How Side Projects Can Change Your Life

by Jake Jorgovan

Many of us wander through life looking for the next opportunity or the next job. We hustle around waiting for things to come to us. When we wait for opportunities to come to us, we are putting the course of our life in the hands of fate. We are putting ourselves in a position where we aren’t truly in control.

So how do we take control? How do we guide our life in the direction we want to go and create the opportunities that we want to see in the world?

It’s simple: Side projects.

Why side projects are so important

It doesn’t matter if you are a freelancer, unemployed, or working full time at a company. A side project is absolutely essential.

When you start a side project, you are taking initiative. You are starting something as opposed to waiting for the opportunity to come to you.

  • Maybe your side project demonstrates a style of work that you have always wanted to do.
  • Maybe your side project is an idea you have been bottling up inside for years.
  • Maybe your side project is a business that you have always dreamed of starting.

Regardless of what the side project is, starting it will change your life. When you start a side project, you are changing the game of life. Instead of being an opportunity seeker, you are becoming an opportunity creator.

passion-side-projectTania Leach turned her passion project into a reality. Read about Bon Vivant Company.

How side projects changed my life

Almost a year and a half ago, I built a basic website for myself and started blogging. I had no intention, no goals, nothing really in mind. I just knew that I wanted to start putting my ideas and philosophies out into the world.

Over a year later, I can’t even begin to describe the change the blog has brought to my life. It has inspired countless people who have thanked me for my work. And it has also gravitated opportunities toward me that I never would have had otherwise.

The blog was a side project fueled by passion, but the opportunities that it created were more than I would have ever imagined.


Scott Peek moved to Waverly, Ala., in 1991 and started his side business, Standard Deluxe Inc., with two friends. Today, he runs the design and screen-printing business solo with help from part-time assistants. Read more about it in HOW Sidelines.

Understanding your motivations

When you start a side project, it is important that your motivation is not just money. Money can be a by-product, but it should not be the sole objective. When you work on a project purely for money, you will quickly lose motivation as time goes on and whenever you hit any obstacles.

Instead, you want your project to be fueled by deeper motivations and passions.

In a recent interview Todd Henry, of The Accidental Creative, told me that, “You want to have your project be driven by a deeper motivation or purpose. When you have that deeper purpose, you become willing to suffer through the pain and the hard parts for your work.”

Todd has been running The Accidental Creative podcast for 10 years now. The podcast started as a side project fueled by his inner desires to teach others creative practices, and over the years it has spawned a vibrant consulting business and book publishing deals. It wasn’t always easy for Todd, but his deeper motivation to teach others drove him to get through the hard parts.

Having those deeper motivations is essential to creating meaningful side projects.

  • What change do you want to see in the world?
  • How do you want to impact or affect the lives of others?
  • What do you care about so deeply that you are willing to put in countless hours of unpaid work for?

Answering these questions helps you begin to qualify your ideas for side projects. Begin to look at side projects not just in their monetary sense, but in the deeper underlying motivations that drive you.

coverpluscooties-851x1024In early 2011, Michelle Taute set out to make a cootie catcher every day for a year. Her passion project turned into a book, Fold Me Up: 100 Paper Fortune-Tellers for Life’s Pressing Questions Learn more about it in the May 2014 issue of HOW Magazine.

The bottom line

Side projects aren’t easy and many people start them only to abandon them months later. In order for your side project to be successful, you must not start focused on the money.

Instead, you must focus on creating something that comes from a deeper motivation. When your side projects are motivated by something deep inside you, it is hard for them to ever fail.

Jake Jorgovan is a writer, marketer and creative professional. He is VP of Growth at and recently published a Skillshare course called GO+DO: Start a creative project that matters.


sidelines_cover_1HOW Sidelines: Designers Start Successful Side Businesses

Do you dream of making your passion project something more? Read about how these designers turned their creative ideas and endeavors into additional revenue streams or full-fledged businesses. More importantly, they brought their dreams to life. Learn more.