Do you have unfulfilled dreams?
Hobbies you want to pursue, new directions that you want to give to your career.
Then a passion project might be what you need.
A passion project is something you take up in spare time to gain knowledge, attain mastery, or just for fun. Basically, it is doing something no one asked you to, for your own benefit, on your own dime and time, because you want to.
I came up with the idea of building a parallel path several years back. That is worth a look. The parallel path is about building an alternate career. A passion project is a wider pursuit which may or may not be about building a career.
Why You Should Build Your Passion Project?
There are many reasons to build a passion project.
To not let your passions and interests die inside you.
This should be the biggest reason to pursue a passion project. If everyone who works in a job pursues a passion project then they will crib less and grow more; because they will get happiness and satisfaction from pursuing their passion even if they don’t have it in the job.
To do your own shit!
Most of the time we do boss’s work, client’s work, school’s work and sacrifice what we actually want to do. A passion project is an opportunity for you to do what you want to do without worrying about being answerable to anyone except yourself.
To have fun.
Passion projects are inherently fun because no one forces you to do them. If you are not having fun in doing something and you are calling a passion project, then you should pick another project because you picked the wrong one earlier.
To give your creative talents an outlet.
What was it that you liked doing as a kid. My little sister always loved making art but she somehow stopped doing it as she was growing up. 2-3 years back she started making art again, and since then she has been at it. When she was getting back into it, she set a goal to make a new work of art every single day for a week. Then she decided to create art for a month based on a theme she thought of. One month turned into two and two into three. That is when she planned to do 365 days of art project. She made an art a day for a year and beyond and in the process elevated her skills, got recognition for her works and had tons of fun.
To make money.
Your passion project can quickly turn into a money making project if that is your goal and if you choose wisely. Later in this post, I’ll share how people’s passion project turned into money-making startups.
To build assets.
Your passion project can be about creating intellectual property. For example, you can create an app and it might turn into an asset.
Ankit Gupta and Akshay Kothari were students at Stanford University when they decided to attend d.school at Stanford during their last semester.
As a class project, for a course called Launchpad, which requires students to launch a real product within 10 weeks, they made a news app called Pulse. Steve Jobs mentioned the app during one of his presentations. That day, they earned more than $100,000. They used the money to build it further and made the app free after earning a cool $1 million. This brought them to a point where the app had 20 million users, with a new user signing up every 2 seconds. Thanks to the popularity of Pulse, LinkedIn bought the app for $90 million and used it to launch its own feed product.
To add projects to your body of work/portfolio.
If you are a professional like a software developer, you can run a passion project to make a product in emerging technologies. If you are a marketer you can launch a project and grow it using your marketing skills. It will help you showcase your skills and stay relevant in the workplace.
To get out of a rut.
Doing the same shit day in and day out can get tiring and boring at the same time. Pursue a passion project so that you don’t get bored which can result in poor performance and slow or no growth.
To find your passion!
How about doing a passion project to find your passion? This works well when you are not sure of your own passion. Do multiple short term passion projects of 100 days of 30 days and find out where your heart is. Start with this by making a list of all that you want to do, and then run small projects around each in the spare time.
What Do You need to Build A Passion Project?
There are two things you need to sail through passion projects – inspiration and commitment.
You can look at your own aspirations for inspiration. You can look outward for inspiration.
My friend and co-author Derek Sivers is a great example of someone who started CD Baby a passion project after scratching his own itch and turned it into a big business which he later sold for $22 million. Disc Makers, the buyers of that business, recently sold that business to another group for $200 million.
To stay committed, put timelines in place, get an accountability partner and schedule a time for when you will work on your passion project.
Now you know WHY and WHAT of passion projects. Here are some inspirations for you. Once you get inspired, I’ll share briefly how to go about pursuing your passion project.
Inspirations: Passion Project That Turned Into Big Startups
Not every passion project need to convert into something big. You can just do them for fun and getting out of lethargy. The learning will stay with you and that’ll propel you further. That said, there are many instances where a passion project turned into a successful startup. Here are three of them.
The social video platform for gamers that Amazon bought for more than a billion dollars started its life as Justin.tv where the founder Justin Kan streamed his life 24 hours a day as part of a fun project. Later he allowed other people to stream their content and it turned into a business which later became Twitch.
Ryan Hoover started Product Hunt, while he was still working in a job, as a mailing list to keep track of cool projects and share those with a few dozen investors, founders, and his friends. It grew through word of mouth from there and became the place for uncovering new apps, startups, and tech tools. It became so popular that AngelList bought it for $20 million.
Sal Khan was a hedge fund analyst and wanted to tutor his cousins. They once told him that they preferred seeing him online, rather than see him in person. So, he started creating short clips for them on varied subjects and posted them on YouTube. The clips that he created for his cousins became so popular that Google Ventures became an investor in Khan Academy that started with his simple video clips.
There are countless other examples all around us of people doing passion projects and achieving growth and happiness through them. I have shared some well-known stories above because they are well documented.
I hope you are inspired now to create your own passion project. Here is how to go about it.
How To Go About Starting Your Own Passion Project?
- Pick something that excites you.
- Commit to doing that thing for 15-30 minutes a day without skipping more than a day at once. Decide a time and place for taking action.
- Don’t invest too much time in planning and in getting started, instead of focus on taking action every day.
- Learn from others who have done it before.
- If it is only about fun then do it the way you want but if you want to grow or earn money out of it then focus on deliberate practice and getting 1% better every day.
So, this is how you get started with a passion project.
What are you waiting for now, go and get started with your passion project?