If you are looking to work with a freelance consultant, I have a few tips to help you find the right SEO expert.
A few years ago, I wrote an honest article about what it’s like to be a freelance SEO consultant based in Montréal. I wanted to answer common questions that kept popping up regarding my career. Thought it would be a good subject to broach, especially for people who are wondering what it’s like to be a freelancer and those wondering if they should hire an agency or a freelancer.
First and foremost, let me provide some much-needed context:
- I’ve been working on optimizing websites for a good 10 years.
- Most of that time was spent pretty evenly between client-side and agency-side
- I speak French and English fluently
With all these elements, you can quickly grasp where I am coming from 🙂
Freelancing as a side-hustle
It’s always been a touchy point for me to say that I am a freelancer because I have been working outside of my “regular” job for many many years. It became second nature actually. There are some pros and some cons to working as a freelancer in a job you already do all day for a recurring paycheck.
- Freelance SEO jobs kept me sane when my client-side jobs were driving me insane.
- Contracts are small and easy to manage.
- You get to discover a lot of new types of challenges you wouldn’t normally face and that’s an incredible advantage when you try to hone your search engine optimization skills.
- You leave the office to work some more on something you’ve been doing all day already!
- You get extra tired
- Some clients refuse to comprehend the fact that you can’t be reached at certain times.
- Conflicts of interest: some agencies or employers period frown upon you selling SEO services. I’ve heard of agencies demanding that their experts actually bring their clients into the agency’s roster.
I chose to do the work I do because I simply love it. So it didn’t really bother me to leave the office to pick up another set of optimization challenges. It felt like my brain got to exercise, learn and think a lot more. That was a huge plus.
Sidenote: if you are looking to hire a freelance SEO, make sure the person is actually not working in an agency that strictly forbids them from optimizing other websites. You don’t want to risk any nasty fallouts.
Montreal is a city that has a lot of things to offer. It has plenty of startups, restaurants, web agencies and more. This is great news for freelance SEO, PPC, performance analytics and data analysis specialists. Not that all of these jobs necessarily go hand in hand mind you. It’s just that they form a cluster of competencies offered by agencies as a bundle to clients.
Prior to going freelance full-time, my clients were usually people that worked with my agency or worked with me on some projects. They often needed little things done for them that the agency wouldn’t be able to bill because the amounts were too small.
Making a living as a full-time freelancer is a different beast entirely. Most of my clients came to me with one specific need in mind and I ended doing more than what was planned. Thank goodness I feel comfortable playing around in Google Analytics and setting up Facebook, Twitter, Adwords campaigns. Why? Because when you freelance, you quickly realize that a big majority of your clients have no clue what you actually do for a living!
Finding Clients in Montréal
Finding clients isn’t as hard as I thought it would be. Why? Because I have a solid network and I love helping people. As a result, I have noticed that many people I worked with in the past had absolutely no trouble recommending me. That’s often the way it works. But there are different types of word-of-mouth in my case:
- Previous clients recommending you
- People you meet at events needing your help
- People reading the content you produce and asking for help
- Your friend’s mom needing some help for her salami business (true story) and other random encounters
- Juniors I have mentored in the past coming to me for help on certain projects
- Developers that I love to laugh with getting tired of the lack of technical marketing in their company asking for help
- Old friends and colleagues in other agencies hitting you up for help
Finding clients truly depends on how you approach life. I like to help. I like to talk. I like human first, robot second. So I guess I get clients that like my approach and others that know my skills and enjoy the person that’s attached to that set of skills.
Becoming A Swiss Army Knife
As a freelancer, I noticed that a lot of things that need to be done to optimize a website aren’t necessarily the ones a client hires me for initially. Why? Because when you audit a website, you undercover a lot of things that should be fixed and even more opportunities to develop great marketing strategies. As a result, you always learn new things, even though they aren’t necessarily about search engine optimization.
Over the years, I became quite good at debugging tracking, paid campaigns and content marketing. Can’t say I’ve been bored a single minute while learning these new skills.
When Is It Worth It To Hire A Freelancer
Hiring a freelancer is worth it in a few cases:
- If a big agency is too expensive for you, going the freelancer route is a smart move.
- If you do not trust your current agency, hiring another pair of eyeballs may help you verify some of the things going on in your SEO.
- If you want to find someone that enjoys a challenge and doesn’t fear the boss’ approval of their billable hours…then a freelancer is also a better bet.
- If you hire a consultant, you are almost always guaranteed to end up with a senior resource instead of paying a high hourly rate to get a junior on your account.