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

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SEO is a field that’s ripe with chances to build fulfilling professions, though there’s no clearly specified course to getting started.

There aren’t necessarily any degrees required to work in SEO. This leaves numerous aspiring practitioners left to question how they can show they’re received 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 most likely to revolve around freelancing.

Working as an independent specialist is how a meaningful portion of people get their start in SEO. Some utilize 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 substantial success doing freelance work. Near to 45% of freelance and contract respondents reported earning $75,000 to $149,000.

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

How do you become an SEO freelancer? What does an SEO freelancer do? Most notably, how does an SEO freelancer get clients?

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

Many SEO Professionals Get Their Start As Freelancers

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

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

That number isn’t unexpected when you understand why lots of take the freelancing path in the first location.

If you’re not an industry veteran with an established portfolio, discovering full-time work in an in-house function or company position can be difficult.

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

With that stated, freelancing isn’t solely an early-stage profession kind of gig. As our data in the next section programs, freelancers tend to earn a higher-than-average income, that makes it a viable option to pursue long-term.

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

As pointed out at the beginning of this article, 44.5% of freelance and contract respondents report earning salaries above $75,000 annually.

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

  • Out of the total variety of respondents with less than two years of experience, 9.4% were freelancers or founders.
  • Out of the overall variety of respondents with 2 to 4 years of experience, 10.1% were freelancers or founders.
  • Practically half of all freelancers and founders (45.6%) had four or fewer years of experience.

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

Nevertheless, it’s important to keep in mind that “founders” might represent the higher wage brackets found in this group, implying that freelancers might require to develop a book of service before commanding the greatest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Find Organization

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

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

That’s where natural search and social come in. Newer freelancers can show themselves by marketing their services using a website and social media profiles.

Freelance job boards like Upwork use another route 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 Ads (7.5%) and social networks advertising (6.1%) to discover work.

Being An SEO Freelancer Is Difficult, But Comes With Opportunity

Freelancing isn’t for the faint of heart. In addition to being accountable for finding their own clients, 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 may be solely accountable for auditing brand-new customers’ sites. On the other hand, a freelancer might be expected to investigate the website, find out how to enhance the website to provide much better outcomes, and then carry out the strategy.

Being a freelancer features a considerable amount of duty. Nevertheless, there are unique chances in freelancing that make up for the disadvantages.

We have actually pointed out the higher-than-average wages, and we ‘d be remiss not to point out the freedom paid for by freelancing.

Working in SEO as an independent specialist enables people to work from house and set their own hours. This level of versatility can produce a much healthier work/life balance compared to operating in a workplace, as freelancers can easily make time for other concerns in life.

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

That’s completely fine because the experience you acquire makes you more valuable to employers. After a couple of years of freelancing, you’re better placed to transition into an internal or firm role.

SEO Freelancers Can Transition Into Full-Time Work

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

The concept of discovering your own customers, producing your own income, and doing the work of numerous people is understandably daunting. That does not suggest it’s unworthy putting in the effort.

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

Here’s a list of reasons:

  • Performing a large range of services offers you experience operating in several functions.
  • Developing a base of clients indicates you have numerous work recommendations available when applying for jobs.
  • Your connections through freelancing can cause long-term work in other companies.

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

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

Featured image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel