For me learning tech and new skill is not just for having 9-5 work and paying the bills. I have always liked to have side projects. As far as I can remember I have always tinkered something on the side of my day job. When it was learning new language or framework like React, testing tool like Cypress or dabbling with Raspberry Pi, Nano or some other gadget of interest.
Tech or Content First?
For me the side projects have always started tech first, from the interest to learn some new tool or technology. That is totally fine for learning and applying the learned skills in real world example. But it has also meant that the developed side projects have been dispensable. I mean like fire and forget type of things that - once finished - have been doomed to die. There has been no motivation to keep the projects up and running afterwards.
This was before my last side project that I started about an year a go. I wanted to make a larger side project where I could really learn and apply my skills from every aspect of developing an online product and presence.
To keep my interest on the project I chose the topic to be inline with my other hobbies. As I had been watch enthusiast for several years by then I deciced to start an wristwatch media site dedicated for watch enthusiasts and others interested about wristwatches.
I named the project as Ranteessa (‘On the Wrist’ in English) and it consist of ranteessa.fi blog with associated YouTube, Instagram and Facebook accounts. Later I added also Twitter account although it gets updated less regularly.
The Value and Victory
And, oh boy, has this paid off. Instead of going tech firsts to do some random project working for topic relevant to you is SO MUCH more interesting.
Working with project expanded across multiple platforms and with real subscribers and followers you get the opportunity to learn so much more. Basically everything from developing and hosting a website to analytics, social media and affiliate marketing. And not just the tech stuff, biggest learning curve has come with content creation including things like video production, editing, blogging, presentation skills and much more.
In grand scheme this is still just a miniscule project, but for me it has been a huge victory. As of today blog is getting steadily over thousand unique visitors monthly and both Instagram and YouTube channels have gained around 500 followers. Not bad for a nerdy Finnish speaking channel talking about wristwatches. But by far the biggest value of the project has been learning new skills and connecting with other watch enthusiasts around the Finland.
Suprisingly the Ranteessa project has also moved bit of beyond being just a hobby project. It has also started gaining attraction for collaborations with commercial watch companies and stakeholders. Only time will tell what will this evolve in the future.
Passion Rules The Game
When you think about starting your next side project, pick a topic that you are really interested about. Something close to your heart and other hobbies. It will pay off, I promise.
Ps. If you are interested on wristwatches, please feel free to take a look of Ranteessa on Instagram, YouTube, and ranteessa.fi blog. If you like it, please consider also subscribing and following to help me to beat the evil algorithm.