An SEO freelancer is a specialist whose goal is to optimize a website to ensure it brings organic traffic with the help of search engines. Becoming a freelance specialist may cause some stress and lead to many questions.
Whether you’ve worked on the team and want to switch to the SEO freelancing business or do not have any prior experience in the niche, this article will help you decide your next steps in building a freelance career as an SEO professional.
What Are The Main Responsibilities Of An SEO Freelancer?
Lead clients’ projects
From the beginning of every project, effective communication is essential to cooperation. First, you’ll need meetings to discuss expectations and project needs and understand the client’s product. Then, monthly reports will take place. As project leader, you will be responsible for the website’s performance and improvement.
Competitive analysis includes an analysis of the competitor’s traffic, keywords, backlink profile, and ad campaigns. It also involves comparing competitors’ content to understand the client’s product needs and what the market offers.
You will be comparing the keywords of competitors, relying on SEO metrics, and analyzing the website performance to see which ads work the best for your competitors. This analysis allows you to take the best from the competitors and apply it to the niche.
Keyword research means finding and analyzing user queries to find specific information. Keyword research is a regular part of the work routine of the freelance SEO professional, as keywords provide insights about which topics to cover in the content and help in understanding which audience to target. You can easily automate this process with a keyword research tool.
Here is an in-depth article on how to perform keyword research?
In search engine optimization, link building is a big deal. Google defines whether the website is trustworthy and has authority with the help of backlinks — links on the website that lead to other websites. It’s one of Google’s top ranking factors, so getting quality external links is an important skill.
Reports display essential metrics that show how the site is performing. They should include the progress of the job, general activities for the past month and their impact, and ideas for further improvement. SEO reports can be adjusted based on the goals of the client and KPIs, but they usually show the most critical measures for search engines: traffic, backlinks, reactions, and technical capabilities of the websites.
Check out how to improve SEO for Shopify sites?
Should You Switch To Freelance SEO?
When deciding to become an SEO freelancer, the first thing you should do is to get a grasp of the job and its rhythm. Think about your personality, personal situation, and desires. Then, consider the pros and cons, and discuss them with some specialists in the industry to get a better idea of the future workflow.
Switching to freelance SEO implies adding constant communication with clients to the list of responsibilities. Negotiating, communicating, and gaining trust by meeting deadlines are vital for winning clients.
There is this joke about freelancers: ‘I did not want to work 5/7, so I switched to freelance, and now I work 24/7’. This becomes a reality if the person does not take responsibility or does not have basic project management skills from the start.
The position implies more freedom in schedule and choice, but it also requires setting clear boundaries, creating a work schedule, and taking responsibility for your earnings and every project you take. If you make the right transition, you can increase your income and improve your work-life balance.
How To Become An SEO Professional Freelancer in 10 steps
1. Create a portfolio of your work
Most likely, you are either a beginner freelancer with experience in SEO in the office or have some knowledge but no experience.
If you have some knowledge but don’t have any clients, you’ve got two options:
- Find some side-hustle with a limited budget and win them with the price.
- Become an assistant to the SEO specialist and contribute to the success of a few projects that you can later present in the portfolio.
Meanwhile, you can collect your existing knowledge into a freelance portfolio that will help the client decide when hiring. Regarding your profile, try to include some of the portfolio elements: record a video, and think of a creative way of presenting yourself to gain trust and win over more clients.
If you have experience, your job is a bit simpler. The best practice is to present your knowledge concisely, as well as to collect and present cases. One of the best practices is to present projects as case studies, focusing on the results and your impact on the project. Lastly, ensure your portfolio is concise and easy to navigate.
2. Set up work processes and an SEO toolkit
There are a number of both free and paid tools you can use to lead projects. The good news is that you don’t have to pay for all the services until you land a client, which ensures your money will not go to waste if you run into any issues.
Your starter kit can consist of the following helpful tools:
- SE Ranking website rank tracker for monitoring site positions. This platform also offers competitive, keyword, and backlink analysis, so you’ll get all the needed SEO data in one place.
- Google Analytics & Google Search Console – basic tools for website analysis and optimization.
- Refrens for tracking income, invoicing, and client management.
- Trello to organize your work and Hive to track time.
- A web scraping tool for comprehensive data acquisition, competitor research, content optimization, and link-building opportunities, giving you a competitive edge in the SEO field.
3. List your services and area of SEO expertise
Your freelance profile should include your skill set and the services you provide. Add to the list of services as you develop your expertise. Your basic skills should consist of keyword research, a basic knowledge of HTML, copywriting and content creation skills, as well as an understanding of the latest trends and SEO best practices.
4. Select your niche
According to the latest trends, hybrid workers are leaving the market, and clients have started to place more trust in specialists with a narrow but deep area of expertise. This is why you should define your area of expertise right at the beginning and deepen it as you develop.
Check out how selecting an idle niche can help you double your income.
5. Set up pricing
When you start, you’ll lack one crucial component that adds credibility — client reviews. You may want first to consider landing a few cheaper gigs to get some reviews before you build up your prices. This will help you to gain trust on the platform and ensure you do not waste time creating and sending proposals to people who won’t answer them.
At the same time, make sure your prices are reasonable and do not dump them. It hurts the market and quickly leads to burnout. Your freelance pricing should align with your skills and experience, even if you decide to adjust your price a bit in the beginning.
6. Create your personal website
Your personal website is a chance to have an advanced portfolio and use your SEO skills from the beginning. No need to wait for the client to work on the site — create your own, practice, make changes, make mistakes, apply trends, and see results. All of this is extremely valuable for your development as a specialist. Remember that practice makes perfect.
Add case studies, client testimonials, and information about your skills and experience when using your site as a portfolio.
7. Reach out to your existing network
Nothing works better than word-of-mouth marketing. Start with your relatives, friends, and former colleagues to determine whether they need your services. This can help you land those first projects with less hassle, as referrals have prior trust.
If you do not find anything after talking to people you know, try reaching out to online communities of SEO professionals. Such platforms usually share job opportunities, support each other, and even help you make valuable connections.
Check out the top networking tips for freelancers.
These communities are also great for further building a network. Your goal as a freelancer is to spend less time finding clients. You can do that by bonding with existing ones: keep in touch after the project is over, ask for honest feedback, and make sure you do everything to deliver the best possible results. This way, clients will gladly come back.
8. Register on freelancing portals
Once you’ve gone through all the steps below, you’ll be ready to start a freelancing journey on a platform. We’ve listed the most popular ones — the competition may be high there, but it only means that many clients are looking for high-quality specialists.
Consider the navigation of the platform, choose how to present yourself, and try landing clients, starting with 1-2 platforms. Registering on all platforms will not make much sense, as you need to grow your network to earn trust constantly.
9. Build Your Online Presence
A personal brand may be your main source of clients if you dedicate your time and energy to building a network. You can use LinkedIn or Facebook for job purposes and follow SEO experts’ blogs. Find out what you are interested in talking about. Share your opinion, latest trends, and showcases. It will pay off when your network starts to grow. It could also be a nice addition to your portfolio — clients often check social media before setting up an interview with a candidate.
10. Learn to communicate with clients
Communication and negotiation are some of the most critical skills for a SEO freelancer. Landing clients is all about how you communicate. Additionally, it requires attention to deadlines, timely reports, a vision of progress, and much more. Discover how you can improve these skills: read books, join a course, or discover people’s psychology.
Here is an article on the important role as a freelancer.
Freelancing is not for everyone. You need to be an SEO specialist, entrepreneur, salesperson, and project manager — all at once. Yet, it can give you exactly what you desire: complete control over your time and projects, a flexible schedule as well as income, and infinite growth opportunities. It is definitely worth trying if all the job opportunities sound exciting.
To start off, define the niche and area of expertise you want to focus on. Find ways to practice if you have yet to gain practical experience, or focus on building a strong personal brand if you do. Then, ensure you have a portfolio that showcases your knowledge, experience, and case studies.
Use both word-of-mouth marketing and freelance platforms to land your first clients. Grow your network and focus on bringing real value to your clients, leading them at every stage of the project and showing dedication. This way, you will grow a network of clients who want to work long-term with you.