Freelance on the side - where to find jobs?

I’m a mechanical engineer looking to do a little freelance (some design, some engineering consulting, some CAD) on the side. I had a few questions.

First, my brief qualifications:

-BSE & MSME (mechanical/bio-enginering)
-MBA
-5+ years experience with precision mechanical design
-Design with metals, plastics (machined, thermoformed, injection molded), ceramics, etc…
-Pro/E (expert), SolidWorks (novice-intermediate)
-Currently making $80k (but underpaid of course)

Now, my questions.

  1. Where do you find jobs? I’ve found a number of websites where employers and freelancers can find each other. The most promising I’ve found is guru.com. Anyone have experience with this site? Is it worth the money? Any other recommendations?

  2. What type of hourly rate would you suggest I charge?

  3. Is there need for personal liability insurance?

Thanks for the help.

Hello? Anyone?

Hi!

Try searching the forum and find the other millions of people who’ve asked the exact same questions.

Go to www.guru.com and create a post. You can see what other are charging and decide where in the spectrum you would like to be.

As far as liability insurance goes, if you think you are going to be doing a lot of work then you should consider incorporating to give yourself legal protection and then get extra coverage as needed depending on the type of work you are doing. Otherwise if you are running your freelance business out of your house and you are using the same bank account that you use for buying groceries, you run the risk of being sued and having your business cash included with your personal cash. In legal terms this is known as intermingling of funds - not something you ever want to do.

There are a number of good websites out there that get into these issues, the best thing to do is talk to a CPA and see what you need to do in order to protect yourself from a financial standpoint, after that talk to a lawyer if needed.

Some more,

Looking at your qualifications, how can you possibly have an MBA and not know how to figure out what to charge. Calculate your overhead and figure out where you need to be.

That’s a bit rude - if you’ve never done freelance before (no matter how long you’ve been in industry), it can be incredibly hard to know what to charge. People don’t like talking about their fees, that’s why.
Despite being in my trade for 12 years, before I went freelance, I faced the same issues.

It’s not as simple as just calculating your overhead - theres market forces, there’s your experience in your trade to take into consideration, many factors.

Try asking for what you think you should and after a few jobs you’ll get a better idea as to whether you are asking the right rate or not.

try www.freelanceforum.co.uk too, plenty on there as well as advice