do those projects. I mean, isn't it obvious?!

Without those crazy side projects, your business is just as boring as the next one. 

 

It had to be said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, OK? You're a passionate creative who kind of sold a bit of your soul when you started calling your craft a business. You sold even more when you started implementing everything the experts said you should. But all you wanted was for you to start something you would be proud of, something that would get you to the other side of success, whatever that looks like for you. And it doesn't look like this.

Even if you're making money right now, you're probably making it so you can do the things you LOVE doing, and you're desperate to include them in your business somehow, so your business can start feeling like less of a sell out. Or you're actually still working your 9-5 corporate job and you don't "have the time" for a side project. (Which is basically saying that you're happy to work at it forever and never change your circumstances.)

I've been there, both places. And only a year ago...

I completely transformed my business to go from "for profit" to "for purpose" and to include more of my personality and passion in it.

 

I started looking at business as another way of showing the world what I'm deeply passionate about, not just to make money. I started doing small experiments, which you could call side projects, and some of them worked, some of them didn't, but in the end, I learned a LOT, and now I'm better for it. My next project will be better for it, too.

Without experimenting, how will you know what works or doesn't work?!

If you spend the next few months or years doing business as usual, will you be happy? Do you dream of one day being able to make enough money and have enough time to dedicate yourself to the things you love? You can do that today.

It's called a side project. And it can make, but never break, your business.

Let's look at some examples, shall we?

 

Christoph Niemman's Sunday Sketches have become a huge part of his popularity. You rarely find such compelling and odd art. It was just a fun thing to do on Sunday at the start. All of us creatives need to remember the FUN.

Christoph Niemman's Sunday Sketches have become a huge part of his popularity. You rarely find such compelling and odd art. It was just a fun thing to do on Sunday at the start. All of us creatives need to remember the FUN.

Tattly is one of the many side projects of Tina Roth Eisenberg., a.k.a. SwissMiss. She started it because she was frustrated with temp tattoos, and she has started a lot of successful businesses this way. 

Tattly is one of the many side projects of Tina Roth Eisenberg., a.k.a. SwissMiss. She started it because she was frustrated with temp tattoos, and she has started a lot of successful businesses this way. 

Two designers and friends - Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman - found themselves single at the same time and decided to date for 40 days and document it. These two are major rebels and have done many cool projects.

Two designers and friends - Jessica Walsh and Timothy Goodman - found themselves single at the same time and decided to date for 40 days and document it. These two are major rebels and have done many cool projects.

Another frustrated creative! Emily McDowell started her Empathy Cards project because she wanted to say the things card companies never said. Being a cancer survivor, she knew the exact words, and now she has a thriving studio.

Another frustrated creative! Emily McDowell started her Empathy Cards project because she wanted to say the things card companies never said. Being a cancer survivor, she knew the exact words, and now she has a thriving studio.

Artist Rebecca Reboucher finds herself compelled to draw out an entire album of songs one day. She does 13 paints for 13 songs, and this project won her gallery time and accolades because of her talent and creativity.

Artist Rebecca Reboucher finds herself compelled to draw out an entire album of songs one day. She does 13 paints for 13 songs, and this project won her gallery time and accolades because of her talent and creativity.

Finding himself without a job - or a penny - Brandon Stanton just goes out and starts talking to people in New York and taking their photographs. This is how the well-known project Humans of New York started. 

Finding himself without a job - or a penny - Brandon Stanton just goes out and starts talking to people in New York and taking their photographs. This is how the well-known project Humans of New York started. 

Who doesn't know about Kid President?! This was just a fun video experiment for Brad Montague and his little bro Robby, but in time it turned into a Youtube phenomenon. Watch one of the first, most impactful episodes >>

Who doesn't know about Kid President?! This was just a fun video experiment for Brad Montague and his little bro Robby, but in time it turned into a Youtube phenomenon. Watch one of the first, most impactful episodes >>

Jenipher Lyn is a self-taught artist who began her journey through doodling positive messages for herself and her followers. Being a highly sensitive creative, she just needed to remind herself, and yet, it turned into a business.

Jenipher Lyn is a self-taught artist who began her journey through doodling positive messages for herself and her followers. Being a highly sensitive creative, she just needed to remind herself, and yet, it turned into a business.

My favorite example of a brand disrupting a tired industry. Unsplash is a the best, most authentic source of stock photography, started by Crew who needed better stock photos and ended up winning big because of it.

My favorite example of a brand disrupting a tired industry. Unsplash is a the best, most authentic source of stock photography, started by Crew who needed better stock photos and ended up winning big because of it.

 

What do all of these rebels have in common? They did something about it.

Whether they had a frustration or an itch to create. Whether they needed to do something they loved or had a crazy idea, they just did something about it.

They didn't wait to get the perfect business idea or to validate. NO.

They just did it because they needed to. And I think that is a good way to determine whether your side project idea has any juice in it: If you need to do it, you should.

You can start any time, even now. You can change what frustrates you or say what you need to be said or just have fun. There are no rules except - be yourself. And when you start doing the things you love, you'll notice that the right people will start gravitate to you. And you will learn what they resonate with and what they ignore. And in time, you'll have an aligned business - a business that aligns with your values and the needs of your people.

I don't know about you, but I believe that side projects will get you there. 

If you're not willing to do a side project for free, you might never get paid to do what you love.

 

Ask yourself why you haven't started a project yet. Or why you stopped experimenting. Maybe your mind is full of doubts or you listened to the nay-sayers. Or maybe you've convinced yourself you don't have the time or money or energy...

Stop. It. Now.

I have given you proof that they work wonders for creatives. 

Whether you're a person or a part of a team, there's no excuse not to try to conquer new, and more creative, horizons. Whether you're working full time or not, there is just no excuse because anyone can make it work. There's no progress without trying new things. And if you stop constantly trying new things, you will stagnate. 

You know that last example? Of the guys who redefined stock photography? They also wrote a very memorable article, Why side projects are the future of marketing. And while marketing has many layers, this is definitely a great potential new layer because it breaks through the noise and the BS of the Internet and selling.

Starting a side project costs you nothing and has the potential to pay off big. 

 

You don't have to put all of your energy into it. Just think of the simplest, easiest way to do it, and then just start. Sometimes it means drawing a doodle everyday, or going out and talking to people, or turning something tired and boring on its head and creating a much better alternative. Motivations can be a million, but there's only one of you. And the way you see the world is so drastically different from the next person, we hunger for your perspective; to know how you see it as it is or how it could be.

The Internet needs more authentic, creative, and vulnerable projects.

If you have one in mind, please start it as soon as you can.

If you already have, scroll and fill out the form. Since there is no commenting on the blog, I just tell people to give me a shout via the form. It's why I put it there - to connect to fellow creative rebels. Talk soon. (:

 

 
 

Violeta Nedkova

Violeta Nedkova is a multipassionate marketer who loves helping people. She talks and writes about marketing with purpose and personality because it's so much better than traditional marketing.