How many times have you saw someone’s work and thought to yourself, “Man, I wish I could get paid to do something like that.”
Did it cross your mind how could anyone know to hire you if you’re not exploring the type of work you want to be known for and better yet, get paid to do?
This is your queue for starting a side project in 2017.
Let’s hit on it a little more on how side projects will help you attract the kind of work you want to get paid for by telling you a bit about good friend Ben Hagarty, aka BenRealVSWorld.
My friend Ben Hagarty has been creating music and playing with cameras since late junior high. This obsession has elevated him to a level 53 Wizard at producing amazing video content around music.
Basically, I’m just saying he is a pro but getting to where he’s at now all started with side projects.
His passion for making music, especially hip-hop, resulted in some side projects with one being his group called Skool’d. This project led to them opening up for some of the biggest names in the industry like J.Cole, Big KRIT, and Timeflies just to name a few.
His passion for video led to him always creating the content for the music they made. He made music video singles, weekly YouTube videos, promo and hype videos which allowed him to flex his video skills along the way. He learned early that consistency was key for building a reputation.
Ben’s also big on quality. You could always find him studying other music videos, vlogs and countless tutorials on how he could improve upon what others were doing.
Not everyone he worked with in his music projects shared the same vision as him so he created the side project identity of BenRealVsWorld that could house all of his personal projects.
He started building relationships and networking with others in the industry trying to get his foot in the door to pursue his solo writing and rap career.
Creating videos and his love for music opened the doors of opportunity. He got a gig shooting a SXSW festival and then got a chance to fly out to LA to shoot some behind the scenes footage for a Chris Brown project.
From there he realized he needed to be in the middle of the action and took the risk of flying to LA to start his music career.
Ben was hustling his ass off in LA making all of his Iowa family and friends proud. His hard work continued to pay off because the relationship he built from his SXSW gig landed him his biggest dream job / client yet.
He was contacted by the TDE group to be Schoolboy Q’s main photographer and videographer on his worldwide Blank Face Tour.
As the tour just wrapped up, it’s safe to say Ben killed it by catching praise from the likes of Macklemore and Tyler the Creator for his high-quality work. His vlog edits for Q dominated the huge hip-hop sites like WorldStarHipHop.com and he even did a Reddit AMA takeover recently.
If a dude from a small town in Iowa can start a side project and get paid off the work he loves to do, why isn’t it possible for you?
I believe in one rule for building a successful side project: You have to pay the price to get paid.
For Ben, it started with finding something he was passionate about and was good at.
From there, it took research, deliberate practice, perseverance and the ability to believe in yourself even when things didn’t always break your way.
Pursuing a side project isn’t all fun and games, you have to pay to play. However, when you slowly build momentum and see a few wins, you start realizing that you’re onto something.
Everything starts small and it grows by taking it one day at a time.
I repeat you grow by taking it one day at a time.
Turning your side project into a paid dream job isn’t a sprint—it is a marathon and it’s all about pacing yourself.
Ben has been working on his craft well over 10 years. Nothing happened overnight.
There were countless times he had to pull all-nighters to shoot, edit and meet deadlines. There were countless times of sleeping on floors, not making a lot of money and getting stressed out for him to finally get that first of many dream clients.
These things don’t happen overnight as big rewards and wins need to be earned.
People like Ben and all the other people you look up to in the creative industry understand that you get back what you put in.
So what side project do you want to start?
Do you want to be a successful hand lettering or visual artist with big clients?
Do you want to run your own jewelry or clothing line?
All of this starts with beginning a side project. Landing the dream job or the dream client happens by starting and sticking with it.
Side projects are your opportunity to master a new skill or medium on your own terms with no one handing down an agenda to follow.
Side projects allow you to attract the type of work you want to get paid to do.
Side projects start with you.
You have a fresh slate here in 2017 to get started, what’s holding you back?
Next week’s episode we wrap up the series with the 3 ingredients for getting your side project exposure and attention. You don’t want to miss it!
This 3 part series of starting a side project is inspired by Lauren Hom's initiative of starting a side project in 2017. She has found massive success in her young career all from creating the type of work she wants to get to paid for with side projects. Her Side Projects: Your New Secret Weapon blog series along with a free mini email course are a great place for you to check out if you need some additional inspiration after this podcast series.
Would you believe me if I told you I have a friend who bought a Russian spacesuit on eBay and began photographing himself as just an everyday astronaut in public?
What if I told you this silly project is now becoming his full-time business pursuit?
This was just a little experiment that exploded with creative potential.
I’ll get back to Tim later, but the point I’m trying to make is that you never know what side projects can turn into.
You get the picture.
This is the beginning of a 3 part series which covers the benefits to pursuing a side project in 2017:
Let’s get started.
I recently read a Medium article by Busy Building Things and it summed up perfectly how a side project should be perceived.
It states, “Side projects are much more than simply hobbies, they are indicators of what you are capable of building.”
My hobby used to be drawing which led me to creating the side project of Perspective-Collective in April of 2014. It started off with me just needing a name to house all the art I was cooking up.
The thought of calling this 'brand' Scotty Russell Graphics was sounding pretty douchey and I reluctantly went with Perspective-Collective (I wasn't a fan of this name at the time but I rolled with it).
What I didn’t realize is this new side project was providing me the platform to create whatever the hell I wanted. I had no idea it would grow like this.
Over 2.5 years, this side project has led me to:
During this span, I’ve been able to catch a glimpse of what I’m capable of building. I fully believe that I can turn this into my full-time dream job someday if I continue to push it.
It’s funny because it all starts with an idea but can rapidly change when you decide to act on it.
That little idea you’ve had swimming in your head could change your life.
My friend Chuck Means told me a phrase that he heard the other day that went along the lines of “Creating Something Dope In Your Own Lane.”
I’m a big advocate for pursuing your own creative path by doing work that resonates with you. If you’re creating work that you're enthusiastic about, then you are making dope work by your own standards.
No one else’s definition of “dope work” applies here.
Over time, if you consistently share this dope work, you’ll give others the opportunity to think it’s dope as well.
It’s easy to feel you have to follow the footsteps of other creatives. However, I encourage you to be inspired but stay in your lane because your creative DNA and story are unique.
Going back to Tim… I mean Everyday Astronaut. He matched his greatest strength / skillset (photography and space knowledge) with his greatest passion (outer space and dreams to become an astronaut) and started a little project that he thought was dope.
Clearly, he’s in his own lane because this is an insanely clever and refreshing idea.
He started by taking spectacular photos of himself in his space suit doing normal things non-astronaut individuals would be doing like washing the car.
He hit it hard for about two years and next thing you know he's been featured by:
I’d say he's gotten some solid indications that this side project has some great creative potential.
It’s now to the point where he is taking the risk of setting aside his successful wedding photography career so he can pursue this full-time. His goal is to begin speaking and teaching his knowledge of photography and space while maintaining his quirky character he created.
If this can happen for Tim, why can’t it happen for you?
What is something that you’re interested in pursuing?
As Gary Vee puts it, “What is it you wish you could do every day and get paid for?”
Stop seeing your side project as only a hobby when it could blossom into something much bigger.
If you want it bad enough, anything is possible.
2017 is here and you have a fresh opportunity to make it happen.
Next week’s Part 2 episode will hit on how side projects allow you to attract the kind of work you want to get paid for.