Is SEO Copywriting the Career for You? 12 Questions, Answered

FAQs

Want to be an SEO writer? Check this out!

Have you thought about dipping your toes in the SEO writing waters, but you figured it was “too technical” to learn?

Or, have you shunned SEO writing because you’ve heard it was spammy, maddening and not worth your time?

Let me calm your fears…

SEO writing has been around for a long time — close to 20 years now.

A lot has changed over those 20 years.

No longer does Google reward keyphrase-stuffed, spammy writing (woohoo!)

In fact, quality, authoritative writing is what scores a sky-high ranking. You know, the kind of writing you already love to create.

Wondering if you should add SEO writing to your services mix? Here are the 12 most common questions I hear  — and my (sometimes blunt) responses. Enjoy!

1. I have zero copywriting experience. Can I still write SEO copy?

Yes…but…

There will be a learning curve.

You don’t have to be a technical wizard who enjoys coding sites in your spare time. But you do need to understand the SEO copywriting basics.

Otherwise, you are doing your clients a huge disservice. Not understanding SEO best practices means you’ll miss important opportunities (or make mistakes) that can cost your client money.

(Fortunately, SEO copywriting skills can be picked up fairly quickly.)

You’ll also need to learn the basic copywriting ropes.

If you want to help your clients succeed (and that means helping them make sales,) it’s crucial that you understand how to create conversion-oriented copy. It will help you write better Web pages, improve your email campaigns – and even help you drive more traffic to your site.

2. I’m an established copywriter. Should I learn SEO writing, too?

Yes. SEO writing is a service you can offer established clients, increasing your profit margins.

Plus, why wouldn’t you want to help your client drive more traffic to her site? After all, if you don’t provide this service, your client may be forced to find another vendor who can.

3. Do I need to go back to school?

I don’t know of any universities that incorporate SEO copywriting into their curriculum. Some writers choose to get a certificate in ad or business writing — but it’s not required.

4. So, if I can’t go to school to learn SEO copywriting, how will I learn the ropes?

You have a few options.

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.

If you enjoy learning in a conference environment, events like Pubcon and Search Marketing Expo run SEO copywriting panels. AWAI runs web writing workshops.

Occasionally, there are local workshops too – you can always check with an SEO copywriter you like and see if he/she is running anything in your area.

If you prefer to learn from the comfort of your comfy couch, there are online training classes, too (such as my SEO Copywriting Certification training.) Going through a training course can even help land you your first gig.

What should you avoid? Learning the ropes from message boards (where the information could be wrong) and books (where the information may be outdated.) Stick to constantly-updated resources and you’ll be fine.

5. What about working with a mentor? Can I learn that way? 

Some folks prefer a mentor/mentee relationship, where the “master” SEO copywriter reviews your work, answers your questions and helps you learn the art faster and easier.

Some mentors will work with writers for free — but that means you’ll probably be paying in other ways (such as helping your mentor with tasks.) Other people 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 an SEO copywriter faster (and receive more consistent feedback) if you’re able to pay.

6. I’d rather learn on the job. Will anyone hire a newbie SEO copywriter?

Yes! Although most companies prefer to hire folks with some experience, you can work as an assistant at first — and gradually work on writing projects as your skills improve.

A recent 2016 study found that the average web writer salary is $77,500 — so the income projections are excellent.

7. Won’t what I learn go out of date in just a few months?

Yes…and no. It’s true that Google keeps changing the rules. Having said that, many of the basics (like write for your reader) are the same.

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.

8. 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 know (for instance, your hairdresser, a restaurant owner or a plumber.) Is there some way that you can help them?

You can also work with advertising agencies, SEO firms, copywriting agencies and even web design companies. In short, freelance SEO copywriters have lots of options.

9. 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.

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 some SEO copywriters making 20K a year – and others making over 200K. It all depends on your income goals.

Here are some things to think about when you’re setting your freelance copywriting rates.

10.  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. Working part-time can be a great way to build up a client base while having the security of a regular paycheck.

11. How can I get paid more money?

That’s up to you. Top notch SEO copywriters understand how the search engines work, and keep up on the latest and greatest algorithmic changes.

Plus, they’re researching topics like NLP, neuromarketing, consumer psychology — anything that will help them write better copy faster.

The more you know, the more you can get paid.

If you love learning and uncovering the latest search engine burp is fun for you, you can look at expanding your skills into content marketing, social media and even consulting and training.

Some SEO copywriters even take on full-scale SEO projects, handling everything from technical to analytics and everything in between.

If this is the route you plan to take, know that you’ll need to spend a lot of time educating yourself. As I mentioned earlier, your lack of knowledge can hurt a client,so be very honest about what you can do – and what you can’t provide.

12. The most important question of all: Is SEO copywriting a fun career choice?

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.

Still others would rather work for an agency and be part of a fantastic team.

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. 🙂

6 replies
  1. Nina
    Nina says:

    I agree with you. I am a self-taught SEO Copywriter (and I am still constantly learning). That’s why I am planning to take your course really soon to hone my skills.

    I still work a full time job and run my SEO Copywriting part-time. I attend networking events, and as soon as I say “SEO” everybody throws me their card. They get deeply engaged when I share what I think is “basic” information. Their usual response is ” I didn’t know that”. So, it is crucial to become a “teacher” to your clients. When I first started out I discovered http://www.seomoz.org , which they have a free guide on SEO Basics. I also got SEO for dummies by Peter Kent. And I just purchased SEO All in One for Dummies for Bruce Clay. However, for Direct Response Copywriting, I subscribe to http://www.awaionline.com they have a wealth of invaluable information and talented & experienced writers that know their stuff. I also use SEO Best Practices for my own site. So, I hope this helps your subscribers get started on becoming a SEO Copywriter, it’s a very fun and exciting career and I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

    Reply
    • Heather
      Heather says:

      Nina, hello!

      Thanks so much for your post.

      You’re right -people crave SEO information. It seems so confusing to anyone not “in the know” – and why wouldn’t it be? You can read 10 sites for SEO advice, and it’s possible that all 10 will tell you something different. That’s why people want to work with SEO consultants…they need someone to tell them the “real deal.”

      AWAI is a great source for direct response copywriting info – thanks for bringing it up (fair disclosure: I sit on their board.) Another AWAI board member who has written many copywriting books is Bob Bly. I recommend reading his books and checking out his blog.

      Thanks for your post, Nina!

      Reply
  2. Lew
    Lew says:

    Hi Heather.

    Well, I started my business and I have a friend who has a very good business going out in Michigan, I’m pretty sure you know who I’m referring to.

    In any case while I’m still a noob so to speak, this has been a very informative year for me, and I am expanding into SEO and I do realize that I have much to learn. I’m going the “book” route at the moment and think that it’s working well for me.

    I’m trying to work with small local business in my area, but with a tight economy it’s tough to sell them, so I’m also beating up as many of the freelance sits as possible.

    In 2012 I intend to work that much harder to grow my business and reach past the little county where I currently live in upstate NY.

    Reply
  3. Joshua Nyamache
    Joshua Nyamache says:

    Given that there many people teaching SEO writing, I have come to learn that not all of them have mastered SEO writing.

    Some claim they’re experts but they are offering advice, techniques and tactics that don’t work.

    Learn from those people who have succeeded in SEO writing. The good news is that they are always sharing what they have applied and worked so well.

    Reply
    • Heather Lloyd-Martin
      Heather Lloyd-Martin says:

      SO true, Joshua!

      I cringe at some of the “advice” I read from “SEO writing experts.” Some of them are still spouting about keyphrase density — ahhh!

      Is it any wonder people don’t know what SEO writing is and/or think it’s synonymous with “spammy writing.”

      Thanks for your note!

      Reply
  4. Roger
    Roger says:

    Love that you’re helping break the barrier to entry in SEO writing. I would say the actual value of copywriting has probably doubled in the last couple years – writers are super important in this content-driven SEO world.

    I consistently look to hire freelance writers, but quality ones are hard to find. I’ll point some newbies your way so they can learn!

    Reply

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