Engineering has always been one of the most important industries for the development of humankind. These days, many people choose to contribute to our society as architects, mechanical engineers, IT engineers, electrical engineers, etc.
Those careers are not easy. They are demanding, require hard work and constant studying. Still, career-wise, they are fulfilling and often ensure six-figure salaries to those pursuing them.
Engineers rarely spend their entire careers in one place, contributing to a single business or company. Working in one company can be the right decision for both the company and the engineer, but people of science tend to jump to other jobs so they can find the perfect one.
However, nowadays, as freelancing is gaining momentum, it has become much easier for everyone to get what they want out of their jobs.
Branches like architecture and civil engineering, for example, require constant learning about software, new technologies, building trends, etc. That is the reason why many engineers prefer maintaining a level of independence, so they can keep growing and obtaining new skills.
Engineers have good potential to work remotely as freelancers. If you want to try this, but you are not sure where to start, this article is just for you. In this article, we are going to give you some useful tips on making an organic transition to a full-blown career as a Freelance Engineer.
1) Do as Much Research as Possible
This is necessary when thinking about anything related to a new job or career. It is crucial to get as informed as possible from reliable sources, so you can know what to expect.
There are probably many individuals in your industry who left their 9-to-5 jobs and became freelancers. Accordingly, the internet is abundant with pages and pages of freelance engineers’ tips that can help you get familiarized with the whole process.
2) Ask Yourself Why Do You Want to Be a Freelancer
If you are not entirely sure what it is that you want to pursue through freelancing, we advise you to think it through.
We are aware that most people do not enjoy communing and spending their days in companies’ offices at a fixed schedule, which are probably two main reasons for getting into freelancing. If that is the case, your transition into the world of freelancing will be a bit simpler.
However, if you are one of those people who want to start freelancing so you can have a more fragmented work schedule and free time to obtain other skills, there are more things to consider, one of them being the workload volume.
If you dream about launching your startup or attending online classes to learn new software, you might want to be careful when picking a job. Find out what your potential employer wants out of you and how many hours you will need to work each day.
If you get trapped in another demanding workplace, you essentially ventured into freelancing for nothing.
3) Learn to Be as Productive as Possible with Your Job Search
No matter how strong your current resume is, it is always a good idea to go the extra mile and impress your potential employer.
Make sure you brush up on your skills and learn new ones. The job market is vicious and unforgiving, and you want to stay on top of your game. If some of your related skills can be sharpened or learned through online courses, make sure you give them a shot – Udemy is a good start.
Once you are ready to get out there, try to put yourself on the market in the best, boldest, and most professional way. You can do this through a good online presence. Create a detailed online portfolio or even consider creating your web page. Let your resume and previous work experience be visible to those who might want to see it. Create an impressive LinkedIn profile and update it frequently. It is still one of the most prominent headhunting and job-seeking social media platforms, so make sure you use it to its full potential.
Through your online presence and job-related social media, it will be much easier to network. Through connecting with larger groups of professionals and HR agents in your area of expertise, you are much more likely to land a freelancing job tailored to you.
4) Get a Perfect Job by Utilizing Freelance Platforms
Most engineers out there who work by themselves are well aware of just how useful some of these freelance platforms can be.
At one point, only a couple of websites, such as Freelance or Upwork were put to use by freelance engineers. However, nowadays, many others tailor specific platform departments just for these industries. For example, Fiverr recently introduced an entirely new platform for engineers of all sorts called Fiverr Industries, allowing experts in engineering fields to pursue prosperous freelance careers from the comfort of their own homes.
Fiverr will even let you offer different “gigs,” allowing you to put all your assets and skills to good use and sell them. With a strong profile on one of these websites, you can attract a significant number of new clients willing to pay top dollar for whatever you care to offer.
Still, make sure to do thorough research for your specific industry. Popular freelancing platforms are rarely specific, so they get crowded with many different options and various jobs. For instance, if you are in 3D printing and engineering, there are websites like Workana, Taskengo, Guru, and many more.
Finally, briefly brush over some reviews of each platform you might want to use. If the experiences are mostly positive, give it a whirl. On the other hand, if you get to see a bunch of negative comments and unhappy freelancers, obviously stay away from wasting your time and effort. You put yourself through some tough times at school and you know just how much it is worth – do not waste it on people who cannot appreciate it.
5) Always Be Careful When Picking Your Clients
Freelancing can be a joy when you work with the right people. It will not be simple at all times. Still, if you have continuous cooperation with that one client you enjoy working with, freelance work can be a cakewalk.
Most clients you find on freelance platforms will contact you through their profiles. The profiles will inform you about their previous experience, work ethic, what they expect from you, and if they are reliable in terms of on-time payments.
If you start cooperating with a client more often, make sure to be there for them whenever they might need you, and give them priority to other first-time clients. Building a quality relationship with someone who is a frequent buyer of your services helps your freelance credibility and, thus, lets you raise prices for your services.
Do not forget to be self-appreciative and always know your worth. Do not work for miserable amounts of money just to keep the ball rolling. Your enthusiasm and confidence must be your priority.
6) Maintain a Good Work Ethic
It is essential to let the other party know you are reliable, hardworking, and overall ready to perform to the best of your abilities.
In order to live up to your words, set a few things straight first. Carefully inspect what the client wants from you, and assure yourself you can do what they want. Set a certain number of revisions they can expect, examine the workload, and plan your time accordingly. It is crucial to meet deadlines at all times so that you keep your clients. A good piece of advice is to keep your communication strictly professional, especially at first. If you eventually develop a quality work relationship with your employee or client, in which case they choose to loosen the belt a bit – take it as a sign of success. If the client feels comfortable in your work and trusts your opinion, chances for your own success are much higher.
7) Take Care of Your Mind, Body, and Soul
Do not forget that you matter the most. Your health needs to be your top priority.
Freelancers, especially those working in engineering, spend massive portions of their time in front of their computer screens. That can cause damage to your posture and eyesight and often lead to insomnia, overworked mind, and several other states.
As a freelancer, you will need to remember to set aside an hour or two of your day and dedicate that time to self-care. Stay hydrated, focus on quality meal prep, exercise as much as possible, and invest in a good chair, since you will spend quite a bit of time in it.
Getting a gym membership is always a good idea, especially once you put a good dollar into it. Paying a bit more for it will stimulate your subconscious into working out more, and in return, you will feel much better.
Once you stabilize your health, your mindset will boost drastically, and you will be much happier and more productive. Sharp mind comes from a strong body – you will likely witness it soon into your remote career.
8) Solidify Your Business Plan and Keep Track of Your Income
Once you shift to a full-time freelance engineering career, your income will most likely fluctuate according to the amount of work you finish.
Set some goals on what is the minimum amount of money you want to earn each month, and plan the number of your work hours accordingly. That will let you enjoy your free time more without the feeling of guilt, and you will maintain a stress-free climate when it comes to your earnings.
Try to put some money aside for emergencies, in case you are unable to work at some point. When you know you have a secret stash in your bank, your days off can be much less stressful.
9) Explore Different Sides and Environments of Freelancing
People who used to work full-time in engineering, in many cases, did not get to travel as much as they wanted. With some time off, you can pack your bags, visit that place you have always wanted to visit and gain new perspectives.
Many freelance engineers even choose to go a step further. For instance, it is now trendy to travel to a distant location, like an island in the middle of the ocean, and work from there. Drinking margaritas and switching from your home office chair to a hammock can be a hoot.
This way of remote working is often referenced to as digital nomadism. Deciding to live this way requires a lot of courage and a stable income, but many incredible stories as well. If you feel like this might be your ticket to a happy life, remote work just might be an ideal option for you.
10) Relax, You Are in Control of Everything
Many people enjoy having a set career path, a consistent paycheck, and not having to think about much besides traffic and not being late for work.
This comfortable rut is one of the main reasons people avoid freelancing. However, it is important to bear in mind that such a career choice is nowhere close to unstable. You are pulling all the strings, and the potential variables are minimal.
You might feel anxious at first, but eventually, you will learn to let go and enjoy the new freedom you will find in freelancing. Your days will not be as empty as they used to be with a 9-to-5 job, and the fact that you will be able to spend more time with your loved ones will continuously reassure you about this big decision.
All in all, we hope we managed to give you some food for thought about your potential career as a freelance engineer. This is a huge step for your professional life, but it will certainly do wonders for your private life and health as well. Remember to do a lot of research, know your worth, and put yourself out there in the best way possible. Good luck!