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Is THIS an Architecture Practice? The Undercover Architect Part 2

Is THIS an Architecture Practice? The Undercover Architect Part 2


You’re not a “real” architect though. I was always getting approached for one-to-one
work but I knew that you know and I did look do I’d take on some architects? Do I take on some people that can help me
do this? And again it was like, no I don’t, that’s
not the practice I want. I made a decision at the beginning of this
year I wanted to try and see how I could go with the course sales and not do one-to-one
and so I thought okay I’m gonna be really strict with myself I’m going to say no to
these one-to-one services and then start really investing some effort and energy in the courses. So I want to take a moment and decode the
business model here. When Amelia talks about one-to-one services
she’s talking about the traditional practice of architecture serving clients. So one-on-one client work, one client equals
one project when that project is complete you need to find another client. When she talks about one-to-many services
she’s talking about products. So Amelia has sort of two businesses that
exist under her sort of banner: there’s Design by Amelia Lee which is a custom residential
design service and then there is the Undercover Architect which is predominantly a product-based
business where she’s selling courses. I’ve never had to market the one-to-one services
I think the blog and then the podcast you know which got started at the end of 2016
that has enabled people to get to know me in a way that they can’t get to know a lot
of Architects. The they’ve been able then to self-select
whether I’m the right fit for them and the clients that I’ve worked with inside Undercover
Architect are some of the best clients I’ve ever worked with in my career because they
they have already built a relationship of trust with me by the time they turn up and
decide that they want to work with me. Over the last 12 months my revenue has plateaued
but the proportion of one to one to one to many split has fundamentally changed and for
me that’s then an opportunity to continue to grow the business in a way that’s actually
scalable because I don’t need to have a big team, I can help lots of people and do it
in a way that works for them and works for me. If you look on both of those websites you’ll
notice that she’s using something called content marketing now they don’t teach you marketing
in school in architecture school but if you want a successful business you need to learn
how to be a marketer. Content marketing is essentially creating
content and information around things that people are searching for online. So you’ll notice Amelia has an email list
she has a blog she has all of her social media profiles and she also has her podcast and
each one of those creates content curates information and delivers it to people who
are searching for that information online. That’s how she reaches her audience and then
she uses those channels to funnel them back to her products. I’ve said to other architects yeah I probably
spend a day day and a half a week doing my blog on my podcast and they’re like, what? What? How does that earn you money? Like you know and I’m like well are you spending
money on marketing? I don’t spend a lot of money on marketing
because I’m teaching I’m seeking to educate that has always been my goal first I want
to educate help and serve and I do that with a belief that then the right people will come
to choose what to work with me. I think you really have to flip your switch
on how you think about your business to do this type of work. Consistency is what counts and I’ve learned
that I couldn’t just do it for six months and then I let it fall away and expect it
to still have any profile. In hindsight it kind of probably looks like
I had this linear path to where I got to it didn’t it’s never felt like that. I did start Undercover Architect with some
pretty clear ideas about how I wanted my lifestyle and the business to align with each other
now I’m not there yet I’m still working far more than I would like to be in terms of the
number of hours that I’m spending doing this and the amount of work I’m putting into it. For the last maybe 18 months I’ve got far
better at working out, ok what does the year ahead need to look like? What are financial targets? What does that mean in terms of launch? I actually have a calendar where I at the
beginning of each year I do it in November now the year before and I have a big calendar
and I put all the kids school holidays in I put the kids birthdays I put anything else
that I know that I need to have and then everything gets planned around sort of those blocked
out times. I’ve looked at how many hours I had each month
and I then work out what my hourly rate needed to be based on the month. Yeah Easter I couldn’t earn as much so my
monthly target for that was lower than perhaps June where I was capable of working more. It’s just starting to get like none of its
perfect, what gets measured gets managed. So you need to like put some pinpoints in
something and start tracking your progress in it and I’ve learned over time what the
metrics are that work for me in terms of what I follow to see growth. So I do the planning in November that has
a financial target and sort of an understanding of time. I’d then do 90-day goals and I boil what I
need to deliver down into 90-day time frames and then of course I then boil those down
into individual tasks that are deliverable each week and there’s things that I just have
to happen like the podcast or stuff and the website and those types of things on a on
a weekly basis. The blog of course was like driving people
to me that were really awesome to work with who already turned up trusting me. The podcast has elevated that to a new level
because it when you’re in somebody’s ear for half an hour a week that’s a very different
relationship and connection created so people email me saying I feel like I know you I have
to remind myself that I’ve never met you in person. Most people don’t use architects and so you
know they’re doing this anyway and for me for us to get information in front of them
only builds up the value and knowledge base of the industry. And I’ve had people say to me well if you
give it all away for free are people going to pay you for it? And it’s like, they do! And, they pay me more now than they paid me
before. So I think that you what it enables you to
do is cut through and create a relationship with a person before they turn up. I don’t have to elicit their trust anymore
they turn up trusting me which means that they actually listen to what I do and they
build the buildings that we work together on rather than you punching out all these
projects that never get built you know I think that there’s just so much possibility even
if you just have your website and you just put you know like this is what it looks like
to work with me and you have 10 blogs that say: okay this is what we do then and this
is what we do then this is. Like people are looking for information and
you know there’s a there’s a rule that in the sales process people are turning up to
you and they’re sort of like already 70 percent of the way of making their decision because
they’ve done all of this research and you have to undo a lot of that research all of
that you know a lot of the time because they’ve turned up with all this misinformation. If you can cut through that and arrive at
the beginning of that process and guide them through the journey that you normally take
then that is a way of actually then helping them and helping them arrive at you in an
informed way that then makes them a really great client to work with. Architects we’re all doing quite similar things
we’re talking about orientation we’re talking about space planning we’re talking about functionality
you know like but you will still do it your unique way you’ll have your unique personality
and you’ll attract your own unique people. People go, I’m gonna start a podcast, my advice
always is just know you’re in it for the long game this isn’t an overnight thing like the
work I have done to get this business to where it is and it’s nowhere near where I want it
to be so for me this has always been a long-term commitment. I don’t plan on kind of at this stage ever
really stopping doing undercover architect and I’m 44 now so this for me as a legacy
you know project. I’ve seen bloggers in my industry come and
go and they just obviously didn’t understand how much tenacity it was going to take to
do it. It’s not easy but for me it’s been so worthwhile. So this model it’s not for everyone and it’s
definitely drawn some criticism for her especially from other architects. You’re not a real architect though. Yeah I get that I get I do get people that
saying to me well you’re not you’re not designing buildings. And that’s what they think. You know I find it really challenging, architecture
is such a diverse industry so many people are doing so many different things. You know when I worked in a hundred strong
practice I saw there were architects that were really great at delivery and that’s all
that they did, they never did a drawing in their life. Other architects who only worked at design
hated being on site, you know so that was a it was a company full of specializations
with people working to their strengths to create a project you know it was a team sport. So I kind of feel like, as I said, there’s
so many architects out there who are very happy to deliver buildings to their clients
and I just want to and do it in a really, really, great way that supports the client
getting what they want, I just want to help people find them. And I’ve found that I’ve got this ability
to simplify, I didn’t know I had this ability to simplify what seems complex for some people
into like a system and a step-by-step process, and so for me to work to that ability of like
educating and teaching people is where my strength lies. You know you can’t help but see these beautiful
big buildings and these iconic structures that people are building and going gosh, have
I missed the boat like you know I was working on that kind of stuff if I’d stuck with it
but I couldn’t I couldn’t be the mum I am I couldn’t I’d be working ridiculous hours
or I’d be doing a really small like I’d be doing the lobby fit out. People are always going to judge you it says
far more about them than it does about you. So yeah I just think you just gotta thick
skin, roll-on set. What’s that Brene Brown saying? If you’re not in the arena then your opinion
doesn’t really matter.

53 comments found

  1. Amelia's course (the one we filmed together at my studio) is ready, here's the link to learn more: https://thirtybyforty.com/the-welcome-home-course

  2. Thank you very much …. This is great … I appreciate you this interest and great effort …
    <3 Have a nice Day Eng.. ^_^

  3. I love the different mindset of being an architect. I'm still figuring out what that means for me because the choice of what we do with our knowledge is ours.. and a lot of people forget that with the results being people only see the traditional route as an way to make money. But that is so not true.

  4. In love with the planning.Because being a female and wanting a family in the future. I need to figure that out and loved that it is possible to do both but creating an balance.

  5. Thank you for producing this amazing series! In architecture school, our teachers nowadays regularly refer us to your videos. It is truly a great pleasure to watch your channel grow and evolve Eric. Just like with Amelia, I'm sure a lot of us similarly feel like we already know you.

  6. excuse me … What are the best books in extracting the design concept of forms. With examples?

    Thank you <3 ^_^

  7. I just started listening to her podcast..and you post this video…such an coincidence…very inspirational woman 👌

  8. Another great video. Amelia has two traits I really like. She is honest and she is confident. I think all three of us have found the key. We all do what WE like, the way WE want to do it, and don't worry about the naysayers. I don't like cocky or arrogant people, but I do like confident and secure people. Unfortunately many can not tell the difference between the two. I do commercial work, small upfits, medium size shell building and a fair amount are pre-engineered buildings. Not the magazine publishing, award-winning buildings, but that is OK, I like what I do. I make an analogy of what I do to being a football player (American or Australian is fine). Most people want to be the star on the team who gets the big bucks and big fame but only plays for a few years. I want to be the 2nd string lineman, who nobody knows my name, but I get to play for 15 years, because playing is more important to me than the fame. Like Amelia stated, I am in it for the long haul.
    I appreciate what both you and Amelia do on social media. I do understand how hard it to to blog and podcast and that is why I have never done it, I question my commitment to keep it going. Maybe one day I will make the plunge? I take great satisfaction in my security in knowing what I do and what I bring to the table. I am here to help others if they want it. If they don't think I have any value and don't want to use my services that is their right. Ain't architecture great!

  9. Another fantastic episode. Thanks for spreading the word about the power of being an entrepreneur architect. Amelia is such a great role model.

  10. Thank you for sharing my story, and the story of Undercover Architect, Eric. I hope that your viewers can see the huge opportunity we ALL have to choose how we serve, who we help and what our own practice of architecture looks like! – Amelia, UA

  11. Great vid, but she talk about something you have to spend at-list 15 years after that you can move on, I preferred project management or working at workshop

  12. Great°°° Simply amazing interview with Amelia. You show us how architects should face our practice into hte 21st century…we need being like water and have a liquid practice, carying about other people and create a new way to job for architects. Simply amazing, again.

  13. Excellent. Great new perspective. And love the Brene quote. She rocks. Look her up for insight on creativity of you don’t know her

  14. YES. So glad you've addressed this shift in the sole-proprietor business model… I'm only 1 video into my journey to download the last 20 years of design & construction from my head to the internet, and have already received the critical comments about ROI Amelia described. 🤔 I'm shooting my 2nd vid tomorrow, so this has me pumped up! 🤘

  15. Congrats to you both for searching the edges and peripherals of this industry and coming up with some great alternatives to the norm. This will only help grow our industry and ease our clients into the often complicated process. Love the Welcome Home idea!

  16. I want to be an architect because my dad is an architect too and im good at math but.. Im not gud at drawing lol then our TLE teacher got a lesson drafting so i came. Here i wanna practice

  17. Hey, love your channel. You are truly an inspiration and a real motivator for me. I am currently 14 years old and am looking at architecture as a future job. I am doing a project for my high school and have to interview someone in my interest field. I think it would be an amazing opportunity if I can ask you some questions via email? It would be a wonderful growth experience for me to be able to talk with you. Please reach back out to me if you’re willing, thank you!!!

  18. A superb episode! Thanks for these honest conversations around the business elements of architecture and steering it into this diversity of professional applications that an architect can explore. The approach Amelia and even you have taken towards the profession is a refreshing departure from the tried and tested route – it's inspiring and motivating. Cheers and keep up the good work!

  19. Great insights through your channel as always. Inspiring and honest. Keep looking at the shots of Amelia sketching on her iPad Pro, can you perhaps shed some light on what apps she uses?

  20. Hi great video, I have a question about the tablet she is using. I'm looking for a tablet to use on site and make annotation maybe small changes. which one is she using? and does it work for what I want to do with it? Tnx

  21. I didn't get this video. She is someone who knows about architecture and helps others with her knowledge and help people doing their constructions without an architect?

  22. Good day sir, love your channel, very inspiration. Please make another video about graphic tools, sofrwares etc that architects usually work with. Thank you

  23. Hey 30×40! I've been watching your videos recently and i was wondering maybe if you could do a tutorial on how to do stairs? or different types of stairs! I've been going to your channel for almost everything and I can't find a good video on stairs, I'm sure it will be a lot of help for lots of students.

  24. 7:26 here for the money🤣😂🤣.
    Also could you help me to firther explain the diversity in architecture. Growing up, i thoughtit was merely about design designs only. It seems there are a lot to learn🙂

  25. I am trying to begin my architectural portfolio, which programs do you recommend? For Beginners, Which program do you believe will be best to begin designing and developing a portfolio?

  26. Heyy I really need your opinion! Im not good at drawing, I never had the raw talent. Should I discard architecture as an option??

  27. Thanks, a lot Eric for this amazing video and thanks to Amelia for showing me how beautiful one's desire and ability can render him/her.

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