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Yogini Bende
Yogini Bende

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Why every developer should do side projects?

Hello folks,

Let me start by wishing you all a very happy and healthy new year ๐ŸŽ‰

Because we have just entered the new year and most of us spend this time in goal setting or building new habits into our routines, it is the best time to share this thought and promote the importance of side projects.

Let's begin by understanding what are the benefits of doing a side project. I will use 3 different advantages of side projects to convince you this -

1. The best way of learning.

I am all time promoter of learning by doing. Tutorials are good to get introduced to something but they are limited when it comes to practical implementation. When you work on your side project, you implement something from scratch and every iteration of this implementation will make you learn something new.

Working on something gives you a deep understanding of its concepts which are most likely missed otherwise. Thatโ€™s why I am claiming it to be โ€œthe bestโ€ way of learning new things.

2. Proof of work.

With every new side project you create, you are creating proof of work for your skills. Most of the time, the work you do for your organization (where you are working full-time) is private and there is no way you can show the world how awesome developer you are. In such cases, your side projects will be your advocates. You claiming to know certain technology and you showing off a project built in that technology all by yourself, which one you will prefer?

Itโ€™s obvious that these projects are the best way to promote your skills and will help you get your next job or the new freelance gig.

3. End to end understanding of working on an idea

Most often, we work on a product in a team or we only know a part of that product. This makes us unaware of so many sides of developing a product. When you create your project from scratch, you are responsible for each and every part of that project. Starting from designing, to deciding features, to testing the edge cases, to deploying it to prod, you are the one looking after everything.

This complete product development life-cycle will make you more aware of all the side effects of small decisions we take and will improve your workflows.

If you are still reading, I am pretty sure you are convinced with the thought of doing a side-project. But one small and most powerful tip, Donโ€™t shy away from sharing your side projects with as many people as you can! You will get the correct exposure and suggestions about your project only when you share it with people. Share your project with your friends, colleagues, share it on Twitter, or make it openly available on Github. The more you share and promote it, the more improvements you will make. You will get noticed for your work, you will understand the mistakes you might have done or you will get to know other approaches people are choosing.

All this is good and you are convinced, but how to choose a side project? ๐Ÿค”

A side project can be anything, as small as a small animating card component or as big as a SaaS product. You have to keep your eyes and interest open, and you will see so many ideas floating around you. Whatever interests you most, pick that up and start building.

I have listed some ideas for myself, sharing those with you which might help you think about one -

  • A chrome extension for Pomodoro timer.
  • An expense tracker for yourself.
  • A habit tracker.
  • App to collect user feedback.
  • Different component libraries, and the options are limitless.

Understanding the importance of side projects, a few months ago, we started working on one. The thought was simple, a platform to create a single work profile for every individual and we built Peerlist. While working on it, we also started sharing our journey on Twitter. The responses were amazing and the idea evolved so wonderfully that the side project is now our full-time job! So, thatโ€™s why I am here, promoting the importance of doing side projects because who knows, you might end up monetizing your one ๐Ÿค‘

Final thought, building a side project will definitely make you jack of all and master of some. So what are you waiting for? Let's git init๐Ÿ˜‰

Thatโ€™s it from this article! If you are working on something or you have some ideas, do share them in the comments. I would love to check them out.

You can also connect with me on Twitter or buy me a coffee if you like my articles. I publish an article every tuesday about web development, frontend, my learnings, and some random fun thoughts.

Happy coding and keep learning ๐Ÿ™Œ

Top comments (11)

ravavyr profile image

In the industry a lot of people will tell you that you don't have to "have a passion for it" or have to do "lots of side projects" to become a good developer.
Fact is, I've not met many good developers who don't do side projects, and definitely no great ones.

The reality is, you CAN just "code when working" and still have a decent dev career and still get paid plenty.

But you'll never be the person they turn to when shit hits the fan and/or when they need their best. And most people are ok with that.

mrnano profile image

I hear where you stand, but I think its limiting to not do deliberate practice (side projects are a way of doing that)

ravavyr profile image

oh i fully agree, i think the best developers i know all code for fun too.

spic profile image
Sascha Picard

I agree only up to a certain level. Having side projects helped me very much to get a foot into the industry.
But there are many good reasons why one shifts priorities to not do side projects anymore, like having a Family and preventing burnout (speaking for myself). So saying one should do side projects might create a sense of expectation that cannot be met, e.g. when it comes to interviewing or performance evaluation.

deep310 profile image
Deep Parekh

Great article Yogini! A must for beginners looking to build side projects!

I've personally been asked a lot of times about what kind of side projects will help me get interviews at a company or make me stand out from the crowd. I think the best side projects are the ones which you can actually use to solve, improve, or simplify something. The next tier of projects is when you follow a tutorial but significantly improve upon it.

I built a covid19 tracker to display information about covid in a simplified but visually decent way. I'd love if you could check it out and give your feedback:

guptasanskritii profile image
Sanskriti Gupta

Love the ideas you've mentioned here, Yogini. Super useful article! ๐Ÿ’ฏ

akshayvarshney6 profile image
Akshay Varshney

What a wonderful article, thanks for writing :)

kcblaq profile image

Thanks for this amazing article, my projects:

  • Budget app
  • Transport booking app
frontend profile image

I think that doing side projects give satisfaction and lots of experiences.

followmedoug profile image
Douglas Mateus

Thanks for sharing, it was what I need :D

akshayadiga3 profile image
Akshay Adiga

Canโ€™t agree more ๐Ÿ™Œ