In today’s day and age, it is often difficult to keep up with high living costs, rentals, and EMIs. Even if you have a high-paying job, it may not be enough for you to make ends meet. Moreover, companies might lay off their employees due to changes in the economy and organizational structure. It is not surprising that so many people are always on the quest for a profitable side hustle.
Fortunately, computer-aided design has opened up a treasure trove of new career opportunities for engineers, architects, designers, etc. It is no longer mandatory for you to work solely within the confines of your job. Many companies are on the lookout for talented CAD designers to outsource their projects. As a freelance CAD designer, you can choose your clients and work on projects that interest you.
Apart from providing you with an additional income stream, it also helps fulfill your creative aspirations. You get to make new contacts, hone your skills, and work on a variety of projects. It steers your career in a new direction and helps you make extra money. In the long run, you can even give up your full-time job and set up your own CAD drafting business.
Are you willing to take the plunge and give up the comfort of a steady job? Here are a few helpful tips for you:
1. Diversify Your Skills
If you are working as a CAD designer, you have likely already obtained the required training and certification. However, top-notch professional qualifications aren’t the only thing that will help you fetch new clients. As a freelancer, you have to deal with various types of clients who have very specific requirements and expectations. What will you do when a client asks you to work on Autodesk Inventor instead of AutoCAD?
The key is to not restrict yourself to any particular CAD software. It is important to remember that you are a CAD designer, not a mere software operator. Make sure you are well-versed with all the latest and popular CAD tools. It will prepare you to tackle the challenges of any project irrespective of how complicated and demanding it is. This, in turn, will help you win over your clients and bag even better projects.
2. Adapt to Technology
From architecture and interior design to manufacturing and product design – technological advancement affects every industry. CAD is not an exception. For instance, the introduction of 3D printing has impacted the way CAD designers work. Likewise, many companies are working to integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning with their CAD tools to automate routine tasks.
It is, therefore, essential for you to stay abreast of the latest developments in CAD technology. Watch out for the emerging industry trends and latest software versions. This empowers you to revamp your skills and qualifications before a big change hits the market. It is also crucial for you to regularly upgrade the hardware and software you work with.
3. Scout for Projects
Freelancing can be a particularly lonesome journey, especially during the initial days. How do you showcase your designing skills and get hold of high-paying clients? Where do you go to find the kind of projects you want to work on? The internet has all the answers.
Just run a quick Google search for “freelance CAD projects”. You will find a plethora of websites that connect you with clients from all over the world. Some of the most reliable and popular platforms include Cad Crowd, Upwork, GrabCAD, Fiverr, etc. You can get started by signing up as a freelancer or job seeker.
Make sure you complete your profile and include a link to your portfolio and work samples. It adds to your credibility and helps clients perceive you as a trusted professional. Most of these platforms require you to compete with other freelancers by bidding on a particular project. It is crucial to place an optimum bid so that you don’t feel under-compensated upon completing the project.
4. Create and Promote Your Website
As a freelancer, you are in charge of advertising and networking too. One of the strongest marketing assets for any independent professional is their website. When you approach new clients, the first thing they want to do is take a look at your website. Thus, it is extremely crucial for you to have a well-designed website that showcases your work.
Platforms like WordPress and Wix let you create sophisticated websites in just a few easy steps. It eliminates the need to hire a trained programmer or struggle with the nitty-gritty of website development. Make sure your website is visually stunning and easily navigable. Include your portfolio and a few client testimonials to make the website even more compelling.
While your website is getting ready, you should develop a strategy to promote it. Even the most well-designed website is of no use unless it gets steady traffic. Make sure you include the website URL in your visiting cards, email signature, social media profiles, etc.It is equally important to ensure that your website has strong visibility on search engines. Identify relevant keywords in your niche and optimize the content of your website using these keywords. When done correctly, search engine optimization (SEO) improves your website’s search engine ranking and helps drive increased organic traffic. If you are not well-versed with the basics of SEO, you can even hire SEO virtual assistants to work on your website.
Additionally, you can start a blog to share your unique perspective on relevant topics. It helps establish your authority on subjects related to CAD. It also improves your website’s search engine ranking. This, in turn, motivates new clients to trust you.
5. Up Your Social Media Game
Social media has made its way into every aspect of our lives, including the way we work. It is essential for you to have a strong presence on various social media platforms. Start by creating a Facebook page and upgrading your Instagram profile to a business account. Invite your friends, followers, and clients to like the page. Upload snippets of your work to keep your audience engaged.
It is also crucial to use the right hashtags along with your social media posts. These will help expand your reach and connect you with potential clients. You can also run paid ad campaigns to promote your posts and reach out to a wider audience. Make sure you are present on all the platforms where your prospective clients will likely be active.
The thought of becoming a freelance CAD designer can be daunting at first. However, the joy of working on your own terms outweighs the risks associated with it. All you have to do is develop an actionable plan before you set out on your freelancing journey. Apart from acquiring top-notch skills, you should also focus on building your brand and networking with new clients.