DN Interviews #2 - Shelly Agam the digital nomad architect.
Agam DNA Digital Nomad Architect
Nov 3, 2019
Meet Shelly Agam, an architect who found a way to make her living online, while traveling with her partner Oren, and their dog- Blonda!
Now, you might not be architects, but Shelly’s story on creating her digital business – can show you just how broad is the term – Digital Nomad.
Visit her website AgamDNA or continue reading to see what she has to say!
I “met up” with Shelly as she was locked outside her apt,
with her dog, waiting on Oren to come with his key.
I like to believe our video interview helped her pass the time 🙂
I have been following her on instagram for quite some time,
as she and her small nomadic family have been living in Bansko,
and later on moving to more new and exciting places.
I know nothing about architecture
Is what I learned, speaking to Digital Nomad Architect – Shelly Agam!
We started our video when Shelly was still sitting on the street waiting for Oren, and continued it with her showing me cute nick-nacks that travel with them as they nomad around.
I think a lot of digital nomads could identify with the way Shelly’s journey started…
I left the architecture firm I was working for in November 2014.
I cut down on all of my expenses, and took a gig teaching Revit at ArchiJob Studio- the center for architecture and design education in Tel Aviv.
To those of you who don’t know- Revit is a software that is used by architects and interior designers in most of the world.
In Israel- knowing how to work with Revit is mandatory in most workplaces!
In the years that passed since she quit her job, Shelly found creative ways to make her living online- as an architect, as an interior designer, and as a tutor for other professionals on the Revit software.
I love being able to offer architecture and interior design services remotely.
My online work with clients includes mostly renovation planning for existing spaces, or giving people an architecture’s second opinion on their new project.
It’s amazing to think people offer these services fully online these days, and I’m only guessing it takes some organizational skills to be able to pull off something like that…
Just think of the process for these things!
I recently had second opinion architecture project.
The client had gotten a design from a developer who wished to build a new building on their property.
They wanted someone on “their side” to give a second opinion on the design.
I implemented some changes to some of the apartments in the building, and the client ended up passing it along to their main developer and changing the project accordingly.
Interior Design- remote, and not so remote
I am currently working on an apartment renovation for a client in Israel.
I sent the design ideas to the client and then video-chatted with them over the 3D model I sent.
Once they send me any alterations they have and we reach the “end” result they wanted- I will start developing the plan for executing the renovations.
That means- knowing the rights local contractors (builders, electricians, plumbers, etc.) to work with… Contractors that would often video-call me from a project site to show me things are going as planned!
In a way, Shelly makes it sound so EASY! But it’s not.
I lost most of my clients by going remote, and I still have trouble finding new projects.
and to be flexible with what you do.
Another project that took us by surprise happened in Budapest.
We were looking to rent an apartment there. We had found a flat that was newly renovated, but empty.
I made a deal with the landlord that I would design and furnish the apartment, in exchange for a discount on the rent fee.
We ended up staying there for several months.
You can see examples of Shelly’s projects on her website AgamDNA.
'lessons to learn' on setting up online courses
On top of these remote professional jobs, Shelly is also a professional-educator.
Going back to that same point of quitting her job and figuring out a remote-life-method for her business, Shelly started spreading her Revit knowledge with one-on-one tutoring sessions.
(see more on that on Shelly’s Revit teaching website- RevitPros.org )
Teaching online has allowed Shelly to earn money online, as she and her partner set out to Edinburgh, to attend a 5 months long entrepreneurial program by : Entrepreneurial Spark.
That time in Edinburgh, I registered on a UK site to teach one of one sessions, as well as released my first online course in Revit.
The course took me about a year to make. It was a course that totaled in 72 HOURS.
What a lot of people don’t know is that the hours you see on the course- are so much less than actual footage hours and the time you spend filming the course.
I was trying to give people something a bit different than what I came accross online.
I made the mistake of setting up this course business with the wrong person.
I was new to all of this. I thought I would just be making the course- and the person I was collaborating with would do all the featuring and marketing.
I was wrong.
You need to understand, there are so many great ways to do things online, so many people to collaborate with.
But- you need to know who to trust.
And after spending a year building a course that she no longer had the legal RIGHTS for, Shelly learned a lesson that I wish no one ever had to learn.
So, Shelly left that course behind, and started to use her time to establishing her new courses and set of online tools for architects and designers- on her own domain, where you’ll soon find more and more courses and of course- access to contact her for one on one sessions.
"I'm not a marketing expert"
I love how people just get blunt and speak up on their reality.
We just got back from a 12 days camping trip in Turkey.
Most of my clients are israelis, and this being the Jewish Holiday season of the year- meant we could take some time off of work.
12 days without wifi??
No, you’d be surprised!
We got sim cards with the biggest interest packages, and the coverage, even in remote areas, was amazing!
So this is the kind of things you’d be writing about in your blog?
I want to write about a lot of things… Mostly about the everyday life, the things we do, and the places we go.
We’re also traveling with a dog, and I think that a lot of people are looking for information on traveling with a pet.
Shelly’s Instagram is one of my favorite’s to follow. And it’s funny considering that the next thing Shelly said to me was:
Most marketing experts would say I’m doing all this incorrectly…
Yeah, cause most experts these days still encourage people to pre-schedule every single piece of content! So many bloggers who have a month worth of posts just ready to be published on social media…
The world is becoming more organic.
I’m not a marketing expert, but my business and my social channels are a reflection of who I am.
My business is only – labor of love!
That’s why I don’t plan what to post and when, I just post when I feel it’s what I want to share at that moment!
The Nesting Digital Nomad Couple
Since Shelly and her partner started travelling, they got to live in Scotland, Hungary, Philippines, Vietnam, Germany and Bulgaria.
They tend to stay longer in each area, but often use that new place as grounds for traveling in the area, visiting more countries on weekends and trips.
I love to see how different people have different terms to basically the same thing.
Not all nomads travel in the same frequency. I myself love to spend several months in places, getting my own flat, living as much as a local as i can.
A lot of people call that being a slow-mad.
I don’t like that term. We’re not slow.
I like to say that we are nesters. Any place we go we have our apt, we make it homey and cozy with different trinkets we carry with us, or purchase locally for that destination.
Shelly & Oren have been together for 3 years.
You might say they met at the exact right time in life.
I was already on my “journey” of not working from an office.
Oren was basically on the same path.
We dated for 6 months, both of us having this goal in mind of living a bit differently than other people.
After those 6 months, oren moved in with me for 6 more months, and then we left.
We didn’t even know about that thing called a Digital Nomad. We just both felt like this made sense.
So when that first year ended we sold our stuff and left.
Oren, who sneaked a peak one time during our very long video, works in digital advertising and campaign management, mostly assisting small/medium businesses, and trying to live with the work-life balance that will allow him to travel the world, experience new cultures- and mostly food!
You can check out Oren’s Instagram for pictures from their travels, but mostly check out for stories, in his & Shelly’s Instagram– cause that’s where the real magic happens!
Every day documentation of what they ate, where they stayed, where they worked from- all important things for digital nomads to know about a destination!
To find out more about what Oren does for a living, and ways to get in touch with him on promoting your small business- go to his official website!
I love hearing stories like Shelly & Oren’s, as they remind me of my-own.
Sitting at home, working, and just realizing- I can do this from anywhere.
It has become somewhat of a trend these days, and I’m not saying it’s a bad one… But when people “go out” to this journey- their success depends on their motivation.
Which is why I know these 2 (or 3, including Blonda) are golden- cause they left for the right reasons.
Following them for several months I can tell you that they are great for motivation during the day, just cause you don’t want vacation photos 24/7 when you’re a digital nomad- and here- you got real working people sharing their lives.
They are also somewhat of an inspiration for many single digital nomads who can’t seem to “hack” relationship with traveling.
Maybe the key is that simple- finding someone who wants the same things as you.
In the next few weeks/months Shelly plans to create new online courses, self-hosted this time (she learned her lesson), and I think we would definitely like to hear from her again- on how she set up her online courses in Revit.
But the main point here is- most architects and interior designers can’t even imagine how to do this job remotely, Yet- she found a way to make a living from it… Combining it with local jobs and tutoring sessions- creating a well planned puzzel when all the pieces fit just right!
And if there’s one thing you should take from this post- is that… Everything is doable!