January 19, 2021
Being a freelance writer often comes with more responsibilities other than writing. While some of these can seem like scope creep – more work for less money–hopefully you’re getting paid for these add – ons or building them into your freelance rate. Some freelance assignments require writing social media language, others want infographic text and design suggestions, some article assignments now require image research (or a lot of image research for slideshows and listicles!), some editors want freelance writers to build the articles in their CMS (content management system), and others want freelance SEO help.
SEO (search engine optimization) strategy is a common “preferred qualification” on freelance writing job descriptions these days. But how much of an SEO expert are freelance writers expected to be? How much of freelance SEO consultant should you sell yourself as in order to take on SEO assignments as a freelancer? This blog will will give you advice on why freelance SEO is an important skill to have in order to earn a higher income freelance writing, as well as the bare minimum SEO knowledge you need to have in order to get freelance writing jobs.
(Check out this freelancer FAQ guide for answers to your burning questions.)
Freelance writer Mercey Livingston asked me “how much do freelancers need to know about SEO in order to take on writing assignments?” on her Wellness Unedited podcast interview.
The short answer in my opinion? You don’t need to be a freelance SEO expert to land freelance SEO jobs, but you need to know the basics. (And yes, you can learn them quickly!)
I find that most editors and brands I work with don’t expect their freelancers to have an extensive understanding of SEO unless they’re selling themselves as an expert SEO consultant. That being said, I think every freelance writer should say they have SEO skills on their website or LinkedIn profile.
Not only can being completely out-of-the-loop about SEO potentially cost you freelance SEO jobs (along with not knowing how to write an article pitch), but I also think if you can write an article, you could incorporate SEO very easily into your freelance articles. Really, you should simply know the basics in order to get freelance SEO jobs.
If an editor gives you a SEO keyword, you should know to use it in the meta title, meta description, in the first 100 to 200 words, and in an H1 headline.
In this article, the H1 headline is the bold one above this section of copy, “Do you need to know freelance SEO skills a freelance writer?” I incorporated Freelance SEO into the meta title, meta description, article headline and H2.
Using this article as an example again, the meta title is what you see appear in a Google or other search engine search result as the title of the article. The meta description is the description of the article that appears in those search results. The article headline is the copy on the top of this blog. See? Now you know basic skills in order to write SEO freelance jobs.
(Study these article pitch examples to blow your editor away in your email pitch.)
Why do I think you need only basic freelance SEO knowledge in order to work on SEO articles for a client? In my experience, if an editor gives me a SEO keyword or phrase to use, they don’t expect me to put all my creative energy into making sure the article wins on Google. In fact, they usually say to me that they want me to create great content so it doesn’t just seem like a robot wrote the article. High-quality writing itself will drive more traffic to the article that contains SEO. (Related: Here’s How I Write Freelance SEO Blog Posts for Clients)
Some of my freelance clients assign me an article topic and provide the meta title, meta description and SEO keyword phrase to use since they have already completed the research on their end. They know which phrases they want to capitalize on in order to help readers find this article on a top search result in Google.
Plus, if a company is really aiming to increase their search presence, they probably aren’t going to rely on a freelance writer to get the job done. Usually, they’ll pay a freelance SEO consultant or a third-party company that specializes in SEO to find out what phrases and keywords they should focus on.
I’ve had quite a few clients ask if I had basic SEO knowledge and could do keyword research to come up with freelance article ideas when compiling freelance pitches. I inform them of my freelance SEO skills and background and how I think I can help them grow their audience with SEO articles. Offering these services for one client alone has netted me over $20,000 worth of work in two years.
Just remember that even if you have minimal SEO knowledge, you need to keep up with the trends in order to sell that skill in your freelance article pitches. I learned SEO when I was at Prevention magazine (from roughly 2009 to 2013), but if I just learned it then and thought I was done, I’d be in trouble! So much has changed in recent years (even the past two years) when it comes to search algorithms, with keywords, long-tail keywords, and headers, so it’s important to keep updating yourself on basics. (That’s just one way to invest in yourself without spending a ton of money.)
You can watch videos on how to write SEO articles on YouTube, read blogs from SEO experts (I like Neil Patel, Moz, Yoast, Yuwanda Black), or take courses online. If you feel like you need to brush up on your freelance SEO skills before pitching these services to editors, take a basics course to familiarize yourself with the essentials in order to call yourself a freelance SEO writer.
To learn additional freelance skills that kick-start your freelance business or take it to the next income tier, sign up for my Freelance Writing Courses available on Teachable.
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Email Diana about opportunities: Diana(at)DianaKelly.com.