Side Projects - How to find the Coolest Ideas?
Anything you build as a side project has its user base. You need to discover it and you will know how you can iterate to make it better.
We have talked about how important building side projects are. Here is a recap of why side projects are important for the overall development of the skillsets of an individual.
When you decide to dedicate your energy toward a side project, you sharpen your three kinds of skillset - Soft skills, technical skills/project specific, and emotional skills.
What kind of Soft Skills?
- Critical thinking
- Communication skills
- Work/Team Management
- Time Management
- Problem Solving
- Accepting Feedback
Technical Skills -
These soft skills help anyone wanting to start a side project, but why do software developers need to build a side project?
Some of you (software developers) get motivated enough to work outside your usual hours only if the project has the potential to impact something you care about. But others, work on something completely dumb and useless (a funny project) that they couldn't do during any existing job.
A few advantages to working on side projects are:
- The best way of learning - When you work on your side project, you implement something from scratch and every iteration of this implementation will make you learn something new.
- Proof of work - You claim to know certain technology and you showing off a project built in that technology all by yourself, which one you will prefer?
- End-to-end understanding of working on an idea - The 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.
- Networking - Build. Show. Do Tell. Side projects will help you talk about code in a more real-world sense.
- During Interviews - The side project gives you some hands-on time with tools, which means you remember the time you spent, say, 40 hours building something and talk about it with ease.
- Be relevant with tech - Side projects can also be a fun and practical way to stay up-to-date on your tech skills & knowledge.
Emotional Skills -
How you can focus your energy?
- Passion for a 9-5 job
- Helps in reducing your stress
- Helps in avoiding burnout
- Knowing yourself
- Fun quotient
- Contribution to the open-source community
We have already established side projects are important and how they can kick-start your journey of becoming extremely good in the programming language you work with.
Let’s see how you can find the ideas to build as a side project while solving an issue targeting an audience.
The world is huge. The population is diverse. Anything you build has its user base. You need to discover it and you will know how you can iterate to make it better.
Ways to find the side project ideas
Digital annoyances you face
This is the way most IT products come into existence. Be it Facebook, Apple, or Peerlist. Solving your itch makes up for the best side project.
You are the user of the product. You deliver the best result.
You have some expectations that have not been met with some old products, which leads to building something better.
Find a problem that you deal with on daily basis. Write down all of your ideas. Organize them. Find if something similar exists. Research the whys, hows, and whats.
Solve others’ problems
Talk about the problems others deal with. Understand why they deal with that problems. But remember not to fall into the cycle of finding the solution right away.
Go into researching and find the origin of the problem. Ask them about the real issue a few times to understand it.
Be around the people who are building new projects - they are always talking about one or another kind of new thing a world should have.
Go to the Product Hunt and go through the products. Check Gumroad and see what services people are selling and if there is any way you can make it easy for them. Creativity is not original per se. You see the products, go through the discussion and you can get the idea.
You can build a better version of the existing tools by inspecting them. Find one bug and fix it to the core and you have the best kind of side project.
Use the keywords with inverted commas - “side project ideas” and see if you can find anything related to it. Research like you want to impress your manager or mom.
Twitter is one of the easiest ways to find ideas. Use twitter's advanced search and find the ideas that people are ready to pay for. An example of that kind of idea could be -
Here Ajey mentioned the problem and you can build a productivity tool for the same. Start small and dissect the problem. Add the features along the way. A side project can become the main project once it has a good user base and you invest the needed time.
Here are some cool ideas you can build as a side project -
A Spotify wrapped but for games -
I found it pretty interesting. A fun way to see which games you played at the beginning of the year and how your year ended.
A version to automatically filters search -
Animated hand-drawn marks for data visualizations -
I loved this one. It can become a nice learning tool as well.
GPT-3 integrated notes-making tool
GPT-3 has been making noise for more than a year now.
Amazon like deals but on Gumroad
A tool that integrates all calendars across domains -
This is a need for every independent developer/freelancer.
A few fun ideas -
Find the relevant keywords and use Twitter as your research tool. The above-mentioned ideas are a few of the hundreds that go live every day on the app.