What I have learned working on a side project for the past 3 years

I am a Swiss/French photographer based in Zurich, Switzerland specialized in portraiture, editorial and commercial photography. I am also owner of PhotoPulse LLC.

Three years ago I started a photography side project named PlanetVisible with two photographer friends. That was the beginning of a new and exciting adventure pursuing visual storytelling ideas, self-exploration, creativeness and bringing awareness to themes that would otherwise be outside my realm of everyday opportunities.

I have gained valuable learnings through the journey of this project. These insights may be useful for any kind of personal projects.


The value of personal projects

Personal projects are an excellent way to create something that is entirely your own. They give you freedom and are a great opportunity to explore your creativity and grow your professionalism.

Personal projects help you to develop your talents along the way and open doors to new opportunities.

Personal projects allow you to gain new knowledge and learn new skills at your own speed. During the last 3 years I have learned among others, how to:

• Create a website on WordPress

• Setup MailChimp

• Increase my social media skills

• Gain confidence in drone flying

• Shoot and post-produce film and video media in Adobe Premiere Pro

• Feel more comfortable in writing stories

Personal projects are less prone to limitations or boundaries. You are the one setting the rules.

Personal projects keep your work and portfolio fresh. This makes you more attractive to your clients.


Project name

If your project is associated to a website and/or social media channels or may turn into a company at a later stage, it’s essential from the beginning to find a suitable name describing what your project is all about.

Wordoid or wordhippo can help you to find an adequate name for your project.

You may want to check if your project name already exists as a company name.

Use tools like namecheckr to check the availability of your project name and if the domain name and social media handle are already taken.


Time management

Make time for your project. Consider it as an investment in your personal growth.

Find out what times work best for you. If, like me, you finish your weekly work on Friday to be up to date before weekends, then Monday mornings might be a good time to work on your personal project.

Set a realistic timeline to avoid frustration.

Manage your time wisely otherwise, you might burn yourself out and even not be able to complete the project.

Use some of your dead time when traveling by train, by car or when under the shower to think about your project.

Acting on all upcoming ideas at once is not really practical and healthy for creativity.

Don’t switch constantly from your daily work to your side project and vice versa. You can’t be productive doing so.

Try your best to give yourself at least up to two hours per week to keep that momentum and inspiration flowing.

It’s essential not to forget about the other meaningful things in your life.


Be organized

Create a timeline and stick to it
Use cloud based notes or when working in a team, Evernote.

The best ideas come unexpected, write them down straight away before you forget them.

Break your project down into smaller tasks and prioritize the tasks in order they should be completed. Distinguish essential tasks to enhancements.

Give some tasks priority. Choose an easy task to start with to get in the flow more easily.

If you are working within a team, define who is in charge of what and set realistic deadlines.

If working in a team then meet personally on a regularly basis to brainstorm and discuss next steps. Set aside 15 to 30 minutes to also talk about organization and standardization.



The benefit of working in a team

I find it nice to be part of a team instead of the singular world of freelancing while working on corporate assignments. A the same time I had to learn to consider things from another’s perspective and understand someone else’s point of view.

Working with someone on a project makes it more enjoyable.

Build on the strengths of each team members.

Having someone relying on me motivates me to do the work I need to do.

Teamwork establishes strong relationship, and relying on others build trust.

Meet up from time to time in different environment than the office to discuss about the project. We sometimes paddle out on our SUPs, have dinner at home or go out for lunch in a restaurant.

An odd number of team members makes it easier to take final decisions when the team has different opinions. With three team members at PlanetVisible we humorously call it the 33.3% rule, although most of the time we were able to find a compromise and not have to use this rule.

Be aware that each team member might be in a different work/life situation. Some team members may not be able to deliver the same amount of work than others. Talk about expectations at an early stage.


Sharing is rewarding

Ask feedback from people with various perspectives and opinions you value and trust. These people may identify ways to improve, expand and extend the reach of your project.

Feedbacks are food for thoughts but the final decisions are yours.

Use your LinkedIn network to find people that could give you advice on topics you are not familiar with. Check the LinkedIn filter search function using keywords to find adequate connections.

Post about what you’re up to on your website and social media channels to create a sense of accountability.

By showcasing your project you may find that dream client reaching out to you.


How to stay self-motivated?

Combine passion with work.
Have fun. A project should give you space to enjoy the journey.

Having clear goals. Work toward that and give you time to achieve them.

Create to do list with easy tasks in between. This is a great way to start a work session.

Move forward at your own pace, even if that means spending only tiny bits of time on your personal project here and there.

When your motivation is going down, just start working, build up some energy to get in a rhythm.

Add value to the society we live in. At PlanetVisible we are passionate about caring for people, the environment and for creating a positive impact on our planet. By using the power of photography we help companies and organizations in the process of creating impactful and visually compelling imagery to emphasize projects which focus on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility).

Share with others what you have learned and experienced.

When running into difficulties that you haven’t encountered before some solid brainpower will be required to come up with solutions. Give you time to process these problems. The best answers will pop up when you are not actively working on the project.



Are you wondering what PlanetVisible is all about? Have a read through below and visit www.planetvisible.com – Thank you!

PlanetVisible is a small, like-minded and flexible photography collective positioned to collaborate in the creative process of shaping visual stories. We are passionate about caring for people, the environment and for creating a positive impact on our planet. Our lives started in different parts of the world but it is the shared exchange and passion for storytelling and visual imagery that bonded us as friends. This friendship has grown into a purposeful partnership that is today PlanetVisible. By working closely within a team we create a collection of versatile and striking images around corporate social responsibility (CSR) to fit individual projects. We listen carefully to our clients requirements and deliver professionally crafted work that appeals to editors and publications. By collaborating with magazines, newspapers and online media, PlanetVisible has the reach to bring exposure and attention to local stories and share them with the world. Working on projects is heightening our motivation and creativity enabling us to cover in-depth stories in short periods of time. It’s this “togetherness” which is enriching our photography.

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