The Side Project Cheat Sheet

The Side Project Cheat Sheet

The Side Project Cheat Sheet

You can dive blindly into a side project and end up frustrated, or you can take inspiration from this cheat sheet.

You can dive blindly into a side project and end up frustrated, or you can take inspiration from this cheat sheet.

You can dive blindly into a side project and end up frustrated, or you can take inspiration from this cheat sheet.

You can dive blindly into a side project and end up frustrated, or you can take inspiration from this cheat sheet.

You can dive blindly into a side project and end up frustrated, or you can take inspiration from this cheat sheet.

  1. You want to define the objective, the reason why you want to do a side project.

    • Learn a new technology

    • Just want to code as a hobby

    • Supplement income

    • Make it my main activity in the medium/long term

    If you just want to have fun, do whatever you want and you can stop reading the cheat sheet here. Similarly, if you want to learn a tech, I’m not here to give you a roadmap for your favorite language or framework.

    But if you’re looking to monetize, keep reading.


  2. You need to choose your idea wisely.

    Yes, I know, you hear "choose your idea wisely" and "just go for it, the idea doesn't matter," both are true.

    Just go for it, because it’s better to spend 6 months building something and learning, setting up routines, and getting used to doing a side project rather than spending 6 months theorizing while watching your favorite Disney+ series.

    The thing is, if you have a job (freelance, full-time, whatever) + family life, etc., and if you understand that you need to take some time for yourself, to exercise, etc., in the end, there’s not much time left for a side project.

    So yes, choosing the right idea matters in the sense that you want to put your efforts into something that will have at least a minimum success.


  3. Choose a project that’s easy to build.

    You want to reward your brain quickly.

    Forget all projects related to the government, finance, IoT, etc.: any "complicated" domain.

    Understand that you’ll be alone, so make it easier for yourself.


  4. You want to shorten your customer feedback loop.

    No more spending 6 months, 1 hour a day, on a side project in addition to a demanding job.

    No more spending months building something that in the end drained your energy for very little result (meaning you either gave up before launch, or you didn’t think about distribution and no one uses your project once delivered).

    You want to think more about the scope of functionality, you want to narrow it down to THE essential feature for your ICP.

    You want to use tools that will allow you to go fast and avoid repetitive steps at the start of a side project (use appkickstarter.com to build your mobile app).


  5. Think about distribution in advance.

    You’re looking for scalable ROI: one effort, results over time.

    If you see that you can position yourself on SEO for a keyword with less than 20-30 difficulty, go.

    If you can position your app in a country via ASO because the popularity is good and the difficulty is low, go.

    If you have to prospect 4 hours a day to get a client every 3 days at 20 euros/month, no go. Get it?


  6. After that, it’s the build: focus on your MVP.

    The ideal is to deliver quickly while communicating with your audience (aka build in public).

    But be careful, build in public with your target audience: if you’re selling a divination app, you might be better off building in public on TikTok/Instagram rather than LinkedIn.


  7. Once the MVP is delivered, it’s the cycle of feedback, improvement, delivery.

    Do your best to get feedback from your users.

    They like it? Get their testimony and rating.

    They don’t like it? Understand why.

    They subscribed but canceled? Understand why.

    Your goal is to understand, not to get rich at this stage.


  8. One of two things at this stage.

    Either you have a product that runs on its own, users are satisfied, word-of-mouth marketing works (meaning your product appeals to your audience), you can afford to reinvest massively only the profits from your app into your app (acquisition, ads, etc.).

    Or it’s time to change projects. I won’t teach you when to persevere and when it’s stubbornness, I struggle with that myself. But normally, this cheat sheet helps clarify the start and life of a side project.

Do you build side projects and have a different approach? Share how you approach things. Your comment is welcome if you think you can add something to these thoughts. Please share your thoughts with me at hey@appkickstarter.com or here https://www.linkedin.com/in/louis-duboscq/.

You can dive blindly into a side project and end up frustrated, or you can take inspiration from this cheat sheet.

  1. You want to define the objective, the reason why you want to do a side project.

    • Learn a new technology

    • Just want to code as a hobby

    • Supplement income

    • Make it my main activity in the medium/long term

    If you just want to have fun, do whatever you want and you can stop reading the cheat sheet here. Similarly, if you want to learn a tech, I’m not here to give you a roadmap for your favorite language or framework.

    But if you’re looking to monetize, keep reading.


  2. You need to choose your idea wisely.

    Yes, I know, you hear "choose your idea wisely" and "just go for it, the idea doesn't matter," both are true.

    Just go for it, because it’s better to spend 6 months building something and learning, setting up routines, and getting used to doing a side project rather than spending 6 months theorizing while watching your favorite Disney+ series.

    The thing is, if you have a job (freelance, full-time, whatever) + family life, etc., and if you understand that you need to take some time for yourself, to exercise, etc., in the end, there’s not much time left for a side project.

    So yes, choosing the right idea matters in the sense that you want to put your efforts into something that will have at least a minimum success.


  3. Choose a project that’s easy to build.

    You want to reward your brain quickly.

    Forget all projects related to the government, finance, IoT, etc.: any "complicated" domain.

    Understand that you’ll be alone, so make it easier for yourself.


  4. You want to shorten your customer feedback loop.

    No more spending 6 months, 1 hour a day, on a side project in addition to a demanding job.

    No more spending months building something that in the end drained your energy for very little result (meaning you either gave up before launch, or you didn’t think about distribution and no one uses your project once delivered).

    You want to think more about the scope of functionality, you want to narrow it down to THE essential feature for your ICP.

    You want to use tools that will allow you to go fast and avoid repetitive steps at the start of a side project (use appkickstarter.com to build your mobile app).


  5. Think about distribution in advance.

    You’re looking for scalable ROI: one effort, results over time.

    If you see that you can position yourself on SEO for a keyword with less than 20-30 difficulty, go.

    If you can position your app in a country via ASO because the popularity is good and the difficulty is low, go.

    If you have to prospect 4 hours a day to get a client every 3 days at 20 euros/month, no go. Get it?


  6. After that, it’s the build: focus on your MVP.

    The ideal is to deliver quickly while communicating with your audience (aka build in public).

    But be careful, build in public with your target audience: if you’re selling a divination app, you might be better off building in public on TikTok/Instagram rather than LinkedIn.


  7. Once the MVP is delivered, it’s the cycle of feedback, improvement, delivery.

    Do your best to get feedback from your users.

    They like it? Get their testimony and rating.

    They don’t like it? Understand why.

    They subscribed but canceled? Understand why.

    Your goal is to understand, not to get rich at this stage.


  8. One of two things at this stage.

    Either you have a product that runs on its own, users are satisfied, word-of-mouth marketing works (meaning your product appeals to your audience), you can afford to reinvest massively only the profits from your app into your app (acquisition, ads, etc.).

    Or it’s time to change projects. I won’t teach you when to persevere and when it’s stubbornness, I struggle with that myself. But normally, this cheat sheet helps clarify the start and life of a side project.

Do you build side projects and have a different approach? Share how you approach things. Your comment is welcome if you think you can add something to these thoughts. Please share your thoughts with me at hey@appkickstarter.com or here https://www.linkedin.com/in/louis-duboscq/.

You can dive blindly into a side project and end up frustrated, or you can take inspiration from this cheat sheet.

  1. You want to define the objective, the reason why you want to do a side project.

    • Learn a new technology

    • Just want to code as a hobby

    • Supplement income

    • Make it my main activity in the medium/long term

    If you just want to have fun, do whatever you want and you can stop reading the cheat sheet here. Similarly, if you want to learn a tech, I’m not here to give you a roadmap for your favorite language or framework.

    But if you’re looking to monetize, keep reading.


  2. You need to choose your idea wisely.

    Yes, I know, you hear "choose your idea wisely" and "just go for it, the idea doesn't matter," both are true.

    Just go for it, because it’s better to spend 6 months building something and learning, setting up routines, and getting used to doing a side project rather than spending 6 months theorizing while watching your favorite Disney+ series.

    The thing is, if you have a job (freelance, full-time, whatever) + family life, etc., and if you understand that you need to take some time for yourself, to exercise, etc., in the end, there’s not much time left for a side project.

    So yes, choosing the right idea matters in the sense that you want to put your efforts into something that will have at least a minimum success.


  3. Choose a project that’s easy to build.

    You want to reward your brain quickly.

    Forget all projects related to the government, finance, IoT, etc.: any "complicated" domain.

    Understand that you’ll be alone, so make it easier for yourself.


  4. You want to shorten your customer feedback loop.

    No more spending 6 months, 1 hour a day, on a side project in addition to a demanding job.

    No more spending months building something that in the end drained your energy for very little result (meaning you either gave up before launch, or you didn’t think about distribution and no one uses your project once delivered).

    You want to think more about the scope of functionality, you want to narrow it down to THE essential feature for your ICP.

    You want to use tools that will allow you to go fast and avoid repetitive steps at the start of a side project (use appkickstarter.com to build your mobile app).


  5. Think about distribution in advance.

    You’re looking for scalable ROI: one effort, results over time.

    If you see that you can position yourself on SEO for a keyword with less than 20-30 difficulty, go.

    If you can position your app in a country via ASO because the popularity is good and the difficulty is low, go.

    If you have to prospect 4 hours a day to get a client every 3 days at 20 euros/month, no go. Get it?


  6. After that, it’s the build: focus on your MVP.

    The ideal is to deliver quickly while communicating with your audience (aka build in public).

    But be careful, build in public with your target audience: if you’re selling a divination app, you might be better off building in public on TikTok/Instagram rather than LinkedIn.


  7. Once the MVP is delivered, it’s the cycle of feedback, improvement, delivery.

    Do your best to get feedback from your users.

    They like it? Get their testimony and rating.

    They don’t like it? Understand why.

    They subscribed but canceled? Understand why.

    Your goal is to understand, not to get rich at this stage.


  8. One of two things at this stage.

    Either you have a product that runs on its own, users are satisfied, word-of-mouth marketing works (meaning your product appeals to your audience), you can afford to reinvest massively only the profits from your app into your app (acquisition, ads, etc.).

    Or it’s time to change projects. I won’t teach you when to persevere and when it’s stubbornness, I struggle with that myself. But normally, this cheat sheet helps clarify the start and life of a side project.

Do you build side projects and have a different approach? Share how you approach things. Your comment is welcome if you think you can add something to these thoughts. Please share your thoughts with me at hey@appkickstarter.com or here https://www.linkedin.com/in/louis-duboscq/.

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