What do a lot of recent architecture college grads have in common besides their degree? Student loans and disillusionment (see point 1 in Megan Fowler’s 11 Things You Learn at Your First “Real” Architecture Job to understand what we mean by "disillusionment"). But with the emergence of the digital age and “side-hustle economy,” millennials are learning how to monetize their passions, and now 1 in 4 Americans are making money digitally. Side-hustling has become so popular that there is even a school for it. The difference between a side-hustle and a second job is that side-hustles aren’t just about giving yourself a raise. Your side-hustle is something you truly love to do, and would probably do anyway, but now you get to share it with the world and make a little extra cash in the process. So what side-hustle is right for you? Here is a list of side-hustles which suit the skillset of architects and designers.
1. Multimedia Designer
Put those Adobe Creative Suites skills to use! With freelancing websites such as Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr and more, design jobs are all over the internet. On their website, 99designs advertises “Logos, websites, and yes, even tattoos—there are so many categories to design for. We'll help keep things fresh so you'll never get bored.”
2. Apparel Designer
Do you have any funny, topical or seasonal T-Shirt ideas? There’s even a market for architecture apparel. Find your own style and design a whole line of apparel with your graphics or drawings on them. It will be exciting and satisfying to see people wearing your art. Whip up a design and post it on Redbubble, Zazzle, or CafePress.
Full-time architectural coordinator by day and sculptor by night, Patrick Cooley manages his own clayworks business, Cooley ClayWorks, in addition to his architecture career. “Inspired by natural ecosystems, I explore the transformative properties of clay to instill a biomorphic quality into otherwise inanimate objects and sterile interior spaces,” he says. Cooley advertises his work through Facebook, Instagram and Bēhance.
If you’re an artist but your work is too good for a canvas, let others find you through sites like Find A Muralist. To launch a successful muralist career you’ll need portfolio and promotion. And a legal wall to paint on. Caution: this side-hustle may involve heights.
Another full-time architect, Peter Baird created Atomic Ranch Leatherworks in his spare time. He crafts and sells wallets, purses, belts, keychains, and more. Baird utilizes Facebook and Instagram to advertise his products. However, Etsy is a good place to sell wares of this kind too.
6. Furniture and Product Fabricator
With Etsy, you don’t have to limit yourself to just leatherwork. Designing, fabricating and selling furniture or other wares is a great way to make some money while exercising your design and shop skills. Another digital store platform is Shopify. Shopify’s goal is to “focus on making commerce better for everyone, so businesses can focus on what they do best: building and selling their products.”
If you have a reliable DSLR camera, start working on your online photography gallery or portfolio to get gigs. Even if you don’t have a DSLR camera, don’t count photography out! Some sites, bloggers and website owners will even pay for smartphone photos. Content and quality images are hot commodities in the digital age. Use sites such as Fotolia by Adobe, Shutterstock, Alamy, or Scoopshot to post and sell your photography.
Speaking of website content, websites need written content as well as visual. Contribute to websites and blogs, or start your own. If you start your own, make sure you have a niche—a specific topic on which you have something interesting to say that people will care about. Easy, right? Dallas architect and creator of Life of an Architect, Bob Borson, as well as Portland architect and creator of Young Architect, Michael Riscica, have inspired many young architects and writers alike through their successful architecture blogs. However, you don’t have to write about architecture. Architecture student Ella Thorns interns for ArchDaily while publishing recipes on her blog Eat with Ella.
Michael Riscica’s blog became so successful that he started his own podcast. Podcast hosting has become easier than ever with sites such as SoundCloud, PodBean, Podomatic, and more. To monetize your podcast you will need a following and sponsorship. Make sure you have good sound quality and plenty to talk about for this side-hustle.
10. Online Teacher
Take inventory of your skills and teach an online course. Microsoft Excel is one of the most sought-after classes on Udemy, an online education platform. One example of an online educator is Matt Donley. Donley is not a professional designer or architect, but he teaches people how to master SketchUp online every day.
If you have something to teach others but are more of a one-on-one kind of person, try tutoring. Ask your local AIA chapter if they know of anyone in need of a Revit or ARE tutor. Or by using Chegg you can tutor from anywhere when it’s convenient for you.
Remember all that fastidious hand-lettering we had to practice in school? Put it to use by starting a calligraphy business on the side. Laura Hooper offers a starter kit on Etsy. Tip: The Art Career Project says “Practice is often one of the most important parts of a successful calligraphy career. Professional calligraphers will typically practice writing and rewriting drafts until they start on the finished product. Only a good amount of time and several hand cramps later will they start working on the final draft.”
13. Tour Guide
Do some research on tours that are offered in your area and see if they are in need of extra tour guides. If not, why not start your own architecture tour? Learn about architecture and teach others about it in the process.
14. Travel Consultant
Virtual travel agent, trip planner, vacation guru, call it what you want—travel consultants will always be around as long as people are lazy. Are you a planner? Do you like to learn about new places? Or read hotel and restaurant reviews? Help people plan their next vacation! Start your own website or post your availability and skills on sites like PeoplePerHour.
15. Presentation Design Consultant
Bad PowerPoint presentations drive architects and designers crazy. Help other professionals design better presentations. Apply to be a freelancer at a presentation design consultant company like Konsus or SlidePress.
Remember, side-hustles are a lot like weight loss—they take time. Don’t get frustrated if you don’t make lots of money right away. A lot of times side-hustles are more about love than money. But if you’re successful you’ll be able to monetize your passion.