Side Project Selection Criteria


I have several side projects that I am considering working on. Some are for non-profits while others could lead to a new gig. I was wondering some of the criteria that everyone uses to select or prune a side project.

Decision Side Projects

asked Nov 29 '10 at 12:10
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points

4 Answers


For me it is:

  • Personal gratification (eg: a new technology, it's fun, joy of helping someone else)
  • Potential profit

You could make it more complicated but, I think this is simple enough. If it's not enjoyable you will probably stop doing it. Ideally there is some money to be made in it, or at least that can be used a sorting order. If both are fun, pick the one with the most cash or sale potential.

answered Nov 29 '10 at 12:38
Ryan Doom
5,472 points
  • @well stated Ryan, i would only ad the reality of the project too. Some projects never get past the "talk" and planning phase. Its important to make sure the client or your partners are "DOWN" – Frank 13 years ago
  • Personal gratification is important and all the ones I am looking at have that. Some also have the potential for profit. My problem lies in choosing which ones to really do if all will provide the personal gratification and have profit potential. Maybe I just have to go with my gut. – Jarie Bolander 13 years ago
  • Good point Franky, I think adding size of the project / do-able as well. Give that it would be fun and could make money but one was much easier than the other I would do that. Even though I get myself into some crazy projects. I have the most fun on projects where the first milestone is easily obtainable. As 37signals would note in the book Rework the most important thing is to start. I would say next to that make sure you have an easy to reach first goal. Then make the next and repeat. – Ryan Doom 13 years ago


I wish I wouldn't get distracted with side projects but I do. I can't help it and now I embrace it, but, like you, i want to get better at setting aside time and limiting them to only a few so they can actually be beneficial.

For me:

  • If I am solving a friend's problem and it looks like it is limited in duration, and I have some small interest, I will work on it. These are easy because they are usually only small projects
  • Is this something that really interests me? If there is sufficient interest and passion I run with it, but only for some short time. I then decide if there is a way to turn it into a business or apply it to another business.
  • Since about a year ago - I have generally just started trying to play matchmaker rather than be directly involved. I volunteer to do some work and asked to be updated or be a beta tester - but knowing that I am already overworked I try to put together a few of the parties I think would make good matches to get something done.

There have been no amazing successes so far. (well, not financially. Technically almost all have been successful - and that is the old cliche/story... no paths beaten to these doors just yet)

answered Nov 29 '10 at 13:39
Tim J
8,346 points
  • I have the distraction problem as well. I like the idea of match making or maybe trying it out for a little while. The issue I usually run into is I try it, lose the passion and then I have to figure out how to get out of it. What I am trying to figure out is how to decide before I try. Maybe that's just too hard to do. – Jarie Bolander 13 years ago


Is it necessary to have a side project? Is it possible to find a main project so exciting and with so much potential that there is little reason to work on a second project? My advice is to prune all side projects and to focus entirely on a project that you absolutely love.

answered Nov 30 '10 at 19:47
Nathan Farrington
221 points
  • Interesting idea. I like the pruning idea but not giving them up all together. The reason is simple -- the more you get out there and interact, the more chance of success. It's really a numbers games but your point is valid that pruning should be done often. – Jarie Bolander 13 years ago


Is the project going to aid in the realization of your long term objectives?

My criteria is relevance. Does this project have any relevance to achieving my single biggest goal; is it helping me gain relevant skills, experience or contacts?

If not: ditch it. If it is: embrace and continue the ascent towards your desired destination.

answered Nov 29 '10 at 15:42
Mr. Schwabe
147 points
  • good point on long term goal alignment. I think that can apply to side projects that both are for profit and just for fun. – Jarie Bolander 13 years ago

Your Answer

  • Bold
  • Italic
  • • Bullets
  • 1. Numbers
  • Quote
Not the answer you're looking for? Ask your own question or browse other questions in these topics:

Decision Side Projects