Often, when I meet people at events, we chat about work and life and I ask people if everything is ok. The person I am talking to then starts with things at the job and gets into a few details, maybe ending with a summary, that work is ok, but sometimes a bit stressful. Then, if we not already move on to family life and alike, we speak about projects, which are done next to the work life. And I can see and feel that there is much more passion into what’s said about the projects next to work than about the actual work, where much more time is spent on. I guess this is what we refer to as side project, when it is a passion project, we are doing next to the day to day business.
Now I was wondering, what exactly a side project is and how we define this term? Is it something that everybody refers to in a different way? Is it only a project for a person’s passion? Or does someone earn money with it?
When I received an edition of a newsletter called Inspiration Bits, by Zoran Jambor last week, which started with the headline “Start a Side Project”, I once more asked myself ”Do I have any side projects?” and ”What is a side project?”.
So I read all the articles in Inspiration Bits, that Zoran was linking to. What I take away from reading the articles is, that it seems, that people with side projects are much more productive and creative at their days to day job and much happier. People can tinker and play with ideas, they can try themselves at things, they can’t experiment with during work and so on. So I get this, looking at me, playing in a band, taking photos without calling myself photographer, but then I look at my day to day business, which is running beyond tellerrand and ask myself
Is this my job?
When I started beyond tellerrand in 2010 (and then the first event in 2011), I was giving myself three years to sit down and ask myself ”Is this working?”. With a positive answer to this, I kept on running the event, added Berlin in 2014 and adding another destination next year – even though I had a couple of rough experiences privately. And what I do is, to sit down from time to time – I try to do this at least once a year – and ask myself ”Do you still enjoy what you are doing?” (amongst a few other questions).
So, is beyond tellerrand a side project now? Or is it my job? Or was it my side project, when I ran the Flashforum Konferenz next to being a freelancer and then turned into my job when I decided to run beyond tellerrand full time? I have no idea, what the exact definition is, to be honest. I only know, that I am very thankful, happy and glad that what I am doing fulfils me, makes enough money to make a living with my family with three kids and I keep being humbled as I know that this is nothing someone can take for granted.
So maybe it is my job now to run beyond tellerrand, but I think I keep the attitude of running it like a side project – passionated, always excited and with a lot of joy to create something for other people that they can enjoy, meet other interesting people and have good time at.