It is back to Business Monday and we will be talking about 3D print freelance work. There are two schools of thought on freelance work. One is that you diversify. You should take as many gigs as possible, if you want to call it that way. What kind of gigs are we talking about? Like contract 3D printing if you have a 3D printer. It could be that. It could be design work or whatever it is. I have been talking to a lot of freelance association and other things lately for the Inc. articles. It is interesting and eye opening. There are a lot of gigs out there for 3D print freelance work. That is what they call them, freelance gigs. You can be a freelancer at work or other places. There are a lot of those out there. A lot of people are doing this. They are hiring virtual specialist and virtual workers. We do it all the time. We hire virtual graphic designers and freelancers essentially. They work for our business in regular basis and sometimes become more regular. The idea is that freelance economy is becoming very large, especially in terms of 3D print freelance work.
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Diversify Your 3D Print Freelance Work – But Not Too Much!
3D Print freelance work is growing significantly. At that, we have been doing this a long time. We have been working independently most of the time since ’93 or ’97. Think about it that way. Reality is while we think of ourselves as entrepreneurs and business owners, a lot of what we do are freelance jobs. We are a more advanced than a freelancer but we have come through those freelance years. I think we should talk about that for a bit. There is a big problem with diversifying your freelance work. In other words, while you can do all these things you don’t become an expert in one thing or you do not become a specialist in one thing. It’s not that you can’t diversify and move on to the next thing but you really have to give it enough time.
That’s very hard if you are a young freelancer, especially if you are in 3D print freelance work. It’s really hard not to take all the jobs that you can get. You are like, “Let me put all the things that I could possibly do out there and someone will hire me”. However the reality is that they are less likely to hire you. That is because they are confused about what you do. They will be a little concerned that you are doing too many things so you are busy and too distracted. Focusing is actually a good thing. My suggestion to you is to focus and get many gigs and many references. Think of them as testimonials that you could put on your website. Get as many reviews as you can if you are in Freelancer, Up Work, or Fiverr. I hope we don’t have a lot of listeners that are in Fiverr. I can’t imagine a lot of Fiverr 3D print freelance work. It’s just that it is too little to be investing your time and energy for 3D printing. But if you are there then you are there.
But really doing 3D print freelance work for reviews and other things like that. Then trying to get to the point in which you have that dialed it in a particular area of skills so you will be exceptionally good at something. Then branch out and do something that is complementary to it. If it is 3D design itself, doing the CAD file and slicing but not actually doing the printing, you can branch out and do more printing jobs. You can just keep branching out and circling around and going to the next logical job over. You have to keep trying to get more jobs in that particular region. As you keep building up they will see you as an expert in those.
Landing Pages for Your Different 3D Print Freelance Work
Another idea is for you to take them and create different landing pages for them. We have actually have this issue in our business because we have multiple different talents that we have. It is something I have dealt with during my entire career. I am an industrial designer. Industrial designers are schooled and trained in a process of how to do design work. It does not matter what kind of object what you design. What matters is how you go about doing that design work. It is a process. Often times, suppose I am a freelancer, when people would consider hiring me. There is this company that produces kayaks that I worked for at one point. They asked what designs I have done on kayaks or boats. I have not done any. It did not really matter. I am a designer and there is a process of design that I can apply to anything. Some people would not understand that. They want to see if you have done things in their exact niche area. Not understanding that is really critical.
It’s a complicated thing to try to show that you are an expert in performing a service. If you have too many different kinds of things that you do, it would look like that you are unfocused or you are desperate for work. If you separate to different domains and different landing pages that can actually help you to segment those different sources offer. Then those customers would think that you are a specialist.
Simplicity in 3D Print Freelance Work
Another way to do it is to keep the services simple. It has printing and it does not matter what the portfolio items are under it. You are trying to treat them as sub-categories. We have a lot of retail product design work. While we do it in so many different product categories, we have many of them on our website lumped in house furniture, wares, and other things, but let them be subsets within the overall portfolio of things we have done. In that way someone who does want that kind of knowledge that you have done in their particular category before can find it. We leave it in the portfolio section and listed under our services section.
A lot of times you get caught up in this because you think you have to have keywords. You think that you need to have people see you as industrial designers, CAD designers or 3D print designer. The reality is that you are not going to rank there. It’s not the point and it not how you get jobs. You will get the 3D print freelance work jobs by networking and referrals. You are going to get them from other places. To try and cram that into your website actually damages your view from a potential client. You need to care more about client who’s viewing you than those who are in Google.
This is really critical as we head into a growing freelance economy. A gig economy, as it’s been noted in the press. The number of workers who don’t have traditional jobs or are independent workers, who are not working in nine to five offices, have increased 9.4 million in 2005-15. This is a greater rise in the overall employment during that time period. It is now 15.5% of all workers who are in these alternative work arrangements. That is up over 6% in a ten year time span. It is getting more competitive. While we are at the cusp of the 3D print freelance work, since there are probably not many out there in a lot of categories, although 3D Hubs will have you believe otherwise. I don’t think that there really is a lot of specialists.
They are not all specialists and talented freelancers, some of them are just hobbyists. A freelancer is someone who is doing independent work full time and are more serious. I think a lot of people on 3D Hubs are those that have 3D printers and they are taking jobs to augment their income on the side of a regular day job. That is not a freelancer. If you are a professional in 3D print freelance work, that’s your role/job, and that’s what you do. It’s getting more competitive out there and it is going to get more and more competitive. Now is the time to set yourself apart by getting these good jobs and getting the system by which you market yourself dialed in.
That is why we brought 3D print freelance work up today. We want you to diversify yourself so that you can get as much work as possible. But we want you to do it in a more smart and careful way. Make sure that you are clearly communicating to your audience and to your client base. The clients you want to attract to what you do best. So that it will be clear if they want hire you. If you are a jack of all trades, people may think that you are a master of none of them. Although it is interesting when I do see people who truly are not very well educated in our 3D print industry, when people hear about it on TV, they think that it is fascinating and if they hear anybody that somebody does anything in 3D printing they tend to think that those people are experts in 3D printing. They don’t think of it as many different parts or facets to 3D printing and which one of those you are an expert in. They don’t understand that. To someone outside the industry it may not appear like there is too much.
This brings me to the point of some things about 3D print freelance work and communication: you need to communicate with your clients. Also, if you are out there looking for a 3D print freelancer to help you with your prototypes and you are listening to our podcast in hopes to understand that more. We do. We get that a lot. I talked to a lot of start-ups who are working on their start-ups. They want to build a prototype in 3D printing but they don’t have 3D print skills so they are trying to make this decision between whether or not they are going to learn it or they are just going to hire out for it. The problem that I found so often in some prototypes that we looked into at some convention groups that we go to all the time, is that the prototypes are not manufacture-able so the design itself is not manufacture-able. When they get to the point in which they are ready to manufacture and they have the funding, it goes to back the drawing board. They then lose months and months of time in re-engineering and redesign. That is because they didn’t hire someone who knew more about CAD drawings than 3D printing.
If you are trying to make a real product, it’s not going to be and end use 3D printing, or that it is more than just an appearance model, that you need that engineering drawing to build a cusps, molds, and other things off of. You have to get somebody who has the skills of traditional manufacturing as well as 3D printing. If you are that kind of person make sure you communicate that in addition to your 3D printing skills. Communication is key in freelance work. I can tell you from many years doing this, communication is key. You need to communicate to your potential market. You have to make it very clear what you do in 3D print freelance work and what you don’t do in 3D print freelance work.
We are involved in the 3D printing industry but we are not out there trying to 3D print things for people. It just happened to us this week. Somebody that we met in a business conference understands that we have a lot to do with 3D printing. Someone emailed us today and said that they have someone they know that needs to have a life-size bust 3D printed and asked if we have that or can we do that. First of all, we are not in that business. Second of all our 3D printers do not have big enough build volume to be able to print a life size bust. I had to refer them elsewhere. Obviously it is not the kind of work we are interested in. People assume. They assume that because they heard your name in 3D printing which might not be anything involved in what you do. Be sure to communicate all of those things.
Final Thoughts on 3D Print Freelance Work
The other thing that I want to leave you with about 3D print freelance work, and make sure that you get across is that it depends on who your audience is. You are trying to seek freelance work as a subcontractor within other engineering and design firms and things like that. Then language use needs to be more technical and your portfolio needs to be more dialed in. Note technical things. Things you know and understand. The materials that you have used. The types of products you know. The manufacturing technique you have used before and designed for. That needs to be clear. When you are trying to do it for more novice audience, pitching yourself to start-ups, founders, and those kind of things, then you need to have much more generalist language. You need to think about that carefully because what happens a lot of times is that you think that the smarter I sound and the more technically capable I sound to them even if they do not get it, that’s going to make them hire me. What it really does is that it scares them off. Often it is like that they don’t know so many things so they will research it further. That is the worst thing that could happen. Maybe if they research it further they can find somebody that they can compare against you. When they did not have anyone before that. You just talked to yourself out of it.
You have to think carefully of how your website will be crafted. How you communicate. What I suggest you really do when you are doing these freelance jobs is that when the inquiries come in ask more questions and not talk as much. Ask them what they are looking for. What they need. Really listen to that and only tell them the answers. The things that you do that fit that. It’s like writing a very specific prescription. Think about it like a doctor. Don’t tell them that you can do this and that because they will eventually get lost and ask themselves what they really need. They will think that they have never heard that before so they will probably need that. Or that they would really get more confused and they would think that they would need more research and things like that. You are an extreme specialist just like a doctor. The last thing that they are going to do is go in and say that have these various drugs and we can prescribe any of those and do all kinds of treatments.
What they say is that their general practice or services is about this particular type of medicine and you will think that it fits you so you would get that. When you go in there they ask you questions and then they write a prescription or give you a treatment plan. That’s what you are going to do. Think about yourself as that exact same way. That’s how clients see you as the specialist you are and they would come to you because they fit the category that they’re thinking which you have dialed in and given yourself testimonials. It would show deep dive would work on. You are prescribing to them the plan which would make what they would need accomplished done, not more and not less.
The next time they will come back to you because the experience with you is so good. It is always great to say that at the end of the job, you would say that you noticed other things as well and you can help supplement their work on that. Then they would say that they would love to find out more about that. That’s the time to do it. Don’t give it all to them at the beginning. I see this happen so many times. Let’s add on the job. Let’s tell them we can do this and that. That’s too overwhelming. They were not budgeted for that. They were not ready for that. If they come up to you to learn about what else you can do chances are you are very good.
I hope this helps as you start to plan your 3D print freelance work and help you grow it successfully. I think because we are on the topic, there are so many things to consider in what you could do in 3D printing or what people are capable of and sometimes less is more. Other times it is just the way you frame it. You may be good but you don’t need to put it all out there for the entire audience. That makes a lot of sense to me. If you have any suggestions or have any questions, you can send us a message anywhere in social media at @3dstartpoint or @hazzdesign. Leave a comment or leave an email.
- Inc. By Design Articles
- Freelance Work Websites
- Wall Street Journal: Contract Workforce Outpaces Growth in Silicon-Valley Style ‘Gig’ Jobs
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