Growth September 10, 2020

How do you manage multiple side projects?

Felix Wong @felix12777

We often see multiple projects created by the IH community.

  • Are these projects related to each other?
  • How do you grow these projects together?
  • Why would you run multiple projects but not one?
  1. 28

    I run 3 successful startups, each over $1M ARR. 2 are SaaS (co-founder and CEO) and 1 is a mobile app (co-founder and CTO). The SaaS are kind of related (same industry), but mobile app is completely different.

    The key to grow them together is to:

    1. Spend time on what excites you the most on a daily basis. I normally divide my days based on revenue of each
    2. Whenever a project starts making money, hire people early and start delegating tasks so they are off your plate
    3. Bet on your strong points, ignore your weak points

    As for the why? Because it's exciting :)

    1. 3

      This is inspiring, thanks for sharing this! I've always felt awkward about Shiny Object Syndrome and flipping from thing to thing but it looks like you've found a way to make it work.

      1. 6

        Don't get me wrong, Shiny Object Syndrome is definitely a problem. But what's important is crossing the finish line and not jumping to something new before that.

        1. 2

          This is true. Great artists ship.

        2. 1

          I love this. Definitely something to remind myself.

    2. 3

      I'd second this. If you are excited working on something, you are much more focussed and productive.

    3. 1

      this is such great advice, thanks a ton!

    4. 1

      Whats the website for these?

    5. 1

      Nice 💪 Did you intentionally only start the 2nd / 3rd one, when the first had it's own momentum?

      1. 2

        Yes, I started the 2nd one when 1st one was already profitable. And then the 3rd one when I had delegated almost all of my tasks for the 2nd one.

        1. 1

          Were there other projects that you tried that didn't work? How do you know when to give up on one that isn't working?

          1. 1

            Haha many. Before these 3, I had plenty of failed ones. You learn the skill of when to give up, or double down with experience. There are signs to look for and measure traction.

            These are some of my startups that failed. Some of these got a lot of press attention too:
            https://mashable.com/2010/05/02/facebook-group-chat/
            https://techcrunch.com/2012/03/30/evinar/
            https://thenextweb.com/apps/2011/07/14/everything-you-need-to-know-about-new-rss-reader-readings/

            1. 1

              Thanks this is very useful! So it seems like a lot of it is tuning your own sense of when something is going to work or not.

  2. 14

    Personally, most of my extra projects are what you'd called "side project marketing" for the main project.

    They bring awareness to the other things I'm doing (believe it or not this has been highly effective -- they don't even need to have the same audience, just a few commonalities).

    On the other hand, I plan to start more projects. Because I don't want to place a 100% bet on one thing. I'm also part of a two-person team so it means we have 2x the time of day, and sometimes the work to be done for the main project isn't 100% of our time.

    Another aspect is that after you've built one project (like really, for over a year, gotten customers, done customer development, etc) you learn SO MUCH that the next ones are MUCH more efficient from idea to execution to launch and growth.

    As a bonus, as a developer, you have so much resuable code and reusable systems to build on. Things like billing, email scheduling, authentication, custom UI elements, etc.

    Those are my thoughts about multiple projects 😅

    1. 3

      I second the marketing projects to fuel the main one. I have a startup in the craftstech space and have recently started a podcast about the creative economy as a passion point but also as a support. TBD on how it will go, we're launching the podcast in the next two weeks!!

    2. 3

      you have so much reusable code and reusable systems to build on.

      This is true. 2 years back I started making internal APIs that I can easily reuse. Reduces the friction in creating micro-projects.

    3. 1

      That's perfect strategy, I like put different side projects together and diversify income streams, but keeping compound effect at a same time.

      PS: Nice to see your affiliate dashboard solution being integrated with our Post Affiliate Pro!

      1. 1

        That's the idea for sure! Had no idea Post Affiliate Pro would be on Indie Hackers, but very neat. We just did the integration a few weeks ago :)

    4. 1

      @momoko you are definitely a role model. I'm in the middle of your email course.

      Can't stop reading your hacks. What other projects keep you busy (and motivated)?

      1. 1

        Thanks Felix, I wouldn't say I'm super successful yet with my projects. Still my highest revenue project is a content website, so I have a lot to learn about building my own software products :)

        The newsletter was a side project to support my main project, and we also have a standalone tool that we host on a subdomain that's meant to drive leads to the main tool. But I'm also about to do a startup-per-month challenge with a group of people so looking forward to that :)

        Glad you're enjoying the course!

    5. 1

      Thanks for those insights, very helpful. Specially this:

      They bring awareness to the other things I'm doing (believe it or not this has been highly effective -- they don't even need to have the same audience, just a few commonalities)

      1. 2

        Can't begin to tell you how much this has been a game-changer for me. Visibility, networking, etc. The space of people building online businesses is smaller and more interconnected than you might think.

        1. 1

          When you are doing a side-side project how do you link it back to your main one? Is it just about having your own details on there? Or do you put everything on one domain?

          1. 2

            No, every project goes on its own domain pretty much. But it depends, I do have one on a subdomain.

            It could be as simple as a casual mention of the other project, link in the footer, interlinking in the content to articles on the other site, etc.

            Going forward i'll be doing more that are more direct efforts to do lead generation via side projects.

          2. 1

            @chr15m has a few articles that talk about this 👀 and I learned a looooot. Check her website!

    6. 1

      I totally agree with you, and I'm on the same track. Being a dev means there's so many things that's reusable or morphable.

      1. 2

        Yep! Especially in our case, as we built everything serverless. So you can basically reuse entire sets of functions with almost no change :)

        And you lose soooo much time on that with your first project, setting up tooling, doing the tedious and un-sexy stuff you have to do instead of working on the product.

        1. 1

          hey Monica, what are those serverless functions you're talking about?

        2. 1

          yup! i'm moving stuff wherever i can serverless too! so happy to see like-minded.

  3. 10

    Why would you run multiple projects but not one?

    Shiny Object Syndrome

    1. 1

      It's a feature not a bug!

      1. 6

        Before finishing any project, I get distracted by a new, shiny project and abandon the old one. This is my biggest challenge and I think many people share this challenge :D

        1. 3

          @robertbroersma, I used to feel the same way about several years ago. I would jump from idea to idea and projects to projects.

          One of my projects got a great traction but I failed to execute by taking it to the finish line. Why? Because I kept falling for Shiny Object Syndrome. Btw, this is applicable not just to projects, but everything. Life, clothes, cars, etc. IMO, this has to do with boredom.

          So, I paused for couple years and fully embraced boredom. During this time, I read a lot and introspected who I was as an individual. Read and wrote a lot!!!

          Anytime, an idea would pop up, I would write it down and move on. After sleeping on it, I would revisit the idea to see if it was still relevant. Eventually something came along which would allow me to differentiate noise vs signal.

          Now, I use spaghetti strategy. Throw it on the wall until it sticks. Let me explain further. I now have a main project under which I experiment a lot. I continue to build momentum on the same idea through different experiments. This allows me to stay focused on a singular idea and try new things under the same project. I haven't had a major success with my current project, but I am starting to see the snowball effect.

          I also don't get distracted when I see others run multiple projects with successful traction because the spaghetti mindset helps me stay focused on a single project. This wouldn't be the case several years ago because I would stop working on one project and jump on to another.

          This is just my way of doing things. Hope it helps!

          1. 2

            It is really interesting what you say and I want to try .

          2. 2

            Certainly an interesting approach.

            I do something similar in that I keep notes of all my ideas and let them sit for a while before jumping on them. I really helps.

        2. 2

          I hear you @robertbroersma - I used to have the same issue. I will then make sure to find a way to store and jot down some notes for those shiny objects 👀

          What’s your favorite project at the moment?

          1. 1

            Currently I'm working on https://statik.ly/ —A UI Component library for developers. For now it's just landing page elements, but after the first release I'm planning a pack of eCommerce elements.

            It kind of fits the whole problem of shiny objects—I get to create new components all the time!

            What are you working on?

            1. 1

              Hey Robert, I just wanted to let you know that the logo's overlapping with the header making it impossible to see the logo's text as they share the same colour.

              1. 1

                Hey Maabed. Thanks for letting me know! I thought I tested on all possible sizes. Would you mind letting me know which browser and screen size you were using?

                1. 1

                  No worries! It's a chrome browser on the 15" surface book 2. With a resolution of 3240 x 2160.

                  1. 1

                    Thanks for letting me know and thanks a bunch for the screenshot. I fixed it!

                    1. 1

                      Yaay! Can confirm that it's looking slick now.

                  2. 1

                    I've checked on my girlfriend's macbook and you are right!

                    I'm on it.

                  3. 1

                    Hmm when I simulate this it looks fine for me!

                    If you have the time would you mind sending me a screenshot over twitter DM? https://twitter.com/robertbrosma

                    1. 1

                      Also, I don't use Twitter, sorry! But here's a link to a screenshot: https://pasteboard.co/JqtqWEh.png

                    2. 1

                      Oh, my bad! I just realised I had a custom resolution 2593 x 1728 with a 200% scale. The browser window size itself is 1296 x 764. I think it's a rather rare combination but it may be worth it to fix it up.

                2. 1

                  Same here. MacBook Air 13"

                  Why do you change the gradient of the header? @robertbroersma

                  1. 1

                    I'm not sure what you mean by gradient of the header @felix12777 ?

        3. 2

          Familiar problem :) I usually take at least a month to think about the idea and see if it sticks. And then dedicating each project a specific day or work on them in kind of sprints (a couple of weeks until a certain milestone is reached). Obviously you need to prioritize but besides that, I don't see any reason why you shouldn't have several projects :) Just don't work on all of them at the same time - focus is the key.

          1. 1

            I couldn't agree more!

            Your theory is solid, but putting it to practice is my real challenge. I got a lot better at it lately tho!

            1. 2

              Totally! Theory and practice differ. If you need accountability or a reality check partner, don't hesitate to reach out :)

  4. 3

    I do multiple because it takes a long time to grow a project and there are lull periods where much is not happening. These are great moments to alternate between project. I also have an attention span of a goldfish and will go mental if I keep staring at the same thing more than 4 days in a row. I need variation for my own sanity.

    My projects are not related to each other except in terms of tech stacks and the fact that they look like I made them.

    1. 2

      That’s cool tho. I’ve a similar goldfish memory that’s why I rely on productivity tools.

      Would love to see your products and here. Drop the links 🍻 @neea

        1. 2

          Woah you're a pro technical designer! Thanks for sharing @neea

  5. 2

    They're not related at all. I like working on different things. How do I do it? Slowly and with great difficulty lol.

    1. 1

      High five! Working on different things too. The build and grow process allowed me to learn super fast. Enjoy every minute!

      Show us your projects :) How can we help? @ebemunk

  6. 1

    Hi! Maybe you should tell a bit about your experience. I am in sales and marketing without coding skills)

    1. 1

      You’re welcome! I build stuffs without code as well.

      I use Todoist to facilitate my whole productivity process and occasionally directing tasks to Airtable and Notion.

      Everyday I’ve a theme to follow. For example:

      Monday: Acquisition
      Wednesday: Retention
      Friday: Review

      Something like that :)

  7. 1

    Hello.
    Thanks for connecting with me.I have an investment/trading platform to share with you.

  8. 1

    I think you shouldn't work on multiple side projects at the same time. You'll have better results if you focus on a single one at a time.

  9. 1

    I have 3 projects going currently. Two are related, the third is not. To answer your question, very poorly.

    1. 2

      Which one do you like the most and how can we help you move forward? Drop the link :) @adroitboss

      1. 1

        I don't have links yet. One I'm building at a good pace. Its the one I'm building currently in the Ycombinator Sprint. It's interactive spreadsheet tutorials. The second is creating a website from a spreadsheet. The third is generating videos. All of them are at some sort of testing phase. The first and 3rd seem the closest to launching. The second works, but not to the degree that's useful yet.

  10. 1

    🏃‍♂️ Using sprints

    • Working with sprints
    • Setting a sprint with key objectives for a week
    • Decide wich days will you work on one project or another
    1. 2

      Sprints lover too!

      Do you run Sprints as a group or alone? What's your key takeaways when it comes down to side project? @Teodora

      1. 1

        So, when I work alone the sprints are on my own.

        I decide which feature or action I want to do that week, for example, adding analytics to my site.

        It means I will be working on analytics through the week.

        When I have more than one side projects on the way I make a task for each of them per week.

        You can plan your takeaways before you start:

        • Validation of the project
        • Promotion
        • MVP
        • Development

        That's how I make it now building monthlystart.com and designing a game app.

        1. 2

          Just checked out! Super fun tho. How can we help you @Teodora

          1. 1

            Thank you! 😄

            You’re free to help us build the community of starters on monthlystart.com

            We're just starting and newbies at this, so any help will be usefull 😳

  11. 1

    I have 2 main projects (profitable, long term commitments) and many side projects. More often than not the side project is a whim and serves as a bit of fun / respite away from my main things.

    However a couple of these have also turned into real things that I need to look after.

    In terms of how do I manage them all. In reality it just boils down to context switching and managing priorities. For example songbox has had a lot of attention over the past 6 months and it has flourished due to it. However now that my other main project is able to start working again due to Covid restrictions loosening (temporarily loosening anyway) I will need to (and have been) putting more time into that which means songbox gets less attention.

    Sadly there are only 24 hours in a day so in my experience you just need to juggle. Wish there was a better way lol

  12. 1

    I work on several projects with little overlap specific overlap between them. Mostly, I am building a scientific hardware startup, and I am growing my Python training website, which has different products such as a book, articles, and now videos. And on top of everything, I am trying to put together an open-hardware initiative, and help out maintaining one of the websites of scientists for future in The Netherlands.

    What I do is making it clear that I am behind all those projects, so I can build my personal brand. Why I run multiple, is a matter of serendipity, things started flowing and I didn't want to abandon my previous projects. I still struggle to understand how can I increase the synergies between my different tasks, even though I enjoy creating content, it is extremely time consuming.

    1. 1

      It sounds like you have an exciting techie life. Super happy for you that you’re enjoying building stuffs.

      Where can we learn more about your projects? Drop the link below 😀 @aqui_c

      1. 1

        I am really behind writing up what's going on, but I try to post to:

        https://www.aquicarattino.com/things-ive-done/

        Or my digital garden:

        https://www.aquiles.me/now/

  13. 1

    I work on 4 projects simultaneously https://stanbright.com/projects. They are not 100% related yet they have cross sections.

    How do you grow these projects together? As they have some common sections, I just cross promote them. However, I'll be using Alertcamp as a backend engine monitoring for real-time/recently popular library alternatives on LibHunt and product alternatives on SaaSHub.

    Whey would I run multiple projects - to be honest, working on multiple projects helps me keep pushing all of them for the long run. When I get tired/bored working on one of them, I can always switch to one of the others, and that feels refreshing.

    p.s. I'll be releasing a fifth project soonish 🙈. That is going to be the last one. I promise.

  14. 1

    Well,

    1 of them is a free tool for web developers and digital designers that can be used year around.

    Then I am working a small templates market.
    The third is a newsletter,... that I curate and send on Tuesdays.

    My focus now is on the the small market and upgrading the newsletter to something more elaborated.

    The small project, has many monthly users, I use it to bring traffic to the other projects and requires no maintaining....

    1. 1

      @Michael_Andreuzza you’re unstoppable!

      (If) you can only pick one project to continue and grow. Which one :) Show us!

      1. 1

        Ok, that was difficult coz I feel very attached to them.

        Wicked Templates, Is very addictive, I could be the whole day changing colours, sizes, fonts, images,...only to see how it would look.

        Plus is that kind of build once, sell many. Of course they have to be updated.

        (Will soon readesign the templates btw,..)

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