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

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

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

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

Working as an independent contractor is how a meaningful percentage of people get their start in SEO. Some utilize freelancing as a stepping stone to an in-house or company position, while others construct their entire profession around it.

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

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

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

This post expands on the data found in our annual 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 option for SEO specialists early in their careers.

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

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

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

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

With that said, freelancing isn’t exclusively an early-stage career type of gig. As our information in the next area programs, freelancers tend to earn a higher-than-average salary, that makes it a feasible alternative to pursue long-term.

Freelancers Are A Smaller Group, However With Higher Typical Earnings

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

That number is specifically noteworthy when you look at the number of years of experience freelancers have.

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

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

However, it is necessary to keep in mind that “creators” might represent the higher wage brackets discovered in this group, implying that freelancers may need to develop a book of organization 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 recommendations (9.5%).
  2. Browse (8.9%).
  3. Personal networks (8.7%).
  4. Organic social (7.7%).
  5. Upwork (7.7%).

As the information suggests, freelancers mostly count on reputation and word-of-mouth to create work.

This puts more recent SEO specialists at a disadvantage 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. Newer freelancers can show themselves by marketing their services utilizing a site and social networks profiles.

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

Smaller percentages of freelancers likewise report utilizing paid channels such as Google Advertisements (7.5%) and social media marketing (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 finding their own customers, freelancers are expected to provide a broader series of services than other SEO experts.

For instance, an SEO pro working with an in-house group might be solely accountable for auditing brand-new customers’ sites. On the other hand, a freelancer may be anticipated to audit the site, find out how to optimize the site to provide much better results, and after that perform the strategy.

Being a freelancer includes a substantial amount of obligation. Nevertheless, there are distinct opportunities in freelancing that offset the downsides.

We have actually discussed the higher-than-average wages, and we ‘d be remiss not to point out the liberty managed by freelancing.

Operating in SEO as an independent contractor allows people to work from home and set their own hours. This level of versatility can produce a healthier work/life balance compared to operating in an office, as freelancers can quickly make time for other concerns in life.

On the other hand, you may decide to pursue freelance work only to find the advantages aren’t worth the downsides.

That’s completely fine since the experience you gain makes you better to employers. After a few years of freelancing, you’re much better placed to transition into an in-house or agency function.

SEO Freelancers Can Transition Into Full-Time Employment

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

The concept of discovering your own clients, producing your own salary, and doing the work of numerous individuals is not surprisingly frightening. That doesn’t suggest it’s not worth putting in the effort.

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

Here’s a list of reasons why:

  • Carrying out a wide range of services gives you experience operating in many different roles.
  • Developing a base of clients implies you have numerous employment recommendations offered when getting jobs.
  • Your connections through freelancing can lead to permanent work in other business.

In summary, taking the road less traveled can result in opportunities that weren’t previously readily available to you.

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

Featured image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel