My Framework for Building Side Projects as a Solo Developer

When you work full-time, it's certain that you'll get paid.
When you freelance, it's almost certain that you'll get paid.
When you start a side project, it's uncertain if you'll ever get paid.

And this can make it hard to start a side project. But what if you could make building side projects almost a certain success in the same way as getting your paycheck is certain?

You can, and here's my mini-framework for it.

Certain vs Uncertain

When you're working a full-time job, you're not thinking about getting your next salary. It's certain. If you're a freelancer and have agreed on a project, it's easy to start working on it because you know how much you get paid.

But when you're starting a new side project, it's different – it's not certain at all, it's uncertain. In fact, most side projects are soon abandoned and only a tiny percentage makes any money at all.

So, you may think to yourself that you'll put all your time and energy into this side project only to find out that it was another one that didn't work out. It's easier with your first one and gets harder with your every next attempt.

Life is unpredictable

We try to predict things all day every day, but let's be honest – life is fundamentally unpredictable. Were you able to predict five years ago where you are in your life today?

There's a lot of randomness in our lives, which means that there's actually no way for you to tell if this new side project will turn into a startup and give you a financial freedom. You just don't know that.

But here's the key: trying with many small side projects increases your odds of success so much that it almost makes the uncertain, certain.

And then, building side projects is really about:

  1. living your life (this is easy, you're doing it anyways)
  2. having a stable income (like a full-time job) without constantly thinking about where to get your next rent payment
  3. having enough energy to start a new side project when you see an opportunity for it
  4. managing deliberately your mental/emotional well-being

That's it. This is my mini-framework for building startups.

Chance plays a big part of side project success. So, you just continue to live your life and stumble upon ideas that you can turn into side projects. And when you have a stable income, like a full-time job, you don't have to worry about how to cover your daily expenses, because this could take all your focus. If you are rested and emotionally fit, you have enough energy to start something new.