Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a field that’s seeing nothing but growth. In a world that’s becoming increasingly dependent on technology and the internet, most companies want to see the expansion of their websites and digital listings. By being an expert in SEO, you’re a valuable commodity to the growth and success of these businesses.
But there’s more than one way to make money with SEO. Here’s 8 great ways how you make money and expand your career as an SEO professional.
1. Get Hired at a SEO Marketing Agency
While you can learn a ton from online resources like articles, YouTube videos and training courses, you’ll likely find yourself in a position where you’ll need to get insights from the best. Either as a contractor or an employee, you can get paid while developing a powerful skillset by executing services on large brand accounts at an agency.
In addition to SEO skills, you’ll learn other useful skills like project management, business development, client relationship management, and more. While you may start out implementing entry level SEO services for clients, you could easily move up the corporate ranks as you establish yourself as an expert manager or director, thus earning more.
This isn’t for everyone though, and you’re likely reading this because you’re an entrepreneur and want to build your own business. So let’s dive into some other ways that you can make money in SEO.
2. Make Money from an Optimized eCommerce Store
Running an online store through your website can be a great way to supplement or even replace your income using the skillsets you’re honing as an SEO professional. You can use these strategies to funnel organic traffic and optimize your site to convert visitors into customers.
However, an eCommerce store does come with a long list of additional responsibilities. From managing and storing product inventory, coordinating warehousing and distribution logistics, to managing customer inquiries and providing customer service, this business model comes with its own unique challenges.
Nevertheless, building a brand and selling your own products online using your SEO skillset is an opportunity you should consider.
3. Sell SEO Consultant Services
Once you have some experience with SEO, you can start working as a consultant. Ideally this is when you’ve built a reputation among a client base and your skills are honed to perfection.
Your track record as an SEO specialist, along with your experience in the field, are the big factors that dictate how much you can reasonably charge for your consulting time. Hourly rates can vary greatly – on average, SEO consultant services can make you anywhere from $75 – $200 an hour. Novice consultants generally charge closer to the $75 range until they build up their reputation and have proven results.
Consulting is an exceptional way to branch out from the stifling of office work, although it comes at the limitation of your own free time. This coupled with a full-time job, means it’s difficult to turn consulting into a primary income source right out of the gate.
4. Contract Out Your Consulting Services to an Agency
When other web development and marketing companies want to start offering SEO services for the first time, sometimes they don’t have the expertise or resources to properly provide the services.
This is where you come in, offering your services as an SEO expert while they retain the client relationship. Whether one-time project-based opportunities come your way, or they need you to provide continuous services over the course of their client’s contract, this is a great way to make money with SEO and get access to some of the world’s largest brands.
In addition to honing your SEO skills, you may also be presented with work that allows you to gain client facing and project management-based skills. A single company can outsource dozens of jobs in the long run, potentially making your consulting business very lucrative.
5. Starting Your Own Agency
With only 24 hours in a day, many entrepreneurs will discover that they’re limited to how many personal hours they have to provide work. In order to scale your SEO business, it may make sense to start your own agency at this point. You can hire others with less experience than you to execute specific tasks, like writing content, performing keyword research, managing freelancers, finding link opportunities, etc.
This is more than just a way to make money with SEO, as you are building a scalable business. Overtime you offer additional marketing services like email marketing, paid media advertising, or social media management.
By running your own agency, you’re able to take on retainers and manage more projects with your own employees. This does mean working longer hours, but the dividends it pays as you turn from employee to boss are noticeable. This business is not an easy business to start by any means, so this business model is suited best for highly experienced professionals.
6. Build and Monetize a Blog
Blogging is a surprising way to make money as a direct result of your craft. And it doesn’t have to be an SEO blog, of course.
Picking a niche and building out an optimized website is the first step. Understanding how to properly “bucket” your site will help you in the long run.
Notice this site structure: carmax.com/cars/jeep/compass
Of the many types of pages on this site, the core pages are bucketed into product/category/sub-category which allows optimization of a core page and subsequent pillar pages that link to each other. You can use this “pillar page” content strategy to flush out robust sections of your blog.
From there, ad revenue and featured articles from sponsors can all help supplement your income while you continue to build out your site, bringing in more engaged readers over time while you establish credibility in your niche.
You’ll want to build an email list and learn how to maximize your email marketing ROI. Once you build a brand with loyal subscribers, you can send promotional emails to your readers and they’ll trust your recommendation to buy your product or buy a product through an affiliate link.
This process almost always takes time unless you target a very specific, non-competitive niche. And it’s not a fast way to make money with search engine optimization. You’ll have to put in the time to build out a highly engaging, resourceful blog so that you can maximize your revenue.
7. Host Seminars, Conferences or Teach Classes
Holding seminars where people pay for tickets, hosting classes, or offering online courses is a great way to both show off your own expertise and train potential colleagues and employees. Focusing on a non-competitive niche and driving results in that industry is recommended.
This model generally requires you to have a reputation for results. You should offer unique insight and value to your students, which typically only comes after years of building experience, testing, and staying up to date on most recent trends. Most people will not go to a seminar to see a person who’s name they don’t recognize, so laying out the ground work might take you some time.
8. Build and Sell SEO Software
With an everchanging marketing landscape, it’s only natural for the need for new products and services to arise. The software as a service (SaaS) business model can be beneficial for you if you can find a gap in the market to fill.
For example, Pitchbox is a prospecting and outreach management tool for agencies, publications, and businesses. It allows you to find influencers and bloggers and integrates with other SEO tools like Moz and Ahrefs so you can vet your prospects before sending outreach emails through the tool. It’s one example of a tool that saves agencies time and money and allows them to scale quickly.
This advanced SEO business model often requires a founder or founding team who deeply understands industry pain points. Without capital to invest in your product or a team who can test and develop your toolset, starting a SaaS SEO business is probably not for you…yet.
Key Takeaways for Making Money with SEO
Networking, branding, and name recognition will go a long way when starting an SEO business. While you can be a results driver who’s proficient with techniques and best practices, interpersonal skills and client relations are going to carry you far and into the most lucrative parts of the business. Use these ideas to jumpstart your career and create a personal reputation that precedes you, and you’ll be raking in the money before long.