How to Make Money as a Freelance Engineer

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freelance engineer

This is a contributed post.

Freelancing is on the rise across various industries — from freelance writers and graphic designers to marketing and accounting consultants. Engineering is no different, as professionals in this field now have the option to become freelancers, too. It’s a great option if you want more control over the projects you handle and the clients you work with. Not to mention, you’ll also be free from the 9-5 cycle.

If you’re wondering how to make a living out of being a freelance engineer, check out our tips below.

Use Freelance Job Websites

Making a profile on freelance websites is the first thing people consider when looking for projects. Upwork is one of the most popular platforms used by companies such as Microsoft and GE. Toptal is another excellent platform that attracts the top 3% of freelance hires. Due to the competition, you must undergo a rigorous screening process — including language and personality tests. While getting your name out there may be difficult, they offer lucrative rewards. It may also take time to gain traction on these sites, but consistently getting good ratings and comments from your clients will eventually pay off.

Teach Online Classes

Freelance engineers have become one of the highest-paid professionals. As such, thousands of students want to learn the ropes of various tools and need teachers to mentor them. As a freelance engineer, you can teach online classes about utilizing PCB designer software to create PCB models, assemble powerful electronics, and manage data. Not everyone can learn highly technical platforms and skills without someone to guide them, and you can help fill that gap. Meanwhile, if you’re more into software engineering, you can teach students about various programming languages and provide one-on-one sessions.

Become a Consultant

There’s a difference between being a freelancer and a consultant. A freelancer is in a short-term arrangement with the client, such as finishing a blueprint for a mechanical project. Meanwhile, a consultant is hired for expert advice in a particular specialty, like helping a company create a new product design. However, you can be a freelance consultant. Aside from having the right degree, you’ll also need significant expertise in a particular field of engineering — mechanical engineering or web development. Be sure to list your skills, certifications, and educational background to prove that you’re established in your niche.

Set Up An Online Store

Consider creating an online store if you’d like to provide tangible resources as a freelance engineer. For instance, if you work with CAD, you can make an account on Cults3D, where you upload your CAD models and 3D printer files as paid downloads. If you’re into 3D printing, you can offer a service where you 3D print files for people. You can also create your own site via WordPress or create a Facebook page. Remember to advertise your shop across social media so people find your work.

Publish an E-book

An e-book is a tried-and-tested way to publish your expertise and knowledge as an engineer. When writing books, getting started is often the most daunting part. As such, you’ll need to ask yourself a few questions. What topics will you write about, and how can you make it unique? If you’re a successful software engineer who has worked on notable projects, talk about your experiences in the industry and how others can find success too.

Who will your audience be? If you choose to write for high school students taking up programming for the first time, you’ll have to explain all the jargon and register as simply as you can. Once you’ve figured out your topic and started writing, finding a skilled editor who can help you refine your e-book and provide insights is best. Then, you can use sites like Amazon and Gumroad to sell them. When you finish your e-book, remember to promote it all over social media!

Start a Blog

There are several ways to make money from blogging — such as creating promotional content, collaborating with companies, and selling ad space. Having a blog also means you can build your brand as an engineer, but you’ll need a lot of time and patience. Like writing a book, starting a blog can also be overwhelming starting from scratch. First, decide on your niche and approach. Will your tone be severe, or will it be conversational? If you’re a mechanical engineer, you can make a blog on sustainable development.

Then from there, you can write content ranging from discussing sustainable building materials to explaining how natural resources are used in the industry. Or, if you want a more specific category, you can showcase different green buildings worldwide and explain what makes them green and how the engineers made them work. It’s your blog, so run with it, and don’t be afraid to get creative!

Put up Your Own YouTube Channel

Want to put a face to your content and make it feel more personal to your audience? Having a YouTube channel is ideal for this. Again, you must think of a one-of-a-kind approach that proves you’re worth the clicks. Only then can you monetize it through ads or sponsorships? However, it’s well worth the effort, considering that YouTubers with at least 100,000 followers can earn an average of $12,500 through sponsored content. For example, if you’re a computer engineer, you can discuss signal processing and communications and include clips showing how these are done. Another niche is embedded systems and robotics, where you can have tutorials on building objects like metal detectors. The possibilities are endless.

Check out my Youtube channel here.

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Jason Butler is the owner of My Money Chronicles, a website where he discusses personal finance, side hustles, travel, and more. Jason is from Atlanta, Georgia. He graduated from Savannah State University with his BA in Marketing. Jason has been featured in Forbes, Discover, and Investopedia.