A Project of Your Own
With plenty of people finding more time on their hands during lockdown, there has never been a better time to build your side hustle!
Starting a Project
Some say starting is the hardest part, and in many ways, it is. But don’t fret! Once you have established the foundations of your content, you will find your groove in no time and will be scheduling content before you know it.
There is a lot to gain from starting your own passion project and it’s always a good asset to discuss in interviews. When choosing what you would like to make, whether it be a blog, podcast or Instagram account, there are some factors to consider. Ask yourself: Where do my passions lie? Who do I want to reach with my content? Why am I doing this? But most importantly, what makes my project different to others in the market? The secret is finding the niche that is right for you.
Resources might limit you, so doing some research on what you’ll need to start creating online content is also key. For a blog, that may be working out what platform you would like to use. Some popular (and mostly free) examples are Wix and SquareSpace, which are both good starting points for someone who would like to make their own corner of the internet. For a podcast, do you have peers who would be interested in getting involved? If so, doing a group project with people that have similar motivations can be really exciting, and who knows where it could lead?
Making a new Instagram account dedicated to something you love would most likely be the platform you are most familiar with, but there are still decisions that need to be made. Whether you want your outreach to be in a personal or recreational capacity is an important distinction to make early on. This will dictate the audience that you attract and the type of content that you can cater to them. You will often appeal to those that are like-minded and have areas in common, meaning you gradually start to build an online network.
Building an Audience
Whether you’re a planner or more impulsive, once project is running and using the research you gathered, it’s time to build up your audience. Connecting with your peers and like-minded individuals is so important, and here’s a few reasons why:
This provides you with the chance to collaborate with them.
It creates a positive and encouraging (virtual) social sphere.
Who knows who you’ll meet during this – that’s not to say this new project of yours could be the making of a spectacular chick-lit romcom, but…
Even though building an audience is an invaluable asset, it can be incredibly difficult. It might be slow at the start, and it might be a long, long waiting game, but it will pay off! It’s important to encourage discussion: putting open-ended questions at the end of your posts is a great way to encourage comments or DM’s from those seeing your post! And, similarly, it’s important for you to comment or DM people. Communication is always best when it is shared, and oftentimes those who you initiate contact with will repay the favour. This is a great way to build up solid foundation bridges.
The best way to build an audience, beyond following and interacting with those who already have existing projects, is by utilizing hashtags and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as much as possible. SEO is integral for creating a flow of traffic to your project platform and works by using keywords relating to your project – which, hopefully, will be the words you have used to tag your most recent post. There are lots of resources out there that will help you with promoting your side project, and you shouldn’t be afraid to reach out to people.
Projects work best when they centre around something you’re passionate about, but that doesn’t mean their career benefits should be overlooked. It’s absolutely okay to dedicate your time and creativity to parts of your project which will give you the most to put on your CV or talk about in a job interview.
Creating a project from scratch is no easy feat, so the fact that you have done so is definitely worth mentioning in applications. Talk about how you have grown your project, what some of the challenges you have faced are, and how you plan to achieve your short- and long-term goals. This also shows you are able to reflect on your work and understand the value of it.
It is well-known that almost everyone who wants to get into publishing wants to get into editorial. In this vastly competitive department, you may be required to show existing proof-reading and copy-editing abilities. These skills are key for book bloggers who write long-form reviews but can also be developed through the copy you write to promote your project on social media.
Social Media/Marketing Skills
The ability to present yourself and interact on social media can really make you stand out in publishing. This is especially the case for marketing and publicity roles, which often requires you have a deep knowledge of how platforms like Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn are best utilised. So if you have a bookstagram account or another project based on social media, don’t be afraid to shout about what you’ve learned from it on your applications.
This list is by no means exhaustive. As you read job descriptions, note down the skills they're asking for so that even if you aren’t successful you can keep these skills in mind as you work on your project.