Freelancing is often romanticized and seen as an escape from an annoying boss who doesn’t appreciate you.
But often, when people start working for themselves, they quickly realize they’ve “left 9-5 to work 24/7.”
This can have detrimental effects on your self-worth and mental health, but that doesn’t mean freelancing isn’t worth it.
It can be a fulfilling experience if you approach it with the right mindset.
In this column, you’ll learn SEO freelance tips that will help you find more (and better) clients, build a sustainable business, and truly love what you do.
But first, let’s take a look at why so many people choose to be self-employed.
Pros of a freelance job
I mentioned some of the disadvantages of starting a freelance SEO business above. So now is the time to balance the positives of this journey.
When you are independent…
You have more control over your time and your life.
You do not need to ask permission to go to the dentist during the working day. You can even take a full day off from the week, if your projects allow. Your schedule is yours.
Your salary can grow quickly.
Search Engine Journal research shows that 60% of SEO professionals earn the same or more than the average US income while working full time.
But growth is often limited by an individual’s years of experience plus it’s hard to significantly increase your salary within one company. You will often need to change jobs to get a bigger raise.
But when you’re an SEO freelancer, you don’t need to wait for a “3% annual increase” in your salary. You can make more faster.
I took my previous salary from my full-time job during my first year of freelancing, and more than doubled it the following year.
This is not a unique finding, there are many more Other success stories from your SEO colleagues who decided to start their freelancing career.
Moreover, there is virtually no limit to how much you can earn as you can grow your freelance business into an agency or something else.
Work with clients directly.
He was one of the most important professionals for me as I wanted to have a greater impact on my clients’ success.
You understand your customers better.
As a business owner, you understand your customers better because you now know more about prioritizing and valuing effort versus impact.
It helps you focus on the most important recommendations instead of trying to fix all your SEO issues.
I started my company 2 years ago without any work or freelancing experience, so I had to learn everything quickly.
Here are my top 10 tips that I hope will help you improve your freelance SEO business (and keep you safe while doing it).
1. Talk to other freelancers
No matter where you are, there are people who have already been there. They have experience and insights that you can benefit from.
Getting advice from these people can save you months of figuring things out. Personally, I am really grateful to Alida Solis, Luke Carthy, Andrew Optimisi, Kirsty Hulse and Troy Fox, who were open with me and helped me with their valuable advice.
Some advice on reaching out to people for advice…
Be respectful of their time.
Don’t just send your list of questions or something vague like “please help me”. If you build relationships instead, people will be happy to help you.
Ask specific questions.
The answers you get depend on the questions you ask. So be sure to ask specific questions that will really move the needle for you.
You are responsible for your decisions.
You are asking people for help, not placing responsibility for your work on them. So use common sense and see what works for you and what doesn’t.
2. Build your online presence
You can be the best SEO ever. But if no one knows about it, it will be difficult to succeed.
We live in a world filled with so many voices on social media, and your voice should be heard, too.
You can use LinkedIn to build your presence. You can use Twitter, start a newsletter, or do it all at once. it’s your choice.
But trust me, it’s much easier to talk to potential clients if you have a large digital footprint.
I started building my LinkedIn and Twitter presence a couple of months before I quit my job. It helped me get my first clients and first students on my SEO course.
3. Treat yourself like a business
When you start your own business, now you are an accountant, sales representative, account manager, legal department.
And you also pay your taxes (yes, that’s scary at first).
You need to account for this when pricing your services. It is not enough just to calculate the hourly wage you earned in a day job. You will need a few times more to cover all other expenses.
4. Learn how to price your services
Now you know you’re a company, even if you’re the only person currently employed by it.
The main objective of any business is to make a profit. So the next important thing is to accept it and stop selling below its price (it may be easier when you see your first tax bill).
Some tips here:
- Don’t work for free.
- Use project-based pricing over hourly billing.
- Constantly improve your rates and raise them accordingly.
5. Learn how to sell
When I started, I heard people say, “You’re not in the business if you can’t sell.” It will make me cringe every time.
I didn’t want to sell. Actually, I was afraid to do that.
Also, there is a common misconception that if you are good at your craft (at SEO in our case), you will automatically have many clients lining up to work with you.
this is not true. In fact, selling and SEO are completely different skills. And you need both to succeed.
Everything changed for me when I accepted this fact. I started learning to sell.
I’m not talking about door-to-door sales or spamming your LinkedIn contacts. It’s more accurate.
When you hop on a call with a prospect, you’re selling.
Even when you’re just talking or sharing your past winnings, you’re selling.
You sell ideas and results yourself as your agency professional. Any conversation with a prospect is a sale.
The sooner you understand it, the better.
See also: How SEO Agencies and Professionals Win New Business [Survey Results]
6. Create processes and systems
I hear a lot of people say they still don’t have a clear path to follow for SEO audits or similar repeatable tasks.
It’s okay if you don’t have processes or systems in place right now. But it’s time to start building it.
Establishing processes will help make your freelance business more efficient and improve margins. Processes are also valuable for delegation at later stages if you decide to hire someone else to help you.
You don’t need to create anything fancy. The process can start as a simple checklist that you can expand over time.
7. Build assets
When I started my freelance business, I simultaneously started building a course.
While I wouldn’t recommend everyone to do something as big as this (because it’s cumbersome), it’s still worth starting to build some kind of asset (eg an ebook or paid membership).
I really believe that selling products as well as services makes you a better SEO as you learn a lot of marketing skills.
You start to see audience research differently, you learn copywriting, and you understand your SEO clients better.
Moreover, the assets bring you passive income and also keep you busy when there is not much client work. They could also evolve into something bigger in the future – who knows?
8. Get ready for a long trip
Starting a freelancing journey is not easy. You will need to quickly discover many things. It can also be lonely.
All this can lead to constant fatigue and mental health problems.
In fact, according to this Twitter poll I did, work-life balance is one of the 3 hardest things about freelancing:
So you better take care of yourself and your work/life balance before it gets too hard to remember who you are in life outside of your work.
Here are some tips:
- Get a support group that will cheer you up (your spouse, friends, or fellow freelancers).
- Have a hobby that isn’t related to your work (and ideally doesn’t involve a computer either).
- Limit your free time.
- Set clear boundaries with yourself. Don’t work 12 hours a day in your pajamas.
All of these little things will ensure that you’re running a marathon, not a sprint (yes, it’s a nod to SEO).
9. Know your “rules” and stick to them
You can’t work on every type of SEO project out there. You cannot work with all types of clients who come to you.
Trying to help everyone will only burn you out.
Instead, you need to articulate what you do (your strengths), how you help (your services), and who you help (the types of clients you work with).
You will find it difficult to say “no” to potential projects at first. But it will pay off in the long run.
10. Helping people around the road
You are valuable. No matter where you are on your independent journey, you can help someone a few steps behind you with something.
You can help in any way that works for you: writing a blog post, tweeting your advice, answering someone’s question in a Slack group, etc.
Just know that your experience counts and one day (very soon) you’ll be the one helping someone who’s just starting out.
Life is too short to stay in a job you don’t like or work on projects you don’t enjoy.
When you open a freelancing journey for yourself, you will have no limits.
i believe in you.
Christmas Countdown to 2021 SEJ:
- #12 – The New Google Business Profile: A Complete Guide to Local SEO
- #11 – How to Automate SEO Keyword Clustering by Search Intent Using Python
- #10 – Get to Know Google Analytics 4: A Complete Guide
- #9 – 7 things I wish I knew earlier in my SEO career
- #8 – A Guide to Optimizing Google News, Top Stories, and Discovery
- #7 – Keyword Combinations: How to Elevate Your SEO Content Strategy
- #6 – Advanced Basic Web Basics: A Technical Guide to SEO
- #5 – How to use Google Sheets for web scraping and campaign building
- #4 – Google Ads Ultimate Pacing Dashboard (Free Data Studio Template)
- #3 – 8 Python SEO Libraries and How to Use Them
- #2 – How to Improve Your Google Featured Snippets: A 12 Step Guide
- #1 – SEO Freelancing: 10 Things You Need to Know to Be Successful
Featured image: Shutterstock / Harbucks