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“Appreciate the genuine, real conversation – seriously chocked full of value. Looking forward to the next episode!”

Episode 20: The Power of Side Projects, With Chris Spooner

This week we’re thrilled to have our first guest on the show; hugely influential design blogger Chris Spooner. Chris has built up his design blog SpoonGraphics over the past 10 years, and is the undisputed king of creative side projects. This episode we dig into how you can use your creativity to start fun, profitable side projects that you’re passionate about, as well as a host of other design and business related tips.

Show Notes for This Episode:

[1.30] Welcome to Chris Spooner!
[2.00] Chris has been running his blog SpoonGraphics for 10 years!
[2.50] How Chris has kept going with his blog for so long
[4.30] How Chris comes up with ideas for his tutorials
[6.30] Looking at Chris’s posting schedule
[8.00] Chris’s transition from a studio graphic designer to become a full-time blogger
[10.00] Ian remembers how Chris was fully booked on client work
[10.30] The blog acted as a safety net, to let Chris transition from a studio designer to a freelance designer
[13.00] How Chris found the initial inspiration to run a blog
[14.30] Dustin asks – did Chris have a master business plan?
[15.00] Tom helping Chris with his business and site
[16.30] Chris playing the long game by not covering his entire site in ads
[17.30] Respecting your audience and not being too intrusive
[19.00] Providing maximum value
[19.30] Chris is more relatable with his business than many people may realise
[20.30] Focusing on the enjoyment in what you do
[21.45] Don’t try to be the next Chris Spooner, but use him as an example for following what you love
[22.30] Looking at passion projects
[23.30] Ian recalls an older video of Chris’s, about giving away stuff for free
[24.30] Ian learnt from Chris to try mini-projects for 6 months and see what he likes
[25.40] Chris advocates always sharing stuff online, not just keeping it on your hard-drive
[27.00] Chris never knows which posts will do well. It’s more about putting out consistent quality, and then reacting to what performs well.
[28.45] Chris’s process for creating tutorials
[30.25] Chris is the king of side projects
[32.20] Lisa asks: what’s more popular – written or video tutorials?
[33.30] This podcast is a side project for us
[35.15] Tom asks about connecting with the wider design community
[37.30] Chris naturally loves to share his life in content
[39.30] Discussing his gaming Youtube channel
[42.30] Chris figures stuff out himself, rather than hiring out
[44.00] Whatever you’re putting out to teach others, there will be someone at a level below yours, who will find it helpful
[47.00] Your experience will always benefit you further down the line
[48.00] The power of just doing, and figured stuff out as you go
[50.00] There’s always new technologies, and new white space to explore for content and teaching
[54.30] Closing words of wisdom from Chris
[55.00] Having patience – Chris’s ventures all take 1-2 years to start getting traction
[56.00] The importance of injecting your personality into your projects

“A must for every creative freelancer (or those aspiring to freelance). Thank you for being so… honest! Such a wealth of information from people I admire who have ‘been there and done that’. Listening to the podcast every week feels like I’m among friends. Can’t wait for more episodes!”AG_GD

15 Lovely Comments from our Community:

  1. Oscar says:

    Keep it up guys, I love your podcast and good energy!

    • raluca@designcuts.com says:

      Hey Oscar, thanks so much for the great feedback. Happy to hear you like the podcast and we’ll be sure to keep them coming 😊

  2. Roz Fruchtman says:

    This is such a POWER EPISODE:

    I’ve listened to it multiple times, the most current was this morning. As well I am re-sharing it again. There are many it will help and who need to hear the words to reinforce and rejuvenate their own WHY & more importantly give them hope!

    Sometimes I wonder why I do what I do and give so much of my time helping/sharing with others. EACH TIME I listen to this Episode, it gives reason to it all: Passion!

    Thank You Tom Ross, Ian Barnard, Lisa Glanz and Dustin Lee for the GIFT of the Honest Designers Podcast. It truly is a GIFT to US ALL, and it’s true… This info could be for ANYTHING, NOT JUST design! Passion is a strong motivator!

    On a personal level:
    I met Tom Ross and Design Cuts through Chris Spooner, all those years ago.

    Roz Fruchtman aka @RozSpirations

    • sarah-jane@designcuts.com says:

      Hey Roz,

      Thanks so much for your equally inspiring comment!

      We’re so glad you like it and cannot thank you enough for the ongoing support- it really does mean the world to us all here at DC as well as the Honest Designers Team 🙂

  3. SC says:

    I like the sense of community with other designers as well as being exposed to the variety of skills and disciplines.

  4. SC says:

    I also think what’s scary is sometimes what you’re good at isn’t what you want to do or vice versa. I’m good at math but I could never imagine a career based on it. I loved VFX but I wasn’t good at it and found out I was better at graphic design.

    • sarah-jane@designcuts.com says:

      Hey SC,

      Thanks so much for your comment and we’re really glad that you liked this episode!

      You’re right, talent certainly does play a huge part, however Ian himself is a great example that from consistent practise and commitment you can get there 🙂

  5. SC says:

    I disagree that it’s just intention that separates the people that try from the ones that “make it”. Some people are just naturally more talented than others. They have an inherent skill or eye. Great episode though!

  6. Rebekah says:

    Every Honest Designers show is inspiring. This one, though, had me scared for my heart rate.

    I cannot get over how y’all open the door and welcome us new designers in. Really? “Go ahead and make tutorials! Somebody needs it!” Really?! Do you understand how I’ve been starving to hear those words? Course, then Lisa had to say SHE feels intimidated to make tutorials and my confidence crashed again. 🙂

    I also loved how you focused on doing all this for passion, not for reward. So good. And planting a seed that we forget about, not hover over it bound by expectation. This is some incredible stuff, not just for designers, but for dreamers of all varieties.

    I really can’t thank you enough. Chris, Tom, Ian, Dustin, and Lisa, wow. Thank you.

    And Lisa, if you only knew how many times I’ve searched for your tutorials. I, too, get a thrill when I finally stumble across a video of your brush sweeping a bunny into existence. So then I have to search “watercolor tutes” and by that time it’s time to start dinner. So please! Please! 🙂

    God bless all y’all Design Cuts personnel. Oh – and off topic, but I just purchased my first ever design bundle anywhere, your vintage collection. I am sooooo happy with it! I’ll leave a comment there when I can, but wow. Thanks.

    • sarah-jane@designcuts.com says:

      Hey Rebekah,

      Wow, thank you so much for the awesome comment and I know that the team will really love reading this one!

      It’s fantastic to hear that you can relate to this too and we hope that you’ll enjoy all the other topics the team will be discussing soon 🙂

      Also, a huge thank you for your purchase- I hope you’ll get loads of use out of your new goodies!

    • Roz Fruchtman says:

      Hi Rebekah:

      I could not have said it better myself.

      Roz Fruchtman

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