nisheet sinvhal

Recruiting for side projects

2022-02-19productivity

TLDR; DON’T.

Your project…

A lot of side-projects start with a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of excitement. You want to try something new. You want to show something to the world. You want to test your skills. You are a creator.

Sadly, almost nobody will have the same level of enthusiasm or interest in your idea, as much as you will. This is because:

  • They are busy in their lives
  • They want to chill in their leisure time
  • They prefer to give more time to their work so that they can get a promotion or raise. Career progression is always a net positive. Your project is a big maybe.

Why not friends?!

As per 48 Laws of Power, which consists of many timeless truths, has this one saying which I found to be true when I had reeled in some friends to work on my (stalled) side project:

All working situations require a kind of distance between people. You are trying to work, not make friend; friendliness (real or false) only obscures the fact. The key to power, then, is the ability to judge who is best able to further your interests in all situations. Keep friends for friendship, but work with the skilled and competent.

If you recruit your friends to program for/with you, then be ready to hurt or be hurt. Because when they lay back and don’t do anything, either you will have to spew out some words to get them (hopefully) back to work with you which could ruin your friendship. Or you may just watch in silence as they do nothing, and your project gets delayed and your motivation goes down.

This may sound a bit extreme. Probably you are not kind of friend. But I have first hand seen this happen between friends. So choose wisely.

This post may sound pessimistic until now but what I am trying to do is save you from giving up!

Beyond Pessimism

If you’re a programmer:

  • Get a few smart friends or folks on twitter to hear out your idea and point out shortcomings, or ideate… in a constructive way. You probably don’t really need any more coders.
  • UX is king! Get a designer if you’re seriously thinking about people liking your project when you show it to the world

If you’re a designer, or project manager, etc:

  • Then I think it is really hard to find some programmer who would invest their time in your project wholeheartedly. If they ever leave in between, then some other potential replacement programmer, unsure of what existing code does would either (a) start from scratch further decreasing the time to go live thereby decreasing motivation (b) reject doing the project outright.
  • Nonetheless, you are a one man army. You can use some no-code tools (like Webflow) or low-code tools (like Appian) - there are a ton of them out there right now, many of them are free.

Red flags and green flags

In case you find some people who are willing to work with you, look out for these red flags:

  • MAANG (especially no work-life balance companies like Amazon)
  • Perfectionists
  • All talk, No show - I would suggest not hiring some random dude from the internet just because he/she comes across as smart/charismatic/passionate

In a side-project there is only one green flag: the person you recruit is willing to split the cost of deployment, cost of advertisement or marketing, anything for that matter - showing that they have their skin in the game. Even domain registration or Google Play Store fees work.

Ideally, you are responsible for your project and should be doing 98% of the work in your project.

Don’t give up. Don’t rely on others. Hussle!