How to be an SEO Writer – where do you start?
SEO Writing = $$$
I used to think that becoming a writer was a labour of love. If you had a passion to be a writer, good luck! Only a small % pursuing writing as a career can make it.
But then in my search for work-from-home opportunities, I learned about the profitable niche of SEO writing.
Wait, what’s SEO?
Our interviewee – expert SEO writer Yuwanda Black – has a great explanation below!
In short, SEO is what companies NEED to rank high in the search results in Google. For example, say you enter “Best Pajamas” in the search box, companies will pay SEO writers big bucks to get that “First Result”.
Maintaining that “first result” position takes ongoing work.
Google is always changing its algorithms to produce the most relevant search results. Google values up-to-date content.
Many entrepreneurs are too busy to write this content themselves so they hire SEO writers.
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How can you LEARN how to be an SEO writer?
I’m excited to share my interview with Yuwanda Black. She’s an expert in SEO writing.
Since 2007, she’s been an SEO freelance writer. She’s taught hundreds of aspiring freelance writers. She has an actionable SEO writing training ebook for people interested in becoming SEO writers.
In this interview, Yuwanda shares how to be an SEO writer, the salary range, a typical day and her best advice for prospective SEO writers.
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Yuwanda, what’s your background? How did you become an SEO writer to now teaching people about SEO writing?
I worked in the legal publishing industry in New York City, where I finished up college, for 10 years. I left that company to join my sister at Inkwell Editorial. She’d started the company as an editorial outsource firm, taking on proofreading, editing, word processing and coding projects.
I stumbled on SEO writing in 2007. It changed the trajectory of my career.
To explain, briefly, I’ve been a freelancer since 1993. In 2006, I took a FT job, which I got downsized out of in 2007. I’d never given up freelancing though, so when I got downsized and wasn’t able to find another job that paid enough to meet my monthly bills, I double downed on freelance writing – deciding that I never wanted to work for someone else again.
During this time, I kept stumbling across ads for SEO Content Writers, Online Writers Who Know SEO, SEO Article Writers, etc. I didn’t know what it was, but I googled it and thought, “I can do that!”
I sent out a few queries, landed a gig writing mortgages with an internet marketing firm out of Canada – and I was on my way.
When I got that gig, I still didn’t fully understand how to write SEO content. I had only taught myself the basics. But that firm gave me so much work that I was lucky enough to continue to learn, and continue to land clients.
After writing a few hundred articles in a few months, trust me, you learn quick! It helped that I was desperate and determined to make freelancing work once and for all.
After I’d been doing it for about four months, I wrote an ebook about it because I thought other freelancers should know how much work was out there for this kind of writing.
That led to people asking me more questions, and asking me to create a course. They wanted more hand-holding than an ebook could offer. So, I finally created an online course in 2009.
For anyone who might be unfamiliar with the term, what is SEO writing? What makes it different from other types of writing?
SEO is the acronym for search engine optimization.
To explain, when you type words into a search engine to find something on the internet, the words you type in are called a keyword (one word) or a keyword phrase (two or more words).
When you type in these words and hit “ENTER”, a bunch of sites pop up and you start clicking on sites to see if they have the information you need. The sites that pop up are the results that search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. think are the most relevant to the keywords you typed in.
Companies pay a lot of money to be among the first two or three pages in the results that search engines return. And that’s where SEO writers come in. They produce keyword-rich content for companies.
What’s the demand like for SEO freelance writers? What types of companies are seeking SEO writers? Are there more profitable niches?
Because of the advent of content marketing, the need has exploded since I started writing it in 2007. There seems to be no end in sight.
Just google “popularity of content marketing” to see what I mean. The internet runs on i-n-f-o-r-m-a-t-i-o-n. And who produces a lot of this information? Freelance writers; namely for two reasons:
- firms don’t have the in-house capacity to produce the amount of content that’s needed; and
- it’s cheaper to hire freelancers than to have a full-time in-house staff.
All kinds of companies hire online writers. Look at popular job boards like Upwork and ProBlogger to see what I mean.
Of course, some niches will always pay more than others, eg, tech, legal, medical, because of the specialized knowledge required.
Even outside of these niches though, you can make a very good living as an online writer as the need for content is so great in every niche – if a business wants to be competitive online (and most do).
Also, not many mention this, but independent bloggers, internet marketers and solopreneurs also hire SEO content writers to keep their blogs/sites fresh with content. I do it regularly.
Everybody who does business on the web needs a constant supply of fresh content – content written with SEO guidelines in mind. Hence, the constant need for content writers.
What’s the salary range for SEO writers? What’s the average $/hour?
Since I started keeping track of salaries for SEO writers in about 2012, it’s fluctuated from a low of about $40,000 to a high of $75,000. This is according to sites like SimplyHired.com.
This is for full-time salaried employees. Of course, salary varies by location, type of company, size of company, etc.
Freelancers can earn as much or as little as they want, of course, because they set their own rates and decide how many clients they want to take on and/or if they want to grow into a full-fledged writing agency, where they hire other freelancers – which is what I did.
I know freelancers who consistently earn $5,000 to $10,000 per month as solopreneurs. And a few who earn $20,000+ per month by hiring other writers.
It’s really up to you how you want to structure your SEO writing career, which segue ways to your next question nicely.
What is your favorite aspect about being an SEO writer?
The freedom. I can work from anywhere as long as I have an internet connection. And, I can grow my business to be as big, or keep it as small, as I want.
What is your biggest challenge as an SEO writer?
It’s self-imposed – juggling it with the other writing arms of my business. I make money writing in several different ways, ie:
- Writing and self-publishing romance;
- Blogging/affiliate marketing;
- Developing ecourses; and
- Writing and self-publishing non-fiction books too.
I do this because I like diversity in my income. These days, I earn most of my money from my own products and services, so if I never landed another SEO writing client, I’d be good.
This gives me choices in the types of clients I choose to work with, and the rate I charge. It took a while to get to this point, but the hard work and sacrifice has been worth it.
What kind of person is a good fit for this role?
Someone who works well independently, who is self-motivated, and who is somewhat organized.
How flexible are the hours for this role? Can it work for stay-at-home moms, students, and other people looking for work-at-home opportunities?
This gig is as flexible as you can get because most clients don’t care when you work; all they want to know is that the work will get done by the deadline you all settle on.
It’s ideal for anyone who wants/needs flexibility and is a stickler for meeting deadlines.
What is a typical day for you as an SEO writer?
Its’ changed a lot since I first started, because I do have other income streams.
For the newbie, once you get all the behind-the-scenes stuff done (website, writing samples, decide on pricing, etc.), the bulk of your time will be spent marketing. Then, once you start landing gigs, you’ll have to find a happy medium between getting the work done – and continuing to market.
One of the biggest mistakes new freelancers make is stopping marketing when they start landing gigs.
You must, must, must make marketing a consistent part of how you do business.
How do people find work as SEO writers?
Different strokes for different folks. I use email.
I know SEO writers who swear by cold calling. Then there are others who only use social media (eg, LinkedIn and Facebook groups). Then there are those who have great success on sites like Upwork.
There’s no one set way. This is discussed in detail in the course – with scripts (email, cold calling) for each method.
I don’t know what’s included in other courses, so I can’t say what makes mine different. One thing though I can point out that I know others don’t do is give you an overall view of SEO writing and how it has evolved.
I’m a very what I call “chronological learner;” meaning, I have to have an overall view of how things work – from beginning to end.
So in my course, I go all the way back to 2007, outlining how SEO writing has evolved so that students can see how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. It’s the thing that I get a lot of feedback on; students say that by explaining it this way, they immediately understand why SEO content is written the way it is.
This is what I call “foundational knowledge.” Once you have that, everything else falls into place; it really becomes quite easy.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for anyone who wants to be an SEO Writer?
“Just do it!”
I’m a runner, so Nike’s slogan fits how I see the world.
And, what most SEO writers who have gone through my courses and/or bought my ebooks have said is that they only thing they regret is that they didn’t do it sooner.
This type of writing is not going any where; it’s here to stay. And what I like most about it is that it teaches you how to market online. Once you understand that, it opens up so many other ways of making money online, eg:
- affiliate marketing/blogging;
- promoting products and services online (yours and/or those of others like ebooks and ecourses); and
- social media (a great add-on service for freelance SEO writers).
I say this all the time, but it’s true … when you learn SEO, you’re not just learning a concept. You’re gaining a valuable skill that is highly desired in this, a digital, economy. And this skill can be turned into a highly successful freelance business.
Thanks for sharing your insights and expertise, Yuwanda!
If you’re interested in becoming an SEO writer, check out Yuwanda’s SEO writing training ebook.
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