The Freelance SEO Professional’s Journey, How To Get Started In SEO [Survey Results]

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SEO is a field that’s ripe with opportunities to build fulfilling professions, though there’s no clearly defined course to beginning.

There aren’t always any degrees required to work in SEO. This leaves lots of striving specialists delegated question how they can show they’re gotten approved for the task.

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

Working as an independent contractor is how a significant portion of individuals 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 data in our State of SEO in 2022, specialists can discover considerable success doing freelance work. Near to 45% of freelance and agreement respondents reported making $75,000 to $149,000.

In this post, we’ll look deeper at the information 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 customers?

This post expands 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 experts early in their careers.

When we asked for how long SEO pros have actually been working in the field, over 45% of freelancer participants 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 first place.

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

In a field without formalized education, freelancing is a path toward building the experience employers are trying to find.

With that said, freelancing isn’t exclusively an early-stage profession type of gig. As our information in the next area programs, freelancers tend to earn a higher-than-average wage, which makes it a feasible choice to pursue long-term.

Freelancers Are A Smaller Sized Group, But With Higher Typical Earnings

As mentioned at the start of this article, 44.5% of freelance and agreement respondents report making incomes above $75,000 each year.

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

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

Although freelancers and creators are a relatively small group compared to others, they can typically 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 “founders” might represent the higher salary brackets found in this group, implying that freelancers may need to develop a book of organization prior to commanding the greatest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Find Service

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

  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 information suggests, freelancers primarily count on track record and word-of-mouth to create work.

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

That’s where organic search and social can be found in. Newer freelancers can show themselves by marketing their services utilizing a website and social media profiles.

Freelance job boards like Upwork use another path 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 also report using paid channels such as Google Advertisements (7.5%) and social media marketing (6.1%) to discover work.

Being An SEO Freelancer Is Difficult, However Includes Chance

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

For instance, an SEO pro dealing with an in-house team may be entirely accountable for auditing brand-new clients’ websites. On the other hand, a freelancer might be anticipated to investigate the website, find out how to optimize the website to deliver better outcomes, and after that execute the plan.

Being a freelancer includes a significant amount of responsibility. Nevertheless, there are distinct chances in freelancing that make up for the downsides.

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

Operating in SEO as an independent specialist allows people to work from home and set their own hours. This level of flexibility can produce a healthier work/life balance compared to operating in a workplace, as freelancers can easily make time for other top priorities in life.

On the other hand, you may choose to pursue freelance work just to discover the advantages aren’t worth the downsides.

That’s completely fine due to the fact that the experience you gain makes you more valuable to companies. After a few years of freelancing, you’re better positioned to shift into an in-house or firm role.

SEO Freelancers Can Shift Into Full-Time Employment

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

The idea of discovering your own clients, generating your own wage, and doing the work of several individuals is not surprisingly frightening. That doesn’t imply it’s not worth putting in the effort.

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

Here’s a list of reasons why:

  • Performing a vast array of services provides you experience working in various functions.
  • Developing a base of clients means you have numerous work references offered when looking for tasks.
  • Your connections through freelancing can cause permanent employment in other business.

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

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

Featured image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel