8 Ideas for Getting Started on a Side Project and 37 Side Projects From the Buffer Team
At Buffer, we’ve long had teammates who have side projects in addition to working at Buffer. It’s pretty common for our team to run their own blog, we have several published authors on the team, and many of our engineers run apps that have nothing to do with their regular work.
Though some companies prefer that anyone on their team not have side projects and actively discourage it, that has never been our way at Buffer. In fact, working at Buffer means you get a free Buffer account, making it even easier to promote any side projects you might be working on.
The benefits of side projects
You can work on something you’re passionate about. Maybe there’s something you’re particularly passionate about and although it doesn’t seem likely to be your full-time job, you can still feel fulfilled and work on it as a side project. We have several teammates who work with nonprofits they are passionate about.
Gaining new skills. Working on new projects gives you the chance to learn new skills outside of your regular work. I learned how to edit a podcast with my side project and eventually it became useful in my everyday work as well.
Make new connections. Working on a side project is an opportunity to connect with and learn from a new group of people outside of your regular connections. It’s a great way to expand your network and build some new and lasting relationships.
Get a sense of accomplishment outside of work. Personally, I think it’s healthy to have something else in life you’re getting a sense of accomplishment from in addition to work. This is one of the reasons I’ve had side projects and hobbies for years.
How to make time for side projects
Choose one: If you have a ton of side project ideas, this one is for you. Instead of starting them all at once, start just one to see how it goes before you decide to add in a second or even third.
Get friends involved: It can be easier to work on something if you have multiple people pushing it forward and it can add some motivation to keep going as well.
Focus on urgent, not perfect: Avoid focusing on getting everything done perfectly and try to just create or ship whatever you’re working on.
The 22 Side Projects the Buffer Team is Working on
Here’s what our team works on outside of work. Hopefully you might spot some cool side project ideas for yourself, or check out some of the things our team works on.
Alpenglow: An app to check sunrise, sunset and golden hour times as well as quality predictions. Also sends out notification reminders and with Alpenglow Pro will notify you if the next forecast is looking good compared to your desired threshold. The app can be doing on both iOS and Android, often featured by Apple and includes over 35+ localizations.
F1 Calendar: Taking over the development from a few friend, I rebuilt F1 Calendar as an easy way to check Formula 1 Session times in your timezone as well as making the data available via Calendar subscriptions. The site has been going for 14 years and has recently been expanded to feature other motorsports.
Mike: Carpeta Carpeta is a project-management tool for interior designers, architects, and industrial designers to help them centralize all their conversations, budgets, and files, and better manage their time while managing their projects.
Mitra: Social media manager for The Used, Atreyu, and Thrice Mitra is the social media manager for bands The Used, Atreyu, and Thrice. She’s been working with these bands since 2017.
Brandon Brandon writes, produces & releases music under his own name (formerly under the alias Sophomores) from his small home studio. He recently released his latest album, a rock opera called THROW MYSELF INTO THE BAY.
Amanda & Gabi: SheSharp Amanda and Gabi run SheSharp: a non-profit foundation based in The Netherlands that makes it easier for all women and non-binary people to enter, stay, and grow in the tech industry. We host events, facilitate mentorship programmes and give out funding through scholarships, and a plethora of other initiatives.
Sofia: Nosotras Hablamos Design Nosotras Hablamos Design is a community where Spanish-speaking women come together to practice English and explore the world of design through engaging conversations and workshops.
Adam: Amity Flower Co Adam and Amber are in the process of getting a small flower business up and running. They’re regulars at local markets, provide flowers for parties and events, and also offer flower subscriptions to small business that desire to have fresh, beautiful arrangements decorating their space.
Andy:Woof Warehouse Andy works on a Shopify store that sells dog bandanas and accessories. He focuses primarily on the tech side of things, customizing the store, plugins, and branding, while also caring for and photographing the adorable pups.
Nathan: Riftgate Board game and hobby shop. Nate runs a brick and mortar store at 5444 S 900 E Murray UT 84107.
Mike S:Otter Mike co-founded Otter. Based in Spain, Otter helps people make custom furniture by connecting them to local carpenter’s that suit their needs.
Sophie: The Lull House Sophie manages The Lull Home, a villa focused on enhancing the human senses. It’s located on the southern coast of Sri Lanka. Currently under construction and set to open in early 2024.
Podcasts & Writing
Hailley’s personal blog Hailley has been keeping a blog for years and writing about remote work, personal systems, and public relations.
Hailley:MakeWorkWork Hailley co-hosts a podcast and creates resources about creating purposeful workflows complete with custom Notion templates.
Jess:Pinecone Papers Jess has a beautiful blog about how to mindfully journal and track symptoms when you have a chronic illness. She’s also working on a downloadable printable journal that will be out later this year.
Joel’s personal blog Buffer’s CEO Joel Gascoigne keeps a website that includes articles, posts, and notes with what he’s working on and what’s top of mind for him.
Kirsti: The Anonymous Marketer The Anonymous Marketer brings on industry experts to answer burning questions sent in by (you guessed it) anonymous marketers. Kirsti took over hosting from Nick Bennet in September 2023.
Mike: Building Better A weekly podcast where we reflect on building better businesses and relationships inside the hectic startup and digital business world.
Nate:Almost Heretical A podcast by Nate (a former pastor) and his wife Shelby (a Bible scholar). They reimagine and revisit the Bible for those deconstructing Christianity.
Phill: Nudge The UK’s #1 marketing podcast dedicated to behavioural science. Phill decided in 2018 that he wanted to chat with experts in marketing & psychology so set up a podcast to host those discussions. Nudge has been running for almost 5 years with over 140 episodes published.
Over to You
That’s enough about us, we’d love to hear from you, too! Are you working on any side projects? Feel free to drop a link in the comments! If you are, how do you make time for them and stay motivated, are you working on more than one?