How Can I Expand My Freelance Or Design Business?

Woman thinking about how to improve her agency's SEO capabilities.

The answer to the question, “How can I expand my freelance or design business” is pretty simple. Start offering SEO services to clients. 

You can build the best website in the world, but if no one ever finds it, your client won’t succeed. Adding SEO services to your freelance or design business is a win-win because you’re:

  • Introducing new revenue streams for your business.
  • Improving the performance of your client’s sites.

Keep reading to learn why and how to expand your business by offering SEO services for your clients. 

Why You Should Offer SEO Services to Clients

Search engine optimization is about tweaking websites so they perform better in search engines. SEO used to focus primarily on content, so people who focused on design and development would let content writers handle it. The web has changed since then, and so has SEO.

As search engines evolved and improved their algorithms, search engine optimization grew to encompass more than just the words on the page. Search engines care about how fast a site loads and if it’s optimized for mobile devices, something you, as a designer or developer, have a lot of control over. The introduction of schema markup allows search engines to display rich results but requires changes to the page’s source code to get the full benefit. 

Beyond being a great way to add services to your business, SEO is no longer optional – it’s an expectation. While people in the field may distinguish between a designer, developer, and copywriter, they’re all the same to the average client. Clients want their websites to appear in search engines, so they expect you to deliver those results. You’ll already have to explain that you’re not their personal helpdesk and can’t help with their passwords, but SEO is something you can say yes to. 

Creating Recurring Revenue for Freelancers and Design Agencies with SEO Services

Most freelancers and agencies generate the bulk of their revenue from designing and building new websites. Unfortunately, most companies only redesign their website every three to five years. This leaves freelancers and small agencies to deal with feast or famine conditions without a steady flow of new clients. 

Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) provides a more stable income and keeps you in front of a client between redesigns. A fixed amount of revenue coming in each month gives you more breathing room, so you’re not starting from zero every 30 days.

SEO services can contribute to recurring revenue because the work is ongoing. Examples of the types of SEO services web designers and freelancers can offer include:

  • Ongoing website optimization and maintenance
  • Content updates and refreshes
  • SEO reporting and analytics

How Do I Offer SEO Services to Clients?

If you want to offer SEO services to create recurring revenue, follow these best practices. 

Pitch New and Existing Clients

Communicate the value of SEO services to your clients. You need to pitch SEO services the same way you would a website redesign. People need to understand the value of the service and what you bring to the table.

Define Your Offerings

You need clear pricing and deliverables for your SEO services. Many freelancers learn the hard way why they need a contract before they begin a new project. Your standard terms might not work as well for ongoing SEO work. The client relationship will be stronger if you set clear expectations upfront. 

Build Expertise

You can’t just wing it when it comes to SEO. You’ll need to invest time in mastering search. Start by leveraging online resources like courses and certifications. You also can collaborate with experienced SEO professionals or agencies to learn from them. 

Don’t forget the value of practice. Remember your own website? When was the last time you updated it? Use your site as a testing ground and case study. 

Update Your Workflow

Assess how these new services fit within your own workflow and how you engage with the client. You’ll probably need to update some of your processes. 

Provide Excellent Customer Service

Give clients regular progress updates and reports. Establish open lines of communication for client questions and feedback. You want clients to know that you’re invested in their success. 

Types of SEO Services You Can Offer 

The key to expanding your freelance or design business is deciding what types of SEO services you can offer. Let’s look at some of the most in-demand services that make sense for web designers. 

SEO Audits and Competitor Analysis

Audits and competitor analysis are a great way to introduce SEO services to your clients. Ideally, the audit and analysis would conclude with your recommendations on how to improve their ranking. Leverage these SEO components to get the client to hire you to implement the recommendations. 

Technical SEO

Most SEO audits will find some technical aspects that need improvement. Common issues that need to be fixed with a technical SEO tune-up include:

  • Site speed
  • Clearing 404 errors
  • Adding 301 redirects
  • Creating sitemaps
  • Implementing Schema/structured data markup

Content Analysis and Optimization

These factors are what many companies mean when they talk about SEO. They want someone to tweak their content to do better in search results. You’ll want to develop a keyword strategy, then use it to optimize existing content for those keywords. This strategy could include optimizing title tags, adding meta descriptions, rewording content, and adding headers. 

Content optimization might also include reworking the site hierarchy, adjusting URLs, or implementing a new navigation. 

Content Creation

If the client doesn’t have enough existing content or wants to start ranking for additional search terms, they’ll need new content. Content creation provides value to the client, but only if you have the skills to do it well. If you’re not a writer, you can still offer this service by doing the keyword research yourself and outsourcing the writing. 

Incoming links are good for SEO. You want high-quality sites linking to your client’s site. Link building is a popular SEO service, but is often difficult for freelancers to do effectively.

Start by looking at obvious links such as directories, partners or distributors, and membership organizations like the local chamber of commerce. Some SEO experts do outreach to try to arrange for links back to specific sites.

You need a lot of patience and time for this. Breaking through the clutter to get them to see the benefits of linking to your client’s site can be difficult.

Monitoring and Analytics

Include regular monitoring and updates as a part of any SEO service you offer. Clients will expect it, and it helps keep everyone on the same page. 

SEO Tools and Resources for Freelancers and Design Agencies

To be successful with SEO services, you’ll need to be smart with your time. Curating the right collection of tools can help. Tools not only save you time, they also provide you with the insights you need to improve your client’s SEO. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most popular SEO tools for web designers.

SEO Platforms

These tools offer a combination of research, monitoring, and reporting that automate a lot of your SEO work:

Keyword Research

In addition to the main SEO platforms, these tools help you develop the best keyword strategy for your clients:

SEO WordPress Plugins

Adding these plugins to a WordPress site simplifies some of the SEO work:

SEO Resources

You can use these sites and courses to improve your SEO skillset:

Growing Your Business With SEO

Adding services as a freelance web designer or developer is a great way to increase your profits. Recurring SEO services add stability to your business, so you’re not in limbo wondering when the next project will come. 

SEO also benefits your clients. They’ve invested in you to build a great website. SEO is a further investment in the site’s success. Websites don’t operate on a “if you build it, they will come” basis. It takes SEO smarts and hard work to get decent organic traffic flowing to a site. 

No matter where you are in your business journey, the team at Pressable is ready to help. Our lightning-fast servers provide the SEO-boosting speed you need for all your clients’ sites. We also offer affiliate and agency partner programs that could be a good fit for your freelance business. Contact us to learn more. 

Zach Wiesman

Zach has 12+ years of experience with WordPress, from creating and maintaining client sites, to providing support and developing documentation. A knack for problem-solving and providing solutions led Zach to pursue a job with Automattic providing customer support in 2015 working with WooCommerce support, and now Zach has recently joined our team here at Pressable. Outside of work, Zach enjoys spending time with his family, playing and watching sports, and working on projects around the house.

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