The Freelance SEO Expert’s Journey, How To Get Started In SEO [Study Results]

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SEO is a field that’s ripe with opportunities to construct fulfilling professions, though there’s no clearly specified course to getting going.

There aren’t necessarily any degrees needed to work in SEO. This leaves lots of striving practitioners delegated wonder how they can prove they’re qualified for the task.

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

Working as an independent specialist is how a significant percentage of individuals get their start in SEO. Some utilize freelancing as a stepping stone to an in-house or agency position, while others construct their whole career around it.

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

In this article, we’ll look much 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 data.

Numerous SEO Professionals Get Their Start As Freelancers

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

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

That number isn’t unexpected when you understand why lots of take the freelancing course in the very first location.

If you’re not an industry veteran with an established portfolio, finding full-time operate in an internal role or firm position can be challenging.

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

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

Freelancers Are A Smaller Sized Group, But With Higher Typical Income

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

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

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

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

However, it is very important to note that “founders” might represent the greater wage brackets found in this group, suggesting that freelancers may need to build a book of company before commanding the highest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Find Organization

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

  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 primarily count on credibility and word-of-mouth to generate work.

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

That’s where organic search and social been available in. More recent freelancers can prove themselves by marketing their services using a website and social media profiles.

Freelance task boards like Upwork offer another path for freelancers to take when they do not have the benefit of word of mouth to carry them to their next gig.

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

Being An SEO Freelancer Is Difficult, However Includes Opportunity

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

For example, an SEO pro dealing with an internal group might be entirely accountable for auditing new clients’ sites. On the other hand, a freelancer might be anticipated to investigate the site, determine how to enhance the website to provide better outcomes, and then carry out the plan.

Being a freelancer includes a significant amount of obligation. Nevertheless, there are special chances in freelancing that offset the drawbacks.

We have actually pointed out the higher-than-average incomes, and we ‘d be remiss not to discuss the liberty paid for by freelancing.

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

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

That’s perfectly fine because the experience you acquire makes you better to employers. After a few years of freelancing, you’re much better placed to shift into an internal or firm function.

SEO Freelancers Can Transition Into Full-Time Employment

Being an SEO freelancer isn’t a life time dedication. While some grow in it, contractor life isn’t for everyone.

The idea of finding your own clients, producing your own salary, and doing the work of multiple individuals is not surprisingly frightening. That does not mean it’s not worth putting in the effort.

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

Here’s a list of reasons why:

  • Carrying out a large range of services offers you experience working in several functions.
  • Developing a base of clients indicates you have lots of work referrals offered when obtaining tasks.
  • Your connections through freelancing can result in long-term employment in other companies.

In summary, taking the roadway less taken a trip can lead to opportunities that weren’t formerly offered to you.

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

Featured image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel