Freelancing is often romanticized and experienced as an escape from a boring boss who doesn’t appreciate you.
But often, when people start working for themselves, they quickly realize that they have ‘fired 9-5 to work 24/7’.
This can have detrimental effects on your self-esteem and mental health, but that doesn’t mean free work isn’t worth it.
It can be a fulfilling experience if you come to it with the right mindset.
In this column, you will learn SEO freelancing tips to help you find more (and better) clients, build a sustainable business, and truly love what you do.
But first, let’s look at why so many people opt for freelancers.
- 1 Pros Of A Freelance Career
- 2 1. Talk To Other Freelancers
- 3 2. Build Your Online Presence
- 4 3. Treat Yourself As A Business
- 5 4. Learn To Price Your Services
- 6 5. Learn How To Sell
- 7 6. Create Processes and Systems
- 8 7. Build Assets
- 9 8. Set Yourself Up For A Long Journey
- 10 9. Know Your ‘Laws’ And Stick To Them
- 11 10. Help People Throughout the Way
- 12 Final Bricks
Pros Of A Freelance Career
I mentioned above a few disadvantages of starting an SEO freelancing business. So now is the time to balance that with the benefits of this trip.
You have more control over your time and life.
You don’t have to ask permission to go to the dentist during the work day. You can even take a whole day off a week, if your projects allow. Your schedule is your own.
A Search Engine Journal survey shows that 60% of SEO professionals earn the same or more than the U.S. average while working full time.
But growth is often limited by years of experience, plus it’s hard to significantly increase your salary within one company. You would often have to change jobs to get a bigger increase.
But when you’re an SEO freelancer, you don’t have to wait for a ‘3% annual increase’ in your salary. You can do more faster.
I earned my previous full-time salary in the first year of free time, and more than doubled it in the next.
This is not a unique result, there are many other success stories from SEO colleagues who have decided to start their free career.
Moreover, there is literally no limit to how much you can earn because you can grow your freelancing business into an agency or something else.
This was one of my most important professionals because I wanted to have a bigger impact on the success of my clients.
You understand your clients better.
Because you are a business owner, you understand your customers better because you now know more about prioritizing and evaluating performance versus performance.
It helps you focus on the most meaningful recommendations instead of trying to solve all the SEO problems.
I started my company two years ago with no business or leisure experience, so I had to learn everything quickly.
Here are my 10 most valuable tips that I hope will help you speed up your SEO freelancing business (and stay healthy 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 such people can save you months of figuring things out. Personally, I am very grateful to Aleyda Solis, Luke Carthy, Andrew Optmisey, Kirsty Hulse and Troy Fawkes, who were open with me and helped me with their valuable advice.
A few tips on how to reach people and ask for advice …
Don’t just send your list of questions to DM or something vague like ‘please help me.’ If you build relationships instead, people will be happy to help you.
The answers you get depend on the questions you ask. So make sure you ask specific questions that will really get you started.
You are responsible for your decisions.
You are asking people to get help, not to shift responsibility for their business onto 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 hard to succeed.
We live in a world of so many voices on social media, and your voice should be heard as well.
You can use LinkedIn to build your presence. You can use Twitter, run a newsletter, or do it all at once. Your choice.
But trust me, it’s a lot easier to talk to potential customers if you have a large digital footprint.
I started building my presence on LinkedIn and Twitter two months before I quit. This helped me get my first clients and first students into my SEO course.
3. Treat Yourself As A Business
When you start your own business, you are now an accountant, a salesperson, an account manager, a legal department.
And you also pay your taxes (yes, that’s scary at first).
You need to take this into account when pricing your services. It’s not enough to just calculate the hourly rate you had at your day job. You will need several times more to cover all other costs.
4. Learn To Price Your Services
Now you know you are a company, even if you are currently the only person working in it.
The main goal of any business is to make a profit. So the next important thing is to accept that and stop underestimating (it might be easier when you see your first tax bill).
5. Learn How To Sell
When I started, I heard people say “you’re not in business if you can’t sell”. She would make me shiver every time.
I didn’t want to sell; in fact, I was afraid to do it.
Also, there is a common misconception that if you are good at your craft (in our case in SEO), you will automatically have many clients in line to work with you.
That’s not true. In reality, sales and SEO are completely different skills. And you need both of them to succeed.
For me, everything changed when I accepted this truth. I started learning to sell.
I’m not talking about door-to-door sales or sending annoying messages to your contacts on LinkedIn. It is much more subtle.
Whenever you jump into a conversation with a potential buyer, you sell.
Even when you’re just talking or sharing your past victories, you’re selling.
You sell ideas, results, yourself as a professional, your agency. Every conversation with a potential client is a sale.
The sooner you understand, the better.
See also: How SEO Professionals & amp; Agencies win new jobs [Survey results]
6. Create Processes and Systems
I’ve heard so many people say they still don’t have a clear path to follow for SEO auditing or similar repetitive tasks.
It’s okay if you don’t currently have processes or systems. But it’s time to start building them.
Creating a process will help make your freelancing 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 classy. The process can begin in the form of a simple checklist that you can expand over time.
Screenshot of the author, November 2021
7. Build Assets
When I started my freelancing business, I started building a course at the same time.
While I wouldn’t recommend everyone to do something so big (because it’s exhausting), it’s still worth starting to create some kind of asset (for example, an e-book or a paid membership).
I sincerely believe that selling products with services makes you a much better SEO because you learn a lot of marketing skills.
You start to look at audience research differently, learn to write texts and understand your SEO clients much better.
Moreover, the asset brings you passive income and also preoccupies you when there is not much to do with clients. They can also grow into something bigger in the future – who knows?
8. Set Yourself Up For A Long Journey
Starting a free trip is not easy. You will need to figure out many things quickly. It can also be lonely.
All of this can lead to constant overload and mental health problems.
In fact, according to this survey I did on Twitter, work-life balance is one of the 3 hardest things in freelancing:
Screenshot of the author, November 2021
Therefore, it is better to take care of yourself and your work-life balance before it is too difficult to remember who you are in life outside of your job.
All of these little things will ensure you run a marathon, not a sprint (yes, it’s an allusion to SEO).
9. Know Your ‘Laws’ And Stick To Them
You can’t work on every type of SEO project out there. You cannot work with all types of clients that come to you.
Trying to help everyone will only burn you.
Instead, you need to have clarity about what you do (your strengths), how you help (your services), and who you help (the types of clients you work with).
Screenshot of the author, November 2021
At first, it will be hard for you to say ‘no’ to potential projects. But it will pay off in the long run.
10. Help People Throughout the Way
You are valuable. No matter where you are on your free path, you can help someone who is a few steps behind you in something.
You can help in any way that suits you: writing a blog post, tweeting tips, answering someone’s question in a Slack group, etc.
Just know that your experience is important and one day (very soon) you will be the one helping someone who is 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 free trip for yourself, you will have no restrictions.
Featured image: Shutterstock / Harbucks