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

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

There aren’t necessarily any degrees required to work in SEO. This leaves lots of aspiring practitioners left to question how they can prove they’re qualified for the job.

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

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

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

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

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

This article broadens on the information 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 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 many take the freelancing path in the very first location.

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

In a field without formalized education, freelancing is a course toward building the experience companies are looking for.

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

Freelancers Are A Smaller Sized Group, But With Greater Typical Income

As discussed at the start of this article, 44.5% of freelance and agreement respondents report earning wages above $75,000 each year.

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

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

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

However, it is essential to keep in mind that “founders” might represent the greater wage brackets found in this group, meaning that freelancers may need to construct a book of company prior to commanding the highest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Find Organization

When we asked SEO freelancers which channels drive the most service, they responded:

  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 primarily count on track record and word-of-mouth to produce work.

This puts newer SEO professionals at a drawback as they’re less most likely to have the experience, portfolios, or customer lists needed to find work.

That’s where natural search and social been available in. Newer freelancers can prove themselves by marketing their services using a site and social networks profiles.

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

Smaller portions of freelancers likewise report utilizing paid channels such as Google Advertisements (7.5%) and social media advertising (6.1%) to find work.

Being An SEO Freelancer Is Difficult, However Includes Chance

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

For instance, an SEO pro working with an in-house team may be entirely accountable for auditing new clients’ websites. On the other hand, a freelancer may be anticipated to examine the website, figure out how to enhance the website to provide better outcomes, and then execute the strategy.

Being a freelancer features a considerable amount of obligation. However, there are special opportunities in freelancing that offset the downsides.

We’ve pointed out the higher-than-average salaries, and we ‘d be remiss not to mention the liberty paid for by freelancing.

Operating in SEO as an independent professional permits people to work from home and set their own hours. This level of flexibility can create 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 decide to pursue freelance work only to find the advantages aren’t worth the drawbacks.

That’s perfectly fine because the experience you gain makes you more valuable to companies. After a couple of years of freelancing, you’re much better positioned to transition into an internal or firm role.

SEO Freelancers Can Transition Into Full-Time Employment

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

The idea of discovering your own customers, producing your own wage, and doing the work of multiple people is understandably frightening. That does not indicate it’s not worth putting in the effort.

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

Here’s a list of reasons:

  • Performing a vast array of services provides you experience operating in various roles.
  • Developing a base of customers indicates you have numerous work recommendations available when making an application for tasks.
  • Your connections through freelancing can cause irreversible work in other companies.

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

You can discover all of our first-party data about the professions of freelancers, along with SEO experts in internal and company positions, in our annual State Of SEO Report.

Featured image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel