Side Project Marketing

Give something valuable away. Some of those who like what you create on the side end up willing to learn more about your core business. The ROI of some side projects might blow your mind away.

What is it about?

Crew (an online marketplace for mobile/web creators) wrote a case study, when they built a mini-website called Unsplash in a desperate attempt to attract customers. It listed free HD-quality photos. They shared a link to this resource on Hacker News.

It cost them roughly 20$ and 1-2 hours of their time.

The result was stunning: 50,000 visits on the same day. The greatest achievement was that people took an interest not just in photos, but in a company behind the website. Later Unsplash became the major traffic referrer to the Crew’s site. And since then, they’ve gone on to create other side projects which have also become significant traffic boosters. But Unsplash is still the top referral source to their website and has generated over 5 million unique visitors.

The tip is to make something that solves a particular problem and give it out for free. Some users then might be converted into customers of your core business.

The best marketing is when no one realizes it is marketing. A good read on why side marketing is a king can be found here.

Why to consider?

Content marketing is not a fit for all. Some prefer writing an article, others prefer actions over words. BTW, "code is also a content" - and it's great content, because it's harder to reproduce.

Pretty much anything can become a side project. It doesn’t have to be conventional, expensive, or mind blowing, it just has to be something that really speaks to your specific audience.

Different types of Courses, Calculators, Curated directories, Quizzes, Generators, Graders, Communities, Goodies, Podcast, Newsletters and so on.

As you can see, there’s a ton of potential out there when it comes to side project marketing.

Dharmesh Shah, co-founder of HubSpot, recently said that this tool alone is responsible for a huge portion of the 50,000 leads the company gets every month.

Crew has since gone on to create other side projects, but Unsplash is still the top referral source to their website and has generated over 5 million unique visitors.

For more example, feel free to read this.


  • Try to create something that actually solves a real problem. That’s where your side project marketing plan is going to truly stand out. When you have something that is valuable, it will likely to last far longer than a blog post;
  • Side project is something that should be done on the side, that means it needs to be something that is relatively quick and easy to get done;
  • You could kickstart on ProductHunt or Hacker News;
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