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

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SEO is a field that’s ripe with chances to develop fulfilling careers, though there’s no plainly specified course to getting started.

There aren’t always any degrees required to work in SEO. This leaves many striving professionals left to question how they can show they’re qualified for the job.

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

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

According to data in our State of SEO in 2022, specialists can discover considerable success doing freelance work. Near 45% of freelance and agreement respondents reported earning $75,000 to $149,000.

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

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

This article expands on the information discovered in our annual 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 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 5 years of experience.

That number isn’t surprising when you understand why many take the freelancing course 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 course towards constructing the experience companies are trying to find.

With that stated, freelancing isn’t exclusively an early-stage career kind of gig. As our information in the next area programs, freelancers tend to make a higher-than-average salary, that makes it a viable alternative to pursue long-lasting.

Freelancers Are A Smaller Group, But With Higher Average Earnings

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

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

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

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

Nevertheless, it is very important to keep in mind that “creators” may account for the higher wage brackets found in this group, meaning that freelancers might need to construct a book of company prior to commanding the greatest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Find Company

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

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

As the data recommends, freelancers mainly count on reputation and word-of-mouth to create work.

This puts more recent 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 can be found in. More recent freelancers can show themselves by marketing their services using a website and social media profiles.

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

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

Being An SEO Freelancer Is Difficult, But Includes Chance

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

For instance, an SEO pro working with an internal group might be solely accountable for auditing new customers’ websites. On the other hand, a freelancer might be expected to examine the site, determine how to enhance the site to deliver much better results, and then perform the strategy.

Being a freelancer includes a significant amount of responsibility. However, there are special chances in freelancing that make up for the drawbacks.

We have actually discussed the higher-than-average salaries, and we ‘d be remiss not to discuss the flexibility paid for by freelancing.

Working in SEO as an independent contractor permits individuals to work from home and set their own hours. This level of flexibility can create a much healthier work/life balance compared to working 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 just to find the advantages aren’t worth the disadvantages.

That’s completely great since the experience you gain makes you better to companies. After a couple of years of freelancing, you’re much better placed to transition into an internal or agency role.

SEO Freelancers Can Shift Into Full-Time Employment

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

The idea of discovering your own customers, generating your own income, and doing the work of several people is not surprisingly intimidating. That doesn’t mean 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 work.

Here’s a list of reasons why:

  • Carrying out a vast array of services offers you experience working in many different roles.
  • Developing a base of clients implies you have lots of work referrals available when obtaining tasks.
  • Your connections through freelancing can lead to irreversible work in other companies.

In summary, taking the roadway less taken a trip can result in opportunities that weren’t formerly readily available to you.

You can find all of our first-party data about the professions of freelancers, in addition to SEO experts in internal and company positions, in our annual State Of SEO Report.

Included image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel