In recent times, freelancing has become the preferred method of working. As a freelancer, you can work anywhere with people you have chosen to work with. If you are reading this post, it’s one of two things:
- You’re trying to determine if mastering a tool like Solidworks is relevant in the freelance space. Should you invest your time and effort in learning this skill or not? How proficient do you need to be to land your first gig?
- You already have working knowledge and experience using Solidworks. You now wish to supplement your earnings with freelance jobs or become a Solidworks freelancer.
I will be addressing both cases but let me quickly share my experience as a freelancer.
My short freelance story.
After finishing my undergraduate program, I ventured into online freelancing out of pure curiosity, not necessarily seeking financial buoyancy. A couple of weeks after I joined Freelancer.com, I got a Solidworks job from an instructor in Saudi Arabia. He was a busy man and needed help putting together course materials in a comprehensive format for his students, following a course outline. My existing knowledge of Solidworks made it easy for me to understand how to communicate the basics of CAD using Solidworks effectively. For that project, I was paid $300.
My short story demonstrates an unexpected way of making money from Solidworks: custom course content creation.
The steps to becoming a Solidworks Freelancer are:
- Learn the skill
- Build your portfolio
- Find clients and get paid.
- Rinse and repeat.
Learn the skill.
If you are a newbie with little to no experience in Solidworks but are interested in making a freelance career out of it, you need to spend time learning the skill. The internet has made learning easy. You could opt for free YouTube videos, other free courses, or paid courses. With the right materials and lots of practice, you should attain intermediate expertise in Solidworks in about three months.
Build your portfolio.
This is the most crucial step of the process. Your portfolio is what many clients want to see; what have you done with your skill? It’s not enough to say you can use Solidworks. Show it. Those practice exercises are a part of your portfolio; put them together. If you can volunteer your newly learned skills to do some free projects, it can also add to your practical experience (portfolio).
For more experienced Solidworks users, this should not be much of a problem. Put together all projects you have the right to display in a folder and figure out the best way to show them. Behance is an excellent place to start. At this point, don’t bother yourself trying to build a personal website. That can come later.
It is good practice to show images or models of what you have designed and talk about the project itself. What was the problem? How did you solve it with Solidworks? Was the model manufactured? How? Answer all these questions in a case study style. If you are a newbie, find a personal project you can easily do. For example, you could model a custom screw on Solidworks that you can’t seem to see in the market and 3D print it. That is a project with a story.
Once you have prepared your portfolio, we need to find you a paying client.
Find clients and get paid.
There are many ways of getting clients, online and offline. I started my Solidworks freelance journey by helping my classmates conceptualize their projects in school. I took it a step further by going online to find clients on Freelancer.com.
Different clients have different requirements. For higher-level Solidworks users, you might be required to have taken a certifying exam like the CSWP or CSWE exams. Some may only look at the projects in your portfolio, while some don’t mind engaging a beginner—different strokes for different folks.
Freelance marketplaces are a good start for freelancing, in my opinion. Freelance sites like Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer.com, PeoplePerHour, etc., can let you see the variety of projects available. Clients posts projects, and you can bid on the ones you are interested in. See examples below.
See a project you like? Create an account and start submitting proposals or bids for the gig of your interest.
Some people do not like freelance marketplaces. That’s understandable. You can decide to create an online brand that draws in clients like bait, OR you could cold email or cold message clients you wish to work with. LinkedIn is a good place to build your brand at no cost. This takes longer if you do not already have a good online brand previously.
Focus on getting your first client. Not the first 5, just one. Work with that one client and go from there. Upwork has an Escrow system to ensure the freelancer gets paid once the project is done, and the client receives value on their payment from the freelancer. Other freelance platforms have the same.
LinkedIn, on the other hand, has no Escrow feature. It is a mere professional social platform. If you are dealing with a client via LinkedIn, ensure you work out a binding contract and get a deposit before investing your time in the project.
4 Rinse and Repeat.
The freelance world is exciting and scary. The beautiful thing about freelancing is that you can be doing similar projects for different clients all over the globe… and you get paid for each. A single post cannot give you every tool you need, so ensure you read far and wide. Enjoy the experience. Freedom is enviable.
Here are some jobs you can do as a Solidworks freelancer:
- Tutoring and course creation. Get paid to teach Solidworks or create courses. You can also create a course of your own and sell on sites like Teachable.
- Get paid for writing blog posts and articles OR create your blog and monetize it.
- Create 3D models and sell them online.
- Create products for individuals or organizations or both.