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Choosing to ditch traditional career paths and become your own boss is rewarding but it comes with a unique set of challenges, especially for engineers. There’s a great deal of uncertainty surrounding freelancing. However, being a successful freelance engineer is entirely possible as long as you start on the right track.
If you are thinking of starting a career in freelance engineering, five simple tips can give your career a significant boost early on. I’m going to share them with you and set you on the fast track to success!
1. Do Your Research
The most successful people in life do extensive research before making any big decision. Freelancing isn’t for everyone; it can be difficult and frustrating at times and you need certain skills to make it in this field.
Before you decide to work independently, you need to be informed not only of facts and statistics but the basic pros and cons of choosing this career path.
Freelancing Facts and Statistics
- 68% of freelancers are finding clients in North America. 58% of freelancers have worked with clients located in Europe. These two regions hold a large majority of your potential clientele.
- The weekly average hours worked by freelance engineers is 38.2. This is nearly as time-consuming as a full-time job.
- 20% of large organizations currently have a workforce made up of 30%+ remote contractors.
These stats tell you three important things: freelancers in North America and Europe have plenty of opportunities for jobs, you might be working full-time hours, and a growing number of large companies are hiring freelancers such as yourself. At the very least, you can use these statistics as a jumping-off point to ask further questions.
2. Weigh the Benefits and the Risks
Freelancing Pros and Cons
There are considerable upsides and downsides to starting a career in freelance engineering. Consider them carefully before making a final decision.
- Freelancing allows you to set your own work hours and pay rate. This is a freedom that you do not get in most traditional careers.
- You can do your work in the comfort of your own home. If you have limited access to transportation, this is a particularly important part of the puzzle.
- There is no dress code to adhere to and no awkward office interactions to endure. You can fully express yourself and avoid the uncomfortable atmosphere of a typical office setting.
- You can focus your skills on more than one subject. If you work for a particular company, your role will be the same every time. When you get to choose your own projects, you can do whatever you have the skills for.
- You have no income stability. Your income depends entirely on your success in securing clients. If you can’t find work then you don’t get paid. You should never have to worry about consistency working with an established company but freelancing strips you of that security.
- You won’t get benefits that employers offer their staff. You work for yourself so there is no company health insurance plan or retirement savings plan. You need to navigate those things by yourself instead.
- There is no one to keep you in check. When you work for someone else, you do what they say. You come to work consistently and do a good job because if you don’t, you get reprimanded or fired. When you work for yourself, there is no authority figure to give you guidance or hold you to a routine. You have to motivate yourself instead which can be difficult.
Knowing the benefits and the risks helps you make a more informed choice overall.
3. Take Advantage of Freelancing Platforms
The first step to becoming a successful freelance engineer is to advertise your services and make yourself visible to potential clients. Simply announcing what you do on your social media page isn’t going to help you secure many jobs.
Instead, you should create an account on a freelance website of your choosing and advertise what you do in a location targeting clients in need of your services.
Popular freelance websites include:
Each platform offers different tools and features that help you secure jobs and manage your projects.
4. Build a Stellar Profile
Once you’ve signed up on the platform of your choosing, it’s time to build a profile that potential clients can’t ignore. Your profile is their first impression of you so it’s crucial that you make it a great one.
The essential things to add to your freelancer profile include:
- A professional photo. This photo should be taken from the shoulders up, in front of a plain background. It should be of high-quality and with enough light to clearly see your face. Anything less looks sloppy and is likely to deter otherwise interested clients.
- Your skills. List the specific skills you have that make you the best freelance engineer on the platform. Don’t lie but do list every single relevant skill that you have.
- Examples of your previous work. If you have previous experience that can be proven, add it to your portfolio. Having examples of your work impresses clients and makes them more likely to hire you if your work is satisfactory.
- Any relevant certifications that you have. If you are certified in any specialized area relating to your career, show clients on your profile. It demonstrates that you have put in work to advance your expertise.
5. Apply, Apply, Apply
Your budding career in freelance engineering is not going to blossom if you don’t apply for jobs. The freelance website or websites that you join list current open positions. It is your job to tell each potential client why you would be the best fit for the project they completed.
Your success hinges on the contracts you secure; the more you apply, the more likely it is that you will get a positive response. If you do these five things, you put yourself on the right path to starting a successful career in freelance engineering.