How to Find Work as an SEO Freelancer

If you understand SEO, you’re in demand. Even a cursory search on Indeed shows you that over 17k companies need expert SEO help. But if you’re an SEO freelancer, your path might be different.

In this article, you’ll learn the best ways for SEO freelancers to find work in 2022. Cut through long application processes and find top-quality clients!

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Create a Portfolio

Put your money where your mouth is. Any good client will want proof that you can achieve the goals they’re hiring you for. If you’re new to SEO and don’t have client projects, use a personal one as a case study.

Your portfolio case study should explain:

  • Your SEO and marketing goals
  • Methods you used
  • Metrics affected during your SEO implementation
  • End results (before & after explanation of metrics)
  • Bonus points: testimonials from the client

Jim Milan shows how he ranked his own website in his portfolio

Jim Milan shows how he ranked his own website in his portfolio

Clients Want SEOs Who Understand Business

Don’t be afraid to go beyond the basics of SEO to show your marketing knowledge.

Don’t turn into an SEO freelancer who just wants the company to use keywords without regard for their branding. Instead, research how content marketing and SEO can work together to produce fantastic results.

And if your prospects are on the fence, demonstrate the business value of SEO to make them hop right into your garden.

A Quick Way to Find Work as an SEO Freelancer? Get in Touch with a Marketing Agency

Marketing agencies are notoriously understaffed and overworked. They need a network of associates to sub-contract their overflow work.

Don’t be shy if you’ve created a personal connection with someone at the agency through networking. Offer your services.

Don’t Pitch Before You Network!

If you want to pitch a marketing agency on your services, connect with someone from the company on social media first. Engage with their content. Develop a relationship, so you understand their process by the time you pitch.  

When done right, networking makes you stand out from other SEOs in the agency’s inbox.

Make Clients Come to You for Your SEO Expertise

The proof is, as they say, in the pudding.

Instead of cold pitches where you can really just guess what the leads need, building an online presence has two-fold benefits:

  1. You attract people interested in your services and familiar with your work.
  2. You prove that you can optimize your website for search engines.

Do You Need a Website to Find Freelance SEO Work?

Yes. Many SEO freelancers only have Upwork or Fiverr profiles, so you’ll automatically appear more credible and professional.

Marie Haynes has a fantastic website showcasing her SEO services
Marie Haynes has a fantastic website showcasing her SEO services

Marie Haynes has a fantastic website showcasing her SEO services. Here's a selection of 20+ writer websites you can use as inspiration to create yours.

Don’t forget about LinkedIn. LinkedIn is faster than website SEO, and you can connect with the right people.

You Can’t Do SEO without Content...

... and if you’re an SEO freelancer, your content should convey your expertise.

I won’t tell you which keywords to target - you could teach me a thing or two. Instead, I want you to focus on content your leads will want to read:

  • In-depth, research-backed content that explains a concept and then shows how they can put it into practice
  • Opinions of the latest trends that prove you stay updated and use cutting-edge tactics
  • Examples, case studies, anecdotes - show your personality to stand out from the crowd!

The best part? You can repurpose this content for your social media.

If your content is valuable, people will share it, giving you more exposure even if your backlinks haven’t kicked in yet.

Cold Pitching to Find Freelance SEO Work? Add Value

Don’t use automated lead generation and scraping tools to find your first few clients. Instead, research qualified companies where you know exactly how to add value.

Then, write up a quick plan on what you would do and how it would affect their revenue. Go beyond the cold emails that constantly land in our inboxes, mentioning page speed or backlink opportunities.

Instead, run checks other SEOs don’t really do (or a full-scale SEO audit):

Get a Way in with SEO Tools

Small businesses are an easy win for beginner SEOs with no portfolios.

They almost always need help with their SEO, and you can offer your services at a lower rate if you use a tool like SiteGuru.

SiteGuru automatically and continually audits your websites. As a beginner, this lets you accumulate more portfolio case studies without having to work at a discounted rate.

A Word on Freelance Marketplaces

Upwork, Fiverr, and other platforms are helpful but time-consuming.

If you’re a new freelancer without a portfolio, you might have to work at a discounted rate. Think of the marketplaces only as a way to grow your portfolio and have a plan for the future.

SEO Freelance Marketplaces for Experienced SEOs

Once you accumulate experience, it’ll be a different game. Just make sure you’ve established your presence and expertise.

Start with Smaller Projects

A new client may be hesitant to sign you on for a bigger project, and perhaps they still need to figure out their budget.

First, prove your worth with smaller projects like immediate technical & on-page optimizations or SEO maintenance.

Yes, maintenance takes time, but who says you have to do it on your own?

Simply use a tool to run through your checklist. (P.S. that’s exactly why I built SiteGuru.)

Ready to Find Freelance SEO Work?

Think creatively to find work as an SEO freelancer. 

Most freelancers send generic cold emails. 

With an online presence and a valuable warm pitch, you'll already be ahead of the curve!

Checklist: 6 Steps to Find SEO Freelance Work

  • Create a portfolio
    • Include:
      • The goals
      • A before & after overview of the metrics
      • Methods you’ve used
      • Client testimonials
    • Explain how your SEO work affected revenue and business goals
    • No portfolio? Start with smaller projects
  • Create a website
    • Upload your portfolio and case studies
    • Create a LinkedIn profile
  • Create a content plan
    • Write content that’s full of examples, practical methods, and your own experiences to stand out from other SEOs
    • Repurpose your content and share it on social media
  • Build relationships
    • Network with agencies, other SEOs, and prospective clients on social media (LinkedIn and Twitter work best)
    • Don’t pitch before you build a relationship by engaging with your prospects’ content to understand their SEO needs, goals, and pain points
  • Time to pitch!
    • Add value to your pitch
      • Only pitch highly-qualified clients and agencies
      • Propose a plan of action (explain how it will affect their revenue)
      • Consider running a website audit with SiteGuru
  • Keep finding work
    • Freelance marketplaces
    • Direct outreach to clients & agencies with a warm pitch, portfolio, and testimonials
    • Convert the inbound traffic to your website
  • Keep building your brand
    • Blog and social media posts showcasing your expertise are your routes to higher-quality clients. Even if you’re booked today, invest in your future!