Choose your status, find your first clients, build your network, continue your education… So many imperatives for anyone who wants to start as an independent SEO.
Would you like to start your own business and practice as an SEO freelancer? Develop yourself outside of the salary framework on your own while staying in control of your time? But what does that mean? Are we really alone? To find out more, we met two SEO freelancers. The first is called William Moulin. The 25-year-old self-taught is now a digital nomad, traveling the world as an SEO manager for e-commerce websites, a freelance SEO and a speaker at an SEO school. Olivier Pruvot, 40, lives in Nice and is the second. After more than 15 years of experience in an agency, three years ago he co-founded Freedly, a group of freelancers that brings together experts from all digital professions.
Becoming a freelancer has a number of benefits when you are successful:
- Choose your customers
- have more freedom
- Ensuring a better balance between personal and professional life
- Get better pay
- No more office hours
- Manage workdays yourself
disadvantages exist. First off, you’re on your own when it comes to getting started. Because a new life begins: that of an entrepreneur with responsibility:
- Search and find new customers
- Set up administrative and accounting management
- Be subject to the vagaries of income that varies from month to month
- Develop in a very competitive environment
That didn’t stop William Moulin from getting started: “I started SEO in e-commerce at the age of 21. I had no SEO training. All my knowledge comes from AB tests and many conversations with people involved in SEO. It has become a passion. I’m constantly learning new things.” Olivier Pruvot also wanted to make a living from his passion: “I had thought about embarking on this adventure for several years. At first alone, I very quickly founded the collective together with Nicolas Ricci, in order to be inspired by passionate people like me to be surrounded.”
When you start your activity, you must first decide on your legal status. You have three main choices.
- The Micro Enterprise or EIRL (Limited Liability Company): This status is the easiest to start and allows for simplified accounting with a simplified declaration of turnover. Fees are reduced and you are subject to a €70,000 turnover cap without being able to join.
- A SARL, EURL, SAS or SASU company : No sales limit and entry option at any time. Your liability is limited to your contributions if you choose to join the SARL or the EURL. The incorporation formalities are longer and more expensive, while the day-to-day administration is heavier than for the micro-enterprise.
- Wage portage: It is a status that allows you to be self-employed while receiving a salary from a payroll company. You benefit from all the advantages of being an employee without being restricted in your work. Quick status set up, your compensation may be less important due to the fees charged by the payroll company.
Once you’ve chosen your status, you need to introduce yourself to the market and attract potential customers. And in that regard, your network will be important for word of mouth to work. For many, registering on platforms that connect freelancers and companies such as Malt.fr, Codeur.com, Freelance.com and even Dilga.fr will be a starting point. Professional social networks also allow you to maintain it while increasing your visibility.
“What has worked for me is Malt and more recently Linkedin”
As for William Moulin: “I use Linkedin because it’s a social network where you have time to develop legitimacy. On LinkedIn, implementing a strategy to build a solid network can be counted in months. If “we start from scratch, it takes three to six months or even a year. Then we have freelance platforms like Malt.fr. Once started, word of mouth works well. The reality is different for every freelancer. What has worked for me is Malt and more recently Linkedin.”
For Olivier Pruvot, the creation of the Freedly collective has allowed him to not go all alone and to surround himself well to expand his network: “After 15 years in the agency, I had built a network on the client side and I was surrounded by trusted ones People. Initially I started with a certain number of contacts, but the collective allowed me to quickly be surrounded by experts from other fields and see further.”
Each of the members of the collective has their own expertise and it is easier for them to offer their services knowing that they can bring in a developer or a graphic designer if the client’s needs require it. “It allows me to expand the project by proposing complementary solutions and offering a more global vision. Everyone has their own clients, but in some cases the client is looking for multiple service providers for the same project. In this case, the one or the one of us who brought the order takes the lead, becoming project manager and pilot, activating the profiles of our collective when the time comes, while retaining their expertise. This implies an investment by everyone and good cohesion. At the end of the project, the customer will then receive 2, 3 or 4 different invoices.”
“It’s very rare that a freelancer works alone on a large project”
A way of living entrepreneurship by being surrounded and at the same time staying in touch with other professionals and experts. This is important when you know that certain files may require you to consult other SEOs or even get a call. This gives the network its full meaning. But Olivier Pruvot wants to reassure: “We are never really alone. Even if a freelancer does not have his collective, even if his network is not very extensive, he meets people with different specialist knowledge through the projects. That’s very rare for a freelancer to work alone on a large project. On the other hand, you should know that we are alone with our expertise.”
An expertise that must be constantly questioned and further developed. Like Olivier Pruvot of the Freedly collective, William Moulin believes that meeting other freelancers is essential to progress. Just like continuing education. “As an SEO freelancer, I can’t fall asleep with my knowledge. I have to update it. Thanks to the diversity of my projects, I develop myself further in many different topics and feed off this diversity. Exciting and committed people through my cooperations as well as through my work in the social networks.”
The life of the SEO freelancer therefore consists of meetings, exchanges and collaborations that make you a professional who is anything but alone. Your radius of action will evolve at the same time as your skills. You need to take care of your brand image. In this regard, William Moulin relies on Linkedin to get people talking about him. He publishes posts there every day, sometimes with a weird tone, often educational and focused on feedback or SEO checklists. Above all, he organizes a “live SEO” once a week. To make yourself known first, but also to contribute to the SEO discussion. “It was quite promising as through this channel I received suggestions for SEO missions but also suggestions for teaching and sharing my knowledge.”
“You need to know yourself and assume your expertise above all about your prices and advertised time.”
Regardless of his network, the freelancer remains alone in the day-to-day management of his activity, where time management is of crucial importance. A freelancer must be able to move from one project to another while respecting their time and price. For Olivier Pruvot it is even essential: “You have to be able to know your limits and master your time. You always need to know if you’re on target or if you’ve beaten your estimates. You must follow this for all files.” . This is the only way you can gain precision and sell your services with the right calibration at the right price. You have to know yourself and above all assume your expertise about your prices and the announced time.”
Final recommendation for the future freelancer in you, formulated by William Moulin: “I try to diversify by developing my own projects to be less dependent on others. I develop niche ecommerce websites. This feeds my experience and my experience with SEO something like an ecommerce site, blog or similar is very important to be able to show.” As you wish !