If you're an architect or an architecture student, chances are you've probably earned a very niche skillset that is essential for the progress of this world. However, more often than not, architects complain about the poor job prospects and the non-competitive compensation they get for the long hours they put into their jobs or towards their degrees.
The truth is if you're an architect or an architecture student you probably have a unique set of skills that you can leverage to make a second income outside of your day job.
Before You Begin
One thing I want to stress is that no matter which field you work in, knowledge of relevant software and some practical coding skills and experience can be highly valuable. This is also certainly true for architects who rely heavily on many software like Rhino and Revit to deliver their projects. While there are other ways to get started making a side income with your architecture skills, having some working knowledge of a niche software will not only be quite lucrative but also help you stand out in the job market, so I highly encourage it!
1. Sell Your 3D Models on Shapeways
Shapeways is an online marketplace for 3D designs. The best part about Shapeways is that you can directly sell to your customers without having to worry about the logistics of printing and payment processing.
This is where having some working knowledge of 3D design software comes in very handy. You can use your skills to create a unique shop on Shapeways. It is possible to sell all kinds of 3D model designs on Shapeways - from miniature dollhouses to jewellery. Explore their marketplace for some inspiration to get you started.
Selling with Shapeways means that you don't have to worry about inventory. After you've set up your shop, you can upload your designs. You can choose your own markup on top of the initial production costs which are calculated when the model was uploaded. This will vary depending on the material of production.
On the 15th of each month, Shapeways pays out the total markup fees to your PayPal account after a minimum balance of $30.
They also handle all customer service for you. If a customer complains, they will work with you to improve your designs, making Shapeways a great place to start your online entrepreneurship journey.
2. Sell Your Plans with Plantribe
In 2021, there sure is a marketplace for house plans, and it's called Plantribe. While there are other plan marketplaces on the market, Plantribe is growing rapidly. It's a great place to start or grow your online architecture firm. With the help of Plantribe, you can really increase your reach and market access across the globe.
Unlike other aggregators and marketplaces, Plantribe charges only 10% as commission which is substantially less than the usual industry standard of upwards of 50%.
While stock plans don't sound entirely glamorous, and there are valid debates both for and against such plans, our main focus here is how you can use stock plans to your advantage. Some of the benefits of stock plans include:
- Generating a passive income without devoting hours to your clients
- Increasing your reach across the globe and not be restricted to your current geography
3. Start a YouTube Channel
YouTube is a great place to start if you are okay with putting yourself in the public eye. Much like a lot of other industries, it pays to have a personal brand. There are different types of content creation you can do as an Architect or Architecture student.
- Sharing software tips and tricks: Architects use so much software that they are bound to run into certain issues. How often have you turned to YouTube to answer your questions? If you have in-depth knowledge of the software you can start a YouTube channel and help people solve their own problems
- Architect/Student Lifestyle: A lot of prospective architects and architecture students are interested in knowing what life could be like once they decide on this career path. Letting people have a glimpse of your life and lifestyle will help them make an informed decision about choosing their degree
- Study Tips and Exam Preparation: Architects and architecture students have tons of certifications they need to obtain to qualify as professional architects. Your YouTube channel could focus on passing on information about your own exam strategy and tips to attain certain qualifications
4. Conduct Online Classes or Create an Online Course
Architects have to master so many different things to advance in their careers - from knowledge of 3D rendering software like CAD to studying for LEED exams. Chances are, as a student or even a professional, you've probably taken an online course at some point of time in your life. If you have niche knowledge, you can share it with others and start your own online course.
Platforms like Udemy and Teachable make it really easy for prospective teachers to create and host their online courses. There are plenty of architects using this method to generate a second stream of income. The most popular courses tend to be about certain software such as Revit or Blender, but competition isn't necessarily a bad thing. It only means that the idea is pre-validated and there definitely is a market for it. So if you feel like you bring a unique teaching methodology or advanced skills to the table, don't be afraid to share them on the internet!
5. Start a Premium Newsletter About an Architectural Niche
Premium newsletters are a great way to build a recurring revenue source. If you have good writing skills and deep knowledge about certain architectural niches, you can monetize that knowledge by starting a paid newsletter subscription service that your readers can subscribe to.
There are plenty of people who have created successful businesses out of writing premium content on all kinds of topics. From basketball to flight deals, there seems to be a market for everything. Architecture-related topics also have a market, which is proven by the popularity of publications such as Architzer.
Platforms like Revue and Substack make it easy for anyone with basic online skills to get started with their own online publication and handle everything - from payment processing to content delivery so that you can focus on the main task - producing great content that is valuable to your readers.
These ideas are just the tip of the iceberg on how you can get started with building a side income using your existing skills as an architect or architecture student. There are plenty of other transferable skills that you've probably picked up over the course of your learnings that you can leverage to run all different kinds of online businesses and passive income projects so that you don't have to worry about monetary comfort as you explore and nurture your passion for architecture.