New SEO content writer? How to conquer fear and land clients

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-transform-fear-action-concept-image29545056Starting your career as a freelance SEO content writer is scary. 

You know you’re a good writer. You may have written some web copy for friends. Heck, you may even have a client or two – or you worked in-house.

“Dabbling” as a freelance SEO content writer is one thing. You’re testing the waters and seeing if you really want to continue.

But then there comes that “jumping off” point. That point where you say, “I want to turn this into a full-time business. What should I do next?”

That’s where the fear sets in.

Unfortunately, this is when smart SEO copywriters start making not-so-smart decisions. They get scattered. They get frustrated. And sometimes, they give up – long before they should.

If you’re new to the freelance SEO content writing business, here’s what to do:

 

- Write as much SEO content as you can. This sounds like a no-brainer tip, I know. But it’s amazing how many “newbie” SEO copywriters spend so much time on “book learning” that they forget that the only way to truly improve their craft is by writing.

One of the easiest ways to start is by building a blog. Write about “stuff” you enjoy and you’re passionate about. Practice setting up an editorial calendar. Learn how to research keyphrases and develop a keyphrase strategy. Don’t worry about screwing up – this is all for practice. Your own blog allows you to try and test different approaches. Then, you can take that new-found expertise and use it to wow your new clients.

- Study your butt off.  Yes, you’ll want to write every chance you get. But remember, “book learning” is still important. I’ve spent over 20 years learning how to craft persuasive content, and I’m still learning. Plus, if you don’t know the SEO content writing “rules” you’re putting your site – and your future clients’ site – at risk. Read books, blog posts (here’s a great list,) and take courses. When you learn something new, take that knowledge back to your blog and put it into practice.

- Volunteer your time. Don’t think of this as “giving away your time.” or “working for free.” Instead, consider this an “unpaid internship.” I’m willing to bet that your local not-for-profit would love your help (and be grateful for it, too.) Plus, you can use an opportunity like this to gain your first testimonial.

- Find an SEO copywriting mentor. Sometimes, you can offer to work with a Master SEO freelance copywriter as an intern. You may be working for free, but you’ll have someone checking your work, offering guidance and letting you work with different types of clients.

I’m going to chat about how to find a mentor in a future blog post. There’s definitely a way to “pitch” a possible mentor – and things to definitely avoid. Stay tuned!

- Work with small businesses. Local, small businesses rarely have the budget for full-on copywriting help – and they are incredibly grateful for any SEO writing help.

Your best bet is starting small. Create a monthly newsletter. Rewrite a couple pages of web content. Conduct keyphrase research. Offer to work for free or at a highly discounted rate. Great experience like this can gain you even more testimonials – even case studies (which are crucial for landing new clients!)

- Know your fear is normal – but it’s time to get over it. You will be rejected. You will have dark nights of the soul when you’d rather work at Starbucks than write another word. You will feel like you’re not good enough. There will be aspects of your business that are not so fun. We all go through it. Allow yourself time (like, 10 minutes – not an entire day) to freak out, bitch, moan and fear the unknown. Then, go out there and pitch your new client.

You’ve got this. Really!

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