Are you considering a career in SEO as a freelancer? In this detailed guide, you’ll learn about the advantages, disadvantages, and what to expect.
An SEO consultant is a search engine optimization expert who works on a freelance basis rather than as part of a traditional job.
They might, for example, be independent contractors who operate with their clients or as part of an existing team but are not employees.
They might be in charge of everything from proposing to finishing deals, as well as contract negotiations and SEO.
While having a diverse set of duties and the flexibility to work on just the projects you choose has its benefits, SEO consulting has its negatives as well.
Before deciding on a career as an SEO consultant, read this piece to learn about what to anticipate.
SEO Consultants: Are They Employed or Self-Employed?
In the United Kingdom, the answer is a little more difficult. The phrase “SEO consultant” can also refer to an employed SEO’s work title, which does not always imply seniority or managerial duties.
“SEO professional” or “SEO adviser,” for example.
This could also be how full-time and part-time freelancers characterize themselves.
However, in the United States, it can also refer to a freelancer.
Projects VS Multiple Clients
An SEO consultant may want to deal with their clientele and be the sole person responsible for their SEO.
They may also choose contracts that will allow them to work as part of an existing team, such as joining an enterprise SEO team as extra assistance.
Having Your Own Company
A career as an SEO consultant differs from any other form of SEO work in that you will be operating your own company.
You handle your contracts, pitches, and financial/tax duties as an independent contractor.
Skills You Must Have
Aside from being a skilled SEO expert, what other talents do you need to be a successful SEO consultant?
Aside from on-page, technical, and off-site SEO, here’s a rundown of the core abilities needed to succeed as an independent SEO contractor.
Management of the Budget
In your previous job, you may have been responsible for monitoring a budget to ensure that clients’ hours were filled or evaluating your department’s profit and loss.
When working as a freelancer, though, extra, unanticipated fees might arise.
That implies you must be able to manage a budget fast, or you will not be able to take home pay at the end of the month.
There may be one-time expenditures, such as engaging an accountant, as well as recurring costs, such as early legal consultation.
Any marketing collateral, the cost of hosting and constructing a website, and those fancy tools we all love to use are all factors to consider. You’ll cover the whole cost.
All of your company expenditures will come from the money you have earned as a consultant if you do not have the vast finances of an agency or brand behind you.
Organizing Your Time
Although all profession necessitates some kind of time management, working as an SEO consultant entails juggling many plates.
With a hired position, there is a lack of structure, support, and resources.
Time management has become increasingly vital as a result of this.
There will be unmovable business deadlines, such as legal and financial obligations, as well as calls with stakeholders, that other team members will be unable to handle in your absence.
Getting your bills out on time might be crucial to your consultant’s sustainability.
The quantity of administrative work you’ll have to do will rise. You’ll need to go over your receipts and make sure your budgeting software is up to date.
To make your paycheck, you’ll need to supply financial information. There are also emails and meetings to consider.
Expect a lot as a consultant, no matter how many you had as an employed SEO.
To be successful, you’ll need to be a master of time management.
Closing and Pitching
You’ll need to be able to handle the whole cycle of winning new work, from marketing your expertise to pitching and closing a new customer.
Because you won’t have the backing of a business development team, you’ll need to brush up on your persuasion abilities.
Even if you rank top for “SEO consultant” in your region, I can tell you from personal experience that few of your business prospects will come from your website.
You’ll also have to learn how to advertise yourself in other ways.
This entails capturing possible client leads via social media, events, and word-of-mouth.
You’ll need to not only find potential customer leads but also convert them successfully. Working on pitch decks, negotiating prices, and obtaining approval are all part of this process.
Negotiating a Contract
Expect prospective clients to pore over your contract template with a fine-tooth comb, even if you have a standard contract form.
This might apply to your pricing proposal and service level agreement as well.
Becoming able to negotiate contracts is a requirement of being an SEO contractor.
There may be a level of compromise expected, particularly if you wish to deal with small enterprises with limited funds.
When considering the following six to twelve months of your proposed contract, in the long run, you’ll need to be able to foresee how such sacrifices will affect your profit and quality of life.
A customer may request that you work your planned hours for less pay, lowering your average rate.
They can also want you to answer emails outside of the hours you’ve agreed to work.
Although it may be tempting to agree to these new terms to obtain income, doing so may not be helpful to your company’s long-term success.
Financial and Legal Responsibilities
Being an SEO consultant entails being your boss, running your own company, and all of the thrill and flexibility that comes with it.
However, it also implies that you are completely responsible for ensuring that you are fully compliant with all applicable laws.
This entails not just knowing which business rules apply to you in your state or nation but also knowing how their laws influence you if you have clients in other countries.
In Europe, for example, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulations) oversees personal data management.
Even if you are not based in Europe, your clientele may be.
These restrictions will affect how you store customer information.
As a consultant, you have no one above you in terms of taking on this job.
Everything is yours. You may be able to afford legal or accounting assistance to help you make educated decisions, but the consequences are entirely on you if they give you bad advice.
Good stakeholder management is another necessary skill.
This involves conveying deadlines, following up on invoice payments, and ensuring that client expectations are met.
Your clients aren’t the only ones that matter to you as a consultant.
It’s your accountants, attorneys, vendors, and other consultants with whom you’re collaborating.
These stakeholders at a bigger company tend to communicate with a variety of team members, including the finance department, the CEO, the marketing team, and account managers.
You are the only point of contact if you work as a freelancer.
Client demands differ significantly from those of your accountant, but they both require prioritization.
As an SEO consultant, you’ll benefit immensely from learning to handle a broader range of stakeholders than you’re accustomed to.
Fitting In With Teams Quickly
As an SEO consultant, you will not be given a protracted onboarding time.
From the beginning, you must demonstrate value to your customers. This is a difficult talent to master.
Although you will need to grasp their methods, procedures, product, and industry, there will be an expectation that you can deliver a return on investment right away.
It’s not enough to know your way around the company; you also need to get along with your new coworkers.
When working directly with other members of your client’s team, what they think of your work ethic and personality may have a big influence on how long and how often your contract is renewed.
When you start working for a new firm, you will likely be put on probation for a few weeks to months as the employer evaluates your fit and aptitude.
It will be a moment when you may work with your boss to fill in any gaps in your knowledge and establish a training plan to ensure you get off to a strong start in the firm if done correctly.
You won’t receive it as a freelance SEO.
Instead, your contract may include a break clause or just the ability for a customer to terminate their regular monthly contract if they don’t like your job.
Demonstrating the return on investment of working with you is a skill you will need to learn early on as an SEO consultant.
This entails knowing exactly what is expected of you and ensuring that it is acceptable.
After that, you’ll have to report on how successful you were in achieving these goals.
Resilience, defined by PsychologyToday as “the psychological trait that permits some people to be knocked down by life’s difficulties and bounce back at least as strong as before,” is a talent that can be developed.
Working as a consultant may be exhausting.
You can have so much work to complete in one month that you don’t know when you’ll be able to sleep.
Others of you are cautiously glancing at your emails, hoping for a proposal acceptance.
It takes time to establish stability in the flow of work you win.
Then, all of a sudden, a worldwide epidemic might wipe it out. As a contract SEO, you’re likely to be short on assurance.
Resilience is an important trait for an SEO professional.
It’s difficult to get back on your feet when a client’s contract expires abruptly or there’s a problem with a rival.
Even when things are going well, there will always be the need to hunt down bills that are 60 days past due.
It might feel like an uphill climb at times.
An SEO consultant may promote not just their services but also the desire of working with them one-on-one.
Every time you pitch for work as a consultant, you’ll be in the same situation as if you were going for a job interview. Your client must feel you are the most qualified candidate for the position.
This might begin months or perhaps years before the pitch meeting.
For many consultants, the ideal situation is to gain such a high level of industry reputation that leads are generated by word of mouth.
Rather than wasting time and energy on marketing, they are being approached by clients.
Some of the most effective SEO consultants have honed their skills in a certain field.
As a result, they may pick and choose who they deal with and charge rates that are commensurate with the value they provide.
If you want to work as an SEO consultant, knowing your local market, the needs of the firms you could deal with, and what you can do to appeal to them will assist.
This might imply identifying a market niche and sticking to it. It might imply pursuing smaller organizations that require comprehensive SEO assistance.
Whatever you intend to do as a consultant, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate your expertise, abilities, and value to prospects beyond the initial encounter.
You might have a decent understanding of what salaries are in your area and location, but what about SEO contractor rates?
Search Engine Journal has performed a compensation poll based on data from the SEO field.
The findings for independent contractors were particularly intriguing.
SEO freelancing consultants made less than $34,000 per year on average, according to Search Engine Journal.
The majority of survey respondents who were classified as freelancers had less than two years of experience. Their incomes will have been severely skewed as a result of this.
Take the average quoted compensation of an SEO consultant with a grain of salt in mind.
Depending on your region, years of experience, and specializations, yours might be considerably higher.
An SEO freelancer in the United Kingdom may earn £31,540 per year (about $41,000), according to Glassdoor.
What you charge per job or hour has a significant influence on how much money you make each year.
You should also think about how many hours a week you wish to work. If your client load is full, this information can help you figure out how much money you can make in a year.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that you’ll have to subtract your operating expenses from your net earnings.
This might include everything from participation in a networking group to tax and insurance.
Helpful Certifications and Experience
One of the best aspects of pursuing a career in SEO is that the entrance requirements are minimal.
You are not required to hold a university degree or to be a member of any governing body.
On the other hand, potential clients have little to go on to determine how excellent of an SEO you are.
There are no standard diplomas or qualifications to establish your proficiency because of the absence of regulation in the business.
Rather, you may need to demonstrate your competence in different ways to potential clients.
Showing your experience is the most apparent approach to demonstrate that you are an expert in your industry.
Many clients mistakenly believe that experience equals years in the field. It isn’t always the case, though.
Experience with Specific Projects
Because they worked for an SEO agency, a consultant may have completed 20 website migrations in their three years in the field.
Because they worked in-house for one brand, another contractor may have only completed one in their five years in the industry.
A customer seeking SEO assistance for an impending website migration would choose a consultant with five years of experience in the field.
They may mistakenly feel that more years of expertise equates to greater results.
As an SEO consultant, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate your unique knowledge of the aspects of SEO that the project will rely on if you’re pitching for a website migration job.
In terms of work, SEO consultants days may resemble those of employed SEO specialists.
However, there are typically extra issues outside of SEO activity that make it a frightening idea for some.
However, diving into the realm of freelance SEO may be freeing. There is more flexibility in terms of deciding what you want to do and when you want to do it.
Some people prefer to dabble in consulting on the side of their normal profession (if allowed by their employer).
This can assist in the learning curve of running a business while still being employed.
Even if you have no plans to leave your current job, keeping an eye on the job market is usually a smart idea. You may not want to work as an SEO consultant, but you will need to employ one.