The Freelance SEO Specialist’s Journey, How To Start In SEO [Study Results]

Posted by

SEO is a field that’s ripe with opportunities to develop satisfying professions, though there’s no clearly defined path to getting started.

There aren’t always any degrees required to work in SEO. This leaves lots of aiming practitioners left to wonder how they can prove they’re gotten approved for the task.

You’ll most likely get ten different responses if you ask 10 SEO pros how they got their first task. Several of those responses is most likely to revolve around freelancing.

Working as an independent specialist is how a significant percentage of people get their start in SEO. Some use freelancing as a stepping stone to an internal or firm position, while others construct their whole profession around it.

According to data in our State of SEO in 2022, practitioners can find significant success doing freelance work. Close to 45% of freelance and agreement respondents reported earning $75,000 to $149,000.

In this post, we’ll look much deeper at the information surrounding this curious group of SEO specialists.

How do you become an SEO freelancer? What does an SEO freelancer do? Most importantly, how does an SEO freelancer get clients?

This post expands on the data discovered in our yearly State Of SEO Report. Download the full report to see the first-party information.

Lots Of SEO Professionals Get Their Start As Freelancers

Freelancing is a popular option for SEO professionals early in their careers.

When we asked the length of time SEO pros have actually been working in the field, over 45% of freelancer respondents stated they have less than five years of experience.

That number isn’t unexpected when you comprehend why numerous take the freelancing path in the first place.

If you’re not an industry veteran with a recognized portfolio, finding full-time operate in an internal function or agency position can be challenging.

In a field without formalized education, freelancing is a path toward developing the experience companies are looking for.

With that said, freelancing isn’t solely an early-stage profession type of gig. As our information in the next section programs, freelancers tend to earn a higher-than-average salary, which makes it a viable option to pursue long-lasting.

Freelancers Are A Smaller Sized Group, However With Higher Average Income

As mentioned at the start of this article, 44.5% of freelance and contract respondents report making wages above $75,000 per year.

That number is particularly notable when you look at the number of years of experience freelancers have.

  • Out of the total number of participants with less than 2 years of experience, 9.4% were freelancers or founders.
  • Out of the total variety of respondents with two to four years of experience, 10.1% were freelancers or founders.
  • Nearly half of all freelancers and creators (45.6%) had four or less years of experience.

Although freelancers and creators are a fairly small group compared to others, they can frequently command greater rates than their peers. Just 6.7% of freelancers and creators took wages of $34,000 or less.

However, it is essential to note that “founders” might account for the higher income brackets found in this group, suggesting that freelancers might require to construct a book of business before commanding the highest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Discover Organization

When we asked SEO freelancers which channels drive the most organization, they reacted:

  1. Network recommendations (9.5%).
  2. Search (8.9%).
  3. Personal networks (8.7%).
  4. Organic social (7.7%).
  5. Upwork (7.7%).

As the information suggests, freelancers mainly count on reputation and word-of-mouth to generate work.

This puts more recent SEO practitioners at a drawback as they’re less likely to have the experience, portfolios, or client lists required to find work.

That’s where natural search and social can be found in. Newer freelancers can show themselves by marketing their services utilizing a site and social media profiles.

Freelance job boards like Upwork offer another route for freelancers to take when they do not have the benefit of word of mouth to bring them to their next gig.

Smaller portions of freelancers likewise report utilizing paid channels such as Google Advertisements (7.5%) and social networks advertising (6.1%) to discover work.

Being An SEO Freelancer Is Difficult, But Comes With Chance

Freelancing isn’t for the faint of heart. In addition to being accountable for finding their own clients, freelancers are expected to provide a wider series of services than other SEO experts.

For example, an SEO pro working with an in-house group may be solely responsible for auditing brand-new customers’ sites. On the other hand, a freelancer might be anticipated to investigate the site, find out how to optimize the website to deliver better outcomes, and then execute the plan.

Being a freelancer features a significant quantity of responsibility. However, there are unique opportunities in freelancing that make up for the disadvantages.

We have actually mentioned the higher-than-average salaries, and we ‘d be remiss not to point out the freedom paid for by freelancing.

Operating in SEO as an independent specialist enables individuals to work from house and set their own hours. This level of flexibility can create a much healthier work/life balance compared to operating in a workplace, as freelancers can easily make time for other top priorities in life.

On the other hand, you may decide to pursue freelance work only to find the benefits aren’t worth the downsides.

That’s perfectly great due to the fact that the experience you gain makes you more valuable to employers. After a couple of years of freelancing, you’re better placed to transition into an internal or agency function.

SEO Freelancers Can Transition Into Full-Time Employment

Being an SEO freelancer isn’t a life time dedication. While some flourish in it, professional life isn’t for everyone.

The idea of finding your own clients, creating your own salary, and doing the work of multiple people is naturally daunting. That doesn’t imply it’s not worth putting in the effort.

SEO freelancers with even a year or more of experience are distinctively certified to shift into full-time employment.

Here’s a list of reasons:

  • Performing a wide variety of services gives you experience operating in many different roles.
  • Building up a base of customers indicates you have numerous work referrals available when requesting jobs.
  • Your connections through freelancing can result in permanent employment in other companies.

In summary, taking the roadway less taken a trip can lead to opportunities that weren’t previously available to you.

You can find all of our first-party information about the careers of freelancers, in addition to SEO specialists in in-house and agency positions, in our annual State Of SEO Report.

Featured image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel