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Making the leap: 6 steps to becoming an independent freelance engineer

Gavin Christie

Gavin Christie
Jul 31, 2016 06:08

You’re at a crossroads.

You’re good at your job, you’re respected by your colleagues, and you enjoy your work.

But you think about freedom and independence – being your own boss with the benefits that brings. But it’s tempered by that one obvious thought – how would I fare without a salaried income?

Here’s the good news – becoming a successful freelance engineer is more realistic than you may expect.

You have two distinct advantages. You’re an engineer, and that means you know how to plan. And, here’s the breakthrough, you now have immediate access to projects through kkooee, a new crowdsourcing site for engineers.

To help you make the leap, we’ve compiled six crucial steps to becoming an independent freelance engineer:

 

Reach your decision point

You need to feel comfortable making the decision. Talk it over with your family and friends. Why do you want to become an independent consultant? What advantages will it have over salaried employment? You will have the confidence to succeed once you’ve thought about it, talked it over and made your choice.

 

Assess market needs and determine your offering

Think about your current job. What truly unique value do you bring to a project?

This is your ticket to success in the consulting world.

New freelance engineering consultants can make two mistakes:

1) They market unrealistically diverse skill sets

2) They fail to focus on their differentiated niche skills

Focus on your most developed skills and your most tangible value-add; don’t pretend to be an expert at everything because the market wants specialists.

 

Seek advice from your network

This is vital and it’s easy. Speak with the people in your professional world who know you best.

Talk with them about your ideas and goals. Ask them for feedback.

You need to work out how your skills and experience can best work in the freelance engineering world. This information will help you determine the best way to market your skills.

Don’t discount the value of your network; the best advice you will receive on your road to becoming an independent freelance engineer may come from these discussions – and it may only cost you a cup of coffee.

 

Create a solid business plan

Becoming an independent engineering consultant means you will run your own business. Just as you can’t construct a bridge without a design, you can’t run a business without a business plan. After you decide what services you will offer, determine the rate you’ll charge, how (and where) you’ll operate, and the types of key clients you will target.

Be realistic about your goals, schedule, and overhead. Prepare a business plan (you can find plenty of great examples online), and ask for feedback from friends and colleagues. Make sure you seek legal and accounting advice when establishing your business, including insurance.

 

Update your resume and LinkedIn profile

No matter the client, you will always be asked for your resume. Often, your resume is the key factor in a client’s decision to engage you. So it makes sense to source a professional to update your resume. Crowdsourcing sites like fiverr are great for this.

Your resume is your most important marketing collateral, and your LinkedIn profile can be also be critical. Update it, upload a professional photo, join groups, follow clients, and stay active. Active contributors on LinkedIn can market themselves to an enormous number of people by participating in group discussions and posting relevant content. The only person who can sell you is you. LinkedIn can be a powerful selling tool.

 

Create profiles on freelancing websites for engineers

Freelancing and crowdsourcing websites are an increasingly accepted mechanism for sourcing and delivering services, so take the time to explore the work available on them. Sites like UpWork and Freelancer have become the accepted standard in tech-savvy industries like marketing and web design. kkooee is the only freelancing website dedicated solely to engineering services. Being a first mover on a website like kkooee will allow you to increase your global profile and will open you to a world of global opportunities before others even realize these opportunities are available. kkooee offers engineering jobs across a range of engineering disciplines, sectors and countries.

 

Countless professionals have made the leap to independent consulting before you, so reach out to them. Incorporate those learnings into your business plan. Endless opportunities await; all you have to do is make the leap. 

Comments

Very informative piece for a new comer to freelancing, like myself.

I like the analogy that becoming a freelancer is like running a business that requires a plan. This rings true for many things but I didn't think to apply to myself. Thank you Gavin.