Episode 08 / Side Projects

Proudly sponsored by Less Accounting, they’re like Star Wars (without Jar Jar).
The eighth episode from the Invisible Office Hours podcast hosted by Paul Jarvis and Jason SurfrApp. This week we chat about side projects. How they can help you solve problems, inspire creativity, learn new skills, and also be terribly distracting. Plus, learn about some of our side projects over the years.


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Tell @pjrvs “hello hello hello” on Twitter.
Jason and Paul like side projects and do a lot of side projects.
PJ: This podcast is a side project and the topic is side projects. It’s meta.
JS: It’s Matception (Matrix + Inception)!
Jason thinks side projects can be great but also highly distracting and an escape from actual work.
Paul made up the awesome word procrastiworking.
PJ: If you do anything creative for a living, you need side projects.
PJ: People are building things on the side to help them solve problems they have.
Side projects are super necessary when they can help you solve a problem or learn something. (TWEET THIS)
JS: A great company will always want it’s employees to be the best and greatest version of themselves. Even if that means having a side project take off and them leave the company.
PJ: Side projects can help find a balance of what you really want to be working on.
JS: Side projects can be a reward for getting the day-to-day work done.
IOHBB: Balance.
Jason writes out a weekly (or monthly) to-do list and keeps it in front of himself on his wall so he can always see the projects he’s working on.
Paul also keeps a virtual list of his to-do items, but he organizes his work by what needs to get done first.
Paul splits his time 50/50 with client work and with side projects.
Being diligent with scheduling your time can show you if you have enough time to work on a side project.
Jason and Paul both use Google Calendar to schedule their lives and work.
How many hours do you want to work per week? How much do you charge per hour? How many hours do you actually need to work to pay your bills? Try scheduling your hours for a week and see how it goes!
Paul builds his schedule to make sure he has enough energy to last throughout the day. He does most of his calls in the late afternoons because it takes a lot of his energy.
PJ: A 10 minute call can actually take up 60-90 minutes of brain power time.
Jason doesn’t schedule any calls on Fridays.
If you have invisible office hours (you’re a freelancer, contractor, own your own business), do you give yourself Friday off? (TWEET US)
Jason picks his side projects based on things that interest him and where you thinks he can provide value to other people.
Jason created a t-shirt line for entrepreneurs, but shut it down after realizing he didn’t want to sell shirts, he just wanted to own some interesting shirts.
Paul went Matception again talking about a book he’s starting writing on the side about side projects.
Paul will start writing about a topic, and let how much he writes determine if it’s a book or blog post. Or, he’ll decide it’s a topic with an audience he doesn’t want to write for and moves on.
IOHBB: Jason mentions his book.
PJ: Is your side project reaching an audience you actually want to reach?
Paul says he has nothing against realtors.
What’s the worst thing that will happen if you start a side project and stop working on it?
Paul doesn’t avoid projects just because someone else has already done them. His take on it will always be unique to him.
IOHBB: Paul mentions all the books. Did you know you can get all his books for just $24?
If you want to do something someone has already done, use their experience and success as market validation.
Do you know what the first search engine was (without searching for the answer?) TWEET US
Google wasn’t the first search engine. Apple wasn’t the first smartphone.
PJ: The best side projects are the ones that start very small and can be iterated on.
For side projects, find your minimum viable product (MVP).
Paul mentions the awesomely simple 1-click pizza ordering app Push For Pizza.
IOHBB: Jason created an app that tells you the hours of operation for stores called Storetime.
Our side projects:
Paul and Jason are working on a book writing course together. It’s coming soon!
Paul created the largest slang dictionary on the Internet before Urban Dictionary.
Paul created a customer service app for car dealerships. It didn’t go well.
Paul created an environmentally friendly ad network for green companies. The timing on the project didn’t work.
Paul created WordPress themes that did well, but he didn’t like servicing them.
Jason created a panoramic photo gallery. He ended up selling it back to the developer who built it.
Jason created a non-profit organization called 1MillionShirts. He learned a lot about the aid world and shut it down after a lot of tough feedback and controversy.
Jason created a line of t-shirts for entrepreneurs, but he didn’t like selling t-shirts.
Side projects are great for flexing your creative muscles and learning new things.
IOHBB: Micro-learning.
Shameless plug to Less Accounting, our sponsor that makes bookkeeping suck less!
PJ: You can take huge risks with side projects and not get your face pooped on.
Even tough failures and criticism don’t define you forever. Don’t be afraid to gamble on other side projects.
There are four episodes left in Season One! Are you enjoying the show? TWEET US
We want to hear from you, jump on our email list and ask a question for the final episode of this season that will be all Q&A.
From the side,
Paul & Jason

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Invisible Office Hours / Season Two
Social Media (pt 1)
Social Media (pt 2)
Zombies vs. Vampires
Q & A

Invisible Office Hours / Season One
Internet Woodshedding
Selling Out
Side Projects
Q & A


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