The Freelance SEO Expert’s Journey, How To Start In SEO [Survey Results]

Posted by

SEO is a field that’s ripe with opportunities to construct satisfying professions, though there’s no clearly specified path to getting started.

There aren’t necessarily any degrees required to work in SEO. This leaves numerous aspiring specialists left to wonder how they can prove they’re gotten approved for the job.

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

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

According to information in our State of SEO in 2022, professionals can find substantial 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 deeper at the data 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 customers?

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

Many SEO Professionals Get Their Start As Freelancers

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

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

That number isn’t unexpected when you understand why many take the freelancing course in the first place.

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

In a field without formalized education, freelancing is a path towards developing the experience employers are looking for.

With that said, freelancing isn’t exclusively an early-stage profession kind of gig. As our data in the next section shows, freelancers tend to make a higher-than-average income, that makes it a viable choice to pursue long-lasting.

Freelancers Are A Smaller Group, But With Higher Typical Earnings

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

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

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

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

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

How SEO Freelancers Work And Find Business

When we asked SEO freelancers which channels drive the most company, 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 data suggests, freelancers mostly depend on track record and word-of-mouth to create work.

This puts newer SEO specialists at a downside 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 show themselves by marketing their services using a website and social media profiles.

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

Smaller percentages 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 Chance

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

For instance, an SEO pro working with an internal team may be solely accountable for auditing brand-new clients’ websites. On the other hand, a freelancer may be expected to audit the site, find out how to enhance the site to deliver much better results, and then carry out the strategy.

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

We have actually mentioned the higher-than-average wages, and we ‘d be remiss not to mention the liberty paid for by freelancing.

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

On the other hand, you might choose to pursue freelance work only to discover the benefits aren’t worth the disadvantages.

That’s perfectly great due to the fact that the experience you gain makes you more valuable to employers. After a few years of freelancing, you’re better placed to transition into an internal or agency role.

SEO Freelancers Can Shift Into Full-Time Employment

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

The idea of finding your own clients, producing your own salary, and doing the work of numerous people is naturally intimidating. That doesn’t imply it’s unworthy putting in the effort.

SEO freelancers with even a year or 2 of experience are uniquely certified to transition into full-time employment.

Here’s a list of reasons why:

  • Performing a wide range of services gives you experience working in several roles.
  • Developing a base of customers implies you have numerous employment recommendations offered when getting jobs.
  • Your connections through freelancing can lead to permanent employment in other companies.

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

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

Included image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel