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

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SEO is a field that’s ripe with chances to build fulfilling careers, though there’s no plainly defined path to starting.

There aren’t always any degrees required to operate in SEO. This leaves lots of striving practitioners left to question how they can show they’re qualified for the job.

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

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

According to data in our State of SEO in 2022, specialists can find considerable success doing freelance work. Close to 45% of freelance and agreement respondents 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 significantly, how does an SEO freelancer get clients?

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

Many SEO Professionals Get Their Start As Freelancers

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

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

That number isn’t surprising when you comprehend why lots of take the freelancing course in the first place.

If you’re not an industry veteran with an established portfolio, discovering full-time operate in an internal function or agency position can be tough.

In a field without formalized education, freelancing is a path toward building the experience companies are trying to find.

With that stated, freelancing isn’t specifically an early-stage profession kind of gig. As our information in the next area shows, freelancers tend to earn a higher-than-average salary, that makes it a viable choice to pursue long-lasting.

Freelancers Are A Smaller Group, But With Greater Average Earnings

As pointed out at the beginning of this post, 44.5% of freelance and agreement respondents report making incomes above $75,000 annually.

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

  • Out of the total variety of participants with less than 2 years of experience, 9.4% were freelancers or creators.
  • Out of the overall variety of respondents with 2 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 reasonably little group compared to others, they can typically command greater rates than their peers. Just 6.7% of freelancers and founders took salaries of $34,000 or less.

Nevertheless, it is very important to keep in mind that “founders” may account for the greater income brackets found in this group, indicating that freelancers might need to construct a book of business before commanding the greatest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Discover Business

When we asked SEO freelancers which channels drive the most business, 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 mainly count on track record and word-of-mouth to generate work.

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

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

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

Smaller sized percentages of freelancers also report using paid channels such as Google Advertisements (7.5%) and social networks marketing (6.1%) to discover work.

Being An SEO Freelancer Is Difficult, However Includes Opportunity

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

For example, an SEO pro working with an internal team might be exclusively responsible for auditing new customers’ sites. On the other hand, a freelancer may be expected to examine the site, figure out how to optimize the site to deliver much better outcomes, and then execute the strategy.

Being a freelancer includes a substantial amount of duty. Nevertheless, there are special chances in freelancing that make up for the disadvantages.

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

Working in SEO as an independent professional permits individuals to work from home and set their own hours. This level of flexibility can develop a healthier work/life balance compared to working in a workplace, as freelancers can easily make time for other priorities in life.

On the other hand, you might decide to pursue freelance work only to find the benefits aren’t worth the drawbacks.

That’s perfectly fine since the experience you gain makes you more valuable to employers. After a few years of freelancing, you’re much better positioned to shift into an internal or agency role.

SEO Freelancers Can Transition Into Full-Time Employment

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

The concept of finding your own clients, creating your own salary, and doing the work of numerous people is understandably intimidating. That doesn’t imply it’s not worth putting in the effort.

SEO freelancers with even a year or two of experience are distinctively certified to transition into full-time work.

Here’s a list of reasons why:

  • Carrying out a wide range of services provides you experience operating in various functions.
  • Building up a base of customers suggests you have lots of work recommendations offered when obtaining jobs.
  • Your connections through freelancing can result in long-term work in other business.

In summary, taking the road less traveled can cause chances that weren’t formerly readily available to you.

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

Included image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel