Saying ‘yes’ to side projects.
The expansive imagination and curiosities of a child hold no limitations or boundaries. Adults typically take the time to consider all available details and are prone to analyzing and questioning, which results in something that’s even more complicated than it’s intention. What if you allowed yourself to play and find the humor? Let’s all regain a level of limitless curiosity and thirst for the unknown.
As an adult — time, money, recognition are some of the things that motivate us to work. Sometimes these motivators prohibit us from growing because we’re not willing to sacrifice a lot to what seems like gaining very little. We want instant gratification and guaranteed returns.
I don’t want to sacrifice my free time because I rather enjoy my night than learning a new software language.
I don’t want to do this for free because I am highly valuable and I’m worth a lot. I also don’t want to survive on Ramen noodles.
I don’t want to do this project because it’s not going to be featured or be seen by my peers.
I want to set an example that design work is not free, so I will not do anything for free.
I don’t want to work on this project because I know nothing about it, or I don’t think I can do a good job.
These are all examples of how to become stagnant in personal growth because you don’t want to make any changes. Investing in yourself takes hard work, time, and dedication.
Working on a personal project alone is very hard. You have no peers to bounce ideas and review your progress. It’s hard to hold yourself accountable for a project that has no deadline. It’s also difficult to find a good mentor that will look over your work and give you their opinion, because after all — time is money.
Would you pay an expert to review your work? Would you spend the time to write a case study on your projects? Will you give yourself a 360 review from the eyes of a boss and a coworker so that you can be more self-aware?
Why not accept a new project that you know nothing about and use the project as a form of learning? Work on some low paying or pro-bono projects because working with someone teaches you how to work with different types of personalities and their needs? Starting small and build into a significant body of work.
In fact, I just learned how to say, “No” in the last two years, because I said yes too much. You may not agree with this approach to learning, and you can even say “What a sucker! What a total wasting of time!” I can tell you that everything I am today, I learned by saying yes.
Freshman year of college, I designed flyers for free. One day, I picked up a flyer from the ground, and I thought to myself, “damn, this is ugly.” I wrote to an email on the flyer and offered my services, and who doesn’t want free design work?
I made flyers for free at first, and then I charged only $20 to create a flyer. It would take me an Avg of 15 hours to create a double sided 4x6 flyer, so my hourly wage was $1.33. I have made hundreds of flyers in a span of four years. I was like the lemonade tycoon of flyers. I designed for student groups, frats & sororities, and university services. I landed a part-time job as the senior designer for Dept. of Transportation Services. I illustrated the bus routes for every bus that serviced the University of Maryland and made an 80-page handbook. My design was seen by more than 2.6 million riders a year. ＼（Ｔ∇Ｔ）／
Outside the school capacity, the $1.33 Flyercoon “business” got so big, I made flyers for club promoters in DC. I was also able to create websites and design work for actors promoting their movies. In New York, I made look-books for modeling agencies in New York, and flyers for clubs and lounges.
One of my professors in college once asked the class if anyone had any experience with designing book covers. At the time, I never made a book cover in my life, but the thought was enticing. I got paid a flat fee of $400 to design the cover and formatting of the inner pages. Each of these textbooks cost on an Avg $80–$120. I receive no royalties for per book sold to students all over the world. I never increased my rates, every year I still make 2–3 textbooks published by different authors. I have probably made close to 45 books. There’s one thing in common in all these textbooks; they’re all Jewish History and Literature. I should be an expert on this subject by now.
After the professor was happy with my work, he asked if I knew how to build an e-commerce site so that he can sell them. He is pretty much inexperienced with technology, and he relied solely on me to make it happen. I had no idea how to work with PHP and databases. I taught myself OsCommerce and write PHP with the help of a friend over two months and got the site running with all his product in place. To this day, I still maintain the website once or twice a year. (/^▽^)/
Advertising Banner Ads
Remember those flash ads? How about CSS coded ads? Well, I can say I’m an expert in them. (LAUGHS) A lot of clients request banner ads for advertising because that was the “right way to do online marketing” back in 2009. I joined a company that their whole business is making these small graphics. I’ve made a set of banner ads for every campaign that the agency had, and I probably made over 200 banners in that year. The most famous banner I made to date was a Kim Kardashian banner that was placed on PerezHilton that had an Avg of 220 million impressions, and click-through rate was close to .4% (realistic ad clicks are .24%) which equals out to something like 880,000 clicks. (ﾉ´ヮ´)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
Doing projects that seem tiny at first may yield unexpected results. This theory has been proven over and over again. Similarly, doing projects that don’t seem to have significant financial payoffs, could someday translate to a great experience or connection. Every act is another penny in your piggy bank of value. Allow yourself to play, laugh, and start saying YES.