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

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SEO is a field that’s ripe with chances to develop satisfying careers, though there’s no plainly specified course to getting going.

There aren’t always any degrees required to work in SEO. This leaves lots of aspiring professionals delegated question how they can show they’re received the job.

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

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

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

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

How do you become an SEO freelancer? What does an SEO freelancer do? Most significantly, how does an SEO freelancer get customers?

This post broadens on the data found 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 option 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 said they have less than 5 years of experience.

That number isn’t surprising when you understand why lots of take the freelancing path in the very first place.

If you’re not a market veteran with a recognized portfolio, discovering full-time work in an in-house role or firm position can be tough.

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

With that said, freelancing isn’t specifically an early-stage career kind of gig. As our data in the next section programs, freelancers tend to make a higher-than-average wage, that makes it a practical choice to pursue long-lasting.

Freelancers Are A Smaller Group, But With Greater Typical Income

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, 44.5% of freelance and contract participants report making salaries above $75,000 each year.

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

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

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

However, it is very important to keep in mind that “creators” might represent the greater wage brackets discovered in this group, meaning 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 referrals (9.5%).
  2. Search (8.9%).
  3. Personal networks (8.7%).
  4. Organic social (7.7%).
  5. Upwork (7.7%).

As the information suggests, freelancers primarily depend on credibility and word-of-mouth to produce work.

This puts more recent SEO specialists at a drawback as they’re less 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 prove themselves by marketing their services using a website and social media profiles.

Freelance job boards like Upwork provide another route for freelancers to take when they don’t have the benefit of word of mouth to carry them to their next gig.

Smaller portions of freelancers likewise report using paid channels such as Google Ads (7.5%) and social networks marketing (6.1%) to find work.

Being An SEO Freelancer Is Difficult, But Includes Opportunity

Freelancing isn’t for the faint of heart. In addition to being accountable for finding their own customers, freelancers are anticipated to provide a broader range of services than other SEO experts.

For example, an SEO pro dealing with an in-house team might be entirely responsible for auditing new clients’ sites. On the other hand, a freelancer may be expected to examine the site, find out how to optimize the website to deliver better results, and then perform the strategy.

Being a freelancer includes a significant amount of responsibility. However, there are unique chances in freelancing that make up for the drawbacks.

We have actually mentioned the higher-than-average incomes, and we ‘d be remiss not to point out the liberty 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 healthier work/life balance compared to working in a workplace, as freelancers can quickly make time for other priorities in life.

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

That’s perfectly fine due to the fact that the experience you gain makes you more valuable to companies. After a few years of freelancing, you’re much better positioned to transition into an in-house or firm function.

SEO Freelancers Can Shift Into Full-Time Work

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

The idea of discovering your own customers, producing your own income, and doing the work of several people is understandably daunting. That doesn’t suggest it’s unworthy putting in the effort.

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

Here’s a list of reasons:

  • Carrying out a wide range of services offers you experience working in various roles.
  • Building up a base of clients suggests you have numerous employment references available when requesting tasks.
  • Your connections through freelancing can cause long-term work in other companies.

In summary, taking the road less taken a trip can lead to chances that weren’t formerly available to you.

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

Included image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel