Table of Contents
Editor's Note: Roann is one of my best writers and have written more or less 250,000 words of content for me since we started. She's the best at what she does and her output need little to no editing. You can avail of her services at ReineReineWriteAway.com, just leave a few spots for me.
So, you've decided to become a freelance SEO writer. Great!
But I know how it can be overwhelming without someone to give you just the basics of what goes in this industry. How do I get started as a freelance SEO writer? What should I expect when I bestow that freelance SEO writer title to myself?
First off, let's all agree to the definition of "SEO writing":
What Is SEO Writing?
SEO Writing is a form of content writing that helps businesses become more visible to their target audience in search engine results pages (SERPs). Well-written and highly relevant content will always appear on the top of search results when someone searches for that topic.
Now, here's the greatest information you could ever learn:
You don't need to have a degree in journalism or creative writing, and even years of experience, to become a freelance SEO writer. The industry has its arms wide open for everybody, so everyone is welcome to pursue the title of a freelance SEO writer. On a second note, you can take a look at an SEO Specialist's job description here.
Not only that, but you can also earn while sipping teas and cuddling your dogs. Work whenever you want, wherever you are.
Interesting, amirite? So stick until the end of this guide to learn the ins and outs of freelance SEO writing, and how you can set yourself as a successful wordsmith in the online world.
Oh, and you may want to bookmark this guide so you could easily go back or resume your reading anytime, anywhere. 🙂
Alright, before anything else, let me share how I got tangled in the web of freelance SEO writing.
How Did I Get Here? My story on how I got started as a freelance SEO writer
My writing career in the digital space began with my internship, where I met the field of digital marketing and content writing. You see, I only have a passion for writing, but when it comes to marketing? I only know the basics, i.e. you need to convince people to buy your product or service. As to how you'll do that, I have not a single clue.
After graduating from college, I brought my passion for words and my curiosity with digital marketing and applied as a content writer for a digital marketing company.
When it comes to writing, I used to be a procrastinator. I love to improve my writing skills, but at the same time, I'm not always feeling inspired to set my pen and write. So my content writing job at the digital marketing company was the perfect time to practice content and copywriting, and earn at the same time.
And if you look at it, yeah, money became an inspiration. LOL. Don't be like that.
After 6 months of working at a digital marketing company, I had to quit for personal reasons. So right there and then, I decided to try freelance SEO writing.
And I kid you not, it was overwhelming at first. There were plenty of writing gigs, alright, but the competition is fierce. I'm also not good with calls or interviews, so my options are already limited.
But you know what they say, if there's a will, there's a way. I researched a lot about getting started with freelance SEO writing, how to send a proposal to potential clients, how to build your portfolio, and a lot more.
I was also on the lookout for personal experiences shared by other newbies like me who had found luck and landed their first gigs.
After trials and errors, plus a time dedicated to building my portfolio and analyzing my worth, I landed my first freelance SEO writing gig.
^ My legit reaction when I landed my first freelance SEO writing client
Memoirs Of A Newbie Freelance Wordsmith: My Motivation To Pursue Writing And The Freelancing World
I was an introverted kid (and I still am now), and I found that writing was the best way to express my thoughts without speaking as much as possible. Yeah, I hate talking to people face-to-face.
But when I started doing content writing, I was confused. It's a different creature from journalism or even creative writing.
On the good side, you don't need a Shakespearean level of English to become a good writer. The simpler, the better, actually. But boy, the format, the style, the flow, even the voice and tone, they were alienating at first!
So while writing my first blog posts for my clients back then, I guess I was at a loss for words. (Ha. Get it?) But with a little practice, coupled with reading samples and books about writing, you'll craft the perfect strategy for writing the same way I did.
A Few Notes On Freelancing
As I mentioned, I started freelancing when I quit my job at the digital marketing company I was working for. To be honest, one of those personal reasons is that I prefer to be at home all day, near my books, bed, a cup of coffee, cookie tin, and my dog.
I'm not really the office-based type because I feel I can concentrate and think better when I'm at home, in my PJs and all.
So if you're like me, a hermit who feels more creative while inside their shell, freelance SEO writing is the dream for you.
Not calling it a job since it doesn't feel like a job at all. It's fun!
The Anatomy Of A freelance SEO Writer
Okay, so enough about me. Let's get down to business.
freelance SEO writing has caught your attention. Perhaps you've encountered a blog post about a freelance SEO writer earning six-figures already. Or perhaps you've heard from the job seeker grapevine that freelance SEO writing is an interesting career?
Whatever your reason is, I'm sure these questions still remain in your head: what does it take to be a freelance SEO writer? What makes a freelance SEO writer? What am I in for?
What Does It Take To Be A Freelance Writer?
The most important thing, of course, is to have a passion for writing. It doesn't matter if your wordplay level is scholarly or a commoner. What matters is that you know how to express information and thoughts in the right way.
But of course, to thrive in the world of freelance SEO writing, a passion for writing is not enough. You also need to possess:
Organization stems in different ways in a freelance SEO writer's life, but let's start with the writing itself first.
When it comes to writing blog posts or any other types of content, you need to implement an outlining system. What goes into your blog post? What ideas are you going to include there, and in what order will the ideas be presented?
It sounds time-consuming, but trust me, it makes the writing part a piece of cake!
If you're coming up with titles/ideas for your blog, you can also jot down your ideas on a journal. Or an e-journal like Evernote. This way, you can easily go back to some of your ideas in case you're running out of creative juices. (And to keep that good idea from going down the black hole forever too)
You also need to have a system of some sort when organizing your writing lineups. Deadlines are crucial in this business, so you must play your time cards right. For some, having too many writing gigs at once can be overwhelming. If you're like this, organizing your lineup can help you maintain focus on your work and get a hold of your deadlines (and sanity).
Lastly, you need to keep track of all your writing projects. As a freelance SEO writer, you're on your own, so aside from the writing part, you're also in charge of:
- Sending invoices to client
- Pitching titles/ideas
- Updating content schedule
- Maintaining client relationship/satisfaction
The challenge with researching is that you should be able to tell which info are right and which are misleading/outdated, and which are the necessary information to include in your content.
Researching for potential clients is also as “complex” as research for writing. You need to filter the right clients for you, the gigs that pay reasonably, and the work demand that doesn't exhaust your brain to death.
One of the perks of being a freelance SEO writer is the chance to explore different industries without switching from job to job.
Even if you have a specific niche you'd like to focus on, don't be afraid to open your arms to other fields. It's your opportunity to learn and earn more at the same time.
On a not-so-down side, you may also encounter topics/niche you're not comfortable or knowledgeable with. So adaptability is a must, especially when you're just starting out.
When I started as a content writer, I wrote for clients whose niches are not my specialties, like autos and cleaning. It was challenging, but sometimes, you got to push yourself beyond your comfort zone to continue improving yourself.
I hate calls.
I've avoided a couple of job posts before because they require Skype interviews. But nonetheless, I make it a point to communicate with clients, both existing and potential ones, through chat and email. This is important to keep them updated with the progress of your work, as well as discuss things like payment, your schedule, and more.
The format plays a major role in the readability of your content. When I started content writing, my paragraphs looked like big chunks of cinder blocks. It was awful to read!
But through time, practice, and a little guidance, I divided my paragraphs into small ones (maximum of 5 lines), included headings and subheadings, and paid attention to white spaces.
I also include images to give some sort of text break for the readers.
One embarrassing mistake could spread like wildfire in the digital space, and that can break your career. Before getting your content live on the web, it's good to do a few more rounds of edits to make sure your facts are in check and your composition is good to go.
Confidence In What You Do
Nobody's going to believe you have what it takes to be a writer unless you believe you could be one. Having that confidence to deliver what your potential client needs will bring you to places (and handsome earnings too).
Besides, confidence instills that aura of being knowledgeable in what you're writing about. Even if you have no idea what the topic is all about. And that's super important to freelance SEO writing, especially when you're being given titles that don't suit your circle of niche.
What Am I In for? Here's What To Expect.
Should you decide to tread on the path of a freelance SEO writer, here are the things you can expect to come your way:
- A lot of writing and research - Research will play a heavy part in your freelance SEO writing career, especially when you're a web content writer crafting informative content pieces like blogs. Be ready to bond with Google, Google Scholar, NCBI, PubMed, and other archives of sources!
- Revisions, revisions, revisions - Depending on your client and your knowledge of the topic, there'll always be revisions. And that's normal. Be always open to making edits to your written piece.
- Sometimes quiet, sometimes lively - There would be moments where you'll be teeming with writing projects, and sometimes, it would be quiet. Like any freelancing jobs, it would be best to have a couple of clients, so if client A goes quiet, you still have client B.
- Demanding clients - Not every client there has ANGELS written all over them. Sometimes, you'll encounter the tenacious types of clients who seem to fall in love with the idea of giving out orders. Stay away from clients like them, even if the pay is good. You'll do your brain and health a huge favor.
Don't let the seemingly-overwhelming expectations discourage you.
The potential earnings of a freelance SEO writer alone are unlimited. Yep, you read that right. Unlimited. Six-figures? Possible!
But like any other career, you have to make the moves to enjoy this unlimited potential.
That, and to charge a reasonable rate that reflects your skills and experience. You may choose to charge per delivered content, or per hour. If you're lucky, you could also snag a long-term project that will secure your pay and work for months and years!
The Basics Of Freelance SEO Writing
The topic freelance SEO writing is...broad. Although the general idea is to write (obviously), there are different careers you can pursue as a freelance SEO writer.
If you're the type who wants to focus on one specific career, there's a perfect one for you. And if you're the jack of all trades, freelance SEO writing has plenty of challenges up its sleeve for you.
Let's break down the different freelance SEO writing careers you can pursue in the digital space:
Content Writing Career Categories
Web Content Writer
Web content writers are responsible for the blogs, ebooks, guides, white papers, social media posts/captions and the wordings you see on websites. So basically, when someone mentions a freelance SEO writer, the description of a web content writer commonly comes to mind.
While content writing is for entertaining and maintaining reader engagement, copywriting focuses more on promoting and selling a product. Pay attention to FB ads and normal social media posts. From that, you can already see their difference in terms of tone and intent.
Copywriters are responsible for writing copies like:
Proofreader or Editor
These peeps don't do much writing like the other freelance SEO writers, but their responsibility is as heavy as them too. All content pieces go through the scrutinizing of a proofreader/editor, where he/she will check if the information provided is factual, and if there are grammatical or typographical mistakes you might've missed.
In short, they give the go-signal on getting content live on the web. Sometimes, the proofreader role falls into the content/copywriter too, but other businesses prefer to have a separate proofreader to ensure the articles are error-free.
A ghostwriter writes, blogs, articles, books, and other content pieces without getting the credit. Common clients that fall under a ghostwriter's hand commonly revolves around:
For those still looking to jumpstart their freelance SEO writing career, ghostwriting is also a good option for you. You may not use the content you've written for your portfolio, but the training and pay are good.
If you're good at comprehending complex and technical terms and descriptions to simpler words, you might be interested in becoming a technical writer.
Your duties would often include writing user manuals for machines, electronics/gadgets, and computer hardware and software.
Those who have a background in engineering, computer science and the like, and are looking to pursue freelance SEO writing can try looking for technical writing gigs.
How To Become A freelance SEO writer
Now we're getting to the fun part - becoming a full-fledged freelance SEO writer! Being a freelance SEO writer is not an easy path, but nonetheless, this guide will serve as your apprentice:
#1: Ask yourself, What do I want to write about?
This question is the most important part of the pre-freelance SEO writing journey. You need to know what niche you'd like to focus on for two reasons:
- It helps you find and filter the jobs you'll be applying for in the future
- It prevents you from accepting topics you're not familiar or comfortable with
When I say what you want to write about, don't limit yourself to one niche. The more, the better! Being open to plenty of niches can open plenty of choices and opportunities for you!
So grab your journal or your Evernote, list down all the topics you're familiar about and the unfamiliar topics that you'd like to explore more. Then, rank them with your most preferred niche on the top.
#2: Get familiar with the world of freelance SEO writing
Some people live with the Do or Die mantra. Although that's admirable, I recommend you ready your armors first before heading to the battlefield.
Do some reading and research first. You know, familiarize yourself with how this world works, what to expect, etc. Search for blogs that are somewhat an authority in the niche of your choice, then pay attention to the format, style, tone and voice, and how the writers presented the information to their audience.
I also recommend joining FB groups for writers, particularly freelance SEO writers. Plenty of expert freelance wordsmiths there love to share tips, advice, and even experiences. These groups are meant to be a community of support for writers like you, so if you have questions, don't be shy to ask around!
No course will teach you how to write because (1) we all have different styles and niches, and (2) writing is a craft that you learn from self-experience. Still, there are courses around the net, which have helped improve as an overall writer and learn the ins and outs of content and copywriting.
Some of the courses I'd recommend you to check out (these are free!):
#3: Take out your pens or keyboards, and start practicing.
Experience is the best teacher. No matter how many courses you take about writing, or how many blogs you read for inspiration, your writing prowess would only be unlocked when you let the words flow, either in paper or on Notepad.
I used to be hesitant about my writing skill. I feel like I'm not good enough, or I don't have that much creativity to play around with words. I only write when needed, like during my internship or when the school paper requires so.
But then, out of the blue, I told myself, Eff it. I'll write something. Doesn't matter if it's good.
You see, first drafts are always meant to come out bad. They're your brain dumps, so the flow may not seem good at first, or some paragraphs may sound awkward. And these are the reasons why EDITING EXISTS.
Don't be afraid to make revisions, even if it means LOTS of revisions. It's normal to hate your first draft because that's what drives you to improve your writing more!
You'll revise and revise until you feel like embracing yourself for the genius and creative person that you are.
And it doesn't matter if you're good or not. What matters is that you learn how to express your message clearly! Don't strive for perfection, because perfection is a b.s. mindset. Go for high quality instead.
Keep practicing until you feel confident enough with your work!
#4: Build Your Online Portfolio
Here's what I want you to remember: freelance SEO writing is not just a career. It's a business as well. And as many businesses do these days, you need to announce your presence and present your works in the online world to attract the right clients.
Creating Your Freelance SEO Writing Website
If you still haven't built your website, I suggest you start building now!
The best thing about making your website nowadays is that you don't need advanced coding skills to create a decent-looking site. Most website building platforms come with drag-and-drop features, where the only work you'll do is just editing the content.
We'll get to the best website platforms out there in a bit. The first thing you should do is to buy a domain and hosting.
The domain would serve as your professional name, like the name of your “store.” You can choose to go by your name, though it would be better if you put in some creative words around.
As for the hosting, think "space or piece of land where physical stores stand" and you'll get the picture.
Some of the best web hosting providers worth checking out are:
Once you're all good with the domain and hosting, let's return the website builder topic back on the table.
Like I mentioned, you don't need to go Elliot Anderson on building your website (Check out the Mr. Robot series. It's frickin awesome). Here are the best website builders you can check out:
Editors Note: I build websites regularly and I use WordPress for all of them. Aside from being already used to the platform, WordPress offers a lot of customization features and it's one of the most SEO-friendly Content Management Systems (CMS) available.
Take note that the sites/builders mentioned here are not all free. As I've said, freelance SEO writing is a business too, so you need to throw in some capital at first! Don't worry, the return on investments is worth the price.
Your Website's Content
You don't need fancy-schmancy words on your website to attract clients. Straight to the point always works! The moment your potential clients land on your website, they should understand what you're offering to them. Otherwise, confusing content can turn your potential client frustrated and lost in your site.
These pages/sections should be present on your website:
This page provides an overview of what you're offering, and how you can help them with their writing needs. You may also include feedback from individuals whom you've written for in the past.
Do you offer blog post writing? Ebook writing? Just content writing, or copywriting as well? If you do, what type of copy do you offer?
I highly suggest you include your rates as well, preferably in packages! According to Neville Medhora, one of the best copywriters out there, offer your clients THREE PACKAGES.
Package A is a basic service. What's the minimum amount of articles you can write? Include it here. While the price of this package is not that much, you won't be in for a shitload of headache.
Package B is the bomb. This is what you want potential clients to get. Include here the number of articles you can do (without exhausting your mind), your ideal rates, plus other benefits they'll get (like formatting included, free images, and 2-4 number of revisions).
Package C is your priciest one. Although the work required here would be a little tedious on your part, the rate is awesome.
You can watch this video to learn more about this pricing technique:
Your description of this section should include the basic interview questions: tell me about yourself, what makes you qualified for your job, and how long have you been writing.
Brag your achievements and certifications, but cite only what's relevant. No need to brag about your victory at a spelling bee when you were in grade one.
The most important section of your site! This is where your sample content goes, as well as other articles you've written in the past, like blogs or guest posts.
If you have loads of sample content, just choose your top 10 masterpieces. Sometimes, it only takes three articles to convince a potential client that you're the one.
Contact or "Hire Me" Pages
You'll want to provide all contact details here so clients can have plenty of options to reach out to you. You can also include a form in this section that asks for their name, their writing needs, and an optional message for you.
Finding Your First Writing Client
#5: Start scouting for writing gigs
The time has come to explore the internet for your first freelance SEO writing client!
But I must warn you to take extra caution when searching for gigs in these platforms, especially those that offer low rates for a lot of work. I've seen a lot of writers fall for this kind of trap, where they accept low-paying projects just for the sake of having projects and earning.
When you do this, you're being taken advantage of, and that's not good for you and your freelance business, mentally and financially speaking. You're investing time and effort just to get small returns.
Plus, it also affects other freelance SEO writers who are looking for gigs like you. By accepting work for a low rate, clients assume that those low rates are acceptable. And when another writer pitches a proposal to them with higher rates, they'll say, "I've hired other writers who charge lower than that."
So please, stick with your real value and don't let clients get the wrong assumption that they can work with writers for a cheap price.
Some of the recommended sites for finding legit writer-specific gigs are:
Direct clients are better...
because your transactions are direct, meaning there's no third-party platform needed for communication, and no transaction fees whatsoever with payments!
Now, remember step #4? This is where your website x portfolio plays an important role. Your website is your client magnet, so if you followed the tips from step # 4, you're off to a good start.
However, you just can't rely on your website alone and pray that one or two clients accidentally find your website. Even if your SEO strategy is good, that's not enough. You need to advertise yourself, and there are two ways you can do that:
- Get active on social media - LinkedIn and Twitter are the best social media spots to advertise your website and services. You can also announce on Facebook that you're accepting writing projects. Maybe one or two of your FB friends are looking for a writer for their business.
- Submit guest posts - Pitch to websites and online magazines related to your niche that has a steady number of website traffic. It's the best way to get noticed by other readers actively looking for a writer!
Alternatively, you can also post gigs on Fiverr, where you can set packages like the ones you have on your website. When clients want to work with you again, you can have them contact you directly.
#6: Get pitchin'!
When you've filtered the gigs/clients that interest you, proceed with brainstorming possible titles you can propose to them. Maybe include an outline of what the topics will be about.
Once you're good, send your lovely pitches to your future clients, along with a concise background of yourself.
#7: Keep spreadin' the word about your business
Businesses don't stop when they land their first client. It's just the start of building their empire! So don't limit yourself to one client. Keep hustlin', soldier!
But don't exceed your limitations, either.
The earning potential in freelance SEO writing is unlimited, but don't overdo it. Work at your own pace, even if it's a slow one.
#8: Always keep your writing vault teeming with knowledge
Niches are like Pokemons. They evolve over time. So if you want to be the very best like no one ever was, always keep yourself updated with the current trends.
Make time to study new courses.
Dig into books about your niche and about writing efficiently.
Follow authorities in marketing and in your niche for the latest trends.
Freelance SEO Writing Mistakes And Pitfalls To Avoid
It’s a wide kingdom out there, and as a solo adventurer, you must keep wary of these traps:
#1: Accepting free writing tests or providing free samples
It's not bad to offer free writing, especially if it's for building your credibility. But unfortunately, the world has been plagued with scammers, and some businesses will take the test as an opportunity to have written content for free.
Never hesitate to charge your normal rate for the articles. Is the client asking for a 500-word article? Charge him $30 (or whatever your rate is). If they don't accept, don't fret. If they can't pay for one or two written content, what more for your future services?
#2: Toiling at content mills
When I started looking for sites that offer freelance SEO writing gigs, I've encountered plenty of those sites where you'll need to sign up, do a test, and when you pass, you can choose whatever topic you want to write about. I almost signed up for these, only to know that other freelance SEO writers label these sites as red flags.
If you look at it, content mills don't sound that bad.
Why? Because the pay is not equivalent to the effort and research you'll be pouring out! I've even encountered one site that offers $6 for a 500-word article. :/
Even if you're hungry to land your first client/gig, for the love of the alphabet gods, stay away from content mills. You'll just exhaust yourself for a little pay, and there's little to no chance to build your portfolio or credibility here.
#3: Accepting gigs or working for clients that require you to pay.
It should be the other way around. You getting paid, I mean. The only investment you need to make is for your website. Nothing else.
So if a potential client asks you to sign up to a website as the initial step for application, then require you to pay next, better find your next potential client. That one's no good.
#4: Clients that ask you to add them on Skype
I'm not saying ALL clients who ask for an interview on Skype are up to no good. But some of them may ask you to download some sort of a guide, only to know it's full of virus!
I'm not saying you reject clients asking for a Skype chat/call either. Just keep your guard up.
#5: Poor grammar is an outcast, but grammar nazis are boohoo
I've encountered plenty of blogs from famous writers online that have a typo or grammatical mistake (or two) in their content. But did that affect their work and credibility overall? Nope.
It's good to have control over your grammar knowledge, but if you miss out on one or two mistakes, please don't stress yourself too much. People commit mistakes too.
Of course, make sure to not commit these mistakes every time, even if there are few mistakes. That would leave the impression that you're not really checking what you're writing. And that's bad.
#6: Confidence is good, but don't become cocky.
Have you ever talked with someone, maybe a friend or a colleague, that loves to blab about themselves like they're the most precious gem in the world? They're freaking' annoying that you want to punch them in the face to make them stop.
That's how potential clients feel like when you talk too much about yourself.
It's okay to share your achievements with potential clients, but only share those that are actually relevant to what they need. And when you're going to "brag" about your writing skills, make sure you have a portfolio that would support your claims.
5 Tips From Your Friendly Newbie Writer Neighbor
Before this wordy guide ends, here are some tips I'd love to share with you so you'll save yourself from the common newbie mistakes I made before and fully enjoy freelance SEO writing as a business and passion.
1. There's no such thing as the perfect time for freelance SEO writing
I've postponed my attempts to become a freelance SEO writer (heck, even being a writer itself) so many times because I can't find the right mood or inspiration, or I felt afraid to try. But when I ignored the thousand excuses I always had, I regretted not pursuing freelance SEO writing earlier.
Save yourself from regretting the time you've wasted from your excuses before. Start polishing your writing skills, build your portfolio, pitch to potential clients. It doesn't matter what. Just start something TODAY.
2. Freelance SEO writing is like being in a relationship.
Don't go for a writing project that drains you of your energy, only to return a shitload of disappointment. Set your standards like you would with your potential partner. Will it help you grow as a writer? Will it return the right value in exchange for your time, effort, and skills? Will you swipe right for it?
3. Know your worth.
Don't settle for low-paying gigs just because you're still starting out as a freelance SEO writer. Accepting gigs just for the sake of securing a writing gig is not good for your career.
4. Things won't always work out the way you plan them out.
When I started as a freelance SEO writer, I thought it would be easy-peasy. I thought my inbox would be flooded with responses from the pitches I sent. During the first two weeks of my search escapade, I've been receiving ZERO responses.
It was depressing, but apparently, it's a normal situation. You just have to keep searching, and never stop pitching! It's also good to review your pitches, see what you can improve. I did just that after I saw that my previous format wasn't working out, and it worked!
So if you still haven't landed your first freelance client after a month or so, don't give up!
5. There are 28 letters in the alphabets that would suit your backup plans.
Finding no luck with platforms like Upwork? Move on to other websites! One potential client rejected your proposal? Find another one and send them your awesome ideas. Your client doesn't need your writing services at the moment? Keep hustlin' and widen your client network for more work.
For every situation, there's always a solution.
Collection of Resources
Feel free to check out these tools, websites, courses, and other stuff to help you become a writer superstar
Note: These two tools have browser extensions too.
For Checking Readability
Copyscape (Paid Tool)
Kopywriting's Blog Title Generator
Hubspot's Blog Ideas Generator
Graphic and Video Editing/Creation:
Great Sites For Stock Photos
Burst by Shopify
They have great food photos!
Other Stuff For Reference And Inspiration:
They have great food photos!
Wrapping Things Up
Alright, that’s it! Go and explore the wide lands of freelance SEO writing, adventurer. May the writing gods bless your career!
And don’t forget to go back to these guides whenever you’re lost with directions. This will help you get back on track!