#cwcsummerschool class no. 2: how to start a succesful side-project?

#cwcsummerschool is back! This summer our  team will share more insights behind your favorite blogs every Monday, until August 27.


Through a special weekly assignment + an online class via Instagram live (one week after the assignment).



Class #1: Monday, 30 July | class by Jessy on how to accomplish your goals by the end of this year. Instagram Live on Monday, 6 August at 7PM.


Class #2: Monday, 6 August | class by Anna Lenaon how to create  a successful side-project. Instagram Live on Monday, 13 August at 7PM


Class #3: Monday, 13 August | class by Marina on how to navigate the up's and downs of building a creative business. Instagram Live on Monday, 20 August at 7PM


Class #4: Monday, 20 August | class by myself - Awura - on the power of transformation (both personal and business). Instagram Live on Monday, 27 August at 7PM


A quick guide to a successful side project 

Hello hello hello! You might know me through my previous articles on my #100creativegirls project - but assuming you don’t: I’m Anna Lena! I have had the privilege to share my experiences with this project here, together with Creative Women Collective. It was a total match made in heaven: a community of creative girls and my project, centered around creative girls? Yum yummy yum. So much fun!

I initially started my side project because I was going through an artistic rut. My client projects and collaborations were up and running, my bank account was happy, but my heart really wasn’t.. What’s that song again? You can’t always get what you want! But, I’m not the type of woman who takes satisfaction in feeling low - I wanted to get up & out. Which is how #100creativegirls was coined.

If you’re interested in more of the backstory of the project, I suggest you read a little more about it. Today, I want to focus on sharing my knowledge about side projects: what they entail, how you can use them to benefit you, and how you can set them up to boost your career. Just saying those words makes me all excited - and I hope you feel the same. Let’s jump in.


Homework: Here is how to create a successful side project for yourself

1. Identify the goal of the side project

This might be different things, which mean different outcomes. Here is some suggestions.

  • Getting inspired and motivated: this was the case for me. Decide what you want to get inspired BY and what you want to get motivated to DO. Fill in the blanks! for me, it was getting inspired by creative women, and illustrating.

  • Getting the dream clients. If you want your project to be set up so you can get the dream client, first decide what they look like. My dream client is a creative director of sorts who works on a product or brand, and wants to get the right people excited about it… which is where my illustrations come in! So if I were to do a project like this, I would look at the type of people they are already hiring, and customize my project to that. Keeping my special approach, but just putting it in the right format.

  • Exploration and play. If this is your goal, you can play more fast and loose with the rules. For example, if I wanted to explore my work using more colors, I would decide on a certain palette that fits me and my mission, but switch it up in terms of textures and colors. Or if you normally write articles and blogs, try writing fiction in short stories, and making them into a booklet for yourself. As long as it is fun to you!

2. Design the project so it fits into your normal week

Look at your current calendar, and see where you have time or can create time to prioritize this side project. Can’t make time? Prioritize some mo’! Is this project really that important to you if you really can’t make the time? Then again, is it ever a bad idea to work on yourself and your creative career.

3. Come up with boundaries

If you have five minutes every night before you go to bed, limit yourself to that time and that time only. That probably means you have to limit yourself in other ways. For example, instead of giving myself unlimited time and supplies to work on #100creativegirls, I used one notebook, one marker and preferably one minute.

4. Decide the end point

I named the project #100creativegirls because I wanted to have a clear end goal of a hundred. Still, I didn’t really plan this too well in the beginning, because after 30 or so I was fully back on track creatively. Now, I am continuing the project on a slower pace and deciding what I want to do with it after I’m done :).

5. Start your project

Maybe even before all the rules, goals and boundaries are set in stone. If you scroll back you see that the first 3 creative girls I drew look a little different than the rest :). Still it got me going and helped me experiment with what the project should be.

6. Document it in a way that fits your goal

I love hanging out on instagram because it’s such a visual medium and a lot of creatives are on there, as well as the people that can possibly hire me for projects. For you, that might be a different platform, even an offline one. Share it in print, send it to companies you want to get hired by, print your work onto a dress and wear it to a huge event. Look at your goal and who you want to affect with it, then decide on documentation.

 7. Throw a party when you’re done

Because, fuck yeah.

8. See how you can make an impact with your project

Think outside of the (money)box. If your project is about the environment or about spreading knowledge about it, perhaps see if you can connect with an organization that could really use your special sauce. Your project will then touch more people than just yourself!

To be completely honest with you, I’m so freaking AMPED outta my brain about side projects after writing this that I just want to start another one. But, finishing what you started is an important boundary I set for myself... Maybe that is different for your unique project, which is why you should trust your own instinct on these things. You know your purpose, and you should trust in it.


I have finished my homework! What’s next?! 

I challenge you to come up with a side project for yourself in the next week, and join me on August 13 on the instagram of Creative Women Collective for a live session about this topic! I will go over this article quickly, talk about the importance of side projects and we will have time to talk about your projects + I can give you input! Bonus points if you already actually created stuff :).

Good luck and I can’t wait to chat with you guys!

 Anna Lena Illustrations



If you would like to dive even deeper into this week’s topic, check out these book(review)s: 

  • Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

  • How to win friends & influence people by Dale Carnegie

  • Ikigai by Héctor García & Francesc Miralles