How to Become a Great Freelance SEO Content Writer

Last Updated on October 18, 2020 by Michael Brockbank

A lot of people want to become freelance writers today. It’s a job that usually entails sitting at home and writing articles for people who pay. But what does it take to become a talented freelance SEO content writer?

A lot more than just stringing words together. Depending on your level of commitment, it can take months if not years to build up expertise.

Today, I’ll share the steps I took to become the professional I am today. But, feel free to modify these any way you see fit to meet your own specific needs.

What is an SEO Content Writer?

A freelance SEO content writer is one who specializes in creating articles geared for search engine optimization. This reduces the need for an SEO team to rework an article, which can increase the value of the writer.

And a well-written piece can make all the difference when it comes to an organization or individual hiring you for future work.

It’s not overly difficult to become an SEO content writer. But, it does mean having to learn the ins-and-outs of what Google wants to show on page one.

The end result is a great creator who can charge clients far more money due to talent and knowledge.

Steps to Become a Freelance SEO Content Writer

Remember, I cannot guarantee that you’ll have the same degree of success as me. But, this is how I went from not knowing what AP Style was, to the professional I am today.

A lot has changed over the years, and I’ve had to revamp this strategy several times. That’s one of the issues with being an SEO content writer. You need to adapt to algorithms on a near-monthly basis.

Step 1: Research Best Methods for Using Keyphrases

Keywords and phrases are still important today. That’s because people still use certain terms to find information on the Internet. However, researching best practices for keywords and phrases can boost your income.

According to Online Marketing Coach, about 77% of businesses don’t use keywords effectively in page content headers. As headers are important for both Google search and human visitors, knowing how to use this to your advantage is crucial.

For instance, one of the last things you want to do is saturate any particular piece with the keyphrase of which you’re aiming. Not only does it look bad, but Google will penalize the article, if not the entire site.

Step 2: Understand How Search Intent Works

Knowing how to manipulate search intent to your advantage is a great skill to have. This is because search intent can lead to greater sales and leads for the client.

Essentially, this just means you know what people are looking for and can deliver the information as an SEO content writer. But, this also means you need to know the client’s target audience.

Step 3: Pay Attention to Internal Linking

Internal linking is like giving “votes” to an article on a website. This tells search engines like Google what content is relevant and most important. Adding them to your jobs will please the client.

Another aspect you need to keep in mind is that about 89% of businesses don’t use internal links effectively. This is a critical problem as internal links are an important factor for Google.

You won’t be able to do internal linking for some clients if you’re a ghostwriter. Especially if you use content mills like Textbroker. That’s because you often don’t know who is hiring you and where the piece is going.

Step 4: Learn the Nuances of Featured Snippets in Google

Featured snippets are those blocks of information that appear at the top of many search results. It’s the information that Google deems the closest-related to what someone is searching for.

Most featured snippets come from articles that are in the top 10, but not necessarily the number one spot. And if you can write a piece of content that appears in this block, clients will love you.

Step 5: Understand “People Also Ask” in Google

Like the featured snippet section, “People also ask” is another great way for content to get noticed. These quick answers can influence search results rank as well as traffic.

Answering precise questions in this manner demonstrates authority. And I know of many clients who will pay an SEO content writer well if he or she can get a few articles in this segment.

Step 6: Learn the Difference Between Traffic and Target Audience

There is a difference between “traffic” and “target audience.” For one thing, the target audience is people who are more likely to make a purchase or engage in the client’s content.

Traffic is just the number of people who visit a page without really interacting or who just needed a single piece of information. It’s easy to just get traffic, but connecting with a target audience is far more beneficial.

Step 7: Make Sure Your Content is Readable

Readability is vital to SEO as well as visitor retention. Although Google is pretty good at determining what you’re trying to convey, clear grammar and spelling are ideal.

But, you also need to consider the reading level of the target audience. To help with this, many an SEO content writer will use the Flesch Reading Ease score.

Personally, I use Yoast SEO in WordPress for readability factors.

Step 8: Put Everything You Learn into Practice

One of the things that has helped me out tremendously over the years is by putting everything I learned into practice. The more you use a skill, the better you become.

After all, practice makes perfect, right?

Why I Love Using Content Mills

Sites like Textbroker helped me hone my skills as an SEO content writer. Sure, most clients just wanted a quick piece of content. But when you create articles that perform well in search, most will come back to you for more work.

Vocal, Medium, and HubPages

Blogging platforms are great, especially since you can make a bit of money by practicing your writing. Vocal, Medium, and HubPages are excellent platforms to practice writing while you’re in between clients.

Step 9: Set Up a Professional Blog and Market Yourself

You don’t necessarily need a blog to market yourself as an SEO content writer. But, it will be incredibly helpful if you’re trying to land private clients.

A blog gives you a platform that shows your skill, provides a contact form, and gives you another revenue stream in addition to client contracts.

Think of it as your base of operations.

Step 10: Always Cite Resources and Stats from Reputable Locations

Providing statistical data is a great way to boost reputation and improve authority. In reality, people often like it when you can deliver stats to support a claim.

However, it’s equally vital to cite your sources in those claims. Just remember to link out to reputable websites. With the sheer amount of false information out on the Internet, you’ll need to dig deep to find facts in some cases.

Step 11: Keep Your Thumb on the Pulse of Google

And lastly, always keep an eye on changes Google makes. Some algorithm adjustments can literally sink a website overnight. And you want to make sure your offering the best practices as an SEO content writer.

Sites like Search Engine Land are great resources when it comes to optimization. Find ones that you like and subscribe to their blogs. Most will keep you in touch with changes that may affect how you create content.

Grammarly Comma Usage

Should You Pick a Niche to Specialize In?

To niche, or not to niche, that is certainly a question.

Many experts state how you should focus on a specific niche as an SEO content writer. This is because many clients will pay more for someone who knows the industry or topic inside and out.

But, before you decide to become an expert in any particular field, you need to consider the following:

Pros of an SEO Content Writer Niche

As I said, sticking with a specific niche can make you more valuable to certain companies, brands, or individual clients. This means you can make more per word or per job.

Imagine this: What if the world-renowned Dr Fauci decided to write about car repair? How many would trust the automobile work compared to his background in infectious diseases?

I know that’s quite an extreme example. But the point is niching down can make you appear as a highly-qualified expert in your field.

Niching down can also make it easier for high-paying clients to find you directly. Instead of sending cold emails out to brands, they can be using a contact form on your blog to get in touch on their own.

Social clout is another aspect that a specific niche can boost. This will also make it easier to make money in the long run both from clients and other projects you may decide to explore.

Cons of an SEO Content Writer Niche

Perhaps the biggest downside of niching down as a freelance writer is the availability of work. The more you focus your niche, the harder it is to find specific clients.

For instance, let’s say you want to focus on a specific genre of video games as an SEO content writer. What if no one is hiring or needs articles related to that genre? Even though you’re an expert, it doesn’t guarantee you’ll land a client.

Some niches turn out to be nothing more than short-lived trends. And if you put all your effort into something that winds up blowing away in the wind, you’ll have to refocus your efforts.

What if you decide to niche down to an over-saturated market? Although niching down can help reduce competition from other writers, you could also join one that is overpopulated. Then, you’ll have to compete with authors who may have been in the niche for many, many years.

Of course, that’s true regardless if you niche down or not. The Internet is always full of competition.

Why I am a General SEO Content Writer

What drove me to become a generalist is because of the lack of work on Textbroker when I started writing. At first, I specialized in computers, technology, and internet-related articles.

But when the work in those categories dried up, I decided to step out of my comfort zone, diversify my expertise, and explore the other topics. I found a great deal of success as an SEO content writer for a myriad of industries I didn’t realize I enjoy.

My ability to rapidly research any topic developed, and I was able to write just about anything a client would toss at me as if I were an expert.

This opened the doors to make more money simply because I could expand into any niche quite easily.

Now, I’m not saying that general writers make more than those who niche down. In fact, it takes an extreme amount of practice, work, and motivation to succeed as a generalist.

However, this is what works for me and has driven my success since 2012.

And that’s the key element, here…finding what works best for you. It doesn’t matter how well I write or how I keep myself busy on a daily basis. It’s all about you, your capabilities, your motivation, and your needs.

A Great SEO Content Writer Can Make Serious Money

Putting in the effort to hone your skills in search engine optimization will make you more valuable to paying clients. Especially if you’re capable of instantly turning out an article that ranks high in search results.

This is one of the reasons why so many clients kept coming back to me on Textbroker.

The better you make a company look as an SEO content writer, the more money you’ll make in repeat business. And there may come a day when you can essentially write your own paychecks.

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Michael Brockbank

Michael has been a freelance writer since January of 2012. He has completed more than 8,000 jobs for a variety of clients ranging from animals to travel. Currently, he is the Content Marketing Team Lead of GreenGeeks Web Hosting.

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