My Name Is G. Jason Head.

Side Projects for Sanity


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The power of a good side-project can be what you need to get out of a funk and make things fun again.

Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to work on some huge projects for some awesome, well-known clients.  I’ve worked for well-known brands, an NFL and NHL team and even one of the largest and most popular comic book publishers in the world.

I love my job.  I love creating things and I especially like when something I build is seen and used by a lot of users.  Yet, once in a while your day job can bog you down.  Sure, you can create a great, successful web experience for an international brand – but at the end of the day if it’s a product that you don’t use or a service that you are not really a fan of – well, your work may miss a bit of excitement and passion.  How can you deal with this in a good way?

My solution is to take on some projects that let me focus on things that I am interested in.  Some are paying gigs – and that’s great.  But I’ve also been known to take on little projects from time to time simply for the love of what I do and to contribute to my interests outside of my day jobs.

A few months back, I started helping out a band called Code Orange Kids.  They are a small hardcore 4 piece out of Pittsburgh.  I’ve seen them play a ton of times – the first time was a small house show in Pittsburgh where I was surprised to find out they were all still in high school. Nowadays they are signed to a popular record label and have toured the US numerous times and Europe at least twice.  This band is barely two years out of high school and their accomplishments are amazing.

The project we’re doing is just a tiny “viral” type website designed to promote the band and their upcoming record.  I came on board to help when they were originally trying to set up a mailing list.  From the first day, helping them out it’s been a real trip.

First, I’m a fan of the band – so that makes it fun for me to start.  What I really enjoy is the incredible creativeness of the concepts the band are bringing to the table – and especially the enthusiasm of the fans of the band.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve worked on some large brands – but the feedback this little project has received so far has been incredibly fulfilling.  The mailing list received almost 5,000 subscribers within 3 days.  The open rates on any of the e-mails we’ve sent surpass some of the more popular brands I have worked with – and the click-throughs are nearly 90%-95%.  In the corporate world – marketers would be drooling over these stats!

Earlier today we launched the debut of their new video – and the response was again something else.  At one point we had around 500+ visitors on the site.  Traffic has been pretty steady all day.  Tons of websites and music blogs that I follow have picked up on the news also.  It’s exciting, fun stuff.  (And thankfully my web host didn’t crash!)

What’s the point of this?  It’s fun.  I’m working on a project that’s getting a ton of feedback – and being able to get inspired by a few kids that have an inspiring and creative way of thinking.  Music has always been a huge interest of mine – so it does not even feel like I am doing work.  It’s a passion project – and it rules.

It reminds me of when I first started learning about the web.  Everything I learned was because I wanted to publish something.  It’s the same feeling driving me almost 18 years after I published my first website.

I got a few others in the hopper.  A music blog will be going live by late fall.  Also a few other Pittsburgh web and tech related things that y’all will hear about soon enough.

You should take some time to do the same thing.  Take some time to get back to what got you started on the web in the first place.  Let’s start writing about and creating things outside of our day job interests again!