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 opportunities to build fulfilling careers, though there’s no plainly specified course to beginning.

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

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

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

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

In this post, we’ll look much deeper at the data surrounding this curious group of SEO specialists.

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

This short article broadens on the information discovered 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 careers.

When we asked how long SEO pros have actually 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 place.

If you’re not an industry veteran with a recognized portfolio, finding full-time work in an internal function or company position can be challenging.

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

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

Freelancers Are A Smaller Group, But With Higher Typical Earnings

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

That number is specifically notable when you look at how many 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 overall variety of respondents with two to 4 years of experience, 10.1% were freelancers or founders.
  • Almost half of all freelancers and founders (45.6%) had four or less years of experience.

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

However, it is necessary to note that “creators” might represent the greater income brackets found in this group, suggesting that freelancers might require to build a book of service before commanding the greatest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Find Service

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

  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 information recommends, freelancers mostly count on reputation and word-of-mouth to generate work.

This puts newer SEO specialists at a drawback as they’re less likely to have the experience, portfolios, or customer lists required to find work.

That’s where organic search and social come in. More recent freelancers can show themselves by marketing their services using a website and social networks profiles.

Freelance job boards like Upwork provide another path for freelancers to take when they don’t have the advantage 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 media advertising (6.1%) to discover 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 discovering their own clients, freelancers are expected to offer a wider variety of services than other SEO professionals.

For example, an SEO pro dealing with an in-house group may be solely accountable for auditing new customers’ websites. On the other hand, a freelancer may be expected to audit the site, figure out how to optimize the site to deliver much better outcomes, and after that perform the strategy.

Being a freelancer comes with a considerable quantity of duty. Nevertheless, there are special chances in freelancing that offset the drawbacks.

We’ve pointed out the higher-than-average incomes, and we ‘d be remiss not to mention the freedom managed by freelancing.

Working in SEO as an independent specialist allows individuals to work from home and set their own hours. This level of flexibility can produce a much healthier work/life balance compared to operating in an office, as freelancers can easily make time for other priorities in life.

On the other hand, you may decide to pursue freelance work just to discover the benefits aren’t worth the downsides.

That’s completely great because the experience you acquire makes you better to companies. After a few years of freelancing, you’re better placed to transition into an in-house or company role.

SEO Freelancers Can Shift Into Full-Time Employment

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

The concept of finding your own clients, creating your own salary, and doing the work of numerous people is not surprisingly daunting. That does not imply 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 that:

  • Carrying out a wide range of services provides you experience operating in various roles.
  • Developing a base of customers implies you have many work references available when making an application for tasks.
  • Your connections through freelancing can lead to permanent employment in other companies.

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

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

Featured image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel