It seems that everybody these days has a side hustle – a means in which you can leverage your creative genius into an additional stream of revenue to help you makes ends meet between paychecks. Whatever it is, there are a lot of options out there but the question is “What’s right for you” and “Is it even worth it?” That is what we will be discussing today in Episode 82 “The Side Hustle”
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The Classic Side Hustle – Moonlighting jump to 1:11
How could we do a post on side hustles for architects and NOT talk about moonlighting architectural projects?
I’ve done some moonlighting in the past – although it has been years since I took on work without the knowledge of my employers – but I always took the approach that it was okay if the projects I accepted did not compete with those of my employer (i.e. different market sectors). I have done a few addition/ renovation projects and one free-standing restaurant. I was probably in my late 20’s when I did these jobs and in all cases, I received some sort of financial compensation. The restaurant project that I worked on paid me enough money to buy the computer equipment and software I needed to work from home, and have some cash available to buy my first house. While that all sounds pretty good, the final results tell a different story.
If you want the entire nasty story, you can listen to it in the podcast or you can read about it here.
I learned that if you don’t charge people for your time, they will abuse it. Why does it always seem that the people who you are trying to help will be the worst to work with? You offer to help someone out with a consult and sketch out a garage addition for free because you’re a nice person, those are the projects where they will ask you a billion questions, conveniently forgetting that this is how you make your living – this thing that they are asking you to give them for free.
Another consideration for those considering moonlighting work is to take a look at your client. Are they hiring you because they are your neighbor or your Aunt? Or are they hiring you to moonlight the project because they are looking for a price break? The latter will always make the worst client because they obviously don’t place a lot of value on your time or the services you provide. They might not have the financial resources suitable for the services they need (which put ‘s you at risk for not receiving what meager fees you are probably charging) otherwise, they would probably go a more traditional route of getting architectural services.
Skill Sets and Social Media jump to 25:25
I have a young woman that I met a few years ago that went on to write an article for ArchDaily back in 2017 that was a list of 15 money-making side hustles for architects. She had a list in place that had references to practicing architects that were actively involved in several of the identified side-hustles. Part of the reason I know this list exists is because I’m actually on it under the category of “Writer” but I checked some of the examples she listed and one hadn’t updated their since 2017 and one hadn’t had any activity since 2016 … which suggests that these side-hustles are transitory in their existence – or at least in the role they play.
There is no way to discount the additional visibility social media and this digital age provide to people that did not exist even as recently as 10 years ago. The act of creating an alternative revenue fundamentally revolved around doing work for people that you knew and people who lived in your community. The introduction of blogs sites and media platforms like Instagram have opened the geographic door around the world and have allowed people to promote not only themselves but the work they create to a global community.
Side Hustle as “THE” Hustle jump to 33:54
There are times when the side hustle evolves out of the shadows and into the light of day. Your passion project and side interests become a major contributor to income and for some people – and my good friend Eric Reinholdt at 30×40 studio is an example of this. We had Eric on the podcast for Episode 056: Starting a Design Firm and a great deal of what we focused on was alternative revenue streams to supplement your cash flow and your time, the finances behind making ends meet, and sacrifices to other aspects of your life.
In Eric’s case, we spent some time talking about how he has turned his side hustle into THE hustle … a development of his business model that has actually allowed him to recapture his time and focus on the things that bring him the greatest return – whether than be financial returns or simply doing the things that he enjoys the most. In addition to creating architecture as his main job, Eric will sell you any number of products that he has taken the time to create. You can jump the line and get his drawing standards, pen types and backgrounds for the sketching platforms he utilizes, as well as the forms and documents he has created in an effort to streamline his workflow … for a modest fee. Eric has leveraged the act of doing his job into additional revenue streams and as a result, it has brought him a level of financial security that manifests itself in a myriad of ways professionally and personally.
Eric has recently started another project titled “Two Sides of FI” which is an outline of his journey to reach financial security (Financial Independence and Retire Early). Despite the fact that Eric and I are on fairly friendly terms, I do not have any insight into his new project and it will take me some time to unbox it all. Since I know this is something that Eric is greatly interested in, I have no doubt that there will be something interesting involved.
Alternative Revenue jump to 38:30
Considering that the act of becoming an architect requires the development of a wide array of skills, certainly there would be some options that would allow you to leverage your skillset into an alternative revenue stream, right? So what are some other options for side hustles? Just a small sample might include:
Jeff Jensen is an architect and principal with HKS Architects based out of Dallas and a 38 year veteran in the design industry. He is presently a design director for HKS Hospitality and has led the design of major hotel and resort projects throughout the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean, Spain and Asia.
He is also an amazing painter and does amazing watercolors. Despite the fact that Jeff and I have been in the same orbit with each other for years, I know more about him as an artist than I do an architect … clearly he is talented at both.
I know of at least two architects who design and make quilts … but I don’t have pictures from either of them to share with you. However, I DO have photos from the quilts my wife has been making since the COVID lockdown has trapped us all in our house and for my purpose, they more than fit the bill. Quits involved design, visualization skills, color theory, attention to detail … all the things that architects should have in spades. In fact, I’m confused as to why MORE architects aren’t making quilts.
Icon / Graphic Design
What about combining your graphic design skill with those top-shelf computer software talents? That’s what Chris Anderson has done and while he might not be getting “vacation on a private island” rich from this, I know that it’s good for some funding some end-of-the-week beers. I work with his wife Danielle (the person I reference in the post “Architectural Portfolios“) and on occasion, we will talk about “The Noun Project” which is where people like her husband will design icons that you can download to make your presentations POP
Designing T-Shirts (or is it “Tee Shirts” or TShirts”?) is another side hustle that I am surprised more architects aren’t doing. All the shirts I am showing in the image above were made by me over the course of one or two weekends years ago simply because I wanted to have them for myself. That’s right, I pretty much have every single one of these designs on a short currently hanging in my closet. After I was asked by a few people where they could get one for themselves, I finally made them all public. Again, I am not “private island” rich from doing this, but the extra $30-$50 a month helped cover the cost of running this website.
In fact, it’s probably time for another round of new shirts to roll out. The existing ones can be found here.
These are just a few examples of a “side hustle” that I am personally aware of taking place and I am confident that there are many others. There are Architects writing books to help prep you for the ARE as well as those that can teach you how to sketch better. I’d be more than happy to have you grow this list down in the comment section and give examples of other side hustle’s that architects are doing.
Is There an Age Bracket of Moonlighting? jump to 47:37
During the recording, Andrew and I felt that it would have been helpful to take a poll to see if our personal experiences and observations were still true (they were) when it came to the demographic that made up the majority of architects who had a side hustle. I put something together on my Instagram Story asking people some pretty straightforward questions.
What I learned, other than people generally can’t follow instructions between slide #3 and slide #4, is that have of the respondents said that they DID have a side hustle and that most of those people were young. I chose the age bracket of “35 Years Old or Less” because I have my own beliefs on when people stop working multiple jobs and instead, really start to focus on their main job. Starting a family, having kids, paying off student loans – are all contributors to the need for additional income streams.
Would you rather? jump to 50:19
I really enjoyed our would you rather question today, and I am confident that we could have continued discussing the pros and cons of either answer. I will even go so far as to say that I am not convinced that I chose the correct answer … I actually have “Would You Rather” answer regret.
Would you rather be the very best at one thing, or completely average at everything?
If you think this is an easy question to answer, I don’t think you are truly thinking it through.
I referenced “The Monkey’s Paw” which is a short story by W. W. Jacobs which is a classic three wishes story that is both a horror story and a cautionary tale regarding unintended consequences. If you would like to read this short story, you can find it here. Also, Andrew dug out the link to the article that proves that some person has been a multiple lottery winner (here)
Ep 082: The Side Hustle
I am not surprised by any of the information we covered and discovered in this episode … which is actually quite sad. Is the prevalence of side hustles and the need for an alternative income stream more reflective of the pay that architects receive, or is it indicative of the need to create and express ourselves in a more free environment? I’d like to think that at worst it’s a combination of the two but think that it is probably more reflective of the need for additional income. I think we would almost all agree that architectural salaries, especially for young people, are disproportionate to the level of education and potential student debt that is incurred in the process of becoming an architect. If you were to simply look at the age of the individual, I think you would instantly know if the additional work being taken on is reflective of passion, or the need for additional revenue.
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