Freelancing can be intimidating, especially because you will be working independently most of the time. However, because you are going solo, the pursuit also becomes all the more winnable.
In freelancing, your skills and how you use them will ultimately determine and improve your chances at success.
Before you find your niche from the multitude of fields available for SEO freelancers, first you have to make sure that you have a solid foundation - the basics, as many call it
In this article we will enumerate and explain what fundamental skills you ought to have to become a successful freelancer.
2 types of skills freelancers need
As with any undertaking, knowing the basics almost always does the trick. In SEO freelance, there are two types of skills you will need: hard and soft skills. These also serve as the foundation upon which your other specific skills are developed and improved.
Hard skills are readily measurable in terms of your outputs. Hard skills are what allows you to achieve your targets because these skills have more tangible manifestations. Often, these are the skills you acquired from your degree or continuing education. An example of a hard skill is your proficiency level in web development.
On the other hand, soft skills are characteristics that, while still measurable, can take time to flourish. This is especially true when such soft skills are not inherent. These skills, however, will be more developed over time with conscious practice.
While the way these skills are labeled can seem less important, knowing how and when to use soft skills can make or break your freelancing career. An example of a soft skill would be your communication skills.
Must-have soft skills
Sales & Negotiation
Translating website traffic to actual sales is perhaps one of the most important skills an SEO freelancer should have. This can be achieved by proving to clients that you are the authority in a project they want done.
Because clients will surely weigh their options, you have to make sure that you appear to be the best choice for them.
However, as a freelancer, it does not stop at scoring clients. A freelancer also has to deliver expectations efficiently and effectively, as well as maintain all other clients at optimum satisfaction levels.
Because you are a freelancer, time is money.
Being efficient and sticking with schedules are indispensable skills as an SEO freelancer. That said, you have to know how to prioritize some tasks over others and judge how these can affect your client’s objectives, timelines, as well as your income levels.
As a freelancer, you have to understand that aside from your skills, your time is your next best asset.
Passion to learn
The fast-paced field of technology necessarily creates more things to learn and more skills to master nowadays. As a freelancer, you have to continuously build your competencies if you want to remain as the best choice for your clients.
Needless to say, constant curiosity in your field of work will do you wonders. This will keep you abreast of changes and upgrade your skill level every time a new resource comes up. After all, a diverse portfolio can only be attained when you have the knack for continuous development and learning.
As a freelancer, you also have to complete your transactions by yourself. This entails knowing how to communicate your thoughts and visions effectively. Aside from communicating, you also have to be a good listener—i.e., reading between the lines.
However, freelancers do not only engage in business talk with clients. Before the business talk actually commences, you will have to know how to establish rapport and maintain the interest of your client for any business transaction to come about.
Sometimes, humor also does the job. In short, your communication skills are your key to creating a lasting relationship with your client.
Stress Management Skills
Stress poses real risks to a freelancer’s success. Because you do everything by yourself, a supportive environment (e.g., co-workers in offices) might not always be readily available. As your stress levels can dictate how you go about your work, it is essential to know how to keep it at a minimum. Otherwise, burnouts will be inevitable.
Freelancers also need to develop their critical thinking skills. This 21st century skill prompts you to analyze a project and a proposition before deciding on anything. It allows you to judge opportunities better. As a freelancer, this skill lets you trace the root causes of issues, so you can respond to them more effectively and with sustainability in mind.
Analysis of the best courses of action from various perspectives will allow you to produce outstanding results amid challenges.
A freelancing job requires a certain level of confidence to build clients’ trust. It is important that you have faith in your skill set to match outputs with the expected quality. Building your self-assurance as a freelancer can be done by continuously sharpening your skills through practice and education.
You can also boost your confidence by giving yourself credit for projects you have completed successfully.
Accounting and Business Management Skills
A freelancer is expected to know how to run their own business from the inside out. As a freelancer, a huge chunk of your work will be about accounting and managing your business. This is where planning and management skills come in.
You have to set your own long-term goals and how to achieve them by using short-term objectives. This also entails that you set your own deadlines and remain true to it.
Moreso, your work schedule and outsourced manpower will have to be within the operational budget you allot. Unnecessary and unplanned expenses will cost you more. Hence, it is imperative that you plan wisely as you account for every peso. The saying, “fail to plan, plan to fail” is also very true in freelancing.
Must-have hard skills for SEO
Google Suite, especially Sheets and Docs
Proficiency in the use of Google Suite, formerly known as Google Apps, is a necessary hard skill if you want to be an SEO freelancer. Google Suite provides a wide array of apps and services to streamline web development.
For instance, the collaboration feature in Google Docs and Google Sheets lets you update a client about your progress real-time. A single shared document for deadlines, technical details, comments, and suggestions can fast-track your projects.
Basic WordPress development
Another necessary hard skill to have is know-how in using WordPress. Why WordPress? Aside from the fact that WordPress is open-source (meaning it is free) WordPress is the most used CMS in the world, powering 35% of the web.
WordPress also has built-in search engine optimization features and thousands of available SEO plugins. Both are valuable for SEO freelancers as it cuts down costs.
Aside from the practical reasons, WordPress is also user-friendly and customizable to fit your technical and design preferences.
Proficiency in website builders such as Thrive and Elementor and familiarity with e-commerce platforms such as WooCommerce are preferred by employers and clients as well.
Knowing how to write your own website content is extremely useful as a freelancer. You can cut back expenses when you do not have to outsource content for a project.
writing is a time-consuming task however, so you may have to eventually pay others to write them for you to lessen workload. In this case, your content writing skills are still useful for editing.
Basic Social Media Skills
While social media is beyond the realm of SEO, it is wise to be knowledgeable in the field as well. A small social media campaign on the side can bolster ongoing SEO efforts.
Here in SEO Training Philippines, we guide you through setting up all the essential social media profiles as well as automating posting whenever your website has a new post.
SEO Tools proficiency particularly in Ahrefs, in Google Analytics, and in Google Search Console
Most SEOs use an array of tools to perform essential tasks like website audit and keyword research.
That said, there are many tools available in the market but I recommend becoming extremely familiar with Google Analytics (GA) and Google Search Console (GSC) as these two provide you with all the necessary information to track your SEO campaign’s progress.
Additionally, Ahrefs is a powerful SEO tool used by fortune 500 companies. It is capable of website analysis, rank tracking, keyword research and many more functions.
Bonus Nice-To-Have Skill
A good website cannot be great without compelling visuals, call-to-actions, and color harmony. While not a requirement, skills in graphic design is a nice-to-have competency of an SEO freelancer.
If you are not an expert at this, there are websites that offer free graphic design services. These websites, such as Canva, are easy to use as well.
These skills remain relevant at whatever level you are in: it will prove insightful for a budding freelancer and, at the same time, it is best to have your basics checked to fine-tune your next efforts at freelancing success even if you have years of experience to your belt.