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SEO Writing: How to Make $5,000 Per Month – or More – Writing Web Articles

Updated on February 18, 2010

If you're a search engine optimization copywriter (aka, SEO writer, SEO copywriter, web writer, SEO article writer), you're more than likely busy. If you’re not, I practically guarantee that it’s because there’s a glitch in your marketing plan.

SEO writing is a very lucrative freelance writing niche where you can become quickly overwhelmed. I know, I speak from personal experience. Within a few months of starting this type of writing, I had to hire other freelance writers to help me out.

To give some background on this article, this post came about because  of one freelance writer's foray into SEO writing. Briefly, she bought my ebook on how to start this type of freelance writing career, and  she started to get queries before she even started to market. Read about that here.

She was afraid she'd get overwhelmed quickly, and as she worked full-time, I advised that she consider outsourcing.

I directed her to an article I'd written before on how to go about hiring outsourcers, and told her I'd write one specifically as it pertains to the SEO industry today. So, here goes:

SEO Copywriting: A Lucrative Freelance Writing Niche

6 Tips on How to Grow Your SEO Writing Business by Outsourcing

1. Pre-qualify SEO Writers: Many freelance writers are hungry for work and will apply to any and every job listing - even if they have no experience in that particular sector. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, if you’re looking for help, it’s probably because you’re swamped and on deadline.

Hence, you want a freelance writer who knows how to write SEO copy because you’re not going to have time to train them. And, you don’t want to have to go over everything that they turn in with a fine tooth comb.

So, prequalify them. How do you do this? By writing the ad so that they have to know what you're talking about, eg:

Looking for SEO writers who can provide keyword density of 2-3% on 400-word articles. Must use two long-tail keyword phrases to accompany each article; these will be provided.

Freelance writers who don't know how to write SEO content will either not respond, or will respond with questions. If they respond with questions, then you know they don’t have the skill set you’re looking for.

Simple enough, right?

2. SEO Writing Training: Only you can decide if you're willing to train other freelance writers on how to write SEO copy. I had to give a few basic guidelines when I first started hiring writers. Now, I have a team I work with, so it’s smooth sailing (thank goodness!).

If you do decide to provide SEO copywriting training, you don't want it to be so detailed that it takes up too much of your time.

Some writers can cost you money, if you're not careful. Freelance writers you do hire should know the basics like what keyword density is, what long-tail keywords are, what search engine optimization is, and what labels and tags are.

More industry specific terms like silos, tag clouds and categorization are not widely used, so it's okay if they don't know these are. It's easily to explain to them if they have the SEO writing basics under their belt.

Hence, I advise limiting the amount of training you’re willing to do. And, I say this from first-hand experience. Nobody taught me how to write SEO copy. I did a lot (a lot) of reading about it on my own and through various conversations and writing jobs with clients picked up more knowledge. I still study SEO on an almost daily basis.

You have to, because it changes. But that’s what makes it such a lucrative freelance writing niche as well. Many freelance writers don’t take the time to do this. So for the few who do, they’re able to land SEO writing jobs pretty steadily.

FYI, to stay abreast of what’s going on in the SEO sector, I read industry news via outlets like Web Pro News and SearchEngineWatch.com.

3. Hire in Small Doses: What I mean by this is, hire one or two SEO writers first that you can keep busy all the time. These can be your "go-to writers." Then, if they happen to be busy, you can bring on a few others to outsource to on an as-need basis.

I call this cultivating a sense of loyalty. To explain, most freelance writers like steady work from a few sources. While they will take on "hit and run clients," eg, those clients that call at the last minute every two to three months to bail them out; they don’t like to.

Sometimes, even when I have time to do a project myself, I will outsource it to my team just so that I can keep their income up. Their loyalty to me means a lot, so this helps me and them.

I have four writers I work with consistently these days. This helps me to keep the deadline monster at bay and concentrate on my other projects (ebooks, seminars, affiliate marketing).

4. Give Test Projects: I’ve worked with many freelance writers only one time. Why? Because the quality of their work was so much lower than other freelance SEO writers I've worked with.

The funny thing is, if I’d had nothing to compare them to, their work would have passed muster. But, when compared side by side to other SEO writers, it just didn’t measure up. FYI, the rate was the same, so that didn’t factor into the equation.

When you find a really talented SEO writer – who always adheres to deadlines -- latch on to them. They will save you so much money in the long run because you won't have to check their work with a fine-tooth comb. You can essentially scan it, and send it out to the client. This type of writer makes you more money over time because you can turn in projects quicker, keep your quality of writing up, and take on more work because you have dependable, talented help.

5. Tweaking Work: It's rare that you'll find a freelance writer who will turn in a perfect project every time. I invariably tweak the articles I get back from even my best writers. BUT, this is not because their writing was in any way inferior. I’m a Type A personality, so my tweaks are usually putting my own stamp on something, ie, I change wording to reflect the way would have written something

Words of advice - GET OVER THIS! I’m slowly overcoming it because I’m so busy these days I just don’t have time to do it any more.

If it's done well, pass it on to the client because you know what, they probably tweak it too when they get it too. This makes your tweaking a redundant, complete waste of time.

6. What to Do About Clients Who Don't Want You To Outsource Their SEO Content Writing. Some clients only want you - and nobody but you to write their SEO copy. Especially if they fall in love with your writing style. Don't be held hostage like this.

Early on in my SEO writing career, I made the mistake of telling a client that I might have to outsource some of his content in order to make his deadline. I must have been dead tired, because I almost never make this kind of gaffe.

He responded, "Oh no, I want you to do it. I love the last pieces and I want that same kind of writing for the rest of the pages."

Even though I know I could have found someone to write the content probably better than I did, he was adamant. So I gave my word that I wouldn’t do it. I wound up writing 26 pages of copy in 36 hours. Lesson learned!

My advice on this: Never, ever mention to a client that you may outsource their project. Most will assume it's going to be you and won't even inquire about this.

On the rare occasions that they ask, just tell them that your “firm” has a “team of writers” and that you adhere to all deadlines. And that’s really all clients care about – ie, the quality of the work and the deadline. If you can guarantee those, you won't have a problem.

The Bottom Line on How to Make $5,000 Per Month Or More Writing SEO Content

Build up a team of SEO writers you can count on. And, charge enough so that you can pay them a decent rate per article. Then, you can spend your time marketing for the work. All you need is a few clients to give you steady orders of 10 to 20 articles a week – which is not uncommon in SEO writing. Charging even a low rate of $35/article, and it can quickly add up.

Again I know – it’s how my SEO writing company thrives. Good luck if you decide to pursue this lucrative niche of freelance writing!

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