Side Projects: The Great Update

composite side projects

Devotees of this blog will be delighted to hear I’ve got four new Side Project Stories penned and at least two more booked for interview in the next month or so.

However, before I crack on with ‘season two’ I thought it would be good to catch up with the ‘originals’ and see how the first ten interviewees were progressing with their projects.

The Originals

#1 Alex has just moved from near Bath to near Exeter with his family and the priorities right now are settling down again and keeping his freelancing day job rolling along in a new location. He is still wrestling with Pipe Dream Comics though, but it’s had to take a back seat in the face of more immediate priorities: “At the moment I just can’t work out how to monetise it and make it work without taking a big risk. And that is really the difference between side projects and work. I never doubted making the risk for my [Freelance Graphic Design] work, but with Comics it’s different.” He’s still looking though and continues to use his social media skills honed on Pipe Dream Comics in the day job to great effect. Check out Alex’s freelance ‘day job’ at www.alexthomasdesign.co.uk

#2 Holly has re-branded from Holly Cooks to Type 1 Kitchen. After surveying her blog followers Holly felt that whilst they really liked what Holly was doing there were lots of other food blogs doing similar things and she was effectively competing in an already-saturated market. Holly also felt that she was still struggling to give her authentic voice on her blog because she felt that she wasn’t sufficiently expert in what she was doing. However, Holly does have an authentic and distinctive expertise: her type one diabetes. This is now the focus and Holly describes herself as “renewed and energised… now all I need is some time…but I guess that’s always the way with a side project!”

#3 Tim.  His next adventure was to write the book about his and wife Laura’s round the world bike trip. It’s a wonderful, warm, and fascinating account of the people they met on their epic travels. Tim has also explained how he wrote the book as a side project (on top of all his existing projects) which is well worth a read. There have also been more grants awarded and more than few more trips out too.

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Tim has confessed to experiencing “an overwhelming sense of freedom at having finally finished a project that had been consuming my lunch breaks and spare evenings for over two years. It was a joy to realise that I could just go for a walk at lunch rather than having to write a book or feel guilty for not doing so.” However, he is also now “feeling aimless and lacking in motivation now that my big goal has been ticked off. I should have more time to catch up on other things – like clearing my inbox and sorting out life admin – but without the focus of my side project, I feel almost listless. Only time will tell if that’s the natural corollary to completing a big project, or if that’s just what I’m like when I’m not working on something.”

Good Side Projects are really powerful elements in our lives and constitute both a purpose and a burden; missing a project is a sure sign that the project has more than just an indulgence about it.

#4 The Eurekaha Team (Matt, Stuart, and Nick) have been really busy, running a successful 20-week programme of Design Thinking with Bridgwater & Taunton College (BTC). They’ve also had to maintain relationships with their stakeholders (their day-job bosses and their supporters and stakeholders), they’ve networked like crazy, built up some business infrastructure (insurance, technology, bookkeeping), and they’ve developed a regular Thursday night kebab habit as a means of keeping it all together!

“The enthusiasm for Eurekaha has increased throughout the work with BTC as we believe, and have had feedback, that we have something unique to offer – it’s just hunting out the right avenues. We have all learned a lot in this year – especially doing it around full time jobs, which has been challenging on the odd occasion. We are holding our nerve and going on the journey, not deliberately going for obvious money, in the belief that we will find the right route to develop Eurekaha as a value led business.”

#5 I’ve already mentioned Laura as she co-stars in Tim’s aforementioned book; but not to be outdone she’s just finished this year’s Cycle Touring Festival which crested 300 attendees for the first time!

#6 Will has been busy with a new book, ‘Embassy of the Dead’ came out on June 14th, he’s also been busy writing for CBeebies’ Olobob Top. He also got nominated for the prestigious Carnegie Greenaway award.

#7 Travis has largely been wrangling with the US tax authorities who’ve been trying to ‘repatriate’ his taxes despite him being a long-time exile paying his dues here in the UK and Europe! He did however take some time out to win funding for a project about Chocolate in space… 

#8 Sam continues to be busy with Create Hub and particularly its sister podcast TECHnique, now 20 episodes and counting. Sam’s side projects continue to pay day-job dividends too: “In IBM I recently gave a worldwide broadcasted talk about Art and the role it’s played in IBM’s part and the role it will play in its future. IBM UK’s Chief Technology Officer also just created some art with one of the artists previously featured on the TECHnique podcast, which is going to be displayed in IBM’s London office!” He’s also looking for more writers and editors to help grow the Create Hub publication if anyone needs their own side project!

#9 Gav has achieved his long-stated side project goal of getting promoted to Director rank at Aardman by building his skills and portfolio with his numerous side projects – congratulations Gav!

#10 George continues to fulfil his ‘hobby’ with regular adventures, most of which continue to get documented at 67hours… 

So there you go, a mixed bag of delights who are all pushing on in different ways; some rapidly, some backtracking slightly for a revised or renewed approach, but that’s the way with ‘slow success’.

Are you ready for the next 10?

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