Passion projects can be extremely beneficial to your business. I know as business owners wearing all the hats already, we barely have time to take care of our own businesses sometimes. But taking the time to create a project that we’ve been wanting to display can be helpful in booking more ideal clients, branching off to new industries, or showcasing the value of the work you do. It’s best to do passion projects when business has slowed down a bit or you’re taking a break from client work. Even if you have a full portfolio, including passion projects is a great idea to show range. There are 3 specific types of projects you can create so that you get the most out of your time.
Type 1: Dream Industry
The first type is a project in an industry you’ve been wanting to work in. This one is especially helpful when your current portfolio isn’t drawing that type of client to you. When I created Catrina Photography, my goal was to work with fine art film and international photographers. I had already worked with some amazing photographer clients but that work wasn’t attracting this niche group within the industry.
Our friend AnnaKate of Rhema Design Co. created this brand (as a passion project) and we had the honor of collaborating with Sergio Sorrentino for the images. He was the exact type of photographer I was looking to work with. I created a one-page site to show the details I would incorporate into this style of project. After we finished and added the site to our portfolio, we were able to reach that audience and work with international photographers, including Sergio! Collaboration in your project can do nothing but elevate the final results so don’t be afraid to reach out to work with others.
Type 2: Dream Pivot
The second type of project is when you’re looking to make a big change. This kind of work is helpful when you have no examples of that niche in your portfolio at all. Orenson was another amazing passion project by AnnaKate and we had wanted to start pivoting into e-commerce. I created a one-page site again for this, showing how their store could look and function. It was a perfect match since I especially wanted to work with food businesses.
Are you looking to pivot into another market altogether? Creating a couple of these projects and sharing them a lot can get you in front of the right audience to book this type of project. Since this was such a huge change, with us only having worked with service-based businesses before, I also did lead generation on platforms I knew makers and creators were hanging out on.
Type 3: Dream Outcome
The third type of project is when you have a type of goal in mind for your potential clients and want to show how you’d achieve that goal. I created the brand and sales page for Riana Wolfe, an influencer and course creator. I’ve been wanting to work with this niche for a while and I wanted to show off a fun, colorful, and engaging brand design on a sales page. I made up a course and got to work.
This was a great opportunity to use some ideas I hadn’t been able to use for client work just yet. I had really wanted to use video backgrounds and gradients and this was the perfect time to try it. This project led to us booking 2 other sales pages, very different styles. But the project achieved its goal and we helped other businesses to sell their courses.
But where do you start?
The easiest way I’ve found to start a passion project is to first write down all of the ideas I have that I want to try. Then I get a brief to help guide me when creating the project. Briefs can be great for practice and challenging yourself as well. Here are some starting points for where I get my inspiration from.
They have free weekly prompts on their Instagram and when you sign up, you get bonus briefs with user personas, moodboards, etc. to really hone your skills.
This one is great for just a quick prompt with lots of wiggle room. You can select the type of project and get started quickly!
For more detailed and challenging briefs, this is the one I use. They are much more specific and fun to do.