The Freelance SEO Expert’s Journey, How To Begin In SEO [Survey Results]

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SEO is a field that’s ripe with chances to construct fulfilling careers, though there’s no plainly specified path to getting going.

There aren’t necessarily any degrees required to work in SEO. This leaves many aiming professionals left to wonder how they can show they’re gotten approved for the task.

You’ll probably get 10 different responses if you ask ten SEO pros how they got their first task. One or more of those responses is most likely to focus on freelancing.

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

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

In this post, we’ll look much 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 notably, how does an SEO freelancer get customers?

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

Many SEO Professionals Get Their Start As Freelancers

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

When we asked the length of time SEO pros have been working in the field, over 45% of freelancer respondents stated they have less than 5 years of experience.

That number isn’t unexpected when you understand why many take the freelancing course in the first place.

If you’re not a market veteran with a recognized portfolio, finding full-time operate in an in-house function or agency position can be difficult.

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

With that stated, freelancing isn’t solely an early-stage profession kind of gig. As our data in the next section programs, freelancers tend to earn a higher-than-average income, that makes it a viable choice to pursue long-lasting.

Freelancers Are A Smaller Sized Group, However With Greater Typical Earnings

As pointed out at the beginning of this short article, 44.5% of freelance and contract participants report making wages above $75,000 annually.

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

  • Out of the overall number of respondents with less than two years of experience, 9.4% were freelancers or creators.
  • Out of the overall number of respondents with 2 to four years of experience, 10.1% were freelancers or creators.
  • Nearly half of all freelancers and founders (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 greater rates than their peers. Only 6.7% of freelancers and founders took salaries of $34,000 or less.

However, it’s important to note that “founders” might account for the greater income brackets discovered in this group, implying that freelancers might need to construct a book of business before commanding the highest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Discover Organization

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

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

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

This puts more recent SEO specialists at a downside as they’re less likely to have the experience, portfolios, or client lists required to find work.

That’s where natural search and social can be found in. Newer freelancers can prove themselves by marketing their services utilizing a site and social networks profiles.

Freelance task boards like Upwork use another route for freelancers to take when they do not have the advantage of word of mouth to bring them to their next gig.

Smaller portions of freelancers also report utilizing 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 Opportunity

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

For example, an SEO pro dealing with an internal team might be solely accountable for auditing new customers’ websites. On the other hand, a freelancer may be expected to investigate the website, find out how to enhance the site to provide better results, and then perform the strategy.

Being a freelancer comes with a considerable amount of duty. Nevertheless, there are unique opportunities in freelancing that offset the downsides.

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

Operating in SEO as an independent contractor enables individuals to work from house and set their own hours. This level of versatility can create a 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 might choose to pursue freelance work just to discover the benefits aren’t worth the drawbacks.

That’s completely fine because the experience you acquire makes you better to companies. After a couple of years of freelancing, you’re much better placed to shift into an in-house or agency function.

SEO Freelancers Can Transition Into Full-Time Work

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

The concept of discovering your own customers, generating your own salary, and doing the work of several individuals is naturally daunting. That does not mean it’s unworthy putting in the effort.

SEO freelancers with even a year or 2 of experience are distinctively qualified to shift into full-time employment.

Here’s a list of reasons why:

  • Performing a wide range of services offers you experience working in several functions.
  • Building up a base of clients suggests you have lots of employment references readily available when obtaining tasks.
  • Your connections through freelancing can cause long-term employment in other business.

In summary, taking the road less traveled can cause chances that weren’t previously offered to you.

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

Included image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel