Advice on Side Projects

“Think big – it might not make you a fortune or change the world, but there’s no harm in making that the aim”

Nick Asbury, Copywriter

I’ve never really liked the term ‘side projects’. I think of them as central to what I do, not just in terms of being creatively rewarding, but also building a career. 

I once spent six months blogging about ‘Mr’ shops for a project called Mr Blog. There was no way of monetising that project, but it didn’t cost anything either. And it led to a nice project for Little Chef – the agency got in touch having read Mr Blog, having no idea my day job was as a copywriter. A lot of good things in your career happen by serendipity, and personal projects give serendipity a chance to happen.

When I first went freelance, I remember sitting down and trying to think of a self-promotional idea, but nothing really came of it. Self-promotion is the wrong place to start – it leads you down quite predictable paths. 

Eventually, I found ideas happened more naturally, through thinking around the work I was doing. Through working with designers, it led me to think about a written equivalent of Pantone, which became Pentone. Through reading poetry and writing corporate copy, I ended up merging the two into Corpoetics. And through playing with proverbs and channelling my inner grumpy bastard, I ended up doing Disappointments Diary, which eventually became a source of income, through selling it ourselves and later finding a publisher. 

My advice would be not to think about doing a self-promotional idea – think about what’s interesting and worth saying. And think big – it might not make you a fortune or change the world, but there’s no harm in making that the aim. And finally, remember the idea is about 5% of the job – the rest is the process of making it happen, which is usually difficult and stressful. But consider that a creative challenge in itself – think laterally about ways to make it happen. 

Nick Asbury is a Cheshire-based design and brand writer, and founder of Asbury & Asbury.

Posted 24 March 2017 Collection: Side Projects
Disciplines: Graphic Design

Side Projects

Learn More Sign In

Lecture in Progress relies on the support of patrons and professional members to provide the ongoing insight and advice to the next generation. To help support sign up now or find out more. 

scroll to top arrow-up
share

Become a Member

Lecture in Progress is now free to access. Become a member and receive a number of additional benefits.

Student Member

Free

Alongside a wealth of behind-the-scenes advice and insight into the creative industries, join now to get exclusive access to offers and promotions. You’ll benefit from:


  • Student offers and promotions
  • Two weekly newsletters
  • Bookmark content
  • Shape the future of Lecture in Progress

Professional Member

£35/per year

By becoming a professional member, you’ll be helping us in our aim to support the next generation of creatives. You’ll also get the chance to shape the future of Lecture in Progress, and benefit from:


  • Professional offers and promotions
  • The biannual Lecture in Progress newspaper, delivered to your door
  • Insight reports into creative education and industry
  • Two weekly newsletters
  • Bookmark content
  • Shape the future of Lecture in Progress

Lecture in Progress is made possible with the support of the following brand partners