The very first thing you should be deciding in on your freelance career path is which services to offer when starting freelance.
This is going to be the backbone of your business, and the route to profitability in your first few months.
I don’t advise trying to be a full service one man band.
There are very few people who can start out and build a website, do all the graphics, social media and all the intricacies of SEO on top, and even fewer who are just starting out.
Likewise, SEO can be extremely competitive in big cities like New York, Toronto, Sydney or London.
It’s going to be much more difficult to both acquire the clients because of your competition, and it’s going to be more difficult to deliver results because of their competition.
Therefore, the first thing you must do as you venture into this new career is to determine the kind of SEO freelancer you want to be based on the services you will offer.
Having a clear offer on the table will set in motion the other aspects of your business.
Below are ways to help position yourself that will help you stand out from the pack:
The key to getting your SEO freelancing career off the ground is finding your niche and sticking with it.
As mentioned, SEO is a very competitive industry.
Somebody is most likely providing the same services that you plan on offering to your prospects.
And trying to out-SEO more established freelance SEOs out there is going to take a lot of work.
However, instead of worrying about your competitors, focus on what you can do for your target audience.
In this case, it’s less about standing out from the crowd and more about finding your crowd and marketing yourself exclusively to this group of people.
To do this, you need to find a segment in your target audience you want to focus on — The more granular, the better.
- You could do client SEO for tenant lawyers in America,
- you could do SEO for construction companies in London, or
- you could build a personal SEO brand locally
(Host meetups, do Zooms, giveaways, videos, blogs etc) and get put on retainers to help digital agencies in your city with their SEO clients.
Ideally, the more you know about something, the better.
One of ViperChill’s most successful clients was a dentist turned dental marketing agency that ended up selling for a cool $28 million.
Using Google Trends
From here, head on to Google Trends to compare the popularity of these niches.
The great thing about Google Trends, aside from being free, is comparing keywords side by side to see which one is more popular.
For example, let’s say you worked campaigns before for a personal injury lawyer, printing company, and pest control business.
Entering these keywords in Google Trends, we get these results
Take note that the United States is the default location when you search Google Trends.
If you live in a different area, make sure to change the settings to your country or region.
Using this information, you should determine which industries you entered as search terms are the most popular.
In the examples above, “printing” has the highest interest compared to the other two. However’ “printing” is very broad and could mean a lot of things.
Therefore, it’s best to narrow your search to “printing services.” By adding the last word in the search query, you’re referring to businesses that offer printing as a service.
Using this new search term to compare with the other two, Google Trends showed drastically different results:
From the new results, “pest control” now has the highest interest, with “personal injury lawyer” not far behind.
Scrolling down the page, you will see the breakdown of searches across the different regions of your chosen country for the search term.
It is crucial if you want to offer your SEO services to specific regions or states.
Ideally, you want to target states where the search term has the highest interest.
But for now, you can just keep this in mind and create landing pages for these regions once you start doing local SEO.
At the bottom, you should also find the top searched terms related to the keyword you entered.
From here, you will see the type of keywords people are searching for in your respective industry. It gives you an idea as to which terms you should target.
Some of the terms include the location, ex., Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer, which ties back into the local SEO I mentioned earlier.
Using the data from Google Trends allows you to see which states or regions have search queries for the industries that you can leverage moving forward should you decide on offering SEO services for them.
Once you have decided on a niche to target with your SEO services, use a keyword research tool to outline the type of keywords you can optimize for clients in this industry.
You can also look at competitors ranking for the top keywords in your industry.
Log in to your Ahrefs account and enter the niche keyword on the text bar before clicking on the magnifying glass icon.
In the example above, you should see the keyword data for “pest control” on the next page.
However, what we want to see are the keyword ideas related to it.
Therefore, scroll down the page to the Keyword ideas section to see how many related keywords to tool found for your query.
The volume of keywords found by Ahrefs for your industry could indicate how profitable it is to focus on this niche.
The more keywords the tool returns, the more opportunities you can create pages for each one, the more work you can get from clients.
However, you still need to verify if the keywords have all the data you need to determine which you can create and optimize for potential clients.
In this case, you need to analyze the results and find which among the keywords you can use for your campaigns.
Click on View all to check out all the keywords under each.
For this example, let’s view all question keywords. These are the keywords you can use to optimize your informational blog posts.
You want to filter them from the list to show you keywords with at least DR 0 and a search volume of at least 10.
The idea here is to trim keywords that don’t have values for their DR and search volume.
It isn’t because they are the wrong keywords, but Ahrefs doesn’t have the information for these keywords to provide you with a proper value for each variable.
Therefore, it’s best to leave these keywords for now.
From 7,217 keywords, the filters we set narrowed the results down to 181.
From here, you can export the keywords for your reference later. Do the same process for the other keyword ideas in the tool.
Comparing The Data
Next, you can compare the data you gathered from the previous industry to the next.
After going through the keywords for “pest control,” let’s see if “personal injury lawyer” has more keywords or not.
From the onset, it seems like “pest control” has more keywords than “personal injury lawyer.”
Narrowing down the question keywords using the same filters we used above, “pest control” has more keywords and total search volume compared to this one.
From the data we’ve gathered, does it automatically mean that “pest control” is a much better niche than “personal injury lawyer?”
As mentioned, this information tells us that there’s more opportunity for you to create campaigns for clients.
However, we’re not considering the budget a regular client in a niche has for SEO.
The average pest control case can range from $100 – $5,000, but the average personal injury lawyer fee will be on the lower end of a few $1,000 at the very minimum
Meaning the average law firm will likely have a much higher budget per lead and monthly marketing budget than the average pest control firm will.
There are no right or wrong answers here. It’s up to you to decide which among the following niche you should target with your SEO services.
You’ll also want to review the actual people already ranking in the positions you’re reaching out to clients in.
This is to know if the SEO agencies have been putting in work for a while it might be an uphill battle in that niche.
At the very least, you can use the process above to help you narrow your search to industries that you’re confident in working on
And that will provide you with the best opportunities from financial and professional standpoints.
Single vs. Multiple Services
As an SEO specialist in your previous work, you may have handled different responsibilities to help run campaigns for your clients.
You have experience in keyword research, content creation, link building, and other SEO-related tasks.
On the one hand, you prefer focusing on offering a particular aspect of SEO as a service.
For example, you are good at keyword research but don’t consider yourself a good writer.
On the other, you’re confident in your ability to create and run successful SEO campaigns from scratch.
All you need is the client’s site, and you’ll take care of the rest, from auditing the site for issues to reporting how your campaign fared over time.
From here, you have to decide whether to focus on promoting a single SEO service or offering multiple services that clients can pick and choose for their strategy and campaign.
Single-service SEO freelancers like content writers and link builders are often the most in demand
As it allows you to focus exclusively on one specific SEO task to sell to your audience, and become the best at that specific task or tactic.
An example of a single-service SEO freelance is SEO copywriter Jessica Foster of Key&Copy.
She offers different content writing services and packages to clients ranging from content planning to content overhaul aside from blog posts and landing page content.
Things you must consider when limiting your offer
Below are some of the things you must consider when limiting your offer to a single service as SEO freelancers:
Simpler and more straightforward
All you need to worry about is your core competency, making this perfect for newbie SEO freelancers.
For example, if you’re a writer, you simply need to request the content briefs of the topics they want you to write for them.
Included in the briefs are the keywords you must optimize for each content.
You could offer keyword research since it’s connected with content creation, but you can offer it as an add-on service to clients.
Greater opportunity for specialization
You can position yourself as the go-to SEO service provider for a particular niche and industry.
Since you’re not bombarded with other SEO tasks, you can develop and refine your skills for this specific service so you can eventually offer a higher amount to upcoming clients in the future.
Lower earning potential
While you can make a sizable income just by offering a single SEO service, it could pale compared to SEOs providing multiple services.
It is due to the degree of difficulty required to develop and launch a comprehensive SEO strategy.
On the other hand, offering complete SEO services gives you full control over which tactics to implement, which you feel will help the client’s site and how you plan on rolling them out.
Most multiple-service SEO freelancers own agencies where they work with employees and other lower-level freelancers to help execute their campaigns.
An example is Robbie Richards, who manages his blog but is a co-founder of Virayo Marketing.
But before you can hire him for his services, you must book a strategy session call with him.
If you click on the “Work With Me” button, you will be redirected to Virayo’s website, where you can fill out the strategy session form.
The process allows Robbie to determine what the issues of your site are and how his services can help improve your site’s performance on SERPs.
If you check his website, you won’t see the prices published on the site. The only way you’ll find it is if you signed up for a free strategy session with Robbie.
If you decide on offering multiple SEO services as a freelancer, you need to be away wary of these factors:
More complex and complicated
Since you’ll be dealing not only with implementing tactics here but also developing strategies for your clients, you’ll have your hands full from the very start.
You will most likely need help from VAs or other freelancers to help you get the job done.
Due to the degree of difficulty required to complete the project with flying colors, SEOs with experience managing multiple clients and connections with other freelancers in the industry will benefit the most from this track.
Higher earning potential
The scope of work should result in a much higher payday from the projects and clients.
Once you reach a point when you can’t handle all of your projects, it’s normal to transition from being freelancers to becoming agency and business owners.
From here, you can work near other freelancers on your project.
Aside from earning more, you can delegate your tasks to other freelancers or your employees and oversee the projects and find ways to generate leads and clients to your business.
However, you may have to register using a different business entity once you launch an agency.
For starters, it’s best to offer a single service to your clients as an SEO freelancer. It allows you to focus on honing your craft while learning the tricks of the trade.
Once you’ve gotten a better handle of things, you can offer additional services to clients on top of the current work you’re doing for this.
For example, if you’re creating SEO content for them, you can offer to do the keyword research and outline subject to their approval.
Whatever will help make the process much easier and more convenient for your clients, suggest that as an extra service to help you earn more from them.
If your clients are looking for services that you don’t offer, you can tap into your network of SEO professionals and collaborate with them on your projects (and potentially theirs).
This way, you continue to provide value to clients while learning new things from other freelancers you will be working with.
Service Provider vs. Consultant
Most of the things we discussed above apply to service-based SEO freelancers.
However, what if you’re more interested in offering bespoke strategies for businesses?
Instead of implementing the process, you’re responsible for developing a custom strategy for clients based on the information you gathered about the site.
It is precisely what SEO consultants do. They review a client’s site and provide them with a plan designed to help the site increase its search engine rankings once implemented.
I have been offering my SEO consultation services on the website on top of the courses I sell.
My goal is to leverage my knowledge in SEO as a subject matter expert by offering my advice to clients through hour-long calls.
Over time, I’ll follow up on them to see if they implemented my recommendations and whether or not they need another strategy call with me to continue improving their site’s performance.
That’s the scope of my work as a consultant.
I can recommend them SEO service providers who will help execute the strategy for them. But I can’t personally launch the campaign for them.
The SEO consultant model is a fascinating approach to one’s SEO freelance career. But if you want to pursue this track, below are things you must know first:
You don’t have to do the heavy lifting
The beauty of being an SEO consultant is you simply provide them with a map to follow and help guide their website to success.
It’s up to them on whether on not to act up upon your recommendations. But that’s beyond your responsibility once you’ve shared your advice with them.
You provide a holistic approach to SEO
Let’s get one thing straight: SEO consultation is not just lip service to clients.
Not only are you giving them the keys to ranking their sites on the first page of Google, but you’re also allowing them to pick your brain for questions they have.
And the most challenging part of all is you need to provide a sufficient answer to their query.
You can’t say you don’t know the answers because that defeats the purpose of booking a consultation with you.
And expect clients to ask you questions about web design, coding, and other factors that aren’t ranking factors but help influence their performance on SERPs.
You need authority to succeed
Ultimately, being a consultant means people have to trust your advice and recommendations. And to achieve that, you must build clout first before you can expect to get clients.
I developed my authority through the years with my case studies, courses, client work, and testimonials.
That’s why I’m able to provide consultation services for various clients with my pricing.
Therefore, if you’re brand new to the game, you need to find a way to build your authority fast so you can get high-ticket clients coming your way.
In other words, being an SEO consultant demands an incredible amount of knowledge about the SEO industry as a whole so you can provide all the help your clients need.
If you’re not yet up for the challenge, it’s best to offer SEO services for now until you’re ready.
I hope you find this article helpful. If you have any question, please leave a comment below.
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