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How to Become an SEO Freelancer and Love Work at Home

Man learning how to become an SEO freelancer

If the SEO (Search Engine Optimization) services market is set to grow from $8.81 billion in 2020 to $9.53 billion in 2021, what does that mean for you? 

Right NOW is one of the best times to learn how to become an SEO freelancer.

SEO freelancers enjoy the benefits of a flexible schedule, while working with who and when they want, all from the comfort of their own home. 

And that’s what this article is about.

At Love Work at Home, we’ve rolled up our sleeves to craft a step-by-step guide on how to become an SEO freelancer, even without experience.

By the end of this article you’ll know:

Whether you want to learn a new skill, quit your job, or earn extra money on the side, this article is a must-read. 

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How to Become an SEO Freelancer — What is an SEO Freelance Consultant?

SEO freelancers help your site to rank high in the search engine results (SERPs) — typically the first page of results when you “search” on Google or any other search engine.

The more visibility a site has in the search results, the better chance it has in turning visitors into paying customers.

SEO freelancers can help your site rank higher on the internet

Ultimately, a solid SEO strategy will attract a consistent stream of potential buyers to your site. And an SEO freelance consultant can be paid handsomely for it.

In fact, the average price that SEO consultants charge is anywhere between $500-$1000 per project. 

Most businesses don’t have the time or necessary resources to learn about SEO. They’re too busy creating products, handling employees, and managing suppliers.

This is where you come in. 

Using your SEO skills, you can help business owners gain more visibility in Google’s search results. And you can do it through these 7 simple steps

Step 1: Learn the Basics of SEO

SEO process infographicI love SEO. But it can get really confusing if you don’t know the basics.

What are those basics?

First, you need to understand how search engines work. 

Then you need to learn how to optimize a website so that it gains more visibility on search engines.

Skip this part, and you’re on a one-way ticket to failing as an SEO freelancer. It’s that important.

Take time to build a good foundation for your SEO skills. After all, you can’t become a search engine optimization specialist without knowing the basics. Thankfully, leading SEO websites such as Moz and Hubspot have a range of helpful resources to get you on your feet.

Step 2: Choose Your Niche — What are the Types of SEO Services?

If you already know what a “niche” is, you might think I’m referring to a particular interest. Like music or photography.

In SEO, however, the word niche is a little different.

Instead, it’s the type of SEO service you offer. 

For example, some freelancers specialise in on-page SEO. These are practices you implement on your website to help you rank high in the SERPs, such as using certain keywords in the title and throughout the document which help the search engines understand what your text is about. 

Alternatively, some would rather specialise in off-page SEO. These are practices outside your website that contribute to your ranking, such as getting other website owners to add a hyperlink from their website to yours, which helps Google see that your website is authoritative in the eyes of other publishers.

Then you might want to focus on becoming a technical SEO expert. This is all about making your website easier to be crawled and indexed by Google.

These three components make up SEO as a whole. And while it would be great to master all areas, it’s worth specialising with one type of service.

This will come in handy when you start looking for a potential client (more on that later).

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Step 3: Work Out Which SEO Skills You Need

Now that you’ve chosen your niche, the next step is to learn what skills you need to service your clients. 

Below are the skills related to each SEO service.

On-page SEO 

Off-page SEO

Technical SEO

Of course, there are more skills to learn, but this is a great starting point. 

Now the next step is to learn them.

Step 4: Learn SEO Online for Free

SEO vector diagramThis section is all about how to upskill. 

The Harvard Business Review notes that “People are more likely to consume a product when they are aware of its cost — when they feel ‘out of pocket’.”

So there’s very real merit to paying for a course. If you agree with this, you might want to check out our blog titled “10 Course Alternatives to Brian Dean’s SEO That Works”.

Of course, you might want to just get the learning wheels rolling, in which case here are some tips to help you learn SEO online free, or close to it.

Read the Top SEO Industry Blogs Every Week

Search engines are constantly changing their search algorithms. 

That’s why it’s crucial to stay on top of the latest and best practices.

Find a trusted blog. Read their articles. Take action on what you learn.

Ahrefs, Moz and Backlinko are all great places to start. 

Take Advantage of Free Courses

Today, it’s easy to get your hands on free information. 

Now, free doesn’t necessarily mean valuable. There’s a lot of free junk online.

But there are a few courses that are well worth learning SEO from.

For example, many beginners benefit from Hubspot’s free SEO training. It’s only two hours long but covers all you need to know before you start finding clients.

Equally helpful is Moz’s 1-hour SEO guide. Or, if you prefer to learn about a particular topic, SEM’s academy offers a wide range of free SEO lessons.

SEO Tools to Help You Learn

Google logo with SEOWhen it comes to Search Engine Optimization, what separates SEO specialists from the rest isn’t always their skills.

Rather, it’s the tools they use.

Without the right tools to analyze your website, you’ll struggle to optimize content effectively. Your efforts may even go to waste completely.

There are two tools every SEO freelancer needs: Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

Google Analytics offers insight into traffic and site performance. Google Search Console offers a range of tools to improve your results. 

By tracking your site performance, you know exactly where to improve. You can make adjustments that reflect a higher ranking in the SERPs.

Build Your Own Websites

Learning and implementing SEO already takes a considerable amount of time. 

And you don’t want to wait for your first client to start building your SEO skills or creating SEO strategies.

So, why not be your first client? This is a key step on how to become an SEO freelancer.

Apply the skills you learn. Play around with keywords. Test page speeds. Practice link building.

“Do this for practice” but also note how these can come in handy as evidence that you have the skills to rank a website by using your SEO skills.

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Step 5: Find Entry Level SEO jobs for Freelancers

One of the fastest ways to find your first client is to seek jobs on freelance websites.

I know. It doesn’t sound sexy at all. 

But it’s the best way to hit the ground running, especially in the beginning, when you haven’t yet built enough credibility to receive client referrals.  

Now, you won’t be making quit-your-day-job money just yet. 

But money isn’t actually the goal here. The goal is to gain credible reviews.

Reviews are immensely powerful. I’m sure you already know this.

5-star reviews

In fact, 74% of business owners believe reputation is “extremely” important when hiring an SEO professional.

The more reviews you have, the more prospects pay attention.

Besides gaining reviews, entry-level jobs are also a great way to exercise those skills you’ve been learning. To identify your strengths and weaknesses, and learn from your mistakes.

To find your first client, we’re going to use Upwork. This is a popular site freelancers use to find work.

And the way it works is simple:

Now, you will have to compete with other freelancers to win the job. And it’s not every job you apply for that you’ll win. That’s just the nature of freelance platforms.

But, there is one thing you can do to stand out in a swarm of proposals…

Optimise your profile.

Step 6: Set Up Your Profile and Optimize It

If you haven’t already, create an Upwork account.

Next, set up your profile. Upwork requires that you complete at least 60% of your profile before you can apply for jobs.

This means filling out a:

Because the title and overview are what clients first see in your proposal, they both need to be compelling enough to grab their attention. Let’s see how we can achieve this.

Create a catchy title

Your title needs to indicate two things: 

    1. You’re an expert 
    2. You have the client’s best interest in mind (e.g. more traffic or sales)

Avoid vague talk like “SEO marketer” or “SEO professional.” Thousands of freelancers already use these same words, so it’s a surefire way to get your proposal ignored.

So you have a better idea of what a good title looks like, here are some examples I pulled from Upwork:

Local SEO Expert

This freelancer starts their title with their area of expertise: local SEO.

But, they also include relevant keywords their clients would have an interest in. 

Google 3 pack list, for example, is a section in the SERPs where local businesses can receive a lot of traffic. They also want a space on Google Maps, so this freelancer does a great job at speaking directly to their current needs.

This title is also impressive.

SEO Expert

Here, they list the types of services they offer. In cases where a client has to read through several proposals, this helps them immediately understand whether or not they need your service.

They may think, “Wow, this freelancer offers International SEO? That’s exactly what I need.”

Come up with a compelling description

When you submit a proposal, clients will see the first 6-10 words of your description.

Here, like the title, is where you need to write something compelling. Something that entices prospects to read on.

The best type of descriptions include: 

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Be careful not to bore your reader with too much personal information.  You don’t need to talk about when you built a treehouse in the woods in the 5th grade. 

Remember, this is just a way of showing you’re also another human behind the screen (and have a life outside of work).

Ultimately, keep it focused on their wants and how you can help them get there.

Once you get the ball rolling on Upwork, you can spread your efforts across more freelance platforms such as:

Some websites above are job boards, so may require a CV. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t have one, but it does help.

Step 7: Marketing Tips for Freelance SEO Specialists

You’ve now honed the skills to go out and find clients. Here are some key marketing tips to help you along the way.

Put yourself out there

LinkedIn logoWhile it’s not necessary for the beginning, it’s worth putting yourself out there. Make it known to the world you’re a badass SEO professional (well, almost!)

That means setting up your social media accounts if you haven’t already. Start with Facebook and LinkedIn, then branch out to other social networks.

Nine times out of 10, prospects will snoop around your social media. In fact, that’s where most prospects will find you in the long term, so make sure to keep it professional and business-focused. 

Create a compelling pitch

With so many different remote SEO jobs, it would take years to write and send a unique proposal to every prospect you come across.

Instead, create a fill-in-the-blank template where you only need to swap out certain words or phrasing. This will dramatically reduce the time needed to create a proposal, so you can reach out to more prospects (in less time).

In each proposal, be direct. State you’re an expert and why you’re offering work at a discounted price (because you’re new to Upwork and want more reviews).

Obviously, these templates still need to be personalized. That means doing research on the client/company before you send over the proposal.

Consistency is key

It might feel like an uphill battle finding your first client. But you need to stay consistent.

That means applying for job listings daily, even if you don’t get any responses.

Soon your marketing efforts will pay off once you find your first client.

Seek ongoing work

It’s easy to find entry-level work. But if you want to succeed with SEO in the long term, you need to be going after long-term clients. Those who don’t just need you now, but all year round.

A neat way to find these clients is to narrow your job search on Upwork. This starts with getting clear on the type of freelance SEO work you’re after, whether that’s local SEO, eCommerce stores or even an affiliate blog.

Then, in the search bar, type keywords related to that specific interest. The search results will now only show job opportunities related to that area.

How to Become an SEO Freelancer in Summary

As you can see, anyone can become an SEO freelance consultant if they’re willing to put in the hard work to get there.

Silhouette of a man climbing stairs to SEO freelancer success.

Here are our 7 easy steps on how to become an SEO freelancer in short:

    1. Learn the basics — If you don’t know how SEO works, how can you help clients?
    2. Choose your niche — Whether it’s link building or technical SEO, choose the type of service you want to offer clients.
    3. Consider the skills you need — Maybe it’s learning keyword research. Maybe it’s learning HTML. Whatever skill you learn, make sure it aligns with your SEO service.
    4. Learn SEO online — Read the top blogs, take some courses, build your own websites.
    5. Find entry-level SEO jobs — This is a quick way to gain reviews as a beginner.
    6. Set up your profile — Focus on crafting a compelling title and description, as that’s the first thing clients will see in your proposal.
    7. Market your services — Apply for gigs daily, and put yourself out there on social media. 

Of course, these steps won’t work if you aren’t already motivated, disciplined and committed to becoming an SEO freelancer. So make the effort to improve your mindset as much as your SEO skills.

Thanks for reading this article. If you enjoyed it, and know any other aspiring freelancers, please don’t forget to share it with them.

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