Freelance SEO Writing: How to Make Your First Dollar Online

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This is a guest post by Nikola Roza, an established writer in the Freelance SEO writing space. I know lots of you are interested in freelance writing, especially since I shared Holly’s story of earning $300,000 writing from home this year. But one regret I’ve heard often is “I can’t write”. That’s why I jumped at the opportunity to have Nikola share this post with us today.

It is freelance writing but so much easier that anyone can get started today. I remember easily writing 1,000 words per hour with my 2 yo and 6 month old doing this after just an hour worth of training so when I say super easy believe me it is. So here’s Nikola:


Want to earn your first dollar online, but don’t know where to start, why don’t you give freelance SEO writing a try?

It’s easy to start; easy to do; easy to keep doing. And the pay is decent, excellent even if you live in a poor country like Serbia, where the average monthly pay is $200.

Then you can splurge all day long and live like a queen.

Interested to learn more?

Let’s do it!

What is SEO Writing? The Basics Explained

SEO writing is when you, the writer, are churning out SEO-ed articles on pre-chosen topics.

In other words, you get a topic and a keyword to target and then you create an article around it, usually a 500-word post.

*This post may contain affiliate links at no extra cost to you. See disclosure for details.

That’s what you’ll be doing. And here’s why there’s such a huge demand for it.

Let’s do a quick test.

Search for any keyword in Google and see what comes up.

google test to show the demand for freelance seo writing
Any keyword, really… My sense of humor strikes again!

The ten listings that surfaced (articles, videos pdf’s, slides) are SEO-ed; 

These ten listings are the ones earning all the money, while thousands of those that didn’t show up have nothing to show for their efforts.

So everyone wants and needs to be on the first page, specifically on the first three positions in Google.

For reference, check out this click distribution chart:

proof of the need for seo writing
source

So now you know why everyone wants that coveted number #1 spot, but you probably didn’t realize that most folks know next to nothing about SEO; in fact, most think it’s some kind of dark magic totally incomprehensible to them.

So they turn to SEO and marketing firms to get them the rankings they want.

And here’s the thing: while some of these companies are legit and do white hat email outreach for their clients; most, I’d say 99% of them, resort to using cheap PBN’s to rank their clients.

(Note:PBN is an acronym for Private Blog Network, a collection of sites owned by one person who uses them to send backlinks to the money site, and thus increase it’s Google rankings).

But for those PBN’s they need content, which means they need your help.

So, the demand for new content is astronomical and before we get into creating a portfolio website, here are some pros and cons of Freelance SEO writing.

Because this job is not all roses you know…

Freelance SEO Writing Pros and Cons

PROS

#1- It’s easy to get started

I cover in detail below how to start your freelance SEO writing career, but really, to begin you only need:

  • a free website (yes, free); 
  • some writing samples, 
  • a bunch of email addresses,   
  • lots of patience, 
  • a tonne of persistence   
  • and a dash of enthusiasm

And you’re good to go.

#2- There’s always more work

As I mentioned, the need for content is like wildfire in the thick forest and in driest of summer months.

No rain, no monsoons, not a drop of water expected in the near future, just more and more and more content. 

Which is actually a good thing for you, because once you get going you could go as much as you want as you’ll be showered with more and more work. 

That’s how it was for me only 3 months into the business, and I was a total newbie back then.

#3- Content doesn’t have to be stellar

Really, it’s true. Since you’ll be writing 500- word articles to be posted on PBN’s to host links, the content need not be good; because no one is going to read those articles, ever. They only exist to pass Google juice onto the money site.

#4- You can earn decent money

My record is $2000 per month, but I worked my ass off for that. However, my average is $1000-$1200 per month, and I work from home and never exhaust myself. 

Related: 20 Flexible Work From Home Jobs that Pay Well.

That’s 10x better than when I had a “normal job, working on a factory production line in Slovakia.

Anyway, with that kind of money, you can live like a king in poorer countries like Serbia, India and most African countries and Asian countries.

CONS

#1- Work can be tedious

And by tedious I mean really freaking boring!

Because, when you get a new writing assignment, you will need to dive deep into some boring topic that’ll have you snoozing in no time. 

But you can’t snooze, you can’t sleep and you need to be focused and take notes on whatever it is you’ll be writing about.

I tell you now- It takes some real discipline to learn about stuff you really don’t care for one bit.

But it’s also a normal part of SEO writing and you get used to it.

To be honest this was the biggest hurdle for me to overcome. I write with passion and fire it’s really hard to be fired up about “best valve connectors on the market today”

That was my recent assignment and I managed it just fine, wasn’t painful at all… 🙂

Ok! We’re into the good stuff now!

Next you will learn how to build a free website with WordPress.com and how to create pages, posts etc…

Why WordPress? 

Why not Tumblr? Or Wix? Or Weebly? Or any other free site creator?

Because:

  • WordPress sites are newbie-friendly 
  • They’re also SEO compliant
  • And they’re easily redirected to self-hosted WordPress when the time comes.

Site Setup- Pages You Will Need

Remember,  you’re creating a portfolio site. 

It means it can be tiny as its purpose will be to showcase your writing. 

This makes it easy-peasy to set up as you won’t be worrying about SEO, and you won’t be obsessed with the way your theme looks, because that hardly matters. 

Your samples are all that matter to get hired.

Note: if you’re a woman and a stickler for beauty, check out Lily’s article on best feminine themes. I think she has great taste and I’m a man:) )

The pages you’ll need are:

  • Writing samples/Blog
  • Home
  • About Me
  • Contact/Rates 

Let’s break these down really quick.

#1-Samples 

I suggest you have five pieces of content to start with. That’s plenty of content to show what you can do, but if you’re in a hurry to get started even 3 good articles will do.

And every article should showcase your ability to write about anything, so make sure they all talk about widely different topics.

For example: I had five sample articles on my portfolio site and they were all widely different from each other.

Here are their titles as I remember it (was a long time ago):

  • How to tell if a girl likes you- 5 telltale signs
  • How to scuba dive- tips and precautions
  • How to peel an apple and avoid nasty cuts
  • How to introduce a new cat into the household 
  • 5 ways to do keyword research (a newbie-friendly guide)

Bottom line

Have only a few articles- but make them GOOD. Spend as much time as you need and polish them to perfection. It’ll be time well spent when you get your first client.

#2- Home Page

Here you need to tell them about your business,  what you do and how you can help them.

The main part is to mention your USP.

USP stands for Unique Selling Proposition and it is basically the thing that sets you apart from everyone else and the main reason why YOU should get the job; and not a thousand other SEO writers.

Think creatively and get loose.

Maybe you’re a part-time nurse who’s well-versed with medical stuff; so you could write really well about topics in the medical niche.

Or your father used to own a chocolate factory so you really understand the nuts and bolts of making delicious sweets, and could write about it all day long.

I mean people drool reading your writing about candy:) 

#3- About Me page

Here you get to talk about yourself, humanize yourself.

Just say who you are and what made you start a freelance writing business.

Some tips:

  • Make it real– you’re yet another person fighting the good fight in this world
  • Make it humble– you’re doing your best but have loads to improve
  • Make it human– we’re all in the same boat so let’s be nice to each other.

 And you’re good to go.

Related: 5 Best About Me Pages For Freelancers, Bloggers, Photographers…

#4- Contact page

This will be a page with no real content. 

But it will all be an important page nonetheless because folks who’ll want to hire you will come through there.

Luckily, WordPress.com makes it easy to publish a good templated contact page, which I show you how in the tutorial below.

WordPress.com Free Site Creation (tutorial)

  • Step #1– Go and Sign up for your new free account.
how to create a free wordpress site for your freelance seo writing website - step 1
  •   Step #2– Click  “New Site”
how to create a free wordpress site for your freelance seo writing website - step 2
  • Step #3– Name your site
how to create a free wordpress site for your freelance seo writing website - step 3 (choosing a name)
  • Step #4– get your domain name and make sure it says it’s free
how to create a free wordpress site for your freelance seo writing website - step 4
  • Step #5– Pick a free site
how to create a free wordpress site for your freelance seo writing website - step 5

And that is it! 

Now you should be presented with a dashboard that looks like this:

how to create a free wordpress site for your freelance seo writing website - final step

Now it’s time to create your sample pages.

First, Go to the “Site” tab and click on “Posts”. Then go “New Post”

how to add a new post on your new freelance seo writing website

Fill the page with content and once you’re done click “Publish”. And viola! You have your first article published. 

Now repeat this with four other writing sample articles.

Note: here’s a true sample article, the likes of which you’ll be writing regularly. 

Now it’s time to do the pages of your site… and the process is exactly the same.

So just go one by one and write/publish your:

And that is it! 

Once done, your free site is ready and then you can start searching for your first client.

But before you go do that…

Pro tip #1- Add Menu to Theme

By default, menus are hidden on WordPress.com sites. So you want to un-hide them because that’s where your pages will be.

So, within the dashboard and on the left side go Design/Customize and click on the Menu tab.

sample seo writing website dashboard

Once you do that scroll to the bottom and tick the checkboxes that say: “Primary” and “Automatically add new top-level pages to this menu”

And then simply save the settings and you’re done.

changing the menu setting for your new seo writing site

Pro tip #2- Tidy up your site

What I mean is, you want to make a clean menu where everything is accessible at a glance.

This means that your homepage should actually be your “Home” page and your sample pages can be your blog feed. It’s Because WordPress.com sites are set up in a way that you must have a blog feed.

So, once again, go to Design/Customize and click on the Homepage Settings tab.

Once there, select that your homepage should be a static page (your Home page); and your blog feed should be your sample posts.

Related: How to Make Your Blog Look Professional as a Newbie

I know it sounds confusing, but it really isn’t.

Take a look at the image below:

how to create a static homepage for your new seo website

Note: here’s the site: https://nikolarozafreelanceseowriter.home.blog/

Of course, it’s just an empty shell. an example of things that could be.

How to Find Your First Client

I know this will come as a shock to you. I know you will have never seen it coming… but…

You’re going to use Google to search for prospects to pitch.

GASP! I told you it’s totally out of the box:)

Seriously though, you will find clients through Google and it’s really simple to do.

Here’s how:

Step #1– Go to this page on Wikipedia and extract the list of biggest American cities.

wikipedia list of biggest american cities to target for clients screenshots

Step #2-  Create a Google spreadsheet where you will input your prospects info.

You will need to know:

  • Who’s the owner
  • Company name
  • Website address  
  • Email address
screenshot of the spreadsheet to track your potential seo clients

Step #3– use these queries to find marketing firms to pitch:

  • “SEO Company” + “City”
  • Search Engine Marketing + “City”
  • “City” + “Digital Marketing Company”

There’s way more but just these three are likely to give you thousands of prospects to pitch and you won’t need even 5% of them.

So let’s try it with my favorite American city ever, Boston

I will search for SEO Company Boston and we’ll see what comes up. I’m curious to see myself:) 

searching for potential freelance writing clients on google

And look what I found:

  • 4 ads
  • 8 different SEO companies
  • 2  resource-page-type results with a combined tally of 50 different marketing firms to pitch.

That alone will probably be enough to land your first client and it took 1 minute to find.

Now I’d just need to go one by one and get the info I need out of every candidate.

The beauty of this method is that all results are  hyper relevant to you so don’t be shy to look up until 20-the page of Google SERPS.

And that is how you find unlimited opportunity online.

I tell you it’s downright impossible not to find a job if you really want to find one.

Now, I know you have some burning questions left unanswered. 

For example: do I have an email template to share? Or how to find email addresses in a  scalable way?

I know that and that is why I’ve added an FAQ section to this article 

Continue below to read it.

Freelance SEO writing FAQ

#1 I’m not a writer, can I really do this?

Obviously, if you can write it’s going to be much easier for you, but even if you haven’t written anything yet, you can still make freelance SEO writing work for you.

Remember you’ll be writing articles that go on PBN’s that no one reads, so content quality can be quite abysmal and still get accepted and you get paid.

Though of course, I advise you to try your best and constantly improve because good writing is a skill worth having.

And who knows, perhaps one day you’ll want to move on to bigger and better things. 

Trust me, there’s a whole world of opportunity out there and freelance writing is sort of like an entry-level job. It’s good, but not great.

Affiliate marketing, for example, is a much better opportunity.

#2- I’m from “X” country. Can I really work with American companies?

Yes, of course you can.

Ever heard of the internet, the World Wide Web?

It’s worldwide so it doesn’t matter where you are.  In fact, you could be on an international space station and with a solid connection, you could still freelance as a writer:)

Note: I pitched American cities (and I recommend you do too) because: 

  • USA marketing companies are plentiful, 
  • they have a tonne of clients to work with, 
  • and they have big budgets to spend on content writers.

The SEO industry is booming, especially in the rich Western countries.

 #3- Can you share the temple that worked for you

Yes I can, and I never shared it anywhere else which means it’s “new”, not worn out and likely to work for you.

But keep in mind that no template has a 100% success rate.

“Hi (their name)!

My name is (your name) and I’m a freelance SEO writer based at (your site). I’m writing to you because I’m looking for work, so if you have a need for a superb, excellent, out-of-this-world writing then look no further for I’m your man. And don’t worry- the writing is superb but my pricing is of this Earth and we can always negotiate.

So, before deciding please check out my writing samples (link here) and then if you’re interested contact me on my contact page (link)

Thank you for reading and take care”!

Your name

This template worked for me because it’s short and to the point; and because it has a dash of humor in it that keeps it from being dry. 

But of course, my writing samples sealed the deal for me.

Note: Email outreach is an art… that can be mastered. I strongly advise you to read up as much as you can on the subject because knowing how to write effective emails is an invaluable skill to have.

And here’s a great resource to start learning today:

Editors’ Note: If you want to learn how I do outreach myself, check out my course Blogger Outreach (on Steriods). Success stories have been upwards of 75% with this course.

#4- How to find emails at scale

Hunting for emails manually is a pain. But hunting them with a tool is a cinch.

I used the word “hunting” twice and it’s for a good reason.

Introducing to you Hunter. a free email finder!

Go and sign up!

signing up for a hunter account to get emails for client pitching

Now run a domain through the tool, For this example, we’ll use my domain, nikolaroza.com

how to find emails of potential clients using hunter and their domain names.

And there! It found my email in a flash, just like that.

Simple, no?

#5- How much can I charge?

This depends. I have a friend who’s a pro and charges $500 per 5000-word article and $350 per 3000 words. I know- that’s a lot of money. And these are the rates you will not be able to command as you’re just starting out.

So, for starters, you can charge $25 per 500-word post. That is what I charged and it didn’t feel like I was working for nothing, and my employers didn’t think I was ripping them off, and they knew I was a beginner.

Related: How This Mom Made $300,000 Writing From Home in One Year

#6- Should I have A “Rates” page?

I say you could, but you shouldn’t.

Why?

Because, if your prices are too high you will scare many prospects away.

But if they’re too low no one will want to work with you, because they’ll assume your writing is total crap.

The best thing to do is to have a simple message on your contact page that says”

“for pricing inquiries please contact me on (your email) or use the contact form below. 

Thank you”.

#7- I heard that Self Hosted sites are better. Is that true?

Yes, yes it is.

The thing is, I showed you how to create a free website with WordPress.com because I wanted to remove the hurdle of paying for something that might never bear fruit for you.

So, free website is a great start and you definitely can start and get work that way;

but…

Over time you will want to upgrade to a self-hosted WordPress.

Here’s exactly why:

a) Self-hosted websites are more professional

When folks see that you own your site, that you bought your domain and purchased hosting (for as cheap as $38!) they know that they’re dealing with someone serious and reliable.

b) You own your work

Self-hosted blogs are like renting rented rooms but you already paid your rent and no one can kick you out. So you control your future and know what’s coming. 

While with free sites you’re creating as a guest on their property and they can kick you out whenever they feel like it.

c) You can customize your site

Self-hosted WordPress blog is like lego set that there for you to make whatever you want of it. That is because you can choose from thousands of free themes (and later premium) and plugins and make a site that is truly YOU.

These are some of the reasons why self-hosted blogs beat free sites on every turn.

For more details, click the link below. There, Lily breaks down quite nicely the pros and cons of free sites plus she gives you alternatives to WP.com.

For example, Blogspot is Google’s property and another way to build a free site.

Bottom line

Free sites are an excellent way to begin a race, but self-hosted blogs will lead you to the finish line.

Conclusion

Don’t give up!

Your first, tenth or even a hundredth email is going to get either a no-reply “answer” or a 

  • hard, 
  • cold, 
  • cruel, 
  •  definite,

NO.

But don’t despair! Getting rejected a bunch of times is part of the process of getting hired.

Because, after a thousand NO’s, there will come a single YES, and really- that is all you’ll need.

Once you get your first client and you start earning some money, a whole field of opportunity will open up to you and you will start getting work far more easily.

You will have more experience, you will have more guts; you will be more confident and you will “know” that this making money online thing is real and is yours for the taking.

All you need is that one first client, so: 

  • Start, 
  • keep going 
  • Trudge away patiently.
  •  And ALWAYS be pitching!

And let me know in the comments how it all went, I mean how you got your first paying client.

Cheers!

make money freelance seo writing pin image

Author

Nikola Roza is a freelance writer and Affiliate Marketer based at nikolaroza.com.  If you need professional writing services that won’t break the bank, then he’s your man. For pricing inquiries, take a look at this page. Thank you!

Share for good karma 😉

Lily Ugbaja
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19 thoughts on “Freelance SEO Writing: How to Make Your First Dollar Online”

  1. Hey Lily,
    I am glad that I landed on this page. You have written an awesome article on freelancing. I am sure freelancing is the next boom in the industry with the tremendous growth of blogging.
    Your article covers every aspect of freelancing and you nailed the subject with your excellent writing skill.
    Thanks

  2. hai
    This is a great resource and very thorough! Great article. The yoast approach never gave me everything I needed. It keeps on getting worked up over things that are irrelevant! Right now I’m starting to work with the Ink for All application. So far I like it.

    1. Thanks Julissa!
      Glad you liked that post.
      Keep experimenting so you can grow faster and learn mor ein the process.

  3. Hi Nikola, I love how you showed us the HOWS on how to connect with companies to pitch to. Very nice! The one thing I disagree with is your starting rate. I would go higher.
    I learned that from my business, things I’ve charged for should have been higher from the beginning to be more sustainable. Our time is our most precious commodity and that’s what it takes to make money in this field.

    1. Hi Lisa, thanks or you input, it’s highly appreciated.
      I agree that higher is better, but for Serbia, those rates are huge and you’re still earning 5x more than someone with a regular job.
      But I know US is expensive…

  4. Hi Nikola, Very well written guide. Everyone who plans to hire a freelance writers for their content needs to have basic knowledge of content writing. Without the basic knowledge of content writing and how SEO works. It will difficult for them to hire the best freelance content writers. Small business owner who do not plan to write content need to these basics about freelance writing as it will help them make most of their money.

  5. Hi Nikola!
    This is a great post for freelance writers. I remember the early days when I got my best-paying client who paid me like $60 for a 500-word post and it was a win for me. Making $1000 per month got easier with time. I completely agree with giving your best and working on your portfolio website to land gigs. I also agree with Moss on the use of social media and getting yourself noticed infront of different companies.

    Really like how you have gone in-depth with this post! Excellent post.
    Arfa

    1. I know right! This post is like a full course on it’s own! I hope more people take advantage of this ever-growing industry and get started now.

      And thanks so much for leaving a comment Arfa!

  6. Hi Nik,
    Great read with a lot of connected links screenshot images to understand easily the techs behind the success in Freelance SEO Writing.
    I could very well relate to some of the strategies pointed out in this post, but at the same time, amazing to note that some are new to me and I never thought of it. I will try that. Thanks for sharing.
    Season’s Greetings To You All.
    Keep sharing
    Best Regards
    Philip

  7. Hi Nikola,
    Thanks for bringing the most awaited topic. I believe that many new bloggers will be benefitted with this article. Freelancing opportunity is the best way to keep your blog alive

  8. Hi Nikola,
    Your tips are practical, and I love the insights you presented. When I started freelance writing, I made my first $100 in my second month, and it blew my mind. How did I do it? My clients found me through Twitter after reading my profile. Then he visited my site and contacted me. We agreed on terms, and I worked for him for six months.
    My point is; having an optimized social media profile, and a self-hosted website, coupled with a quality portfolio, will help any freelance writers to land more high-paying jobs. A self-hosted site shows eventual clients that you mean business. Do you know how many clients I get through my website or after reading my posts on other sites, including posting on LinkedIn? When some writers ask me how I get writing jobs, it makes me wonder why they’re not landing clients. There’s no magic stick required. Follow the best practices, and you will start landing more work than you can handle.
    Thank you for sharing, and thank you, too, Lily, for publishing!

    1. Hi Moss,
      thank you for sharing your insights. I know you’re a very successful freelance writer, so your advice is gold for any newbie and semi newbie alike.
      So, self hosted-website and putting yourself out there as much as you can. Got it!

    2. Hi Nik,
      Great read with a lot of connected links screenshot images to understand easily the techs behind the success in Freelance SEO Writing. Hey Nikolas,
      I could very well relate to some of the strategies pointed out in this post, but at the same time, amazing to note that some are new to me and I never thought of it. Will try that. Thanks for sharing.
      Season’s Greetings To You And Lily
      Keep sharing.
      I found this post on the pages of BizSugar and I upvoted and commented.
      Thanks Miss fort they share.
      Best.
      Philip

    3. Lots of great points here Moss! For me personally, I’ve found guest posts (on the right blogs) and networking to be really good ways to land the best clients. Coupled with optimized social media profiles and a professional-looking website, I can also charge more. Do you think your “packaging” matters when it comes to charging better rates? Or most people are just after great content and don’t mind where it comes from at all.
      Thanks for your support as always!

      1. Hi Lily,
        having a really slick website help you charge more, because you obviously know what you’re doing. Having a poor-looking website, but with decent content also works, because your clients want you to write for them.
        That’s how I started, and my site still look unpolished. That’s something to take care of this year.

    4. Thanks for sharing your input, Moss. You’re an experienced freelancer and your words help a tonne anyone who’s considering to start freelance writing.
      And yes, there’s too much work online, and well optimized social profiles, coupled with a professional-looking website can help you land more clients than you can handle.
      Many more!

  9. Thanks for publishing it, Lily! It looks great! And it’s an honor to be featured on your awesome site:)

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