3 SEO Writing Skills Every Freelance Writer Should Have That Will Make Landing Jobs Easier

Recently, I spent a solid week applying for online writing jobs. I applied for well over 150. I’ve been a freelance writer since 1993; specializing in SEO content since 2007. Most of my clients come by referral, so it had been a while since I’d broken out the ole marketing whip. It was eye-opening on several levels.

150 Online Writing Jobs Applied For: 3 Lessons Learned

1. There Is a Lot of Work Out There: And I do mean a lot. I ran across job listings for every kind of writing work you can think of. From home décor, to politics, to automobiles – there’s a niche for your skill set if you choose to specialize as a freelance writer. See?

The following are freelance writing jobs posted on leading job site Indeed.com.

2. Work Is Easier Than Ever to Find: Thanks to the growth of content marketing companies, freelance writing jobs – especially in the SEO niche – are easier to find.

That’s because these digital marketing agencies have a stable of clients of every kind, and they’re constantly looking for freelance writers who can cover many different niches. Hence, there’s no need to specialize if you don't want to.

Over the course of my career as an SEO writer, I’ve written copy on everything from how to make wire jewelry, to mortgages, to laminate wood flooring – all in one day, for one company.

Usually, when a content marketing agency outsources work to you, if they like your writing and you can meet deadlines, your writing assignments will run the gamut – even if they initially hired you because you specialized in a type of content they needed.

3. Freelance Writing Rates are Up: When I first started writing SEO content in 2007, it was common to see rates like $1 for 500 words. You still run across these kinds of low rates, but they are much less common.

Nowadays, clients need more copy than ever, and since Google has trended towards rewarding longer copy. How long? A lot longer than it used to be, as the linked-to article highlights, stating:

The average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words. The higher up you go on the search listings page, the more content each web page has.

And longer content means higher rates for writers. In my research, what stood out to me is that $25 to $35 was kind of the bottom for a 500 to 700-word article. And the more technical the copy is, the higher the rates tended to be; e.g., starting from $40 to $50 for 500 to 700-word posts, on up to $200 or more for articles of 1,000 to 2,500 words.

Remember, these are just ballpark figures that jumped out at me as I combed through hundreds of freelance writer job listings over a week’s time.

So it’s a great time to be an online writer, especially one with SEO knowledge. With that being said, following are three things skills employers seemed to be looking for in freelance writing candidates.

Want Freelance Writing Work? Develop the Following Skills

1. Become a Branded Writer: Did you know that high-profile publications like Forbes, The Huffington Post and BusinessInsider regularly use freelance writers? They do. And guess what? Most often, they don’t pay them.

But you can leverage your “brand” as a freelance writer if you do write for high-profile publications like this into higher-paying freelance writing gigs, like this one, which pays $50-$500.

Why do "branded writers" earn more? Because content marketing companies have clients who want to be featured in posts on sites like these. So they'd want you to write a post that would "naturally link" to their client in some way. And if you have the rights to publish pieces on high-profiles sites like these, then companies are willing to pay you more than freelance writers who don't have this kind of access.

It’s not as hard as you think to sign on with sites like these, in the sense that you don’t have to have any particular type of journalistic background. Content is truly king these days, and if you can pitch or story that they like, or have one that’s already gone viral, you have a shot at getting picked up as one of their contributors.

2. Build Your Social Media Presence: Another highly sought after skill in online writing these days is knowledge of social media. I landed one gig a few days into my marketing to ghostwrite blog posts for a content marketing company.

Over the course of a few conversations with the CEO of the company, I got the feeling that one of the reasons I landed the gig was because I have a good following on Twitter (close to 12,000). I also have accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ , Pinterest and StumbleUpon, although I’m most active on Facebook and Twitter.

The point? If you’re active on these social media sites, then you know how they operate. Hence, you most likely know the ins and outs of writing for “new media”; eg, how to write effective headlines, observe web writing guidelines and write content that's shareable.

Online content is useless unless it’s shared. That’s why knowing social media is so important, and why companies are looking for freelance writers who realize how critical this is.

3. Learn SEO: If you write for the web, you must know the fundamentals of search engine optimization, eg, where to place keywords in copy; how to write long-form copy; linkbuilding rules; etc.

I’ve been saying it for years and it remains true … there’s never been a better time to be a freelance writer. You can literally write your own career ticket, living and working from anywhere in the world as long as there’s an internet connection. Possessing these three skills makes your journey that much easier.

Happy writing!

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