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

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SEO is a field that’s ripe with opportunities to develop fulfilling professions, though there’s no clearly defined path to starting.

There aren’t always any degrees needed to operate in SEO. This leaves many striving specialists left to wonder how they can show they’re qualified for the task.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Numerous SEO Professionals Get Their Start As Freelancers

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

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

That number isn’t surprising when you comprehend why numerous take the freelancing path in the first location.

If you’re not an industry veteran with an established portfolio, finding full-time operate in an internal role or agency position can be difficult.

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

With that stated, freelancing isn’t exclusively an early-stage profession kind of gig. As our information in the next area shows, freelancers tend to earn a higher-than-average income, which makes it a feasible alternative to pursue long-lasting.

Freelancers Are A Smaller Group, But With Higher Typical Earnings

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

That number is particularly noteworthy when you take a look at the number of years of experience freelancers have.

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

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

However, it’s important to keep in mind that “founders” might account for the higher income brackets found in this group, meaning that freelancers might require to develop a book of service prior to commanding the greatest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Find Business

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 recommends, freelancers mainly depend on credibility and word-of-mouth to produce work.

This puts more recent SEO practitioners at a disadvantage as they’re less most likely to have the experience, portfolios, or client lists essential to discover work.

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

Freelance task boards like Upwork offer another route for freelancers to take when they do not have the advantage of word of mouth to bring them to their next gig.

Smaller percentages 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 Opportunity

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

For instance, an SEO pro dealing with an internal team might be exclusively responsible for auditing new clients’ sites. On the other hand, a freelancer may be anticipated to examine the site, find out how to optimize the site to provide much better results, and then execute the plan.

Being a freelancer includes a substantial quantity of duty. However, there are distinct chances in freelancing that offset the downsides.

We have actually discussed the higher-than-average incomes, and we ‘d be remiss not to discuss the flexibility paid for by freelancing.

Working in SEO as an independent specialist allows individuals to work from home and set their own hours. This level of versatility can create 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 decide to pursue freelance work just to discover the advantages aren’t worth the downsides.

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

SEO Freelancers Can Transition Into Full-Time Employment

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

The concept of discovering your own customers, producing your own income, and doing the work of numerous individuals is naturally intimidating. That does not mean it’s unworthy putting in the effort.

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

Here’s a list of reasons:

  • Carrying out a wide range of services provides you experience working in several roles.
  • Developing a base of clients implies you have many work referrals available when requesting jobs.
  • Your connections through freelancing can lead to long-term work in other companies.

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

You can discover all of our first-party data about the careers of freelancers, along with SEO professionals in in-house and firm positions, in our yearly State Of SEO Report.

Featured image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel