When to Sunset a Side Project

I stopped working on Digital Bounds in 2018

I started Digital Bounds in early 2011 to start blogging about technology and gadgets. Until the summer of 2018, I was blogging multiple times a week if not daily. While I was working on Digital Bounds, I experimented with weekly video recaps, a podcast, and hiring new writers to fill in gaps. While the site was growing, it was a blogging website which relied on ad revenue. The margins were thin, but it was a passion project of mine.

Digital Bounds was the reason I attended CES for 4 years, go to SXSW, and get invites to press events all over the country. I also had the chance to review phones, get my hands on gadgets early, and to see things, unlike normal consumers.

Digital Bounds Different Themes and Logos

Over the years, I had my buddies and business partners (Kyle McDonald and Sunny Singh) build custom themes to highlight the content and set the site apart from others blogging about technology. When 2018 started, I thought I would grow Digital Bounds and double down on what I was doing with the site. Instead, in May I decided it was time to sunset Digital Bounds. I made the choice for a few reasons, including:

Time ⏰

The biggest reason for sunsetting Digital Bounds was the time commitment. Writing every day required my attention and time for at least 3 hours a day. Not only writing a big time suck, but the technology news cycle was also unpredictable. I had to stay on top of the news cycle which meant writing at unpredictable times and in places that were not ideal.
Working a full-time job while trying to commit to writing every day was stretching my limits. I hired ghostwriters and others to write, but the revenue from  Adsense was not enough to justify the cost.

Limited Success 📈

While Digital Bounds is the reason, I found writing jobs with VR Source, The Next Web, and Android Authority sister sites. Digital Bounds also helped me secure my agency job at Digiboost managing the SEO, PPC, and other marketing efforts.
Digital Bounds was also generating a profit each month, but if I slipped and didn’t blog for a week, the traffic would decrease, and the revenue would decrease. The success was marginal, and I had to compete with sites like The Verge, Technobufflo, Engadget and others who had bigger budgets.

New Projects 🆕

I started some new projects during 2018, and the big one was getting IronMic launched. I launched a personal podcast, relaunched my blog, and helped Sunny and Kyle with their projects. I wanted to invest more time in these projects, which goes back to my first reason about time. I had to start cutting projects and focusing on what would yield more success. While Digital Bounds was semi-successful, IronMic and my brand could have more considerable success and prove to be less work in the long run.

So when do you sunset a project?

This is never an easy answer. I also don’t have the right answer. I could have let Digital Bounds go years ago, but I kept holding on hoping my work would yield wild success.

In the future, I think a few things I will evaluate when I considering if I should sunset a project:

  1. How much time do I put in the project weekly?
  2. What could this project provide for my success and long-term growth?
  3. What other ideas could I invest in/build?
  4. Could I better use my time on another project/idea?
  5. How much do I spend on the project and how much do I get in return?

I am going to ask myself this on a yearly basis on each of my projects. It’s more common than ever to launch more projects and side-hustles but when is the right time to let them go and move onto other projects.

Tweet me your experience about sunsetting a side-project to @leonhitchens!

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