Don’t Make These Common Mistakes When Starting A Side Project

This month, we’re talking all about the benefits of side projects and how they can enhance your life. While we’re absolutely Team Side Projects, we want to make sure you have the right tools necessary before kicking off a new passion project. The beginning stages of a new project are always the most exciting, but don’t get caught up in these common mistakes and get your side project off on the wrong foot.

Mistake #1 – Not looking at the big financial picture

Very few side projects can be started with zero investment. Even if you’re starting a side project like a podcast, you still need to invest in equipment and software. If you’re launching a blog, you will want to look at monthly hosting fees, website template costs, etc. Before you kick off your new side project, map out all the potential costs and see where you’ll land each month. If you’re going to be losing money each month between your side project and your day job, you may need to reevaluate your roadmap.

Mistake #2 – Trying to model your side project after someone else

Being inspired by people is great. Copying people is lame. Don’t launch your side project and assume that you can just follow someone else’s journey step by step. Everyone’s situation is different, and what worked for them may not work for you. Besides, with social media, it’s pretty easy to spot a copycat these days. Don’t let your lack of confidence or experience cloud your vision. Follow your own path and create from the heart, rather than what you’ve seen work well for other people.

Mistake #3 – Not penciling your side project into your schedule

When life gets busy, your side project is often the first thing to fall to the wayside. Don’t take on a side project that requires you to put in more work than you can handle. Nothing will make you abandon a side project quicker than burning the candle at both ends and overextending your capacity. Before you officially launch, map out your current schedule with all your required time commitments. Then take a look at the time you have available and you can realistically schedule your side project into increments of time that won’t leave you feeling burnt out.

Mistake #4 – Going too broad

A side project should be fairly niche. For example, if you’re going to start a web design business, that’s awesome. But there are a million web designers out there. What sets you apart from the competition? Niche down your side project to a few different levels. If your side project is too broad, potential clients won’t be able to understand what problem you can solve for them. Niche it down so that it’s crystal clear who you’re trying to serve and give them the confidence in picking you over the competition.

Mistake #5 – Doing it just for the money

As we’ve talked about earlier this month, there is a difference between a side project and a side hustle. A side hustle is something you do to generate extra income when you need it, like driving for Uber. A side project is a creative passion project that has nothing to do with your day job. Yes, you may make money from it, but that shouldn’t be your driving force when deciding what to pick. Your side project should be something you’re excited about doing, and something that brings you joy. If you think, “Oh, I’ll start a graphic design side project because it’s easy money,” you’re going to lose steam. Creative energy has to be at the forefront of your side project in order for it to succeed. Without the passion, it just turns into another task you don’t really want to do.

Want some more creative inspiration? Be sure to also see Why You Should Have A Side Project + The One Thing That Will Change Your Creative Career!

Author: Samantha Welker

Samantha Welker is the business manager at Glitter Guide. She has an Master's in Corporate Finance & Sustainability from Harvard Business School but prefers working in the creative industry. She also hosts a weekly business podcast for creative women called Pretty Okay Podcast. She loves spending time with her husband and her son, Rocky, in sunny San Diego. Follow along on Instagram