Tina Roth Eisenberg on successful side projects

This article first appeared in the November 2012 issue (#234) of .net magazine – the world's best-selling magazine for web designers and developers.

Leaving client work to focus on personal projects is a dream for many designers – and it’s something Tina Roth Eisenberg has turned into reality seemingly by accident.

“I definitely did not imagine that my career would turn out the way it has,” she admits. “I thought I would work in some different studios, which I did, then run my own studio and be incredibly happy doing that. But sometimes when we make our goals, we make them for the person we are at that moment, not for the person we’re going to be when we get there. I had more clients than I could handle, and very prestigious clients, but once I’d been running my studio for two years I realised I was not happy and I had to re-evaluate some things and work out why.

“I realised that after doing client services and solving other people’s problems for 12 years I didn’t find it satisfying to jump into a problem, solve it for the client and hand it off. I think the moment you hand it off is when the real work starts, and I found it really unsatisfying to have to walk away and not be able to grow something, to own something over a longer period of time and really be a part of what that thing becomes. I think the service industry as it is now is flawed in that sense. So when I reached that point in my career, I did some soul searching and realised the things that make me happy are my side projects: CreativeMornings, my to-do app, my blog. I needed to pivot a bit and focus on those projects, which actually started to create income in an accidental way.”

CreativeMornings is a lecture series that invites a single speaker to deliver a talk with breakfast; it’s now hosted in 34 cities. The swissmiss blog attracts over a million users every month, and Eisenberg’s latest venture, temporary tattoo shop Tattly, has also been a big hit with fellow designers. It looks like she’s an astute businesswoman with a good sense of what people want, but Eisenberg claims this isn’t so.

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