The Freelance SEO Specialist’s Journey, How To Get Going In SEO [Study Results]

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SEO is a field that’s ripe with opportunities to construct satisfying careers, though there’s no plainly specified path to beginning.

There aren’t always any degrees required to operate in SEO. This leaves numerous aiming practitioners delegated wonder how they can prove they’re received the task.

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

Working as an independent professional is how a meaningful percentage of people get their start in SEO. Some use 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, specialists can find substantial success doing freelance work. Near 45% of freelance and agreement participants reported earning $75,000 to $149,000.

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

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 full report to see the first-party information.

Lots Of SEO Professionals Get Their Start As Freelancers

Freelancing is a popular choice for SEO experts early in their careers.

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

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

If you’re not a market 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 course toward developing the experience companies are looking for.

With that said, freelancing isn’t specifically an early-stage profession type of gig. As our information in the next area shows, freelancers tend to make a higher-than-average salary, which makes it a feasible choice to pursue long-term.

Freelancers Are A Smaller Sized Group, But With Higher Average Earnings

As discussed at the start of this post, 44.5% of freelance and contract respondents report earning incomes above $75,000 each year.

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

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

Although freelancers and creators are a fairly small group compared to others, they can often command greater rates than their peers. Only 6.7% of freelancers and creators took incomes of $34,000 or less.

Nevertheless, it is very important to keep in mind that “founders” may account for the greater salary brackets found in this group, implying that freelancers may need to construct a book of service before commanding the highest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Find Business

When we asked SEO freelancers which channels drive the most organization, 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 suggests, freelancers mostly rely 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 needed to find work.

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

Freelance job boards like Upwork use another path for freelancers to take when they don’t have the advantage of word of mouth to bring 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 Chance

Freelancing isn’t for the faint of heart. In addition to being accountable for discovering their own clients, freelancers are anticipated to provide a broader series of services than other SEO specialists.

For example, an SEO pro dealing with an internal group may be solely responsible for auditing brand-new customers’ sites. On the other hand, a freelancer may be expected to audit the site, find out how to optimize the website to deliver much better outcomes, and then execute the plan.

Being a freelancer includes a substantial quantity of obligation. Nevertheless, there are special chances in freelancing that make up for the drawbacks.

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

Operating in SEO as an independent professional enables individuals to work from house and set their own hours. This level of versatility can produce a much healthier work/life balance compared to working 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 advantages aren’t worth the drawbacks.

That’s perfectly great because the experience you get makes you more valuable to employers. After a few years of freelancing, you’re much better positioned to shift into an in-house or firm role.

SEO Freelancers Can Shift Into Full-Time Employment

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

The idea of finding your own customers, producing your own salary, and doing the work of numerous individuals is understandably 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:

  • Carrying out a vast array of services gives you experience operating in many different functions.
  • Developing a base of clients suggests you have numerous employment recommendations offered when looking for jobs.
  • Your connections through freelancing can cause irreversible work in other business.

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

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

Included image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel