Dirk Lach
Designer & Developer
Based in Germany
Dortmund  (00:00 CET)
Available for projects.

A side project that changed everything.

Side Projects

Six months ago, I published a side project that still brings me daily reach and regular project requests. But that wasn't my goal at all. But let's start at the beginning.

Last fall, I noticed that more and more designers were experimenting with 3D on the web. I found this combination extremely exciting and also threw myself into this topic. Pretty much without any 3D knowledge. I spent a few days experimenting with the 3D tool Spline and then set myself the goal of creating a showcase website that demonstrates the possibilities of this technology.

A few weeks later I had the site ready. I built a one-pager in Webflow and integrated interactive 3D elements via Spline. I tried to make the entire experience as immersive as possible. The user should get the feeling of being immersed in their own little 3D world.

I shared the page via LinkedIn, and at the time I had around 400 followers. Suddenly, the post went viral without me being able to understand exactly how this came about. 24 hours later, I had around 900 followers. A complete success. Over the next few days, more followers were added and the reach of the post climbed to over 75,000 impressions and over 1,100 likes. A small viral success for such a niche LinkedIn post.

I also successfully submitted the side project to two award sites, published it as a cloneable in the Webflow showcase and several design blogs wrote about it. All of this brought a huge amount of traffic, but in the long term the Webflow showcase helped me the most. Many potential clients found me through it, contacted me and expressed interest in working with me. To date, the project has been cloned over 1400 times in Webflow. Even after six months, new views and clones are being added every day.

This project has taught me the following:

- A single side project can have a significant impact on your business, your project situation or even your career. Of course, it doesn't have to be the first side project. It wasn't for me either. But every next side project could be THE project that gives you that boost.
- Leaving your comfort zone. I had no significant knowledge of 3D and managed to get several requests for 3D projects (which I was happy to pass on).
- Side project management. I blocked out fixed times and set deadlines during implementation. Just like a customer project. That helped me stay on track.
- Keep it simple! I kept the project simple and didn't question everything. My goal was clear: a one-pager with interactive 3D elements. The content should be simple, no subpages. If you think too much and question everything, you might never finish.
- Just do it. I didn't think about whether it was worth spending so much time on the side project. I had the idea of creating a showcase page to demonstrate the combination of different technologies. Even if the viral effect hadn't been there, I still learned a lot.

As you can see, I am a big fan of side projects. I would therefore like to encourage you to work on implementing your ideas too. One project is enough to change everything.