The Freelance SEO Professional’s Journey, How To Begin In SEO [Survey Outcomes]

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SEO is a field that’s ripe with opportunities to build fulfilling professions, though there’s no clearly specified path to starting.

There aren’t always any degrees needed to work in SEO. This leaves numerous aspiring specialists left to question how they can show they’re qualified for the task.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Numerous SEO Professionals Get Their Start As Freelancers

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

When we asked for how long SEO pros have actually been operating in the field, over 45% of freelancer respondents said they have less than 5 years of experience.

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

If you’re not a market veteran with an established portfolio, discovering full-time operate in an in-house role or company position can be difficult.

In a field without formalized education, freelancing is a path towards developing the experience employers are searching for.

With that stated, freelancing isn’t solely an early-stage career type of gig. As our data in the next section programs, freelancers tend to make a higher-than-average income, that makes it a feasible option to pursue long-term.

Freelancers Are A Smaller Group, But With Higher Typical Income

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, 44.5% of freelance and contract respondents report earning wages above $75,000 each year.

That number is particularly significant when you take a 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 creators.
  • Practically half of all freelancers and creators (45.6%) had 4 or less 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 creators took wages of $34,000 or less.

Nevertheless, it’s important to note that “creators” may represent the higher salary brackets discovered in this group, suggesting that freelancers may require to develop a book of organization before commanding the greatest 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. Search (8.9%).
  3. Personal networks (8.7%).
  4. Organic social (7.7%).
  5. Upwork (7.7%).

As the information recommends, freelancers mainly count on track record and word-of-mouth to generate work.

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

That’s where organic search and social can be found in. More recent freelancers can show 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 benefit of word of mouth to carry them to their next gig.

Smaller percentages of freelancers also report using paid channels such as Google Ads (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 finding their own clients, freelancers are expected to offer a wider series of services than other SEO professionals.

For instance, an SEO pro working with an in-house team may be exclusively accountable for auditing brand-new clients’ sites. On the other hand, a freelancer might be expected to audit the website, figure out how to enhance the site to deliver much better outcomes, and after that execute the plan.

Being a freelancer comes with a considerable quantity of responsibility. Nevertheless, there are unique opportunities in freelancing that offset the disadvantages.

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

Working in SEO as an independent contractor allows people to work from house and set their own hours. This level of versatility can develop a 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 decide to pursue freelance work only to discover the benefits aren’t worth the downsides.

That’s completely great since the experience you acquire makes you better to employers. After a few years of freelancing, you’re much better placed to transition into an internal or company function.

SEO Freelancers Can Shift Into Full-Time Work

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

The idea of discovering your own clients, producing your own income, and doing the work of numerous individuals is naturally daunting. That does not indicate it’s unworthy putting in the effort.

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

Here’s a list of reasons that:

  • Performing a vast array of services gives you experience working in many different roles.
  • Building up a base of customers means you have numerous work recommendations available when applying for tasks.
  • Your connections through freelancing can result in permanent employment in other companies.

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

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

Included image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel