5 Essential Tips for Landing Your First SEO Gig on Upwork

5 Essential Tips for Landing Your First SEO Gig on Upwork

Working as an SEO freelancer is how a meaningful percentage of people get their start in the industry. Here's how to find your first SEO Gig on Upwork

Welcome to the world of SEO, where the demand for skilled professionals is higher than ever. As a marketer and entrepreneur, I know how challenging it can be to land your first gig. 

That’s why I want to share some great tips on finding your first SEO gig on Upwork. 

With this guide, you’ll learn how to position yourself as a valuable asset to potential clients and find opportunities that align with your skills and interests.

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Tips for Finding Your First SEO Gig on Upwork

1. Assemble a portfolio that showcases your finest work.

This step is crucial. 

In today’s digital landscape, your online portfolio can be the difference between getting lost in the crowd and standing out from the competition. 

You can demonstrate your skills and expertise to potential clients by showcasing your websites and even bypassing the interview process. 

72% of clients are more likely to hire freelancers with a portfolio that demonstrates their expertise, according to a survey by Upwork.

To create an impressive portfolio, consider the following:

  • Showcase your best SEO projects, including before-and-after data to highlight your impact.
  • Include testimonials from satisfied clients to build credibility.
  • Utilize visual elements such as charts or graphs to present your achievements effectively.

A strong portfolio can be the key to opening doors and launching your career as an SEO professional. 

So, don’t underestimate the power of a great online portfolio; it can make all the difference.

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2. Perfect your profile.

Your online profile is an advertisement for your freelance business and is crucial in standing out in a crowded market. 

Take the time to fill it out in detail and ensure it accurately represents who you are and what you have to offer. 

Don’t settle for a generic stock image; use a photo of yourself. 

Personalization is key and will help potential clients connect with you on a deeper level, thereby increasing your chances of landing a gig

Upwork’s data shows that freelancers with a complete and detailed profile receive up to 21x more invitations to interview.

Consider the following tips when perfecting your profile:

  • Provide a comprehensive overview of your skills, experience, and expertise.
  • Use a professional headshot to build trust and make a personal connection.
  • Highlight any relevant certifications or training you have acquired.
  • Optimize your profile with relevant keywords to increase your visibility in Upwork’s search results.

Remember, your profile is people’s first impression of you, so make sure it’s great.

READ: How To Create a Perfect Freelancer Profile On UpWork

3. Write detailed proposals and provide value upfront.

Provide value upfront. Sometimes customers show their websites and ask for a particular task, recommendation, or advice. 

Take the opportunity to showcase your expertise. 

Write detailed proposals demonstrating your understanding of the problem and offering solutions that exceed the client’s expectations. 

According to Upwork’s reports and data, freelancers who include relevant samples or work examples in their proposals have a 45% higher chance of being awarded the project.

Instead of just describing what you’ll do, provide a glimpse of the value you can deliver by going the extra mile and doing 20-30% of the job upfront. 

Consider the following tips when perfecting your profile:

  • Take the time to thoroughly understand the client’s needs and pain points.
  • Provide actionable insights and recommendations tailored to their specific situation.
  • Offer a clear outline of your proposed strategy or plan.
  • Share relevant case studies or success stories that demonstrate your past accomplishments.

This will set you apart from your competition and increase your chances of landing the gig.

4. Be super active.

In a competitive marketplace like Upwork, being proactive and persistent is very important.

Be relentless in your pursuit of success. When finding your first gig on Upwork, quantity is as important as quality. 

Apply to as many gigs as possible, and don’t be afraid to cast a wide net. 

In my experience, it took applying for more than 30 jobs before landing my first gig. 

Upwork’s research shows that freelancers who submit more proposals have a higher chance of getting hired.

And if you need to, don’t hesitate to invest in additional Upwork connects to increase your chances of getting hired. 

Additionally, networking and engaging with potential clients can lead to valuable opportunities.

Remember, persistence pays off, and being super active in your job search can be the key to success.

Consider the following strategies to boost your activity:

  • Apply to a variety of gigs that align with your skills and interests.
  • Regularly update your availability status to attract new clients.
  • Participate in relevant industry forums or groups to build connections and establish yourself as an authority.

5. Niche down.

Find your niche and own it. 

In today’s crowded market, the key to success is to specialize and become an authority in a specific area. 

Whether it’s keyword research or site audits, find your sweet spot and become a pro. 

Freelancers who specialize in a niche earn, on average, 2x more than generalists.

By focusing your efforts and honing your skills in a specific area, you’ll be able to offer more value to potential clients and stand out from the competition. 

Consider the following steps to narrow your niche effectively:

Identify your passion and strengths: 

Determine the areas of SEO that genuinely interest you and where you excel. This could be keyword research, technical SEO, content optimization, or local SEO, to name a few.

Researching market demand: 

Conduct market research to identify the demand for your chosen niche. Look for industries or businesses that require specialized SEO services and where your expertise can make a significant impact.

Develop your expertise: 

Invest time and effort in continuously learning and staying updated with the latest trends, strategies, and tools related to your niche. Attend webinars, read industry publications, and participate in relevant online communities to expand your knowledge and skills.

Showcase your expertise: 

Update your portfolio and profile to emphasize your niche specialization. Highlight relevant projects and case studies that demonstrate your success in that particular area. Leverage testimonials from clients who have benefited from your niche expertise.

Don’t be afraid to niche down and become the go-to expert in your field.

How SEO Freelancers Find Business.

Based on my research and feedback from SEO freelancers, here’s an overview of how they work and find clients:

Channels for Finding Clients

  • Network Referrals (9.5%): Many freelancers rely on referrals from their professional networks. Recommendations from satisfied clients or industry connections can lead to new business opportunities.
  • Search (8.9%): Organic search plays a crucial role in attracting clients for SEO freelancers. By optimizing their websites and content, freelancers can showcase their expertise and attract potential clients actively searching for SEO services.
  • Personal Networks (8.7%): Leveraging personal networks, such as friends, family, or acquaintances, can be a valuable source of business for freelancers. Recommendations within personal circles can lead to initial projects and help build a client base.
  • Organic Social (7.7%): Utilizing social media platforms, SEO freelancers can promote their services and establish a professional presence. By sharing valuable content and engaging with their target audience, freelancers can attract potential clients and showcase their skills.
  • Upwork (7.7%): Upwork, a popular freelance platform, serves as a viable channel for freelancers to find clients. By creating a compelling profile, submitting detailed proposals, and actively searching for relevant gigs, freelancers can secure projects through this platform.
How SEO Freelancers Work And Find Business

It’s important to note that newer SEO practitioners may face challenges due to limited experience, portfolios, and client lists.

In such cases, organic search and social media can serve as effective avenues to market their services and establish credibility.

Additionally, a smaller percentage of freelancers reported utilizing paid channels such as Google Ads (7.5%) and social media advertising (6.1%) to attract clients and generate business.

By employing a combination of these channels and continuously improving their skills and reputation, SEO freelancers can increase their chances of finding new clients and growing their businesses.

Final Thoughts.

In conclusion, breaking into the world of SEO freelancing on Upwork requires a strategic approach and a solid understanding of effective positioning. 

By implementing the tips outlined in this guide, you can significantly increase your chances of finding your first SEO gig and achieving long-term success.

Remember, your online portfolio is your ticket to standing out from the competition. Showcase your best work, provide tangible results, and let your achievements speak for themselves. 

Perfect your profile, personalize it, and ensure it accurately represents your expertise and capabilities.

When submitting proposals, go beyond mere service descriptions. Offer valuable insights and demonstrate your understanding of the client’s needs. 

By providing a glimpse of the value you can deliver upfront, you set yourself apart and increase your chances of securing the gig.

Stay active and persistent in your job search. 

Apply to a wide range of gigs, update your availability status, and actively engage with potential clients. 

Networking and building connections can open doors to valuable opportunities.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to specialize and focus on a specific area of SEO. 

By becoming an expert in a niche, you can offer targeted solutions and become the go-to professional in your field.

Take these tips to heart, refine your approach, and embark on your journey to find your first SEO gig on Upwork. 

With determination, continuous learning, and a focused mindset, you can carve a successful path as an SEO freelancer.

Good luck with your SEO freelancing endeavors!


How do I get SEO projects on Upwork?

To get SEO projects on Upwork, follow these steps: 
1. Assemble a strong portfolio showcasing your best work, 
2. Perfect your Upwork profile to accurately reflect your skills, 
3. Write detailed proposals that demonstrate your understanding of clients’ needs and offer solutions that exceed their expectations, 
4. Be active and persistent in your job search by applying to a wide range of gigs, and specializing in a specific area of SEO to stand out from the competition.