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

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SEO is a field that’s ripe with opportunities to develop satisfying careers, though there’s no plainly specified path to starting.

There aren’t necessarily any degrees required to operate in SEO. This leaves lots of aspiring professionals delegated question how they can prove they’re qualified for the job.

You’ll most likely get ten various answers if you ask 10 SEO pros how they got their first job. One or more of those answers is likely to revolve around freelancing.

Working as an independent specialist is how a meaningful percentage of individuals get their start in SEO. Some utilize freelancing as a stepping stone to an internal or firm position, while others construct their entire career around it.

According to data in our State of SEO in 2022, professionals can discover substantial success doing freelance work. Close to 45% of freelance and contract respondents reported making $75,000 to $149,000.

In this post, we’ll look deeper at the data surrounding this curious group of SEO professionals.

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 information discovered in our yearly State Of SEO Report. Download the complete report to see the first-party information.

Numerous SEO Professionals Get Their Start As Freelancers

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

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

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

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

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

With that said, freelancing isn’t specifically an early-stage profession type of gig. As our information in the next section shows, freelancers tend to make a higher-than-average wage, which makes it a practical alternative to pursue long-term.

Freelancers Are A Smaller Group, However With Higher Average Earnings

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

That number is particularly significant when you look at how many years of experience freelancers have.

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

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

However, it’s important to keep in mind that “founders” might represent the greater wage brackets found in this group, suggesting that freelancers might require to develop a book of business prior to commanding the greatest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Find Service

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

  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 recommends, freelancers mostly count on reputation and word-of-mouth to generate work.

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

That’s where natural search and social been available in. More recent freelancers can show themselves by marketing their services utilizing a website 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 carry them to their next gig.

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

Being An SEO Freelancer Is Difficult, But Features Opportunity

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

For example, an SEO pro dealing with an internal team might be exclusively accountable for auditing brand-new clients’ sites. On the other hand, a freelancer might be anticipated to investigate the site, figure out how to optimize the site to provide better outcomes, and then execute the plan.

Being a freelancer comes with a substantial quantity of obligation. Nevertheless, there are distinct opportunities in freelancing that make up for the downsides.

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

Operating in SEO as an independent contractor allows people to work from home and set their own hours. This level of flexibility can create a healthier work/life balance compared to working in a workplace, as freelancers can quickly make time for other top priorities in life.

On the other hand, you might choose to pursue freelance work just to find the advantages aren’t worth the drawbacks.

That’s perfectly fine because the experience you gain makes you better to companies. After a few years of freelancing, you’re better placed to transition into an internal or firm role.

SEO Freelancers Can Transition Into Full-Time Employment

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

The concept of finding your own customers, producing your own income, and doing the work of several people is understandably frightening. That doesn’t imply it’s unworthy putting in the effort.

SEO freelancers with even a year or two of experience are uniquely qualified to transition into full-time work.

Here’s a list of reasons that:

  • Performing a large range of services gives you experience working in several functions.
  • Building up a base of clients indicates you have many work recommendations available when requesting tasks.
  • Your connections through freelancing can result in long-term work in other business.

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

You can discover all of our first-party data about the professions of freelancers, as well as SEO specialists in internal and agency positions, in our yearly State Of SEO Report.

Featured image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel