Dear agency owners and freelance SEO users, how did you get your first clients?
I have been thinking of working or interning for websites as an SEO. But I have no idea how to get a client or find someone to work with. So please share your stories on how you found your first client so that I can know what different kinds of possibilities lie in this.
I have also shared how I am thinking of getting a client in a comment below. Please share your views on that too if you can spare 5 minutes.
Introduction – I am a 2nd year college student from a small town in India. And before even starting college, I had been trying to learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I didn't know how to start so I created my own affiliate website, thinking that experimenting as I go would be the best way to learn since I only value practical experience and no one was going to hire me as a beginner.
Current Scenario – Two years later, I have an affiliate website that gets around 1k organic vistors per month. The reason for low traffic would be – not being able to create content in a timely or planned manner and not working on quality backlinks. Though I hired a freelancer a month ago and we are posting 2 blog posts every week now. And I have been using sourcebottle and Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to get some links.
What I have learned – 3 main takeaways from my website –
• Create content while following a schedule
• Internal Linking is very important for indexing pages
• Quality backlinks are important. Should have invested in proper and quality link building methods from the beginning.
Though there are so many other things too that I can share as my learnings by working on my affiliate website. Anyway, apart from that I have always focussed on doing courses from time to time. So, here is a list of these –
• 45 Days SEO Challenge Course
• Technical SEO Course by SEMrush Academy
• Google Analytics (Advanced + Beginners)
• Fundamentals of DM by Google
I am also following Search Engine Journal (SEJ), SEroundhouse, and many other popular SEO users on Twitter to keep with latest trends. Also, I read posts here on
r/SEO and other subs from time to time.
What I am thinking of doing to get clients – I know I can't get a client that can pay me. And I have also had no success getting internships by working remotely. Now I found out about Cold Email Outreach recently and I have been thinking of applying it to get some work.
So basically I will find some webmasters who can't afford or haven't hired SEO users yet they require them for their websites. I will pitch them some ideas to improve upon their website based on the SEO audit I will do, and I will ask them if they'd allow me to work with them on their website, for FREE ofcourse. In return, I will ask for an endorsement that I have worked with them and permission to create and share the case study on how I helped them grow their organic reach.
That's the only way I can think of right now to make use of the knowledge I have regarding SEO. And I think it can really help webmasters since I have seen many websites that have tons of SEO errors that upon fixing can definitely help them improve their organic reach in the long term.
So please share your views on this if you can, it would mean a lot to me. And do share if you think there are some other skills that I have to acquire before helping others as an SEO. Thanks for reading my comment. I hope you have a great day.
Working for free is always a rough route. Would you not be better interning at an agency? Seeing how they get clients and also working with a few different projects/experienced team members too?
Actually I have found many jobs on twitter and other platforms, but most of them are for manager and analysts role and I can't apply for those. Though I found a few intern jobs, none of them were remote. Most were just for people residing in the US or Europe.
Now what I meant by working for free would be giving consulting to webmasters who don't use SEO practices like using H1 tags, proper internal linking, etc. That would be like doing an SEO audit and making sure they do the fixes. And if they like my work, I can get an endorsement and share the case study with future clients or people who hire SEO users.
And thanks for reading and replying to my comment, Tom. It means a lot to me.
"I know I can't get a client that can pay me."
Yes you can, even at your level.
In return, I will ask for an endorsement that I have worked with them and permission to create and share the case study on how I helped them grow their organic reach.
A lot of people work in exchange for a case study and that's not a bad tactic. But you already have a case study from your affiliate blog getting an extra 1k visitors a month.
I hope you documented as much of it as possible. But go write down what you did month 1. Month 2. Month 3. I just mean the action steps you took.
Looks like this in practice:
Month 1 – Bought & setup domain name and hosting. Set up Google Search Console. Added Google Analytics. Installed WordPress. Wrote 2 blogs. Results: 2 visitors.
Month 2 – Wrote 3 blogs… etc.
Once you have a list of the steps you took, expand on them with why you took that step, and what the purpose was.
"Bought AlzinaMarketingDeservesUpvotes.comto build up the brand name. I registered it for 5 years because Google considers domains that are registered for longer than 1 year more trustworthy. All websites need a domain name and somewhere to host them, so I bought mine from [domain name provider] and [hosting provider]. Loads times are really important for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) with the new core vitals algorithm update, so I chose [hosting provider] because they have the fastest load times according to [source]."
And so on and so forth for each decision and what you learned along the way, and when you changed things up and why. Your detail about regretting not starting with backlinks sooner is perfect.
That would make a very engaging case study, and you're transparent and honest about being a beginner because it's a documentation of your learning process.
And even if you don't get a client directly from the case study, which you likely will, if you post that publicly you can add in affiliate links to domain name providers and hosting providers and literally every other tool you use.
The best marketing tool is the word of mouth. So, do the best job and if your client is satisfied, there are huge chances for recommendations.
But…How do I get my first clients?
• Try to look for old/outdated sites in your town. Go and speak directly with the owners. Give them a discounted price, hard to refuse one. In this way, you'll build your portfolio.
• Upwork (and similar sites) – Again, at the begin put a lower rate/hour, in order to gain some clients. $25-$30/hour should be good for the start.
• Try to focus on one niche and don't go in general web dev – Build some simple sites for the plumbing niche (for ex) and start to promote them to the plumbers from your city.
Sharing "results" on LinkedIn.
Don't be too detailed, people don't care how you did it, but publish rela results, easy to audit.
Something that worked reall5 good to me was "ey look, I'm 3th for this keyword on Google after a hard work"
It worked because it was true, and people searched the keyword and i was 3th. keyword was low competition, and i really worked hard to reach that place.
So people called me and asked for service, then cried for money and didn't want to pay for my services.
But if people are not as miserable as people here, then you cam try it and maybe get some clients.
First of all, don't take try to be the cheapest option. You'll never win that game and you'll end up with no more free time and little money to show for it. There will always be someone that will do it even cheaper. And, if you don't know already, SEO takes a lot of time to take hold. It's like farming. The results come slowly. That'll make it tough on you because client's want to see results.
I've seen so many people starting out saying something like if I charge $200/mo then I only need 10 clients to make $2,000 and then I can get more. The problem is attrition. You might get to 7 clients and then one drops out. Then you get one more and two drop out. And dealing with 10 clients can take a lot of communication which you don't have time for and yet you aren't bringing in enough revenue to hire any help. Long story short, don't go cheap.
The obvious place to start is friends and family and the businesses and professionals you already do business with. For example, do you have a dentist? Hit them up.
But if you don't already have SEO chops, consider applying for jobs with an agency where you can learn the ropes and then later use that experience when you go out on your own.
Cold calling clients when you have no track record and no experience is especially tough with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It's not like a website where you could quickly put together a portfolio (even if it's demo sites), so they see what you're capable of.
It might be easier for you to start by building websites and then offering SEO after a client has had a successful experience working with you. There will be a lot more trust.
I make website for my clients. Suddenly, I think that I know technical part why not I start Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
After learning month after months, I offer client free Website SEO audit service then they take my free audit services. Finally, I charge them to fix error issues and implement SEO tactics to their website. Now, I have couple of SEO clients.
I hope that you can start your own website and make outstanding resource for peoples.
Some people don't want to take action. So, they will hire to fix their problems. More important thing is that Stay Consistent on your project.