Writers, Want to Wow Your Clients? Learning SEO Basics Can Help

By Maddy Osman April 15th, 2022

My freelance journey wasn’t always a straight line. It took some trial and error to arrive at The Blogsmith, an SEO content provider for B2B technology brands.

As I grew my business and discovered which services provided the most value, I found that content strategy and search engine optimization (SEO) go hand in hand. The experts agree: According to the 2021 State of Content Marketing Report by Semrush, the two most effective methods for improving content marketing strategy are boosting content quality and bolstering SEO.

As a freelance writer, learning how to sell SEO services alongside your existing creative offerings can help you deliver more value to your clients—and remain competitive. Here’s how you can add coveted SEO skills to your repertoire.

Top SEO services freelance writers can offer

Search Engine Journal’s 2021 SEO Clients Report looked at demand for SEO agency and freelancer services. It found that the top three most-desired services were content strategy (31%), keyword strategy (30%), and web design (25%). That same report found that the top three SEO expectations for agencies’ clients were increasing website traffic, getting new customers, and boosting brand awareness.

For freelance writers, figuring out which in-demand services best match your skillset—or complement your clients’ key performance indicators (KPIs)—is a great first step. If one of your clients prioritizes lead generation via landing pages or gated content, for example, you can focus your SEO efforts on those niches.

That said, don’t try and force a square peg into a round hole just because of demand. Offering services you haven’t tested before can result in poor-quality work, which can tarnish your client relationships. (Not all copywriters will make amazing website designers and vice versa.)

I learned this the hard way. When I started freelancing, I offered website design, social media marketing, and content creation services. I soon learned that providing excellent value with all three wasn’t feasible, so I focused on robust content production.

Once I had a solid foundation, I was able to build in complementary offerings that made sense for my clients—and for me. Now, I prefer to workshop potential offerings and pitch them to existing clients as a beta test before publicly promoting them to new prospects.

Best resources for learning SEO

Learning SEO is an ongoing process. As a service provider, it’s your responsibility to stay on top of the trends that affect your offerings. Plus, doing so can make you a valuable resource for clients that don’t have time to keep up with all the algorithm updates.

There are a number of resources to help you hone SEO and content marketing skills. Online courses and videos can teach you tactics like keyword research, on-page SEO, and content-led SEO. You can also earn certifications in everything from SEO basics to competitive analysis and technical SEO.

A few of our favorite resources at The Blogsmith include online courses like Google Analytics Academy, Moz Academy, Semrush Academy, and Ahrefs’ Blogging for Business. Some of this content is free to access, while some courses cost a few hundred dollars—the Moz “SEO Essential Certification,” for instance, is $595.

You can also peruse SEO blogs and websites, which are ubiquitous these days, for free. A few of our favorites include Search Engine Journal, Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, Backlinko, and Ahrefs.

If you’re just getting started with SEO, it’s a good idea to begin with the free stuff. You can test the waters and gauge if your existing clients are even interested in an SEO upsell. You can always scale up to paid certifications if you find there’s a good deal of demand.

How to sell SEO services

Once you’ve got a few new skills in your freelancer tool belt, it’s time to sell to new and existing clients. There are two ways you can approach this.

1. Create an SEO package. First, you can position yourself as an SEO content marketer and create a content production package that includes keyword research and content optimization.

This works best for clients who already have an SEO strategy and want a freelance writer to execute it. At The Blogsmith, our content creation services include SEO best practices, and we report back to our clients on the keyword rankings of our work.

You can also offer a more comprehensive SEO strategy package for clients that don’t have an in-house SEO team and want help with keyword research, content planning, and website optimization.

2. Offer à la carte services: Another way to offer your SEO services is to position them as add-ons. You can give your clients a “menu” of offerings or advisory services they can purchase besides content production, such as:

  • Editorial calendar creation
  • Specialized keyword research
  • Content audits for existing posts
  • Reformatting/rewriting old posts
  • Competitor analysis

Add-on services work well for clients who need more strategic assistance but aren’t ready to commit to a larger SEO package.

Offering freelance SEO services in addition to writing or editing is an ideal way to expand your menu of services, create premium packages, and strengthen your client relationships.

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