The Freelance SEO Specialist’s Journey, How To Begin In SEO [Survey Results]

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SEO is a field that’s ripe with opportunities to develop fulfilling careers, though there’s no clearly defined course to getting started.

There aren’t always any degrees required to work in SEO. This leaves lots of striving practitioners delegated wonder how they can prove they’re received the task.

You’ll most likely get ten different answers if you ask 10 SEO pros how they got their first task. One or more of those answers is most likely to focus on freelancing.

Working as an independent specialist is how a significant percentage of people get their start in SEO. Some utilize freelancing as a stepping stone to an internal or company position, while others develop their entire profession around it.

According to data in our State of SEO in 2022, professionals can discover significant success doing freelance work. Close to 45% of freelance and agreement respondents reported making $75,000 to $149,000.

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

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

This post expands 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 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 said they have less than five 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 a market veteran with a recognized portfolio, finding full-time work in an internal function or agency position can be challenging.

In a field without formalized education, freelancing is a course towards developing the experience companies are trying to find.

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

Freelancers Are A Smaller Group, However With Higher Average Income

As pointed out at the beginning of this article, 44.5% of freelance and contract participants report making incomes above $75,000 each year.

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

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

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

However, it’s important to note that “creators” may represent the greater income brackets found in this group, implying that freelancers may require to develop a book of service before commanding the highest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Discover Service

When we asked SEO freelancers which channels drive the most company, they reacted:

  1. Network recommendations (9.5%).
  2. Browse (8.9%).
  3. Individual networks (8.7%).
  4. Organic social (7.7%).
  5. Upwork (7.7%).

As the data recommends, freelancers mainly depend on track record and word-of-mouth to create work.

This puts more recent SEO specialists at a disadvantage as they’re less likely to have the experience, portfolios, or customer 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 using a website and social media profiles.

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

Smaller percentages of freelancers also report utilizing paid channels such as Google Advertisements (7.5%) and social networks marketing (6.1%) to find work.

Being An SEO Freelancer Is Difficult, But Comes With Chance

Freelancing isn’t for the faint of heart. In addition to being responsible for finding their own clients, freelancers are expected to supply a more comprehensive range of services than other SEO specialists.

For instance, an SEO pro dealing with an internal group might be entirely responsible for auditing brand-new customers’ sites. On the other hand, a freelancer might be expected to audit the website, find out how to optimize the site to provide much better outcomes, and then perform the strategy.

Being a freelancer comes with a substantial quantity of obligation. Nevertheless, there are distinct opportunities in freelancing that make up for the downsides.

We have actually pointed out the higher-than-average wages, and we ‘d be remiss not to discuss the liberty afforded by freelancing.

Working in SEO as an independent professional enables individuals to work from house and set their own hours. This level of versatility can develop a healthier work/life balance compared to operating 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 just to find the benefits aren’t worth the downsides.

That’s perfectly fine due to the fact that the experience you get makes you better to companies. After a couple of years of freelancing, you’re better positioned to shift into an in-house or agency role.

SEO Freelancers Can Shift Into Full-Time Employment

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

The idea of discovering your own clients, producing your own income, and doing the work of several people is not surprisingly daunting. That doesn’t imply it’s not worth 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:

  • Carrying out a wide range of services gives you experience operating in various functions.
  • Building up a base of customers suggests you have lots of employment references readily available when making an application for tasks.
  • Your connections through freelancing can result in irreversible employment in other business.

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

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

Featured image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel