On Twitch this week, I was asked by numerous folks, “How do I choose side projects to work on,” and my answer was all over the place. So allow me to fill your inbox with my thoughts on this as the first email for this newsletter.
I need to set the stage before answering the question by explaining I did not get into programming through my degree or even work. I got into programming because it was a hobby of mine. I have introduced programming through Geocities and Angelfire, making simple guestbooks to share with my middle school classmates. This experience was short-lived. I had an awareness of programming throughout high school and college, but only the extended copy and pasting scripts to do nefarious things on the internet.
My re-introduction into programming came when I had an idea for a church searching application after my son was born 11 weeks premature (That is a longer story, which you can listen to here).
This application for searching churches was an idea that I did not see a solution for when googling. I did not expect to make money from the concept, and I had no clear goals for what would happen when I built it. I used this application to learn how to build a modern web application similar to Yelp and Facebook (I did not even come close to making Yelp or Facebook). I was genuinely interested in solving the idea and using technology to do so. My only goal was learning, and I recommend that it be your goal. Pick a project that you can learn something.
If you don’t know how to make iOS apps, pick up a book, and build Pong. If you have an idea for making an API for categorizing Magic cards, pick a language or framework and do it.
What separates side projects that we finish and don’t is interest. If you don’t care about writing blogs, don’t build a blog. If you are not eating carbs, avoid sourdough baking.
Feel free to reply back and share your ideas for projects. I would love to see what you are working on.
If you have questions about choosing side projects, please stop the discord and ask questions on the #pre-stream-ama channel. This is a space to have the conversation and meet the Open Sauced community.
This video is about my first conference talk and sort of how it changed the trajectory of me becoming a junior to senior engineer, a full-time engineer in San Francisco, and now is a developer advocate.