How to get ideas for weekend projects?

I have created various projects in the past like CovidBot, YourTube, Coursera HD Video Downloader which were able to create some traction on the internet. This post is going to be about how I get ideas about those projects and how you can also be creative and create a project which has real users.

Build for yourself first. If you don’t love your work yourself, don’t expect anyone else to. This also boils down to the fact that building something which you yourself will find useful in the first place is extremely important. If you are building a to-do list application as your project, what value does it adds to your own life? If you build it just to never use it again then nobody else will use it. When covid started I had to visit Google all the time to search for the Corona stats for India and Google gives millions of websites as search result it got very overwhelming to keep myself updated on the stats so I build CovidBot, it simply gives you the Covid stats right in your Telegram. CovidBot was one of the first Telegram Bot to do this and it gained some users online and till now has received 8K messages. Each of my projects has a similar story as given below:

Why Build for yourself? Now the bigger question is why to build for yourself, the answer is to simply lessen the pain and be more productive. For CovidBot, the pain was going to Google every time and to do that I have to open my browser and search “Covid Stats India”. I removed the whole search effort part by moving it to Telegram as a bot. This made me more productive too as it was faster for me as I use Telegram a lot and saved me a few minutes daily. To emphasise more on the productive part, let me tell you the story of one of another project. I was working as a Technical Content Writer for GeeksforGeeks during College and we were writing articles on the API reference of one of the famous JavaScript frameworks. There was a lot of repeating stuff in each article, the whole format was pretty much the same just the name and description of API and code examples were changing. Further back in the days, we had to write articles in HTML kind of format with tags for formatting and it was so time-consuming. So I built a web app that takes the name and description of the API and gives back the whole article templates with name, description of API filled and empty places for a code example. This small trick gave me so much productivity boost that instead of writing 3–5 articles daily I was writing 8–10 articles daily with half amount of effort and time and a few days even 10+ which if I translate into money I was almost making double the money from articles by putting in half the working hours as earlier. Can you see the power of small productive improvement now?

How to evaluate an idea? I usually try to evaluate ideas by estimating how much productive I will become after implementing this idea. And a great contributor to this metric is if the pain you are facing is regular or not. All of my public projects were great ideas because you would check Covid stats daily (CovidBot), you would watch videos on Youtube daily (YourTube) and so on. If your idea solves a problem that happens only once in a lifetime then it is usually a red flag. If the pain point happens daily and there are no current tools available to do it (or to do it in a better way) then you should definitely build your project.

Make it open source. Now, this is the part where you decide whether you can make the code of your app public or not. If you are building your project just for fun and you are not a famous person (like me) I will suggest you keep the code open source, which will help you get some early adopters of your project. If your project is a startup/business then you can skip this part or only make a portion of the application open-source which is a win/win.

Conclusion To get great ideas for projects start observing the greatest pain you go through in your daily life. Evaluate if it is worth implementing and there is no tool available already doing it in a better way. If it seems worth building, quickly create and ship it. Keep repeating this exercise cycle and eventually, you will get better at the art of getting better ideas for your weekend project.

, — Jan 4, 2022