14 Ways of making money as a freelance Architect or Designer

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Architect Freelance

You just finished Architecture University  or you are a young emerging talent that wants to start his own business and become a freelance Architect – because you want to acquire your financial independence thanks to the skills you own.

I don’t explain to you what are the reasons why you should become the employer of yourself. If you are here it means that you already have a clear idea of what could be the benefits. Besides wondering why no one had warned you that being an architect is a difficult task – but still satisfying – you’re wondering if there are many freelance architects like you and if it’s worth trying to become one of them. Very well. This is just what you will find in this post!

Being an Architect requires a great responsibility, this is only up to you, while in this post I will show you how you can start your business as a freelance architect and begin to earn money thanks to your skills.

The Web is full of freelance architect jobs

It’s not always simple to find the job of your life, but the world is full of opportunities, and many of these come from the web. Don’t hesitate to change direction or to change your mind, there is always time to find a new job.

Probably you are very good at CAD, 3D model software, in graphics and who knows what else… Plus, you have a good taste – plus, you have a good taste, which is not a common attribute. These and other skills you possess can take you far if you want. There are a lot of freelance architect jobs and you have no choice but to intercept them. Start from this list of resources and deepen the one that suits you.

Thanks to internet we are able to comfortly work from our desk and to propose ourselves to all potential customers in ways that a few years ago were not even thinkable. Below we summarize a number of tips and tools that can help you making money as a freelance Architect using only your abilities.

If you’re interested we recommend you also the topic of personal branding. So, read also Personal Branding for Architects: how to promote yourself”, because in these cases the authority is very important. When you can not appear in person, you have to present yourself on the web in the best possible way.

money architects

Finally, consider that your time is limited, so try to exploit it to the fullest. I did a little infographic here above to show what are, in my opinion, the platforms on which you should invest the most of your time. As you can see, Cocontest and Houzz have the most important share. Keep this in mind.

Work with real clients


freelance Architect

Cocontest is probably the best invention ever for an architect. An open and meritocratic platform where you can experience and participate in small competitions. Obviously with cash prizes. This is a community that is now taking place in every part of the world and that currently houses a community of 14,000 architects and designers.

Anyone can become a customer, and anyone can participate to the competitions. People from all around the world submit their project needs and ask designers to compete to provide their ideas and solutions. After closing the competition, the customer chooses the winner and pays a substantial refund – according to the type of work required – from the simple plan to a 3d render. Go and discover it!



Houzz is a platform that provides three different service to the users. You can discover design ideas for your home, browsing more than 9 million photos filtered based on your taste, find freelance architects (and of course you can add yourself) and an entire shop.

You can log in and create a personal page of your business  – here an example – (whether you are alone, whether you belong to a team) where you going to tell through a portfolio your realized projects, your bio and provide all your contacts.

Once you have created your profile you will be indexed based on your geographical location, your value and based on reviews of customers who have worked with you. It is really an excellent platform for freelance architects in my opinion.


Upwork for freelance architects

On Upwork “it’s simple to post your job and get personalized bids”. This website hosts thousands of top-rated professionals, here you can find or you can be an amazing talent ready to work on every Architecture project.

As well as Houzz, even in this platform you can put yourself available to customers. Your only concern is to do a good job, to set your hourly rate and to communicate your skills. For the rest you just create your own profile.


guru architects

On Guru.com “you can find & hire talented Freelancers”. It works in the same way as Houzz, Upwork and Peopleperhour (next one). These are all platforms where freelancers can apply in one of the most meritocratic places in the world: the Web.

Create a profile, complete it with your abilities, with a persuasive and honest bio and with your best profile picture. Finally fixed your hourly rate. If you always do a good job, you’ll get only positive reviews and you can better position yourself between searches.

Do not forget that your page on one of these platforms (or even all) can become a good landing page for all of your potential customers. You could for example bring it in your linkedin profile, or in twitter or facebook!


As some of the other services on this page, 99designs offers to freelance designers a lot of ways to put their skills to work.

Even in this case, the only thing you’ll have to do is open your account, introduce yourself in the best way, and work hard to satisfy the first customers. The following ones will surely come.


Platform for freelance architects

Another platform on which you can promote your professional experience or your own studio and try to gain new customers as a freelance architect.

It works as the platforms that you just read in this post. A good practice can be to figure out which of these platforms is most appropriate for your geographic area (perhaps by studying the origin of the architects who are already on it).

Sell your products – digital or not



Shapeways is the platform for 3D e-commerce. Whether you are a digital modeler or you have access to a 3D printer, here you will find fertile ground for your passions. This is a great community where designers are free to sell their creations and online customers are free to buy them. Shapeways enters the picture in the physical creation of products and in their delivery. This service provides a network system of 3D printers and uses them to create objects.

Using a 3D modeling software for 3D printers, (Tinkercad for example) anyone can become a designer and publish his projects at no cost and with no contractual relationship with any production company. Someone is speaking about third industrial revolution referring to the advent of 3D Printing, and in this case we would like to confirm this definition. If you are good in modeling, you will not have to worry about anything else. Your products will be bought and produced without additional efforts.



If you are creative and if you have a strong sense of business, then you may want to trade and sell online t-shirt or anything else (if you are good in using graphics programs – all you need is a bit of time to create your drawings / written / photos and print on t-shirts). The next step will be to take care of receipts and shipments. And you can do everything remaining on Facebook!

With so much willingness you can design your shirts and present them to the web in a simple and original way using  mock-up files – in this way you can begin to sell them without having previously printed and therefore without incurring upfront costs, (obviously you have to run after the first order! It is useful to have in mind the entire production: from creation to shipment, also to determine the final price). To sell them you will definitely need a platform, unless you should entrust once again to Amazon, however, among the best there are Shopify, which sell directly from Facebook, Big Cartel or Woo Commerce.



Envato studio is an online platform for digital contents. Digital contents of all kinds: vectors, photographs, presentations and videos. Or even “plug ins” for Internet sites. Besides being an inexhaustible source of graphics material  for architects or designers, it is also a powerful tool that you can use to show and sell your skills.

Anyone can become an author, and sell his creations. What is needed is to be good at something and know how to be even original.



Selling E-book nowadays is as simple as buying them. The online sites that offer this kind of service now are many. Among those that offer a wider potential are definitely Amazon and Playstore. On these platforms you can upload your e-book and wait for downloads that surely will come if you have done a good work!

It is not important if you are not a great writer or if you’ve never written a book. We are not talking about Novels or Thrillers, at least not only that. You could sell guides, manuals, collections of photography or even short stories. So the e-book is the right way to fix your passions and your knowledge and make it available to the web. An important point is the graphic, in which you have to pay special attention.



500 px is the social network for professional photographers in which the quality is very high and where you can sell your photos.

If you are a great photographer – and every freelance architect should be – here you will find a community that has the same passion. You will be able to compare your abilities with various themes. The copyright is always respected and is a great way to begin to sell your photographs.

Exploit web platforms


Design for Autodesk

Design for Autodesk is a challenge offered by the greatest cad drawing company in the world, that invite you to create CAD assemblies using Autodesk Fusion 360, the new 3D modeling tool. Beyond the opportunity of earn money, as reported on the official site, this could be an opportunity to improve your ability in something very useful.

The process is really simple, on the site is well explained. You have to read the projects rules and requirements and then you have to choose your project to develop and do your job. Always supported by the Autodesk’s team.



It is not correct to say that these platforms are made to earn money. These platforms are used to realize your ideas. Here have been presented the newest and the most incredible projects of recent times. Known more or less by everyone, Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the main sites hosting ideas and projects to be collectively funded. People love visionary projects and creativity and they are ready to support your ideas if it really worth it.

If you have a great idea, even very very big, (for example a new construction method or a smart low cost hospital…) but you don’t have enough funds to support it, then you need to do only a video presentation, set a target, launch your campaign and spread your words.

Creating your future



A freelance architect must also know how to promote himself. One way is certainly to create a site or a blog. Personal blogs can give a lot of satisfaction, including possible gains. Of course the project must be clearly structured and requires a lot of attention – certainly longer than any other point in this list. However, can be a good basis which will launch all the rest.

Or better you can create your own business model, as allaDIYally  did – “a resource, advocate and ally helping you avoid expensive mistakes while encouraging you to assert That need for self-expression!” – and promote your idea through your site.

WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr. are the main platforms with which you can create websites. There are many others – like Weebly or Wix – but I personally recommend the first ones. To start a blog you need to have in mind what you can write on it and have a great passion for digital communication.



It’s not really the best advice to give to a single architect, especially if young and inexperienced, but often the competitions are open and accessible – and thus become opportunities for all. These projects can be the starting point for the beginning of a great career, or at least a window in which to be known or even to be mentioned.

I imagine that everyone knows how it works. It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of time and above all a strong quality. But surely it is the most interesting point and especially the closer to architecture of all this list. You have to try it sometime. And do not get depressed if you do not win, even Le Corbusier wrote that his studio usually won one contest every 10 – Yes, Le Corbusier.

A series of useful links to find the competition for you:

Bustler – Archdaily competitionsYoungarchitectscompetiotions – E-architect competitions – Europan

I hope to have offered you some useful suggestions and ideas to turn on your enthusiasm and to become a successful freelance Architect or designer!

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And if you have any question or any other suggestions please write freely in the comments