“I Want out of My 9 to 5: Can I Really Start a Freelance (SEO) Writing Career with No Experience?”

Today, I received the following email from someone working a full-time job. She wants to find a way to work from home. She wrote:

Good morning,

I have been looking at a few options for myself, to get out of the 9-5, 2.5 hour a day drive I have and eventually enable myself to work from home. I came across an interview you did with Caitlin Pyle regarding writing SEO articles, and loved it.

My question is, for someone with no experience writing SEO articles, is there a better route to take or somewhere else we should start? I haven’t written much since my high school newspaper days about 7 years ago. I love writing and just haven’t done much of it since having my son. So I am curious where to start to be really successful.

Thanks for any help you have to offer.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. Here’s the site’s affiliate disclosure policy for full details.

My Answer

I started to compose an email to her, but decided to expand it into a full blog post. Before I stopped everything and wrote this post, I’d started my response, by saying:


First, thanks for reaching out. It’s always nice to hear from readers.

In answer to your question, you don’t need an experience to become an online (SEO) writer. Everyone from college students, to stay-at-home moms have carved out successful careers in this niche — because all it does take is good writing ability. Let me add a bit more to this.

Following are the skills you need to have — if you have zero experience as a freelance writer — to succeed in this niche.

Once I switched out of email into this blog post, I continued, writing the following.

Skills Need to Succeed as a Freelance SEO Writer These Days

I. Good Writing

You don’t have to be a brilliant writer, but you do have to have a fundamental grasp of how to write well; eg, proper grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, etc. You know, the basics.

II. Sales Copywriting

All copy commissioned by your clients will be written to sell something — whether overtly, or covertly. Knowing how to write persuasive web content, without being “salesy” or pushy is required. You’ll get the hang of this pretty easily, so don’t worry about being a “master copywriter.”

Just know, that’s the goal of content marketing — to move a prospect along the sales process. You want to get them to buy, sign up for a newsletter, download a white paper, call for more detail, etc. These are know as call-to-action statements.

III. Research Ability

Many clients will give you a set of keywords and/ or a general topic they want you to write on, then they’ll expect you to do the proper research to come up with well-written, interesting content. Thanks to Google, this isn’t a problem.

IV. SEO Knowledge

You must understand how to write search engine-optimized (SEO) content. Even when freelance writing job ads
don’t specify it, that’s what they’re looking for these days. They expect you to know what keywords are, how to do keyword research, and the language around this niche, eg, inbound links, clickbait headlines, social media marketing.

FYI, I’m not saying this to scare you off. In fact, once you learn these skills, you’ll be amazed that you thought it was so “hard.” SEO is not hard. Trust me, if it was, I wouldn’t be doing it. I’m not the most technical person around. In fact, I tend to hate “all things tech.”

In spite of this, I taught myself how to write SEO content back in 2007 and managed to build a thriving business that includes so much more than writing for clients. If I’d never learned how to write SEO content, I never would have learned how to market effectively on the web.

There meant there probably wouldn’t be self-published ebook sales, e-course development and teaching, and affiliate marketing dollars. All of this is directly due to my knowledge of SEO.

Is Starting a SEO Writing Career Hard?

No, in that it’s not rocket science. Once you know the fundamentals, you can be up and going. Less than week ago, someone (from my affiliate marketing group) with no experience as a freelance writer wrote me the following:

Finding Online Writing Success: How One Newbie Did It

Hey, Yuwanda! I got a little bit behind in my affiliate marketing pursuit. As you know, I teach online from home for a few colleges. When I read your book about SEO article writing, I put to work your idea of submitting query letters to those in my niche.

Well, it seems like in record time (less than a week), I got responses from five clients wanting me to write a course, continuing education information, and test item reviews. Plus, I had three book reviews to write for colleagues. So, I will get back on track with the affiliate marketing very soon, because the freelance writing just took off like a rocket! 🚀

Yuwanda, I sure appreciate your guidance. Thanks for making everything so easy to understand and digest, because that helped me so much more than I thought it would.

The main thing this freelancer did was take action. And now, as she said, her freelance writing career has taken off faster than she thought.

Land HIgh-Paying Content Writing Jobs — Even as a Newbie

FYI, see this in-depth post on what it takes to land high-paying jobs — even as a newbie.

The Hardest Part of Starting a Freelance Business

What’s hard about starting a freelance writing career — of any kind — is the fear that you won’t be successful. I’ve said this many times before, but this is the number one thing that holds many wannabe freelancers back — they are petrified to make the move.

The great thing about it though is that you can start while you have your full-time job. I just did a guest
post for a fellow freelancer’s blog on just how to do this.

FYI, Laura (the freelancer referenced just above) got her start a few years ago after running across this
site. Now, she’s a six-figure freelancer — has been for the last few years. So there’s another success story
for you. I can recount many others, ie:

Freelance Success Story #1

Freelance Success Story #2

Freelance Success Story #3

And then of course, there are the very real testimonials on this page.

About Starting a Freelance Writing Career While Working Full Time

Will it be easy to start while working full time? No. I’m not gonna lie. You’re going to have to burn some midnight oil to make it happen. But if it’s a burning desire (pun fully intended), you’ll do it. FYI, here’s a “get started quick” plan:; and

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions by newbies.

My Recent “Midnight Oil” Burn

I’m in the middle of doing a joint venture project. It’s my first one — and I’ve screwed it up 9,000 ways to none. My partner’s done her part; I’m the holdup. I stayed up all night last night — literally until almost 8 this morning — working to finish. I slept for a couple of hours, then got back up and got back on it.

I’m still not done, but the point is, this is something I want with a passion. And although it’s one of the hardest things I’ve done in my professional life and has gone wrong in more ways than I can count, I persist. Quitting is not an option. It’s just not the way I’m built.

So when I give out these platitudes of “it’s not gonna be easy,” just know, I’m speaking from first-hand experience. And, I’m telling you the truth.

The Only Regret I Have about Starting a Freelance (SEO) Writing Career

That I didn’t start right out of college. I’ve had years as a freelancer where I’ve barely earned $20,000; and I’ve had years where I’ve earned over $250,000. I’ve been freelancing since 1993. From that year to this, there was an 18-month stint between 2006-2007 where I wasn’t.

I had a job as a Regional Director of Staffing for a recruitment firm. It was a great job, with awesome bosses and great benefits (corporate credit card, car allowance, reimbursement, healthcare, vacation, travel, etc.). I was basically my own boss because my superiors were in a whole other state. The job also paid a hefty base salary of $40k + commission. That kind of base plus the commission structure is almost unheard of in staffing, where you earn most of your money in commissions.

In spite of this, I wasn’t happy. I wouldn’t trade my worst year as a freelancer for my best year as an employee. And it’s because I like to have control. I’ve never worked as hard for an employer as I’ve worked for myself, or been paid as little by an employer as I’ve earned as a freelancer. I’ve gone for months without earning a thing, but still slaving away.

Does This Sound Like You?

Someone once said that a true entrepreneur is someone who’ll work 16 hours for themselves in order to avoid working 8 for someone else (or some variation of it). This is the mentality you need to bring to freelancing. It’s hard, but emotionally rewarding, work. If you approach it with this manner, you’ll never regret taking the leap – and that’s about as honest as I can answer your question.

I hope this insight helps, and good luck however you decide to proceed.

P.S.: There’s More Than One Way to Make Money Writing: Get full details.

P.P.S.: Serious about Starting a Freelance Writing Career? Then You Need a Website/Blog. Click to learn why and how to start one.

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