This post has been building within me for a while now, ever since I overheard someone wanting to start up their own SEO consulting business while learning it at the same time. Essentially seeking out paying clients while learning SEO. Putting the cart before the horse? I think so. But for argument sake let’s say that a person was to do this. What should he/she charge? Where should he/she expect to get clients? What type of clients for that matter? A person asking themselves these questions is a new SEO. Let me define ‘new SEO’ before getting too deep into this article. In regards to this post, a new SEO is someone who has absolutely no experience whatsoever. A new SEO has only read about how search engine optimization works, but has not applied it.
A new SEO should charge $0
Now before you get all fired up, hear me out. Anyone with any experience should expect to get paid something, but with no experience what right does a person have to demand a salary? I say if you are wanting to branch out on your own in SEO while learning it, have another full time job. Get one either in the industry or not, the fact is you need to be able to support yourself and with no clients/no experience you can’t. Is it possible to get a job in the search field with no experience? Yes, but it isn’t easy and you’ll never know until you try.
What type of clients should a new SEO get?
The type of clients a SEO gets is determined by their fee. So if the rate is zero, go after clients who can’t afford a SEO.
Small businesses and non-profits are great for new SEOs, these are the clients that often need help with their online presence and most of the time can’t afford the help. Sounds like a match made in heaven. But just because you are offering to provide them service for free doesn’t mean they will let you take them on. This is where all the reading you’ve been doing will come into play. This will be your first ’sales pitch’. I’d stay away from saying, ‘Come on it can’t do anything but help’. Uh, not true. If you don’t know anything about SEO you can damage their online status, regardless if they have been indexed or not you’ve madethe job harder for the next person who takes them on. While explaining to them you are new, also show them how you can improve their site. On a separate computer bring up their site and explain to them (in layman terms) what areas can be improved. If you aren’t comfortable with face to face situations, get used to it. The higher end the clientele the better personality you’ve got to have.
Where does a new SEO get clients?
So the focus is now narrowed to small businesses and non-profits. Take some time and make a list of the following:
- Local Churches
- Local Charities
- Local Mom & Pop’s
- Local Freelancers (artists, musicians, computer techs, etc.)
- The irony would be if a freelancing SEO asked for help to promote their site
I bet you may already know of a few, but you haven’t thought of them as clients. So check on the web to see if they are even listed. If not look up in the phone book and call to ask. If you are also wanting to build websites, these are also good clients, if not and they don’t have a site, move on. Another thing that can be done is to create listings online, there are many sites that offer freelancers a chance to promote themselves. Craigslist can also be a good source to advertise your services and look for clients.
Seriously though, $0?!?!
Yes, seriously. I’m saying this for two reasons:
This industry isn’t about money, it’s about community and passion. If you are considering going solo for the fame and the prestige, please stop. There are enough people trying to do that already. Not to mention it will show in the work you do. Sure there are SEOs who have a substantial fee, but they have earned that. The years of dedication and learning have finally paid off for them. Be patient, as with rankings, it will come with time. Just because you charge nothing doesn’t mean you won’t be paid.
- The first client I had was a board member for a non-profit I worked for. He owned a financial company and asked for my help. This guy wanted to pay me, but having just nine months of experience I really didn’t feel like I should. So I helped him for free. It took a few months, but his site starting popping up at the top of the second page then slowly transitioning to the first page. He was elated to see the results take place before his eyes. He called me over to his office to thank me personally and handed me a $50 gift card to a steakhouse, date night for my wife and I. You might be thinking $50? Is that all? I took him on for free and got paid for it. If the work you do produces fruit for your clients, trust me they will be grateful and express it.
- The warm fuzzies. As I said part of this industry is about passion. When you are doing work that you really don’t consider work it will be the best you do. It is for me. Sure there are stressful times, but those pale in comparison when a single mother of two finds a free clinic because you optimized their site so she could find them. Regardless if the client is for-profit or non-profit, as a SEOs we are impacting people’s lives. A SEO closely resembles an A/V tech in the way that the only time he/she gets noticed is when something goes awry, when users can’t find what they are looking for. When a user finds the right information, there are no complaints.
In closing, you may decide to ignore this post and just charge clients whatever. And you have that right, but rest assured if you fail to deliver, you are scamming, you are in this industry for the wrong reasons, you will be found out. The life expectancy of your ‘business’ will be that of a may fly.
That does it for me guys. If you have some input as to how I can improve things on my blog I’d love to hear it. Thanks for reading!