Investing in project as business

Sometimes it’s worth treating a serious side project as a potential business even before it’s “real” in the sense of bringing in substantial revenue, having large audience, and so on.

In one sense, this seems kind of silly, because this likely means spending time and money on things that you don’t strictly need.

But another way of thinking about it is: this can actually make you treat the project more seriously, work on it more consistently, and give you a solid grounding to convey its value and take the project to the next level.

One example: as a new blogger, you might consider setting up your own site on WordPress (or Ghost, or a custom static site, etc.) rather than using Medium.

Another: maybe set up your newsletter with Substack (or Mailchimp + Memberful) — something that will give you room to turn on monetization, even if not for a while — rather than using Tinyletter.

Or things like: paying for fonts or a premium theme to make your site look nice, designing a custom cover even for your first ebook, establishing an editorial workflow to hold yourself accountable…

Not inherently better in all cases, just different. Though I would argue that for many reasons, owning your platform and audience is just about always better than…not doing that! Though not always the same question as making your side project feel more like a business.

Other benefits:

  • Business infrastructure makes others take you seriously
  • Gives you room for growth, more to build on
  • Incentivizes yourself, perhaps even makes you take more risks or at least invest more

Possible downsides / when not to do this:

  • May slow you down; suboptimal if you’re still figuring out what you want to do at all
  • Cost not strictly necessary
  • Adds complexity and procrastination potential