Thinking About Becoming An SEO Copywriter? Let Me Answer Your Questions First …
I’ve heard from a number of people who want to dip their toes into the SEO copywriting waters – but they’re not sure if it’s the right career choice for them.
If you’re looking at SEO copywriting as a career choice, here are the most frequent questions I hear … and the answers I provide:
I have zero copywriting experience. Can I still be a SEO copywriter?
Sure you can … after some training.
To be a successful SEO copywriter, it is very important to understand how the search engines work. I can’t emphasize this enough. You don’t have to be a technical wizard who enjoys coding sites in your spare time. But you do need to speak (and understand) “SEO geek.” Otherwise, you are doing your clients a huge disservice. Remember, clients rely on you to understand keyphrase strategy, hyperlink strategy and how content marketing dovetails with their entire marketing campaign. Not understanding SEO best practices means you’ll miss important opportunities (or make mistakes) that can cost your client money.
Additionally, you’ll also need to understand persuasive writing techniques – otherwise known as “understanding how people tick and make buy decisions.” At the end of the day, your clients look to you as a marketing expert. They may not have a good handle on how to boast their benefits or pinpoint their unique sales proposition.
Do I need to go back to school?
Nope. In fact, I don’t know of any universities that incorporate SEO copywriting into their curriculum.
So, if I can’t go to school to learn SEO copywriting … how will I learn the ropes?
Being a self-starter and taking the initiative to educate yourself is extremely important. Unlike some careers, don’t figure that you’ll “learn SEO copywriting” in a few months – and that’s all you’ll need to do. I’m still learning. I’m still researching. It’s a never-ending process.
Many of the top copywriters are self-taught, learning the art through reading books, combing blogs and trial and error. For folks who prefer more “formal” training, there is AWAI’s SEO Copywriting Success (which is online and self-taught.) If you enjoy learning in a conference environment, Pubcon, Search Marketing Expo and Search Engine Strategies run SEO copywriting panels, and of course there is the Annual Web Copy Intensive.
My favorite SEO copywriter isn’t planning a seminar in my area. Now what?
Some folks learn well in a mentor relationship, where the SEO copywriter reviews your work, answers your questions and helps you learn the art faster and easier. I’ve mentored a few folks, and it is a very powerful way to learn – especially for folks who prefer a one-on-one learning environment. Some mentors will work with folks for free, in exchange for you doing some writing. Other mentors will charge money.
Although “free” is a great price, don’t reject a “paid” mentor relationship if you have the funds available. You’ll probably be able to work with a SEO copywriter faster (and receive more consistent feedback) if you’re able to pay.
If you can get hired as a marketing assistant, it’s possible that you can learn the SEO copywriting essentials on the job. Although most companies prefer to hire folks with at least a little experience, you can work as an assistant at first – and then gradually work on some writing projects as your skills improve.
Won’t what I learn be out of date in just a few months?
Nope. SEO copywriting foundational strategies have been stable over time. Granted, there are always new opportunities (such as Twitter.) But the “writing with keywords” basics are tried and true. At the same time, it’s crucial to stay educated in this fast-moving field. If you love to learn, SEO (and SEO copywriting) is a great career choice.
How can I find SEO copywriting work?
That depends – do you want to work in-house or freelance? If you want to freelance, think about business owners you personally know who have a website – is there some way that you can help them? You can also work with advertising agencies, SEO firms, online SEO copywriting agencies and even Web design companies.
In short, freelance SEO copywriters have lots of options. If you prefer to work in-house, you can find a number of SEO copywriting and content marketing jobs online. AWAI’s DirectResponseJobs.com is free for AWAI-trained copywriters and lists some great SEO copywriting gigs.
How much should I charge for SEO copywriting services?
That depends on a lot of things, including your experience level, your local area (assuming that you are focusing locally,) and the types of clients you want to work with. If your heart is with small business owners, it makes sense to charge small business prices. If you love working with corporations – and you have some experience under your virtual belt – you can charge much more. I know SEO copywriters who have made 20K a year – and others who have made over 200K.
Can I be a part-time SEO copywriter?
Yes. Many people when they are first starting out have a “real job” during the day – and work on SEO copywriting assignments at night. This can be a great way to build up a client base while having the security of a regular paycheck.
Note that you’ll have to figure out how to communicate with your clients during your “regular” workday – even if your SEO copywriting day starts at 7pm, most of your clients will want to talk to you between 9-5. However, you can always answer emails and take calls on your lunch hour – and really focus on your clients the moment you get home.
The most important question of all: Is SEO copywriting a fun career choice?
For many people, yes, SEO copywriting is a darn fun career choice. Some folks choose to turn SEO copywriting into a lifestyle business, where they fit in copywriting gigs around family, fun and other responsibilities.
Other people dream of having a full-fledged SEO copywriting and content marketing agency, complete with employees, downtown office and signage. While others would prefer to work in-house with a team of talented people.
If SEO copywriting is your desired career choice, you have the freedom to create the work environment you’ve always wanted. And having that kind of freedom, combined with doing the work you want to do, is a great gig.
[Ed. note: Heather Lloyd-Martin is a 20-year marketing veteran, author of AWAI’s SEO Copywriting Success, and is considered the pioneer of SEO copywriting.]
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