55

Share your side project that became full time job

12 months ago from , Web Designer

I have officially been doing UI design for 8 years now. My goal from the beginning was to scale and grow my agency. But dear lord, the amount of overhead / dealing with clients / and building shit that was for other people at the end of the day was killing me.

About 4 years ago I started designing my own products. I have probably put 25k into failed startups. It wasn't till recently one of my ideas has finally started to take off for a client which is under wraps. The funny thing about this project is it only cost about $2,000 to get off the ground. But my income has started to switch from making money while working for others, to making money while I sleep. In no way was Gary Vee helpful in this process lol. I would give a lot of credit to reddit /entrepreneur.

But I want to hear stories of designers / developers here that were sick of making hourly rates or even project rates. They decided they could attack a market. How they built it, and how it became a full time job. Also any resources you found helpful.

31 comments

  • Kirill ZakharovKirill Zakharov, 12 months ago

    Friend needed some design help with his stock photography side project. He was using Courier everywhere. It wasn't the best font for interfaces, so I swapped it for a sans-serif and started developing a design system from there. I also thought it would be cool to be able to collect photos or something.

    This was over 4 years ago. It's been my full-time job since.

    44 points
  • Dave Gandy, 12 months ago

    Was working at the first company I founded and was sick of dealing with other people's bad icons and Photoshop. Started kicking around some ideas for using fonts to serve the icons and overcome some of the problems screen readers had.

    That project became Font Awesome. 6 years later and it's on about 200m websites.

    23 points
    • D G, 5 months ago

      Whoa! Have you documented the complete story somewhere?

      0 points
  • R. KamushkenR. Kamushken, 12 months ago

    I was building design kits for Figma all year long with almost near-zero investment (only domain, hosting and etc.) and switched completely into it after a couple months passed after I released my first Material Design system. Before this was half-time employeed as UI designer + freelancing (and goddamn tired of that). Still no team there, but I got huge development-related plans on 2019. Already digging deeper into Figma's API to research and validate some fresh ideas. Proud of being featured officially on Resources section. Considering this is my achievement of the 2018 :)

    www.setproduct.com

    Thanks for asking :) Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

    PS: Huge post full of business insights coming soon on next week... PPS: Looks like this desktop design system will be the last for me in this year...

    12 points
  • Norm Sheeran, 12 months ago

    I came up with the idea for Blocs (web design Lego) about 4 years ago while on Holiday. I built v1 in 6 months and have never looked back. 4 years later and I recently shipped Blocs v3.

    https://blocsapp.com

    9 points
    • Calin Balea, 11 months ago

      Did you build it yourself? I have a bunch of ideas for web apps but I'm not a dev. Any advice where I could find a good dev team to partner with?

      0 points
  • Larry IoannidisLarry Ioannidis, 12 months ago

    So, what is that side project you have?

    3 points
  • Greg de J, 12 months ago

    Indie Hackers is full of those stories :)

    2 points
  • Philip LesterPhilip Lester, 11 months ago

    Hasn't become my full time job, but it's getting there - giveforms.com

    2 points
  • Bugsy SailorBugsy Sailor, 11 months ago

    I love working in niche markets and subcultures. So I continue to focus more and more on my homeland of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. And after ten years I finally jumped into it full-time with http://upsupply.co .

    But the fun doesn't end there. It has lead to all sorts of fun side projects such as http://plaidurday.com and https://906day.com and there all the April Fool's jokes such as https://yoopersingles.com and http://visitlakewisconsin.com and http://upembassy.us

    I'm only scratching the surface and hope to find more resources, time, energy, and partners to execute more of projects.

    1 point
  • Olivier BretonOlivier Breton, 11 months ago

    Started this as a side project: Mkt

    The very first version was really embarrassing and ugly now that I look back. But step by step, feature by feature, I made it into a product I think is truly useful now. 2 years or so later I'm working on it full time and it's supporting me.

    0 points
  • Rameez Ramzan, 11 months ago

    My friend needed some SEO, or Digital Marketing assists with his new Technology news website. He didn't know how he does SEO for this website even he wasn't familiar with the content part, so I made a proper digital marketing strategy for his website and for now I am also interested in this project.

    Website name is TechRusk

    0 points
  • Rob Hope, 11 months ago

    Hey Shea - congrats on "the leap" and getting the Passive side of work going.

    Before I tell a bit of my story, I just want to share a bit of advice quick: try diversify those passive income streams. I've learnt hard lessons going all in on certain income channels eg. an affiliate I was promoting, then they shut down the program etc. I now have several streams (that are forever changing) but it's a smarter place to be when you no longer have clients to quickly get a 50% deposit from

    I took the leap a few years ago from freelance to working full time on my own website design gallery called One Page Love. It only took about 8yrs to get there (lol) after starting it in 2008. I wrote this detailed article on how I monetize the website and this video with 3 tips growing a side project if you or anyone is interested.

    Based on what I've learnt growing the site and monetizing, I'm convinced I can build a great resource for a sister-site, Email Love that i'm launching this year. For fun I've also decided to document the whole process building this website in a YouTube series.

    All the best with your side projects and cheers for the positive vibes kicking this thread off!

    0 points
  • Toni ManolacheToni Manolache, 1 month ago

    https://contact.do - contact form in a link

    I've always been reluctant to write my email address in comments, so most of the time I don't post that comment. I don't want to feed the spam bots with my email address. That's how I came up with the idea for Contact.do

    What do you think about it? Would you use it? Please let me know: https://contact.do/toni

    0 points
  • Momčilo Popov, 1 month ago

    flpbk.io

    0 points
  • D G, 5 months ago

    I've been running Product Disrupt (the main site, blog & newsletter) for over 2.5 years now. It hasn't become my full-time job yet, I get my income from client work but I'm aiming to make it my full-time job soon.

    0 points
  • Peedu TuiskPeedu Tuisk, 12 months ago

    Some that didn't pan out:

    Currently working on:

    -1 points
  • Andu PotoracAndu Potorac, 12 months ago

    We had an agency back in the day - Vuzum. One of the in-house projects we were building was https://widgetic.com. In November 2016, after 8 years, we closed down the shop and a selected few continued to work on the startup which is profitable. ;-)

    -3 points
  • Tom Green, 12 months ago

    Same here. More and more tired of working on client projects, so I started my (as I call it) passion side project. I’m still on the full time gig so this is something I’m investing all my free time now.

    Hopefully, one day this can become my full time job.

    Feel free to check it out.

    -4 points