How to Become a Freelance SEO Writer

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Becoming a freelance writer is challenging, no matter what type of writing you decide to do. However, for newcomers, getting into SEO writing can be a great introduction to freelancing. SEO stands for "Search Engine Optimization" and this is very important to any company with a web presence. This article will help you develop a good understanding of why SEO is important and tell you exactly how to become a freelance SEO writer.

Things You'll Need

  • Computer
  • Internet access
  • Word processing program
  • To start, do some research on SEO and its importance for anyone with a website. Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to the ranking of a particular company on the major search engines, mainly Google. The higher a company ranks on the list of other websites in the same category, the higher their profile, which usually results in more traffic. For example, if Joe Schmo sells red shoes and has a website devoted solely to selling red shoes, his goal is to have anyone who goes to Google and types in red shoes get to his site before anyone else's. If there are 50 companies out there selling red shoes, he has to do everything he can to include popular search terms in the content on his site so that his company is as high on the list as possible. SEO is all about marketing and trying to drive the most amount of content possible to a site. To research SEO, visit the websites of SEO companies to get an idea of what they do. Go to Google and type in a search for "SEO." You will get a list of companies that specialize in search engine optimization. You can get a good in-depth look at the services they offer and a put together a clearer picture of what SEO is all about.

  • Figure out a plan to market yourself. Once you have a good grasp on SEO, it's time to figure out exactly how you will get work. For freelance writers, this means setting up a website and figuring out what you will charge clients. This is an important early step, because once things get going, you may find that you don't have time to sit down and come up with a thoughtful marketing plan. So before you even proceed in soliciting SEO writing jobs, take the time to think about what kind of expectations you have for your freelance writing career, what kind of income you expect to garner and how many projects you are willing to take on a one time. Hire someone to build a website for you or utilize a hosting company that has an easy web builder.

  • Put together a database. This is another important early step because this is the document that will house your contact list. Contacting SEO companies for business is the best way to get this kind of writing work. This is because they often use freelancers for projects and they already have an existing client base. The best way to compile a list of the names of the company you have contacted, their websites and any other relevant information is to build a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

  • Build a portfolio. Online portfolios are best because you don't have to attach a lot of documents to a solicitation email or letter. Many writers use Associated Content because that site allows you to post as many stories as you would like for free. They also have a large community of all types of writers, so you may get feedback on your stories as you post them. If you don't have existing stories, then offer to do a few for free for various SEO companies to get some experience. This may seem like a hard pill to swallow at first, but having a portfolio is the best way to get future work.

  • Begin soliciting jobs. There are two ways to solicit for SEO writing jobs: through freelance writing want ads on job boards and by sending solicitation messages to SEO companies. The second can be more difficult because most companies may route your unsolicited correspondence to junk mail. The best thing about taking this route, however, is the fact that once you land a client, they will usually work with you on a long-term basis. This means that you don't have to spend a great deal of time soliciting new clients. You can land a few and work comfortably with them until you either want to move on or need to replace a client. Answering want ads is also a good idea; however, these are usually short-term projects and won't last beyond an assignment or two.

  • Write to keywords. This is the very essence of SEO and the most important part of what SEO writers do. The keywords specified by a company are specific words that people use to search for a topic on the Internet. For example, if you are writing for a site that sells candles, their keywords would be terms such as "candle, candlelight, candle decor, decorative candles," etc. Most clients will determine the keywords they would like for you to stick with before you begin; others may ask you to come up with a list. The best way to determine a good list of keywords is to search the topic or product of the site yourself and see what comes up. Then, look closely at words that seem to be repeated throughout the different websites, forums and blogs about the topic and generate your keyword list from that point.

  • Be clear, concise and stay away from gimmicky writing. It doesn't have to be Pulitzer-Prize winning material, but SEO content should be clear, to the point and interesting. Most people mistakenly think that writing SEO means you can stick some keywords among meaningless drivel when writing. This couldn't be farther from the truth. SEO content should be oriented toward a specific topic and should reflect an acute knowledge of the subject manner, with keywords sprinkled in throughout the article. Keep your sentences short, don't use a lot of unnecessary adjectives and try to make the piece informative.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be diligent about the cleanliness of your work. Spell- and grammar-check everything.
  • Communication is key. If you have a difference of opinion with your client on content, it's better just to listen to what they say and try to follow directions. It usually isn't worth the loss of revenue to contest them, unless they are rude, disrespectful or downright too difficult to work with. At that point, it may be better to cut them loose and find a replacement.
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