Why You Can’t Afford to Ignore Personal Projects Any Longer

You’ve heard it time and time again, personal projects are almost a necessity as a freelance web professional.

In this post, we’ll explain (once more) why personal projects are important for freelancers. We’ll also brainstorm with you on how to get started on a personal project of your own. Finally, we’ll give you some tips on how to monetize your project.

A Personal Project Can Keep You Current

As a web professional in general, even if you don’t freelance currently, you should keep up with the ever-changing technology and coding practices. A great way to keep up is to build a personal project.

Maybe you can start by taking a page out of Davy Kestens’ book and building a site dedicated to your passion such as his Run Addicts website.

It’s great to develop a playground that you can have accessible to test out new forms of coding, new languages you are learning or even new design techniques.

A Personal Project Can Increase Your Income

Aside from the learning aspect, depending on the website you choose to build as a side project, you have the opportunity to increase your monthly income (or just possibly build a cushion to fall back on during the slow months).

Depending on the success of your side venture, you could even find yourself running that site 80% of your time instead of just the initial 10% as planned. You may eventually be able to use your side project as your main source of income.

Getting Started on a Personal Project

There are many directions you could take to get started with a personal project.

Side projects could consist of:

  • CMS Themes–There are dozens of CMS out there, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, ModX, etc. All of these systems use themes as a way to spruce up the overall look of their product and stock themes. Let’s face it. There are a lot of very basic or unappealing themes out there. You can earn money by making themes or selling themes to other sites.
  • Phone Apps–Making iPhone applications or BlackBerry applications can easily increase awareness of your work. Creating these applications is a great way to learn new languages as well as design techniques.
  • Web Articles, E-Books, Books, etc.–Writing is a good release as well as being very relaxing. Start with a personal blog, then progress to writing for other blogs. Maybe you could even sit down once or twice a week to write a page or two for a book or e-book. This could be a great way to earn an income, learn more about yourself, or give you a reason to learn something new to put into the book or article you are writing.
  • An informational site–You have hobbies … you may not notice it, but you do. Poker, Baseball, Hockey, Sketching, Cars, Knitting… Whatever it is, there is always an opportunity to increase awareness of your services or spread your ideas about the certain hobby. Create a website in which visitors have a chance to interact with the site. Include reviews, ratings, chats, comments, etc.

Now that we’ve given you a few ideas for creating a personal project, we’ll talk more about how you can earn money with your project.

How to Monetize Your Personal Project

Right now, you may already have a personal project. You may be thinking to yourself, “okay, this project is done, but how do I create a way to generate income for myself through this website?”

Well, sometimes generating income is the labor-intensive part. Here is an idea. Go out and find advertisers for the website, or find an online banner company to set up sidebar ads on your website.

Everything starts with marketing, regardless of what type of product or website you have. Generating traffic is a great asset when trying to find
companies or people who are willing to advertise on your website.

Advertisers want to know what they are getting for their money, and that they are not just tossing it away. Have analytics ready for your advertisers. They will most likely ask about your hits, time spent on site, page views, new visitors per month, etc.

Improving Your Personal Project

Of course, when building a personal project you always have those ideas in mind of how you can improve things. Improvement is always a huge part of being an entrepreneur, whether you are small or large.

Look for ways to increase your traffic and user interaction with the site through comments, emails, sales, etc. There are many resource sites that are around to help you out with any questions that you may have.

Visit FreelanceFolder’s great forums, which are available to the public. There are many knowledgeable professionals on these forums, all of whom seem very willing to help in any way possible.

Your Turn

If you have some personal projects, I’d love to see them. Share some background information about your projects, the technologies you used, and possibly even share your inspiration for the project?

Don’t be shy, let’s see them!

Image by heipei