How to Get Started as a Freelance Engineer

Carolyne Njeri

How to Get Started as a Freelance Engineer
This movement of engineers to freelance work has in part been triggered by the increased customer base for independent service providers who work fast and produce impeccable results without the bureaucracy involved when working with firms.

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Traditionally, engineers have thrived in group settings; going the employment route and waiting to climb the corporate ladder as their experience grows. However, now that freelancing has taken root in almost every industry across the board, more and more engineers are warming up to the idea of working as independent contractors. This movement of engineers to freelance work has also in part been triggered by the increased customer base for independent service providers who work fast and produce impeccable results without the bureaucracy involved when working with firms.

As an engineer, no matter the stage you’re at in your career, freelancing is a viable (and often well paying) option for you. Just like in any other freelancing career, there are many benefits to gain from working for yourself and on your own terms. You get to choose projects that interest you, work on a schedule of your own design, create room for advancing your skills, and enjoy some free time. Working as a freelancer will also help you bypass the stress and negativity that is often associated with engineering, meaning you’ll enjoy a wholesome career at no risk to your mental and physical health. This is why some of your peers are ditching the conventional path altogether and working independently from the get go.

That being said, getting started as a freelance engineer can be quite tricky. Some clients prefer to work with well-established firms because of their track record of successful projects, their huge portfolio and their arsenal of trained personnel. But this shouldn’t discourage you. Done right, your freelance career can take off significantly faster than if you got employed. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss how you can get started as a freelancer in engineering, to help carve a successful career as an independent contractor.

  • Register on a freelance website

Visibility is key for any freelancer, and nothing puts you out there more than registering on digital marketplaces such as Ureed.com. Statistics show that many employers nowadays are turning to freelancing sites to acquire talent, because of how diverse these platforms are. This is why choosing the right platform brings you that much closer to landing clients. 

On Ureed.com, you can set up a profile that showcases your skills and wow potential clients with your impressive portfolio. The website is also set up in a way that enables you to browse projects relevant to your skillset, so your energies are focused on finding what you need.

Additionally, since the hiring and payment processes are standardized and secure, you don’t have to stress about getting paid once you’ve delivered your milestones.

  • Create a killer resume and portfolio

This may sound easy if you’ve had experience in your field but for newbies, it can be an uphill task. First off, if you haven’t had many clients, don’t despair- everybody starts somewhere. Instead, focus on your skills, credibility and find ways to convince your clients why they need to hire you. Don’t give up taking those online courses, become a master at design software (think CAD, machine design, modelling, etc), and don’t forget to polish up your basic skills like using word processors and spreadsheets. Also, if you’ve been an intern in the past, be sure to mention it so your employer can know you’ve had some work experience.

If you’ve been in the field for a while, then this part should be easy for you. Mention your most recent jobs, highlight your best skills and assure your clients that you’ll produce the same quality results you did before going freelance.

  • Pick your niche and stick to it!

Engineering is all about specialization. When you were in school, you chose a field to study, for instance, Mechanical Engineering. However, in ME,  there are so many subspecialties involved that it would be impossible for you to be a pro at all of them. So instead of becoming a jack of all trades and mastering nothing, you’re better off sticking to one field and conquering it. This way, your clients associate you with that niche and contract you whenever they need your input. What’s more, if you focus your attention on one field, you are less likely to burn out trying to keep up, so your path to success is shorter and less painful.

  • It’s all in the marketing

Beating out your competition requires you to be aggressive in your marketing campaign. Getting your name out there is step one in establishing yourself as a force in your industry. Word-of-mouth campaigns are a tried and tested way of gaining new business, that’s why you should go above and beyond for your clients so they recommend you to others for future gigs. You can also ask them to let you know in case they hear of opportunities that fit your profile. This is why it is so important to ensure that you maintain a good working relationship with all your clients.  But aside from that, you should also be intentional in building your brand in a way that allows present and future customers to recognize you.

For starters, you can create a social media profile for your business where you can link your freelancer profile from Ureed.com, show off your previous and ongoing projects and interact with your audience. As you progress, you can invest in a website and paid advertising to reel in even bigger business. 

  • Keep at it

Your career will take off eventually, so don’t worry about how muddled your beginnings may be. A lot of freelancers give up on their journey because of low-ball offers or scarcity of opportunities at the beginning, but this is how even the renowned business people began. Patience, although not taught in school, is one of the most important skills of success in engineering. But don’t stay idle. When the offers aren’t trickling in, take the time to grow your craft. Enroll in online classes, attend webinars, get certifications, grow! All these add-ons will help you stand ahead of your competition in the future. Don’t underestimate the value of experience in your journey.

Ready to get started?

Engineering is moving to a per-project-based approach and freelancers are taking advantage. If you’re a new engineer and want to take a bold approach to your career, then freelancing is for you. Or, if you’ve been in the field for a while and want to break free from employment and charter your own path, enter into the world of contract engineering. Ureed.com is home to many professionals like you enjoying unparalleled success from our wide consumer base and our cohesive platform. Register today to kickstart your career.

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