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

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

There aren’t necessarily any degrees needed to operate in SEO. This leaves numerous aiming specialists delegated wonder how they can show they’re received the job.

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

Working as an independent contractor is how a significant portion of individuals get their start in SEO. Some utilize freelancing as a stepping stone to an in-house or company position, while others build their entire profession around it.

According to data in our State of SEO in 2022, specialists 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 deeper at the information surrounding this curious group of SEO professionals.

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 annual State Of SEO Report. Download the full report to see the first-party data.

Lots Of SEO Professionals Get Their Start As Freelancers

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

When we asked for how long SEO pros have been working in the field, over 45% of freelancer participants said they have less than 5 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 a recognized portfolio, finding full-time work in an internal function or agency position can be tough.

In a field without formalized education, freelancing is a course toward constructing the experience employers are searching for.

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

Freelancers Are A Smaller Group, However With Greater Average Income

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, 44.5% of freelance and agreement participants report earning wages above $75,000 annually.

That number is particularly significant 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 number of respondents with 2 to 4 years of experience, 10.1% were freelancers or creators.
  • Nearly half of all freelancers and founders (45.6%) had 4 or fewer years of experience.

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

Nevertheless, it is essential to keep in mind that “creators” may represent the greater salary brackets found in this group, indicating that freelancers might require to construct a book of organization before commanding the highest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Discover Service

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

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

As the data suggests, freelancers mostly rely on reputation and word-of-mouth to create work.

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

That’s where natural search and social come in. Newer freelancers can prove themselves by marketing their services using a site and social media profiles.

Freelance task boards like Upwork offer another route for freelancers to take when they don’t have the benefit of word of mouth to carry them to their next gig.

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

Being An SEO Freelancer Is Difficult, But Includes Opportunity

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

For instance, an SEO pro working with an internal team may be solely responsible for auditing new customers’ websites. On the other hand, a freelancer might be expected to investigate the website, determine how to enhance the site to provide much better results, and then execute the plan.

Being a freelancer comes with a significant amount of obligation. However, there are distinct opportunities in freelancing that offset the drawbacks.

We’ve mentioned the higher-than-average incomes, and we ‘d be remiss not to mention the liberty afforded by freelancing.

Working in SEO as an independent professional permits people to work from home and set their own hours. This level of flexibility can develop a much healthier work/life balance compared to operating in a workplace, as freelancers can easily make time for other priorities in life.

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

That’s completely great because the experience you acquire makes you more valuable to employers. After a few years of freelancing, you’re much better positioned to shift into an in-house or firm role.

SEO Freelancers Can Shift Into Full-Time Work

Being an SEO freelancer isn’t a lifetime commitment. While some grow in it, contractor life isn’t for everybody.

The concept of discovering your own clients, creating your own wage, and doing the work of several people is understandably intimidating. That does not indicate it’s not worth putting in the effort.

SEO freelancers with even a year or 2 of experience are uniquely certified to transition into full-time employment.

Here’s a list of reasons:

  • Performing a wide range of services offers you experience working in various functions.
  • Building up a base of customers indicates you have many employment references readily available when applying for tasks.
  • Your connections through freelancing can result in irreversible work in other business.

In summary, taking the roadway less traveled can lead to opportunities that weren’t formerly readily available to you.

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

Featured image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel