A little something on the side
Is it just me, or does it seem like these days everybody’s got a job and a little something on the side?
Here in Portland, examples are everywhere:
- A local PR guy moonlights as the Silicon Florist, chronicler of the city’s tech start up scene.
- A photographer is helping organize WordCamp Portland, the annual gathering of local WordPress users that happens in September.
- The head of an interactive marketing agency runs an indie music blog.
- A freelance magazine writer is pitching an ebook.
- Another local writer and (ultra hip) mommy blogger runs Backfence Portland, a live storytelling series.
- The editor of a neighborhood newspaper is working to get a non-profit media lab off the ground.
I’ve got a couple side projects going too:
- This blog and the annual blogathon connected with it
- Helping with the above-mentioned media lab project
- Writing website copy and other materials for a local church’s upcoming 50th anniversary celebration
- A monthly Cub Scout pack newsletter
- A high school auction catalog
The popularity of side projects could be an outgrowth of the Gig Economy Tina Brown so famously wrote about.
I think there’s more to it. People – including writers – take on side jobs or volunteer projects if they’re just starting out or want to switch careers as a way to get experience before a boss or editor would chance a paycheck on them. It’s a good way to put energy into something you’re passionate about but don’t make money from, or not enough to live on just yet.
I’ve used side projects to keep writing during a protracted hiatus from paid work, get myself back up once I started writing again full time and get to know the local writing scene. I’ve also used them to help my kids’ schools and other groups that require a certain number of volunteer hours a year; if I have to do something, I might as well do something I like and am good at, right?
Besides adding to what you know and possibly increasing your income, side projects can expand your work and social circles. As much as we all love Facebook and Twitter, it’s still nice to meet new people face to face.
So what’s your little something on the side?