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Achieving SEO Writing Success in One Month: 4 Things This Freelancer Did Right

In today’s post, I share a series of emails between me and a freelance SEO writer who was just starting out. They detail her journey from getting her site up and going to landing her first client. She had a ton of questions along the way that I think many can benefit from, which is the main reason I wanted to share her story.

FYI, the four things she did right are listed near the end of this post.

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

2 Common Questions New SEO Writers Ask

Two of the most common questions I receive from those who are thinking about starting a freelance (SEO) writing career are: (i) how long will it take me to start making money; and (ii) you started years ago; is the market too saturated now?

Freelance SEO Writing: How Long Will It Take to Start Landing Jobs?

When I received an email from this freelancer, I was excited to share it because it shows that there’s magic in taking action. And in answer to those two questions, it can take as little as a week or less, or as long as a couple of months to start landing clients as a SEO writer.

If you’re up and running, eg, have a website, good writing samples, are priced right, and are “marketing on steroids,” as I talk about in this post, it shouldn’t take you longer than a month to start landing clients – usually less.

FYI, here’s what happened when I once spent a solid week applying for freelance – mostly SEO — writing jobs.

Landing Freelance (SEO) Writing Work: Is the Market Too Saturated?Freelance SEO Writing: How One Freelancer Started Her Biz & Landed Her First Client

In a word, “No.” The amount of content that’s needed these days is staggering. According to this post on Social Media Today regarding the state of content marketing:

75% of marketers have recognized that and are investing more in their content marketing campaigns, and plan to work on creating more high quality content in general.

To underline the importance even more, it’s worth noting that 70% of people want to learn about a brand via quality articles, rather than the usual adverts.

Why the Need for SEO Writers Is Greater Than Ever

Content marketing budgets and investments are growing year in, year out – experts expect it to become a $300 billion industry by 2019. Here are some more stats from an infographic by PointVisible on that page.

  • Almost 90 percent of both B2B & B2C marketers use content marketing
  • Over 70% of both B2B & B2C marketers use content marketing as an ongoing business strategy; not simply one-off campaigns
  • 75% of B2B & B2C marketers are increasing their digital marketing budgets
  • Blogs, Social Media Content & Newsletters were the top three forms of content for both B2B & B2C marketers.

So no, the market is not too saturated. As an aside, I often liken freelance writing to being a real estate agent. When I was a recruiter and used to attend Chamber of Commerce meetings, if there were 20 of us there pitching our companies, there’d always be at least two or three real estate agents. And I’ll bet that almost everyone knows at least one real estate agent.

But nobody thinks, “Oh, there are too many realtors,” or that the market is too saturated. And it’s because, each realtor is different. They have their geographic areas, their type of client, their own way of marketing and selling properties.

This Site’s Traffic Is Growing & We’re Seeking  Guest Posters.

Same as a freelance writer. You’re unique. You have your niche, your rates, your way of writing, your way of marketing for clients, etc.; so never let this be a stumbling block.

Now, to today’s success story … her journey provides some great gems for anyone who’s thinking about starting a freelance / SEO writing biz.

From Startup to First Client: One SEO Writer’s Journey

Starting this past July, I received a few emails from a freelancer as she was just getting started. We corresponded back and forth until she landed her first client. Following is what was said.

Will I Hurt My Chances of Success if I Offer Too Many Services?

July 20: Hi Yuwanda! I’m currently reading your book about making money writing 500-word articles, and I had a quick question about the section of the book related to starting your writing website. I planned on not only doing SEO articles, but also additional VA work.

I was wondering if I should create a website that advertised my VA work (which includes email management, social media management, video editing, etc.) as well as my SEO writing work, OR create two separate sites (one for my writing, and one for VA).

I wasn’t sure if SEO companies would frown upon me having so many services listed on my SEO writing site, or get confused. Would love to hear your thoughts on that. Thank you so much for sharing so much valuable information for aspiring SEO writers!

My Answer

I’d say list all your services on one site. It’s kinda become the norm today, so I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.

Now, I wouldn’t go putting totally unrelated services on there, eg, baby sitting. But the services you’re offering are inter-related. You can bill yourself as a “Complete” online writing agency. That’s what I used to do when I first started adding on services besides just writing.

Related Posts 

How Much Should I Charge to Write SEO Content Just Starting Out?

July 24: I read where you wrote in the book and on your blog that $35 to $75 is now considered to be the lowest rates for SEO articles. So I was thinking about starting at at least $35 asking when I begin my pitching.

So here’s my question: I read through the testimonials on your blog and it seemed like almost everyone else who read the book went by your original rate of asking for $25 an article.

Do you think I would be jumping the gun by NOT asking for $25 (like everyone else), or do you still stand by $35 being “totally gettable” (as you wrote)? Please tell me I’m not tripping for thinking of asking for $35 even though I have zero SEO writing experience lol.

My Answer

Depends on ur niche. It’s always easier to go down than up, so try $35. If that’s not working (and it should with good samples in a tightly defined niche, unless it’s something crazy easy and generic like fashion), then u should be fine.
A month is about the average time it takes to start landing SEO writing jobs. Click To Tweet

Outsourcing & Getting Upfront Payment from Clients

Aug 2: Hi Yuwanda! Three new questions. I don’t remember seeing this information in the book or when I went through your blog.

  1. When you first started, how were you able to outsource additional work to writers at your early $25 rate? Like, how were you able to make a profit from that rate? What percentage did you keep?
  2. Where did you find other SEO writers to outsource to?
  3. When you would take an upfront payment from companies before writing for them, how did that conversation go? Like, if they said, “We want you to write ten articles for us,” would you ask them for half of the payment upfront for all ten articles before you start, or half for just the first article? Thanks!

My Answers

  1. No. Was charging $35 to $50 by then, so paid writers $15-$25 usually.
  2. Usually places, ie, craigslist FreelanceWritingGigs.com job board, and since I’ve been in biz for a while, always have tons of contacts on file who’ve written to me wanting to write for me over the years. See this post for more detail.
  3. 1/2 of total amount due.

Note: One thing I didn’t say to this freelancer that I’ll share now is, you should have a “payment policy” that you can direct clients to on your SEO writing site. This way, it feels less like you, the freelancer, “demanding payment up front”, but more of a “company rule” that must be followed.  This can make it feel less awkward.

Following is how mine is listed on my SEO writing company’s site:

Payment Policy

There is an initial 50 percent deposit to get started. The remainder is due upon completion of your project (we will invoice you via PayPal, our payment processor of choice).

She Launches Her SEO Writing WebsiteHostGator Web Hosting Discount: Get 60% Off Web Hosting

Sept 9th: I’ve finally finished my SEO writing website and launched it today. Thanks for the advice for me to do it as an agency as opposed to just an individual thing.

My Response

Took a peek at your site. You look like a million dollar company! I’m beyond impressed. With all the thought you put into it, I have no doubt that you’re going to be successful.

Let me know in a month or so how things are going, and of course feel free to ask any questions you may have along the way.

All the best to you. I’m excited to see what comes your way.

BTW, here’s why I trust HostGator with my web hosting needs.

She Starts Marketing & Gets a Response Almost Immediately, but …

Sept 12: Thanks Yuwanda! lol. It took awhile for me to finish the site, but I’m glad it’s done. I’m real serious about presentation 😉

I know you said to contact you in a month or so to let you know how things are going, but expect to hear from me sooner lol. I just started marketing yesterday and heard back from a SEO company guy today. (emphasis mine)

The guy wrote: “I haven’t clicked on the link you sent, as our mail server removes them for security purposes, but I’m wondering why when I search for “[name of her site] seo copywriting”, the site is nowhere to be found on Google or Bing?” Should I take this as a snub? lol. I kind of feel like he’s saying, “How are you an SEO writer and your page isn’t ranked in Google?” Maybe I’m overthinking.

I just launched my website three days ago and am by no means a full-out SEO expert on the backend. Matter-of-fact, I just learned how to write SEO after reading your and Andy Williams’ book. I’m more than a newbie right now. My background is magazines.

Do you think companies might look at me strange because my website isn’t ranked in Google? Financially, it’s not an option right now for me to hire my own SEO person to get me ranked.

Also, I had a question about sending off emails. He told me about how I needed to resend my email to him in plain text (no links or attachments). So I literally had to copy and paste my entire sample articles into the email message in plain text, as well as my designed professional profile. I then had to write out my url address for my website.

Did you have to do all that when you first started sending out pitches? I normally “paste” my message in “plain text” so I figured it was fine, but for him I went to the “Plain text mode” option in Google. I pray I don’t have to do that continuously with clients because it requires me copying out all my writing clips.

My Answers 

Glad you found the answers to some of your questions.

RE <<Do you think companies might look at me strange because my website isn’t ranked in Google?>>

No, almost no clients even ask or wonder about this. As a writer, they don’t expect you to rank. All they care about is your writing ability (your writing samples), your turnaround time and your rates.

As for that guy saying “I haven’t clicked on the link you sent, as our mail server removes them for security purposes, but I’m wondering why when I search for “[her website] SEO copywriting”, you have some real asses in SEO (no other way to put it). Many of them are young and wet behind the ears in their SEO knowledge. My take is they’re probably trying to prove that they “know their stuff” by asking you a question like this.

As I said though, clients don’t care about this. Those who know SEO know that if you spend all your time trying to optimize your site, then you won’t have time to create content that optimizes their / their client’s sites. So when you get responses like this, ignore them. To me, it’s a sign of their ignorance and/or arrogance — neither one of which you should have to deal with.

Let me know when you land your first client. My bet is it’ll be sooner rather than later. 

Freelancer Response

Yuwanda, I really appreciate everything you wrote in that email. You don’t know how much it encouraged me just now 🙂 I have been going through some stuff with this new, and sorta scary, transition in my life, so thank you so much for your uplifting words and wisdom!!

My Response

You’re welcome, and your fears will lessen once you start landing clients. Really, you’ll wonder at that point, “What was I so afraid of?”

It’s simple actually – the unknown is scarier than the known. Right now, ur in unknown territory. But that’ll change soon enough. Press forward … you have all the behind-the-scenes stuff done. Now, it’s just a matter of reeling in some clients (and you will!).

First Client Landed

Oct 12: Yuwanda, I just had to let you know that I finally got my first client!! Thank you so much for your encouragement and wisdom!

I got a random email this week from the president of a digital company that I had reached out to a while back through their website. He directed me to a guy heading their SEO operations, who immediately signed me up as a writer because another writer they had didn’t deliver on time.

This happened on Tuesday. They gave me an IT company to write for (one 500-word article a week), and a corporate fleet car company to write for (just one article so far). They said more will be coming. I just turned in my first two assignments today. They’re paying $25 apiece.

I just had to let you know that God is moving! Though the topics were boring and took a lot of research on my end, I’m happy I got my first REAL SEO articles under my belt.

I’ll continue to keep you posted on everything, but I just had to stop to thank you!

Your fears about freelancing will lessen once you start landing clients. Click To Tweet

My Response

Did you hear that loud clapping noise all the way from Jamaica? That was me — congratulating you!😊

That is AWESOME. I’m so happy for you. You’re on your way now. And again, your site is SUPER impressive. While getting $25/article is great, I have no doubt you’ll be landing higher-paying clients once you feel more comfortable as a SEO writer (and you will very quickly, trust me).

I told you it would happen, didn’t I? And you know how I knew? B/c u kept asking questions, you took initiative, you implemented. I can almost always tell who’s going to make a go of this business, and who’s not going to stick it out. You did all the right things, so I knew it was gonna happen for you. Stay consistent in your marketing, and you’re going to be just fine.

I’m so excited for you, and wish you all the success in the world. And as always, if you have questions along the way, just shoot me an email.
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And that’s how it’s done folks! But get this, she wasn’t done yet. A couple of weeks after the last email exchanged, I got the following email from this freelancer.

Even More SEO Writing Work

Oct 24: Thank you for using my story to inspire and encourage others not to give up! I had been so busy with this new client I told you about, I haven’t even had time to do anything else or market like I want to, but I’m going to get back on it soon.

The digital marketing firm that hired me has now even asked me to be their regular SEO content writer as well, to keep their site up-to-date with content! Things are looking up.

My Response

I’m  not surprised by this. It happens a lot when a firm really likes your writing. But whatever you do, DON’T GET COMFORTABLE, no matter how busy they’re keeping you. Find time in your week to keep marketing regularly.

What usually happens is, a firm will keep you busy for 6 to 18 months or so, then the work tends to trail off. It’s just a general pattern I’ve noticed over the years. So again, don’t stop marketing. You may be overwhelmed with work (good problem to have), but at least all your eggs won’t be in one basket (kinda the whole point of freelancing).

I’m so happy for you. You put in the work, and now you’re reaping the rewards. Keep it up!

Why SEO Writers Need to Keep Marketing: A Timely Reminder

Oct 24: Wow, you made some good points. I have a separate proofreading business … that keeps me busy as well, but I really did want to focus on growing my new SEO company. I never even thought about the “feast / famine” side of the content writing biz. I’m going to definitely set aside a day or two each week to keep things flowing with the bulk marketing emails.

I’ve also recently signed up for an Upwork account. Never used it before, so I’m going to see how that goes as well. I’m in a big copywriting group on Facebook, and it seems like with Upwork people either love it or hate it — no in between lol.

So I’m going to see how that works out for me in terms of bringing in more chips, because right now this current client is my only client. They gave me new work so quickly I just kind of abandoned all marketing and got to work lol, but I’m glad you’re giving me the lowdown and important things to consider!

My Response

Yeah, do keep that front and center (marketing). What I used to do is set a goal for the week, eg, I will reach out to at least 20 companies. Sometimes I would do it all in one day, other times it may have taken me 4 or 5 days (eg, contacting 4 or 5 companies per day). But by week’s end, I always tried to make sure I hit my goals.

As for Upwork, yep, that sounds about right (love it or hate it). It all depends on a particular freelancer’s experience. It’s good that ur going to give it a shot yourself — that’s the best way to know if it’ll work for you.

Continued success!

Another Client Landed!

Nov 3: Okay, so new good news my awesome mentor: I have another client now!!

He’s a highly sought-after business coach / motivational speaker that needed a copywriter to join his team long-term. I saw the job lead on Facebook, and had to compete against some other copywriters by sending in something like a landing page on the topic he chose.

It came down to five candidates and after my interview with him yesterday I found out I got the job! I’ll be starting off doing email copywriting for him for his upcoming event. He uses the software Infusionsoft. I have so much to learn. (I’ve never done email copywriting, or used Infusionsoft… heck, I JUST became a real copywriter!)

I’ll email you more about it tmw (I’m super tired, but I had to let you know ASAP!)

One Good Place to Find Freelance Writing Job Leads

I responded with the usual well wishes, but one thing I wanted to point out is that Facebook is a great place to find freelance writing job leads. Since I started investing in growing my affiliate marketing income earlier this year, I’ve been spending a lot of time in groups on Facebook, and it is a veritable wealth of information. You can find a group for almost anything — freelance writing included.

In the internet marketing Facebook group I’m active in, I often see members asking for help and/or referrals for gigs like blogging, article writing, social media account management (BTW, becoming a Pinterest VA is HUGE now), email lead generators, and virtual assistance to name a few.

So the gigs are there, and if you frequent the group and make yourself known as a helpful resource, you can pick up a steady stream of work. Join a few and stay active in them. The time you spend there — if you do it strategically — can pay off big. And you do have to spend time in them being helpful to others. You can’t just pop in and expect to “take” from the group without giving first. So that’s why I say, use your time in them strategically and only join a few — two or three, max.

Warning: Be very, very careful about getting sidetracked with Facebook. It can be a MAJOR time suck. So slot maybe half an hour per day to pop in, answer a question or two, then log out of it and get on with your work. If you’re not disciplined, again, you’ll find that three hours have gone by and you haven’t gotten a lick of work done.

Following are some groups you can start with.

12 of the Best Facebook Groups for Freelance Writers

I found the linked-to list on Pinterest (a great alternative to Google for sourcing stuff, by the way). Because I’m an active Pinterest user, I usually run across posts by people I know and trust — unlike a search on Google, where you have to dig deeper to find out if the info is credible. The post is by Elna Cain, a well-known blogger in the freelance writing niche.

I’m a late adopter to most social media. Yeah, I’ve had accounts on them for years, but other than Twitter, rarely updated or actively used them to promote my business. Facebook is great for “meaningful” social interaction (if used properly), and Pinterest is a monster at driving traffic. So get jiggy with social media for your freelance writing biz if you haven’t. “There’s gold in dem dere groups!

Notice how in just a couple of months of active marketing, this freelancer has gotten her freelance (SEO) writing biz off the ground? It’s because she’s constantly marketing. That’s the key. And if she can do it, so can you. See the info at the end of this post to get trained — and get started.
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4 Things This Freelance SEO Writer Did Right

She made a decision to start a freelance writing career;

She got the training she knew she needed;

She asked questions along the way about what she didn’t know; and

She implemented the advice given.

Note how it was a month to the day after she started marketing that she landed her first client. And what a biggie – the president of a digital marketing agency, which means that much more work will undoubtedly come her way.

The reason I know this is that this is EXACTLY what happened to me when I first started my SEO writing career in 2007. The owner of an SEO writing agency in Canada responded to one of my cold emails. He hired me initially to write articles on mortgages (I pitched them as a real estate writer).

After he viewed my work, he liked it so much that over the next 18 months or so, I probably wrote tons of content for them on every subject imaginable. This first client kept me so busy that within a couple of months, I had to hire help.

Digital / SEO Marketing Agencies: What SEO Writers Should Know

Most of these agencies are small – usually consisting of 20 or less people. They usually consist of a few web experts who do things like in-depth web analysis, some others will be in charge of marketing (Account Execs), others will be in charge of SEO strategizing and implementing campaigns, and they may have a writer or two.

They rarely have full-time writers, usually outsourcing the bulk of this work. And that’s why you get so much work from them. Once they like your work, even if they hire you to write on X topic; they’ll give you assignments on every topic under the sun. Also, account execs will share your name with others in the office.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started working with one account exec, then they’ll email me and say, “Yuwanda, this is my colleague Mary Jane. I gave her your name. She needs content on X.”

I’ve worked with as many as half a dozen account execs in one company. It can get kind of cray cray keeping the billing straight – but hey, it’s a nice problem to have.

I hope this SEO writer’s success has inspired you to get going. There’s tons of work out there. What are you waiting for? Get trained — and get started!

P.S.: SEO Writing Course — A Fail-Proof Way to Start an Online Writing Biz

Online writing opportunities are everywhere these days. And, the right training can provide you with a bullet-proof plan for getting started — PT or FT. Get trained and get started.

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    Comments

    1. Pandu Ranga says:

      Hey! This is beyond inspiring for aspiring SEO writers. Thanks! Is she learning from one of your training courses or were you just helping her out?

    2. Joyce Morse says:

      Thanks for this information about Facebook groups. I never even thought about that. This is one of the reasons I love following you: you provide concrete information that is helpful instead of vague ideas.

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