SEO is critical to get more engagement and conversions. It helps businesses make a mark online. It gives small businesses an edge.

It helps you get visible.

If you’re looking to start a career as a freelance SEO expert, you need to first understand the ins and outs of the industry before you can build authority and really be a game-changer.

Here are a few reasons you would want to consider freelancing:

  • You’re your own boss with the leverage to set your own workload.
  • You get to choose what kinds of clients you get to work with.
  • Running solo, you take all the share of the income.
  • Work as per your convenience, setting a schedule as you see fit.

Whether you’re completely new to SEO or looking to switch to the freelance route, we’ve got tips and suggestions for you:

What Skills and Certifications Do You Need?

SEO certifications can be acquired by going through a number of courses that are available online. With the help of these SEO courses, you can learn the basics of on-page and off-page SEO. The pioneers of the industry and people with 10 or 20 years of experience may not need these certifications, but they can be helpful for beginners. For example, this free Inbound Marketing Course by HubSpot is extensive and helps you develop your skills as an inbound marketer.

SEO and freelance work also require a firm grip over soft skills such as communication and negotiation with clients, which you will be involved heavily in as you take on projects and go through bidding phases. So start working on your soft skills as well as your hard skills before you start looking for your first customer.

How Much Do SEO Freelancers Make?

According to Upwork, SEO freelancers can earn anywhere from $30 to more than $100 per hour, depending on their experience and the number of services they offer. SEO freelancing can be taken up as a side hustle for extra cash, but it is a proven full-time job as well. Furthermore, it is an $80 billion industry and growing, so you know there’s an opportunity here that’s ripe for the picking.

Prepare Your Tools

The first thing you’ll need is a computer with an internet connection.

You will also require different software tools to help you out with SEO tasks. Broken links, slow page load speed, incorrect use of keywords, all of these are SEO specific problems that need to be fixed before handing off the project to a client. Luckily, there are SEO tools for freelancers such as Rank Genie that come with a suite of solutions, such as an SEO rank checker and website audit that automatically detect these problems to make your life easier. You can mention the use of tools as a positive talking point on your services info page.

Create a Website

To start off, you’ll require a platform to represent yourself and your services, and what better than your very own website? This will serve two purposes: a medium for people to find you and for you to update your portfolio. A well-maintained website that ranks for important keywords is a sign of credibility and gives confidence to potential customers about using your services.

A big advantage of attracting clients through your personal website is that you do not have to pay a finder’s fee to anyone like you would on a platform such as Fiverr. The disadvantage is that there will be very little traffic on your website before you’ve established a name for yourself.

Create a Profile on a Freelancing Portal

Starting off, you won’t have clients onboard and ready to work with you, so you’ll have to rely on opportunities available on service-based sites.

Making a profile on an already popular platform is sure to attract some clients. You’ll have to craft your profile, making sure to add details that present you as a competent individual with a command on the skills that you have expertise in. Go over the profiles of successful SEO freelancers, take cues from there, and incorporate those ideas into your own. Different freelancing websites have different formats: some will require you to list your services and clients will reach out to you. You can set up a tier-based service listing with variable features and pricing, which are subject to change depending on conditions such as shortage of time. Other sites will have tasks listed, requiring you to contact the individual setting it up and bidding for it, requiring you to share experience and other material on demand.

Start Bidding Small

Initially, you might have to start off at lower rates if you’re only beginning to make a name for yourself. If you don’t have successful projects to brag about, you won’t be able to quote high prices.

At this point in your journey, your top priority shouldn’t be about just making money but establishing connections and gaining experience. With time, expertise, and a client portfolio, you can upgrade the pricing model.

Bid for projects. Try to get positive reviews from clients. Positive reviews can bring in potential customers as they are the factor that most people focus on heavily, and they will help your services stand out from the crowd.

Referrals for The Win

After completing a successful project, ask your client to refer your services to others seeking the same. Negotiate with them. Create an appealing offer that will make them point to similar businesses or clientsinyour direction. You can also offer a small discount on future transactions if someone is able to get you a new client. Positive customer service is one of the key features in turning a one-time client into a recurring customer.

Making the Most of Already Existing Connections

If you’ve already been working for an agency before going the freelance route, you will be familiar with people in the industry that can give you projects or refer you to clients. Use this to get a leg up, and guide them towards your profiles for jobs in order to get reviews on all the jobs you do. Remember, testimonials attract more customers.

Observe Competitors

To get to the top, study those that have garnered success before you. Take a look at how others in the field are performing, consider joining a freelance community, and observe how they operate. From their content to how they communicate with their clients, there’s a ton you can learn from people that have already established their name in the field.

Not everyone has to be a competitor either, as you can collaborate and share ideas together, maybe even help each other out when in a sticky situation.

Establish A Routine

A common problem faced by freelancers, in general, is either overworking or not working enough. The benefit of freelancing is that you get to set your own schedule depending on the amount of work you want to take up, and that should enable you to set your working hours. But a consistent routine should be set, which can maintain a balance of maximum productivity without wearing yourself out. Not being time-oriented is the reason why most first-time freelancers fail.

Market Yourself!

Anyone looking for work knows that you have to market your skills and/or services to make sure you get the attention of potential clients.

Some tips:

  • Create a LinkedIn profile and post regularly (thrice a week at least). Post about SEO trends and tips for business to build credibility and authority. Establish a personal brand, make connections with others in the field, comment on SEO related posts, and gain engagement.
  • Submit guest blogs to renowned B2B publications, which will help garner traffic back to your own profiles on different platforms, helping you gain potential clients.
  • Stay active on networking groups like Meetup.com to keep up with the latest trends and developments.

Wrapping it all up!

So, the secret recipe to becoming a freelance SEO expert?

Having a little bit of grit, some patience, and a whole lot of SEO knowledge. After all, you are how much you know. And your credibility completely depends on your expertise; so work on that. Take up online courses and learn from SEO gurus!

If you’ve mastered the SEO freelancer game, we’d love to hear you share your story! If you’re new to the SEO world, we’d love to chat with you! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below!