The Freelance SEO Specialist’s Journey, How To Get Started In SEO [Survey Outcomes]

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

There aren’t necessarily any degrees needed to operate in SEO. This leaves numerous aspiring specialists left to question how they can show they’re qualified for the task.

You’ll most likely get ten different responses if you ask ten SEO pros how they got their very first task. One or more of those answers is likely to revolve around 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 internal or agency position, while others develop their whole career around it.

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

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

Lots Of SEO Professionals Get Their Start As Freelancers

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

When we asked the length of time SEO pros have actually been working in the field, over 45% of freelancer participants stated they have less than 5 years of experience.

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

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

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

With that said, freelancing isn’t specifically an early-stage profession type of gig. As our information in the next area programs, freelancers tend to earn a higher-than-average salary, which makes it a viable option to pursue long-lasting.

Freelancers Are A Smaller Sized Group, But With Greater Average Earnings

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

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

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

Although freelancers and creators are a reasonably small group compared to others, they can typically command higher 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 “creators” might represent the higher income brackets found in this group, indicating that freelancers might require to develop a book of organization before commanding the highest rates.

How SEO Freelancers Work And Discover Company

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

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

As the information recommends, freelancers primarily rely on reputation and word-of-mouth to produce work.

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

That’s where organic search and social been available in. More recent freelancers can show themselves by marketing their services utilizing a website and social networks profiles.

Freelance job boards like Upwork use another path for freelancers to take when they don’t have the benefit of word of mouth to carry them to their next gig.

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

Being An SEO Freelancer Is Difficult, But Comes With Opportunity

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

For instance, an SEO pro working with an in-house group might be exclusively accountable for auditing new customers’ websites. On the other hand, a freelancer may be anticipated to examine the site, find out how to enhance the site to deliver better outcomes, and after that execute the strategy.

Being a freelancer comes with a significant amount of duty. Nevertheless, there are special chances in freelancing that make up for the drawbacks.

We have actually discussed 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 home and set their own hours. This level of versatility can create a much healthier work/life balance compared to working 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 only to discover the advantages aren’t worth the downsides.

That’s perfectly fine because the experience you acquire makes you better to companies. After a couple of years of freelancing, you’re better placed to transition into an in-house or firm role.

SEO Freelancers Can Transition Into Full-Time Work

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

The concept of finding your own customers, producing your own income, and doing the work of multiple people is understandably intimidating. That doesn’t imply it’s unworthy putting in the effort.

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

Here’s a list of reasons:

  • Carrying out a vast array of services offers you experience operating in many different roles.
  • Building up a base of customers means you have many employment recommendations available when getting tasks.
  • Your connections through freelancing can result in long-term employment in other companies.

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

You can find all of our first-party data about the careers of freelancers, as well as SEO specialists in in-house and company positions, in our annual State Of SEO Report.

Featured image: Paulo Bobita/Best SMM Panel