The Freelance SEO Expert’s Journey, How To Start In SEO [Study Outcomes]

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SEO is a field that’s ripe with chances to develop satisfying careers, though there’s no clearly defined course to beginning.

There aren’t always any degrees needed to work in SEO. This leaves many aspiring professionals delegated wonder how they can show they’re gotten approved for the job.

You’ll most likely get 10 various answers if you ask ten SEO pros how they got their very first task. Several of those responses is most likely to focus on freelancing.

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

According to information in our State of SEO in 2022, professionals can find considerable success doing freelance work. Near to 45% of freelance and contract respondents reported earning $75,000 to $149,000.

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

How do you end up being an SEO freelancer? What does an SEO freelancer do? Most importantly, how does an SEO freelancer get customers?

This post broadens on the data found in our yearly State Of SEO Report. Download the complete report to see the first-party data.

Lots Of SEO Professionals Get Their Start As Freelancers

Freelancing is a popular choice for SEO experts early in their professions.

When we asked for how long SEO pros have been operating in the field, over 45% of freelancer participants said they have less than five years of experience.

That number isn’t unexpected when you understand why lots of take the freelancing course in the very first location.

If you’re not a market veteran with a recognized portfolio, finding full-time operate in an internal role or company position can be tough.

In a field without formalized education, freelancing is a path towards developing the experience companies are trying to find.

With that stated, freelancing isn’t specifically an early-stage career type of gig. As our information in the next section shows, freelancers tend to earn a higher-than-average salary, that makes it a viable option to pursue long-term.

Freelancers Are A Smaller Group, But With Greater Typical Earnings

As discussed at the beginning of this article, 44.5% of freelance and agreement participants report making wages above $75,000 each year.

That number is specifically noteworthy when you look at the number of years of experience freelancers have.

  • Out of the overall variety of participants with less than 2 years of experience, 9.4% were freelancers or creators.
  • Out of the total variety of participants with two to 4 years of experience, 10.1% were freelancers or creators.
  • Practically half of all freelancers and founders (45.6%) had four or fewer years of experience.

Although freelancers and founders are a relatively small group compared to others, they can often command higher rates than their peers. Just 6.7% of freelancers and founders took incomes of $34,000 or less.

Nevertheless, it is very important to keep in mind that “creators” might represent the higher wage brackets found in this group, indicating that freelancers might need to construct a book of company before commanding the highest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Find Business

When we asked SEO freelancers which channels drive the most business, they responded:

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

As the data suggests, freelancers primarily rely on track record and word-of-mouth to produce work.

This puts newer SEO professionals at a drawback as they’re less likely to have the experience, portfolios, or customer lists essential to discover work.

That’s where organic search and social been available in. Newer freelancers can prove themselves by marketing their services utilizing a website and social networks profiles.

Freelance job boards like Upwork offer another path for freelancers to take when they don’t have the advantage of word of mouth to bring them to their next gig.

Smaller sized portions of freelancers also report using paid channels such as Google Advertisements (7.5%) and social networks advertising (6.1%) to find work.

Being An SEO Freelancer Is Difficult, However Comes With Chance

Freelancing isn’t for the faint of heart. In addition to being responsible for discovering their own clients, freelancers are anticipated to supply a more comprehensive variety of services than other SEO professionals.

For example, an SEO pro dealing with an in-house group might be solely responsible for auditing new customers’ websites. On the other hand, a freelancer may be anticipated to investigate the site, determine how to enhance the website to deliver better results, and then perform the strategy.

Being a freelancer features a significant quantity of duty. However, there are distinct opportunities in freelancing that make up for the downsides.

We’ve discussed the higher-than-average salaries, and we ‘d be remiss not to point out the freedom managed by freelancing.

Working in SEO as an independent professional enables individuals to work from house and set their own hours. This level of versatility can create a much healthier work/life balance compared to operating in an office, as freelancers can easily make time for other concerns in life.

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

That’s perfectly fine because the experience you get makes you more valuable to companies. After a few years of freelancing, you’re better placed to transition into an in-house or company function.

SEO Freelancers Can Transition Into Full-Time Employment

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

The idea of discovering your own clients, producing your own income, and doing the work of multiple individuals is not surprisingly frightening. That does not indicate it’s not worth putting in the effort.

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

Here’s a list of reasons why:

  • Performing a wide range of services gives you experience operating in many different functions.
  • Building up a base of customers indicates you have many employment referrals offered when looking for jobs.
  • Your connections through freelancing can result in permanent employment in other companies.

In summary, taking the roadway less traveled can result in opportunities that weren’t formerly offered to you.

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

Featured image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel