Side Project Ideas for 2021 🚀️
In the startup and indie hacker space “ideas are nothing, execution is everything” is an often repeated mantra. The thought behind the statement is simple: Ideas themselves have no value. While people act as if the idea is the major success-factor for any business it contributes way less to the result than many other factors. On the other hand, the important success-factors such as hard work, storytelling, sales, and marketing are often ignored, discounted or even belittled. Many people still believe in “build it and they will come”.
That's not just sad, it's also contra-productive to achieving more. You should always spend the needed time validating your business ideas before building anything. If you are interested in supporting the development of these ideas please reach out to bring your own ideas Ltd. software development.
I do believe in ideas being less important than execution. After my initial article “Side-Project Ideas up for grabs” has been received well I've thought about this topic more. At the end, I've decided to share most of my side project ideas openly. This article is the result — you find around 25 ideas below. I aim to keep the article updated and add new thoughts as I got. Any feedback is welcome. Please feel free to share and use these ideas!
The article fulfills a second, more personal goal: I struggle with ideas being very persistent and not leaving me alone until I've done something "about the idea". The article allows me to log the idea, maybe receive some feedback and thereby let go of the idea.
Sharing ideas? Why? Shouldn't you keep them secret?
Sure, there are some reasons to keep ideas secret. But I don't see them outweighing the disadvantages. By sharing my project ideas I get often feedback and sometimes realize that someone else already built it. Without sharing I would have maybe never got to know about the project and might have tried to solve an already-solved problem.
I'm on the lucky side when it comes to new ideas. They find me much quicker than I can execute ideas. I won't ever be able to build all of these projects. By sharing, I have got a better chance to actually see the idea becoming reality.
Can I use these ideas?
Sure! Please do so. If one of these ideas doesn't get out of your mind anymore and you end up building a project based on it please let me know. I'm very curious to see what you made/are making from the initial idea!
I do expect no stake or anything in return. A mention or backlink to this list would be awesome tho. I would be very proud if I kicked off an indie side project with this list 🤩️
What should I do before using any of these ideas?
Make sure you are doing your own, independent research. The given information might not be complete or completely up to date. Naturally, I can't guarantee every idea is 100% fact-checked or up to date. This being said, I'll keep the list updated as much as possible.
I'd like to add a note or idea.
Time to get down to business and look at some ideas for small businesses and side projects:
I often listen to music on one browser tab while working or coding. Now and then, there is a song I don't like to hear — every time this happens, I got to find the playing tab to skip the song. Wouldn't it be great, if you could just skip a song directly from a browser action (icons next to the address bar)? One click and your currently playing browser-tab would skip the song/video to the next one.
To make it worthwhile this should work at least on Spotify, NPR, a few podcast sides, Deezer and YouTube I think. As far as I know, there isn't an extension allowing to skip songs directly.
Combined Messenger-only mobile and desktop app
The messaging functionality is often the only part people would like to keep from social networks. The infinity-scroll time-line is of less interest I think. Many people consider it an addictive distraction and would like to limit/avoid using it as much as possible.
Facebook is already providing separate apps and has even two standalone messenger apps — Messenger and Messenger Life. These apps are only a compromise tho, as they keep you deeply locked in the Facebook space.
It would be great if there would be apps for desktop and mobile, which brings all social network messengers together in one place. It should support at least the major social networks Facebook, Twitter & Reddit to be of any value. You should be able to link contacts from different source into one. This way you can display messages from different sources into one message stream.
Update: With NovoChat there seems to be solution to this problem now (2021-01-14)!
A simple browser extension which turns all "r/something" texts (strings) on any website into proper links to Reddit. I'm certain this would be handy and make more than a few people happy. Probably limited chances to earn money with it tho — but good as a programming exercise or as a fun side-project.
Alternatively, a browser extension which allows you to enter "r/bangkok" in the address-bar directly and get directed to the related reddit would be awesome too. Maybe both could be done in combination too.
Update: I've stumbled across a simple solution in form of a configurable shortcut extension called url-alias developed by Karan Goel. The source code is on GitHub, if you are interested in seeing how it's built.
"Only New Tweets"-extension
An extension to remove duplicated content in the form of tweets you've seen already. Imagine you could avoid seeing the same links/posts again and again. If you have seen the tweet before it should just remove it. At the end of the page, the infinite-scroll should get you new stuff. Depending on your exact preferences and Twitter consumption this might take a bit.
"DocuTube" content site
A content site with “great documentaries, missed by too many people“. Content categorized by major topics such as history, companies, society, ecology, etc. Each with links or embed YouTube. Needs to be curated, not just put together.
Little income options besides ads for my feeling. There might be some great documentary websites out there already I'm unaware of.
Language Switch extension
A browser extension, which switches you from the IP-based language selection to the browser-defined language. Ideally, you could configure if you like to get a suggestion (little page-injected content overlay) or automatic redirecting to the correct language. Probably requires to check pages (searching for language links) and redirecting/suggesting depending on the information collected.
If the project turns out successful an "alternative-languages database" of sites makes sense. This database could also be developed using (automatic) submissions from the extension after analysis running in the browser on the client side.
Very Expat/Digital Nomad/Traveler-focused product — this is where I would start with marketing. If well done this has a chance to grab the attention of bigger sites and getting some decent free exposure.
"Worth a read" content website
A website collecting and summarizing a very limited number of really great articles about modern IT, society, and nature. Submission via a Reddit maybe?
Some example of articles could be:
Software below the poverty line by André Staltz.
I might add more examples as I find great blog articles. By the way, for a great open source idea with impact check this: Webmention Clients.
"No analytics on my own sites"-extension
A browser extension to block analytics on sites which you own. Configurable over site list or GA codes maybe?
This is a very edge use-case: If you have content blocking off (as it's your website), but you don't like to "mess with the Google Analytics".
Trending Linux Distros content website
A modern content site around trending Linux Distributions (Distros) such as Elementary or Enso. A bit like distro watch, but more modern - table-style layout with details as filters. Ranking by a number of factors - Google Trend as one of them. Focus on news results too - weighted by Domain Authority (DA)?
A service which connects to your Mailchimp account and then uses Gmail to actually send newsletters. That means you are sending your newsletters for free. I assume, with Gmail as a sender increases chances of delivery to the primary inbox (not some secondary collection like "Newsletters").
Works well with a browser extension 😂️
"Like all" browser extension
Often I read some thread on Twitter or Reddit and think "This is great - I should like them all." and then I got back and start liking one by one. Why not a browser extension, which likes them all?
A template for a domain sales page using Netlify
Sometimes I'd like put up a domain for sale and see if by any chance someone stumbles upon it. People coming to your domain directly, without inbound links or traffic, are a bit more likely to be interested in the domain itself.
A simple open source template which you can fork using Netlify to list your domain for sale would be great. The whole task of forking and configuring should be as streamlined as possible, potentially automated.
Open Source Webmention Clients
Webmentions are a great idea to make the indie web stronger and to limit the build-up of information silos such as Twitter and Facebook. If you want to read more about the idea I'd recommend Max Böcks article Static Indieweb pt2: Using Webmentions.
It would be a great advancement for independent blogging as well as the indie web to have clients covering the most ways websites are done. A webmention component/package/plugin/library for each major CMS and static site builder would be a massive step forward. I haven't researched how many systems have implemented some way of WebMention, but I would assume there aren't that many.
This would make a great project to make a positive impact on the open source community as well. As developers get exposed to new libraries in their common spaces it would help with the adoption of WebMentions.
The ultimate image optimizier
An image optimization service, which allows you to get the very smallest possible file. By reducing the image quality as well as potentially switching formats (e.g. to webp or JPEG 2000). Also should allow for cropping images via an API and permanently serving images via a CDN - for a fee of course.
Close but not perfect is ImageCompressor.com, which is doing quite a few things already.
Twitter filter extension
An extension to modify twitter to exclude bots from your Twitter timeline. This would allow you to reduce Twitter to the actually human-generated content.
Like Tweetdeck, but for Reddit, Facebook & Twitter
Tweetdeck is great, but it's limited to Twitter. It would be so much more powerful, if you could include other streams such as Facebook, Reddit, and Twitter. With these, you manage your whole social media channels at once.
Finance it with premium features such as advanced tracking and timing posting/replies. This would make it turn it into "If Buffer and Tweetdeck had a baby" kind of project.
Extension to optionally(!) break addictive infinity scroll on pages like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. Would make a great helper to reduce addiction to social media services.
As usual on this site, another extension: This time, to enable the "browser edit mode". Doesn't do much more than enabling
document.designMode = 'on'; in the current document.
Ideally with a page_action to allow switching it on and off.
A site, that tracks which new browser extensions are trending. Based on stats of usage (collected publicly) and ranked by categories. Coming with a weekly/monthly newsletter? Could publicly ping people on Twitter such as the Twitter-handle "ProductHuntHI" to drive engagement. Data sources aren't well enough defined yet.
A browser extension which allows you to "redirect" GA tracking to your own GA instance to see what sites are tracking about you. Only useful to get an impression as the interpretation of the data is up to you at the end.
A content site, where people can share amazing pieces of (example) code, sorted by languages and other categories. The slogan for the site could be "Code, you are happy that you read it."
"Comment on" website extension
Collect feedback right where it comes up: when reading your content. With "Comment on" you can collect feedback on your paragraphs and graphics. Directly, without an account required.
This a service which adds a comment functionality similar to Google Docs comments. Paragraphs should be highlighted and the "Add"-icon should be more highlighted in some ways to indicate the functionality. Should be customizable via CSS. Submissions will be sent as feedback to the site owner. This gives a very detailed feedback-option regarding content.
Ways to make money? Either way, little options to earn I think 🤔️ Donations for open source - not the most stable or easiest way for sure. Any suggestions? Please let me know.
Podcast episode downloader extension
I'd love to have a browser extension, which allows me to download any podcast episode I find while surfing around. I prefer to have mp3 files as I can move them around easily and are free from the requirement to have internet while listening.
From having a brief look at some sites it might harder for some sites as they appear to actually stream the content instead of just loading a complete mp3 and playing it.
Damn Smart Tweets
A simple content site to get a randomized, great tweet speaking the truth. Naval and others are great candidates to have tweeted many smart things. Social sharing images could be done using Imageee and a simple page is done in a short time. Someone up for a fun project?
TeamViewer like app to support your parents and grandparents remotely
In Coronavirus times and with expat lifestyle, helping your parents or grandparents with phone issues is tricky. An app, which transmits the screen live so you can help them via phone or other communication channels would be great. Needs to be usable by the older generation to make sure it's viable. Might exists in some form already.
A browser for elderly
Similarly, a simplified browser made for elderly would be great. Same as the app with an integrated TeamViewer-functionality and text-to-speech.
I can't believe you really read all of these ideas. That's just crazy. I've been compiling this list for a while. It's quite heavy on the extensions, sorry about that.
If you got any more ideas, please reach out via peterthaleikis.com/contact!