The SEO Freelancer
The SEO Freelancer
Kristina Azarenko: What comes next after a freelance SEO career?

Kristina Azarenko: What comes next after a freelance SEO career?

Kristina Azarenko joins Nick LeRoy in this months The SEO Freelancer podcast. Nick and Kristina discuss her SEO career and choice to move away from traditional SEO services to her current venture.

Introducing Kristina Azarenko

Kristina Azarenko is a former freelance SEO turned full-time course creator and trainer.

In today’s podcast, Kristina and I talk about her career journey starting as a junior SEO making $250 per month in Belarus to moving to Canada and going out on her own freelance.

Also, do you love or hate the term “freelancer?” Kristina and I have a fantastic conversation about the perceived value when referring to yourself as a “freelancer” vs “consultant.” Let us know in the comments below which side you are on!

Kristina’s Resource Recommendations

How to connect with Kristina Azarenko

Kristina’s consulting site Marketing Syrup

Check out Kristina’s courses and

Connect with Kristina on LinkedIn

Connect with Kristina on Twitter

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If you are a freelancer interested in joining me on a future episode of The SEO Freelancer podcast Please email me directly at

Podcast Transcription

Nick LeRoy  00:12

Welcome to the SEO Freelancer podcast. I'm your host, Nick LeRoy. This month I talk with Kristina Azarenko to discover her journey getting into SEO, moving into freelance SEO, and then making an additional move to becoming a full-time content creator. Before we jump into this month's interview, let's do a quick word from our sponsor, Seo

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Thank you again to our sponsor, and let's jump into this month's episode.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Kristina.

Kristina Azarenko

Hey, everyone, thank you so much for inviting me. I'm very excited to be here. Absolutely.

Nick LeRoy 

So people may not know Kristina, and I have our kind of that definition of “having a relationship friendship online”. You know, I think we've been following each other for Twitter for quite a while. I know she's been a subscriber to the SEO for lunch. You're offline. We were kind of joking about how I attempted to do some early virtual happy hours when COVID was still thing with the SEO for lunch crew. And, you know, I think that was one of the last times Kristina and I had kind of talked Yeah, online. You know, mine is just kind of our offline, or sorry, you know, Twitter conversations. But again, Kristina, so great to have you on, you know, thank you for your time.

Kristina Azarenko  02:05

Yeah, sure.

Nick LeRoy  02:08

So, Kristina, just to kick us off here. Can you give us an introduction and a brief description of your background?

Kristina Azarenko  02:15

Of course, so, um, again, Hey, everyone, in case you missed the beginning. I'm Kristina, Azarenko. And I guess I used to, I used to introduce myself, I'm an SEO consultant, and you'll learn why I'm confused now. But I see, I'd say that the best thing that describes me it would be SEO hero. That's what I happen to know. I've been in SEO for over a decade, and I've been on all different sides. So I was at an agency side, I was working full time in companies, I was a freelancer, a consultant, and now to do AI, course creator, so I transitioned full time, the course creator earlier this year. So I teach people how to do SEO properly, because I really want to upgrade the level of SEOs that are out there. And to help people understand that SEO is not only like keywords or like weighing specialist families, it's so much more, and there is strategy frameworks behind it. So that's my mission plan, oh,

Nick LeRoy  03:31

you should just let the cat out of the bag right away in the show. This is one reason why I was very excited to get Kristinaon the show. You know, we talk a lot about individuals who previously had kind of worked a nine to five job maybe came from agency or in house. And now they're enjoying the fruits of their labor as a freelancer. And Kristina and I had talked offline about this is almost a secret graduation, where Freelancer typically is a exchange of your services for a specific hourly rate or even a retainer. So where Kristina is going now is focusing more on I would say it's even more scalable, you know, being able to do training is obviously larger groups of individuals being able to do courses. And it's very, very exciting. So I'm very excited to dig deeper into that. And Kristina, and I also want to have a conversation about the term Freelancer versus consultant. Oh, yeah. Before we jump into that, I do have another question because I know we're gonna have fun with that. And I'll forget to go here, but Chrystia one of people's favorite parts of this podcast is talking about your first SEO job. Can you walk us through, you know, maybe what a couple of those jobs look like? And if you're able to, can you share what some of your starting pay was?

Kristina Azarenko  04:49

Yeah, so, um, well, my first SEO job, so okay, I started in SEO. Accidentally. I think like, almost all SEO is good for me. I was like calling. I was working as a debt collector as at a clock factory. And I was not beating people. It was not like that I was just calling remind them. Don't be afraid of me. So but I knew that there was something more that I need to be something more I had no idea what it was going to do. I just like tweet from the university because I didn't like it. So I was like, Okay, what's next? And then one day, I accidentally so of course, as your course, I have no idea what SEO was at that time. I have no, I had no idea what the website was like I would was not tech savvy at all. So if you ask me, why did you decide to join the course? The answer will be I have no idea. So I can just sign up I think I paid to my my two monthly salaries for the course or something. It was crazy. And I loved it from the very first lesson. I was obsessed about it. I was like, I was obsessed. I was reading about everything, especially for technical SEO, because I think that's how I green things. So and then I landed a job as a junior SEO at an agency. It was like a junior engineer position. And they were showing me some video. It was more more about links. I think almost all SEO was started like years ago, they have contributed to some spam online. Okay. Um, so yeah, for me, it was like, the router links, like something, something like that. So

Nick LeRoy  06:46

for one second, did you have an easy in Article account?

Kristina Azarenko  06:50

Oh, Cory.

Nick LeRoy  06:54

I was just showing the other day that it's, it's something that I intentionally leave up because it's, it's embarrassing, and it tells you exactly what you were doing at the time. But okay, I will not interrupt you anymore. But I knew you were gonna have one.

Kristina Azarenko  07:09

Yeah, of course, it was. So it was so fun for me still. So like, I was like learning all these things. And within, I think three months, I realized that I kind of knew more than people working there for, for for longer than me. And they quickly started to be like, non official team leads. And it was teaching people. And I was I remember one thing that there were articles, one of the websites like so people would write articles, and then I would need to pause those articles everywhere. Right, exactly. To your point. And that was like sitting and thinking, well, it doesn't seem right to me. I didn't know why. Because at that time was just starting, but it was like, well, that doesn't seem right. Something's wrong. I think that SEO should be something more. But yeah, it lasted for a year. Within this year, I learned a lot, mostly because it was easy to learn. If I had free time, it was Google learning, Google Analytics, and all this. All this interesting things. And I remember one day, I realized that, Oh, my God, that's truly what I want to do is what I needed to like I provided recommendations for duplicate content issues, and we needed to implement canonical tags. So I was like, I got the message that they were implemented. I was like, okay, okay, checking in and checking in all the time. And at that time, I did not even have access to Google Search Console or that time, it was my Webmaster Tools. Right. So yeah, and I remember was like, wow, but it's not working. It's still Google is not picking it up. And then I looked at the source code, and they realized that instead of h ref, in the link in the canonical tag, they put h fair so someone was just typing at this time. So that thing showed me that there can be one minor thing that can go wrong. Well now it's so much easier with all the tools and even Google Search Console but at that time, I was like wow, I want to be an investigator I want to do this so we're gonna go with talking about

Nick LeRoy  09:26

you know, and I'm gonna continue to do this because Steven, but do you remember utilizing like the Yahoo Site Explorer for looking at backlinks?

Kristina Azarenko  09:34

Yes. It is. Okay. Now I also think that

Nick LeRoy  09:42

she had her hands overrides for your sem rush and hrs and, you know, I think you some of the majestic might have just been set up, but I remember when they started sun setting that, you know, a lot of SEOs are freaking out for you know, only the 100th time whereas we're on the million throne now.

Kristina Azarenko  09:59

Yeah. I remember trying to get into the mods directory. It was like, oh my god, only, like super cool people can go to the mods directory.

Nick LeRoy  10:12

Oh, yeah, yeah, I was just talking to someone the other day about it. Or maybe it was a tweet that I sent out. I was like, you know, your cool old school when you cared about your DMOZ link? Or if you just had one or not? So Kristina, just to put the little cherry on the top? Do you mind sharing what your very first salary was for that junior Junior SEO position?

Kristina Azarenko  10:31

Yeah, I think it was around $250. Something like that. It was steel back into a goose. It was to a very low salary. And like, we had many things there, there in terms of like salaries and conversion rates. But it was just happy to start some new journey.

Nick LeRoy  10:56

Well, I think, to your point, I mean, this shows, I'm almost guaranteeing nobody else is gonna be able to join me, I do have a number below 250. But to be able to show that that's where you can start and you're hungry for more, and to find the success that I know you've had today. Not only you know, with consulting by creating, you know, courses that are over, you know, 250 as an individual purchase, like how exciting I mean, talk about a real, you know, from ground up all the way to success. Congratulations on that.

Kristina Azarenko  11:27

Yeah, definitely. Thanks so much. I think that it's, there's always a way and if you if you're really passionate about what you're what you're doing, and if you learn the right skills, well, success is inevitable. That's one of the phrases that I really love.

Nick LeRoy  11:43

And I think that's one thing, I'm gonna probably cause a little drama here, but it feels like one thing between when we started So Christy and I both are probably right about the same time I started in 2008 2009 ish. And there wasn't that much information. I mean, honestly, like Moz Whiteboard Friday was like the highlight of my week. But I remember getting my first SEO job. And I went to Barnes and Noble, and there was an SEO book, and it was like a dummies guide to SEO, and I didn't have the money to be able to buy it. So I literally sat in a chair and read the whole thing. And now it's like a lot of people, they don't necessarily have to fight and scrap for all this information, you know, whether it be Cristina's courses, or, you know, other websites with this information? You know, SEO is just so much more readily available. And that's just kind of Yes, exactly. It's just very exciting. So yeah, so go, go take us through a couple more years. So you've worked your agency side, how far into your career was it when you made the decision to go out on your own? And walk us through a little bit what you were thinking? And did you save up to go out on your own? Or really what did you do to kind of prepare for? I'm going to use the word freelancer and then we're going to jump in.

Kristina Azarenko  12:57

Okay, so there are two parts, whose question I will start with, like how I decided to go on my own, like what baggage of knowledge I had at that time. So my career was not playing here. I actually had a setback when I moved from Belarus, to Canada. And that's what usually immigrants go go through when they moved to different countries. But I was lucky that I still like I seen in my career, because I know that many people come to Canada and like, oh, I can find job. So I still I go like working in McDonald's. I know. For me, it was like, No, I'm not going I'm doing this. I've been doing so for a long time. And I'm honestly, not more like one point resounded only for English markets. So it was like I was doing the same thing that people do here, but from a different country. So like, why wouldn't they use this chances? And I'd see that as you helped me a lot to just, you know, find myself here in Canada and I moved OMO over four years ago. So what at first, like you don't start from the position you started when you have your country. So there I was leading a small team of people. And I was working in house. And here I came here and I first worked in house for a really small company, very like but I also I also do the paid ads. So I did a lot so up that as he away it was still too boring for me because the company was quite small. And I was like, I want challenges. I would I want that to challenges and technical SEO challenges. And I would I won't find lots of them with these like 20 100 pages but not not even hundreds, like just like 20 pages website. And so I moved to a senior SEO specialist position here at an agency and in Toronto, and I really loved it. There was not invulnerable that and I was really enjoying it. And I learned a lot from the founders of this agency because it was a really small agency. I love small companies, because then you have a continuity, and all these nice things when you can, like enjoy working with the founders directly. So prefer these type of companies. And I learned a lot from them, from the founders from observing them. And then I was like, well, now I'm ready to go on my own. Because I know how to work with clients. They know how to deliver the results. And then we're jumping to the second part of your question, what did I do to prepare myself to go freelance to going on my own? And dear listeners do not follow my advice.

Nick LeRoy  15:54

follow mine don’t follow Kristina!

Kristina Azarenko  15:58

I did not do anything. That was not because I like I'm overthinking things, right. And I have processes on processes, and taps on steps and to do waste. So that's the kind of person I am. But the reason why I left the agency without, well, I had a safety net, that I very, like, had previously. And I had my husband who supported me who supported my decision. So like, well, if you you can try, if it doesn't work, you can always get back to your job. So that was really, really important to me. But other than that, nothing. And I just felt that I was I was so stressed out, I had, like so many things to do all the time that you didn't even have time to like to have a side hustle. Because I think that having a side hustle before you are leaving a job would be the best scenario. But for me, it just, it just didn't wouldn't work. Because I was so overworked that I couldn't get a side hustle, hustle. So that's like, you know, I decided to just leave, and then build things from scratch versus trying to like to accomplish it. Sound quo.

Nick LeRoy  17:19

I think that's an amazing path right there. And I think that's one thing that a lot of people don't necessarily consider is the option of, if you have a spouse or a significant other, who is able to, you know, make enough income to be able to pay the bills, you know, you might not be going out to eat every single night. But I mean, that is a good opportunity to be able to go out and freelance, especially if you are hungry, and you want to try this and something that, you know, you're just never going to be able to give 100% of yourself to any company until you try it. I mean, honestly, having a spouse or significant other that can kind of be the quote unquote breadwinner, you know, really does afford you this amazing opportunity. You know, Kristina, I'd be curious from your thoughts. I remember talking to my wife when I went out and I am the breadwinner. But what we did is we kind of established a timeline of if you aren't able to replace, say 80% arbitrarily of what your regular salary was you go and try to get another job. Did you have any conversations with your husband that was kind of similar?

Kristina Azarenko  18:25

Well, no, we are always we are always like, one of us is going ahead than the other one reaches this point, and then goes ahead. So that's how it usually works. And then I supported him in leaving his job. So it's like, support is not conserved, meaning that he like, Okay, I'm now paying for everything. And you don't need to do anything at all. Like, it's, it depends like on how we know each other pretty well. So he didn't need to tell me that, well, you need to replace your salary. He was like, He's yourself everything. He's like, Oh, my God. So we did not have this conversation. But I say it happened within Google a few months. So it was not painful at all. What was painful is that I quickly realized that in addition to my skills as an SEO, I needed business skills as well. So that's something that I did not account for. But this means and I love learning. I like I'm learning geek. So it means that I can learn in key topical things quickly. So I did it quickly. But if you do if you do have business tools before you leave, to to go in on your own, that will be helpful to you don't need to do this that

Nick LeRoy  19:52

way. And that is very true. And you know as much as I kind of rib on SEO agencies these days and you know If you can survive in an agency, you're very likely can survive as a freelancer. But I think the caveat with that is is twofold. One, without a doubt, you have to be good at what you're doing. If your skill set being like whether you're an SEO PPC or writer, like if you're not good at that, it doesn't matter how much you can sell, because in the end, you're not going to meet your, your client's needs. But then as Kristina had alluded to, it's really this business acumen, you have to understand how to be able to talk to people, you have to be able to take something that's complex, like SEO, and distill it down to bite sized pieces that the C suite is going to gobble up. But just even be able to sell you have to collect payments, you know, set taxes aside, you know, all these things. And admittedly, they're not the most fun part of, of my job, but it, it really, it's kind of a package deal. So like you said, I can definitely understand why that is, or was a concern of yours back in the day.

Kristina Azarenko  20:59

Yeah, definitely. I mean, there's so many things that like so many skills that you need to pick up and suddenly European, your own taxes, and you're like, Oh, my God, oh, my God, I did not earn that nice to be that sounds taxes, but then Well, thanks, Mike out.

Nick LeRoy  21:14

So quick story. And then we're gonna jump into our Freelancer versus consultant conversation or debate, if you will. But one of the best tips that I had gotten was, if you're going out on your own is to invest in an accountant. And I still believe that it's the best money that you can, but I'll never forget, I was probably four or five months into it, my accounts working with me on how to save for taxes, and he calls me up. He goes, Nick, good news and bad news. And I'm like, oh, shoot, like, I'm literally 10 out of 10 anxiety right now. It goes good news, you're gonna give yourself a $10,000 bonus. And I was like, wow, this is fantastic. And it goes, the bad news is, you're gonna give it right to the IRS, right. So that you can pay your taxes. So yeah, it's funny, you know, that I, you know, it's funny now, but back then, you kind of freak out a little bit. So. But I do, guys, because the let's jump into the conversation we started to have offline that I think is really, really interesting. So for people that obviously were not a part of that conversation, Kristina and I started talking about the term freelancer, and especially how it kind of compares to a consultant. And Kristina was kind of shaking her head a little bit, just saying, oh, you know, I really kind of grimace, I hate the idea of using the word freelancer. And as we know, it's like, that's what I'm kind of using for the podcasts here. You know, I kind of go back and forth calling myself an SEO consultant, a freelance SEO consultant, just a freelance. But Christine, let me turn it over to you explain to the audience what you were sharing with me about why the term Freelancer frustrates you?

Kristina Azarenko  23:00

Yeah, well, it's not it's not like it's not frustrates me it just like, I see that. Oh, my God, I don't know even registered. So a freelancer, for me is more a person who is who is trying to understand that all the business skills behind behind the being a partner for their client. So they just like they are on the way to becoming a partner and they don't necessarily value themselves as they should now, and they don't, they're not necessarily paid how they what they deserve now, and they do not necessarily have all this knowledge to build the boundaries and with clients and communicate with clients and CO sell their services properly. And one important distinction would be to like, knowing for sure who your ideal client is, is and be okay to walk away from even like good clients but on projects that do not serve you that you will not enjoy doing. And those clients that have red flags and red flags does not necessarily mean that they started yelling. It was a sales conversation No, but like minor things that you are just not comfortable with. But you are okay walking away from this. So that's one of the I like I I do not have a red distinction between Freelancer consultant but for me, it's more like the consultant is more like a business like you see yourself as a business and as a partner to the clients who hire you. So you are on the same horizontal line. And with freelancing, what I find is especially clients implied too many times is that it's more vertical relationship when the I hire you to do something for them. But they don't necessarily value your expertise. And the might try to mark micromanage you again, it's not, it's not an official. It's not an official description from like, some dictionary. And I there is no judgment behind calling yourself a freelancer or a consultant or whatever serves you, in just my opinion, from my experience, what I've seen,

Nick LeRoy  25:28

I 100,000 million percent agree with you. And honestly, this was the last comment I made before I said, Hey, this is a really good conversation. Why don't we save it for the podcast, because I can't speak for you, Kristina. But for myself, I've been doing this freelance consulting work for going on three years now. And people still will come up and ask me what I'm doing. And it's interesting to kind of AB test it. It's like, I'll sit there and say, Oh, I own my own company, which I personally don't like, because I feel it's like over serving what I personally have accomplished. I've, I've also said, Oh, I'm a freelancer, where I think this goes a little bit more to what you're saying. And people almost kind of look at it as like, Oh, so you're under are not employed. I feel like it's almost like a, you know, a way to say that, you know, maybe you're in between what you really like to do. And then there's, you know, you're a consultant, which I think has this, this perception of higher value. And I think what Kristina had really said that resonated with me and kind of where I view the differences. And I don't know if I ever viewed it as Freelancer versus a consultant. I know, we're not trying to split hairs on the actual term. But I do think maybe this is just the difference between a successful individual consultant or contributor versus someone who might be struggling a little bit more. And it really is that are you indeed a partner with your client in your companies? Or is it hierarchy where they are truly paying you by the hour, and you're just there to knock out some work and, and be done? So I think it's very, very interesting. I be curious, you should definitely, you know, tweet at Kristina and myself when you're listening to this and tell us your side of it. But I don't know if there's a right answer. And as I've kind of alluded to, I'm often referring to myself as a freelance SEO consultant, because I don't know if I'm ready to go 100% One way or another.

Kristina Azarenko  27:26

Yeah, I mean, okay, it's like, in SEO, right? If people understand Freelancer better, and you can you have knowledge to sell properly, to position yourself properly, you understand that a sales conversation is an interview for both sides, not just like you need to perform there. You can call yourself a freelancer, that's fine. It's just like, if people understand him better, then it's okay. One of the seven favorite examples here like about naming things, even though you might hate this name, but it works is free gift. I worked with a company who developed Magento extensions, and we had Magento extension, which was called free gift, like, free gift does not make any sense. It's a tweet. So like, why would you name it, but people were searching for it, they were searching for magenta for gifts. So as an SEO, like as part of the marketing team, you name the product to gift because that's what people want. That's what people are searching for. So um, and as an SEO, you should understand that so if your potential clients are looking for freelancer, that's okay. You just need to And you call yourself real freelancer, that's okay. You just need to have this business skills to position yourself properly. And you definitely need to be good advice for doing as we said, and if you call yourself a consultant, you need to be really great at what you're doing. So that would be my, I think, final words about this.

Nick LeRoy  29:05

Again, 100% agree with Kristina, and just to reiterate exactly what she said, it really comes down to, you know, selecting the clients that are best fit for you, every time you're talking to them, or you're interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you, you know, set up those appropriate boundaries. And just because you are a freelancer consultant, doesn't mean you're available. 24/7 you know, make sure that you, you know, appropriately create and get sign up on your statements of work. And don't be afraid to raise your hand if you're going above it, you know, and also hold yourself accountable if you're not meeting them. And I think that was one of the biggest takeaways from this conversation is, you know, really, it's just about are you polished, are you good at what you're doing and are you providing value? Exactly. So Kristina, you had shared with us at the very beginning and I'm very excited. So congratulations said MCA you are sharing with people by time they will listen that you're transitioning kind of from now. Now I'm going to kind of go back and forth between Freelancer consultant, the individual contributor role to what you are now defining as a full time creator. Outside of like the average or is the obvious like going away from client engagements? How does a creator differ from being a consultant or freelancer, if you will,

Kristina Azarenko  30:29

I would say that, if it's completely different, in my opinion, it requires even more skills. So like, think about that, when you leave your full time job and you become a freelancer consultant, right? You need to learn all this new skills of like a current team, talking to clients and like a lot of things. But I'd say from my experience, we are much easier to sort of like free words around them to prophesize. And to put them into processes, and then just repeat again and again. So like, of course, you, you will always improve them. But still, it's at some point, it's pretty straightforward. And you just like go and do this, and that it yields predictable results, more or less. With course creation is requires even more skills. So it's like jumping, exactly like jumping from full time to Freelancer consultant. And then the next jump is to course creator, it's completely completely different. Because you also need to be more like entertaining on social media, right? You need, like, I'm now an email marketer, I know ConvertKit I'm using ConvertKit. Now, like, I'm an expert in ConvertKit. And it was so so many things, and I'm like, I'm a copywriter too. And marketing person in general behind all of this, and also the creator and also instructional designer, because all the courses need to be build. It's not like a salad of like random things that you put there. It's a program that you follow. And at the end, you see the full picture. So that's their immediate things. And also from a mindset shift. Again, like we talked about the auntie consultant mindset, she's also a lot of mindset shifts, when it comes to Course Creators too. So I can I need it. And I'm still going to manual those.

Nick LeRoy  32:40

And that's very exciting. As we kind of kicked off this conversation. I think a lot of people even including myself, you view, you know, freelancer, being a consultant is kind of that, that next step in your career. Yeah, you truly have to know your skill set, you have to build upon it and skill sets that are very complementary. But this shows that there truly can be yet another stuff if that's what you're interested in, kind of a V two of Freelancer is moving away from individual training salty to the course creation. But can you walk us through a little bit? You have the SEO challenge and tech SEO dot Pro that you have? Yeah, what was kind of the driving factor behind each of those? And what are some learnings that you've had today?

Kristina Azarenko  33:27

Yeah, so I cleared as a challenge back in 2019. When I left my job, it was actually one of the things that I was doing when I left my job. So I was learning business skills, getting clients and also creating a course. Because I used to teach people at work, I used to, basically on board, people say want to put everything together, and then I was updating course all the time. So that was one for the athlete challenge course it was my initial initiative was like, putting everything together, like everything, but I know putting everything together and so that people who go through this course they feel their knowledge gaps, if the if they are in marketing, and the they heard about SEO, they like going through this course and like oh my god, okay, so now I can be an SEO so that that's for people who want to move into SEO positions, or who want to get promotions at their job. So for me, it was putting everything together all the knowledge that I had, like not all of those, but like most of the knowledge they have. And then I found that so many people enjoyed that technical SEO part in that course. And as I said, from the beginning of my career, I was thinking my brain thinks on technical SEO terms I find so it just like so straightforward and easy to understand for me. So people have been asking me for a course and specifically technical SEO for For two years, and I didn't have time, and I didn't have space to start it, because I know that creating a course is a journey. But then I was like, Okay, I really want to transition. And I think it's, it's going to be a point of no return for me if I, when I watched the scores, when they put everything together when it comes to technical SEO. And yeah, I just answered to all the all the asks from people to create a dedicated technical SEO course. Here, here, yeah.

Nick LeRoy  35:39

I have so many follow up questions I would try to target with a couple of times, it's gonna be a three hour long podcast here. But I think first and foremost, my question is, so no, I know, you've launched some courses to different degrees in the past, including ones that we just talked about, do you think to have a successful course where you're able to take the feedback and support people that are purchasing it? Is it required to do it full time? Like, do you see that you could easily do this while having a full time job or as your Freelancer having individual clients?

Kristina Azarenko  36:14

I'd say, well, it's totally doable. When you have when you have like, totally doable as a side hustle. That's what I did for almost two years with SEO challenge. But it just depends on where you want to move. If you see that clients is human main priority, then it means that, okay, you need to, you need to somehow easy simplify the delivery of the course, you need to somehow I don't know yourself or find someone who is required to support support questions. And I'm not necessarily talking about being with students all the time out there and answering their questions. But I'm also talking about like, what if somebody, what if somebody can't logging into the account, like all this kind of stuff. So especially if your courses are at higher price points, it's more important to like have a support, if it's at low price points that can be on Gumroad, or somewhere where they will generally I have my ebook on Gumroad. And I don't have like, don't have emails, maybe one or two emails, like three years about people not being able to access it. So yeah, it just depends on where you want to go, it's possible to do this full way to do this as a side hustle. But for me, I want to move further.

Nick LeRoy  37:40

And that makes a lot of sense. I think this next question, I'm going to cheat and it's going to be like a million billion questions and one, but as you would kind of alluded to with freelancing, it's like you have to be really good in the skill that you're selling. And then you have to adapt and learn the business side of it, too. I would assume? How do I even say this? Like, what is the most difficult part of creating the course, because similar to what we just talked about, you have to create the content, or I'm sorry, you have to know the content, you have to create the content, you have to distribute the content. And you have to like, I'll just call it customer support, you know, which one of those historically, you know, maybe it has been more of a learning curve for you. And, you know, how have you gone about learning, you know, the the content side? Thanks.

Kristina Azarenko  38:28

Yeah. So, basically, I find that the hardest thing for me is to switch constantly switch between two mindsets. One mindset is a creator. Because I really, I really love tweeting, I would sometimes be like, like, for the previous model, because I'm recording the technical SEO pro course right now. And I was in the, like, in the bathroom, and I was like, Oh, my God, I have an idea for an example of how to explain crawling, indexing, and everything. And he's going to use a house and like, and pictures and photos. Oh, my God, that's so cool. And yeah. So that's, that's the mind of creator and I love like random examples. I use them all the time. I used to use them with clients, and now we're using them with students. But yeah, so like, it's the mind of creator. And also like the mindset, the Creator. And also there is mindset of a marketer. And that's really hard. Like that's sometimes hard to market your own things. First of all, and secondly, you need to be out there, you need to be online, you need to be promoting because otherwise, no matter how great your course is, nobody's going to buy. That was the hard truth that I have to accept. Because it doesn't matter if you're amazing. It's like, if you're gonna saltan if you're amazing, but you, if you don't talk to clients, if you don't have prospects and leads coming to you, or if you can't sell on the sales calls, nobody will benefit from your expertise. That's exactly what happens with courses, if you don't sell people don't buy. So that was one of the things. Another thing that he had to accept here is that it can be copied, it can be resold is just, it's very painful to see this. But I treat it as like, you know, there is karma anyway. And if people are buying things, it's like, it's robbery, it's like people are robbing, basically tweezers when they are doing like that. But it's not me who can who can impose karma on them. It's happened having it will happen anyway. So well, this is something to accept. So yeah, I would say these two things were the hardest.

Nick LeRoy  41:03

It's interesting, you bring up kind of the the piracy side of it, it's just not something that I had considered. But I've seen quite a few people talk about any event, you know, call out message boards, or, you know, towards where people are getting access to. So I think the way that you approach it makes a lot of sense. It's not that you ever want to say it's okay, but it's really just trying not to sweat it and live by the 8020 model. You know, it's like 80% of people, hopefully doing this the right way, you can support them, and they become your biggest advocates, whereas these individuals who aren't paying or flat out stealing your content, you know, they're probably not the people you necessarily want to be advocating for you to begin with.

Kristina Azarenko  41:44

Exactly, exactly. And I have clear values inside of my academy. All the diversity of inclusion of no judgement. So it's important to me that only the right people are entering my space, and we are my academy. So those people who prefer stealing, they're not my students. Anyway, it just sucks that there are so many websites who just resolving stolen content.

Nick LeRoy  42:13

And I think that's, that's awesome. And again, just to be very clear, yeah, I don't think either one of us is advocating for anybody stealing. It's just a sad reality that in this world, anytime you put hard work, you know, upfront and you sell it, to be able to get any, when people are getting value, there's always going to be somebody that kind of circumvents the system just so wrapping up here that Kristina walk me through some recommendations for you know, additional freelancers or content creators that inspire you, you know, any books courses, newsletters that you think people listening here should sign up for, you know, if they aspire to either freelance or become a content creator themselves?

Kristina Azarenko  43:01

Yeah, sure. So, um, basically, well, again, freelancers, consultants, and different content creators, I think I've spanned, okay, I've spanned around 15 key learning course creation, and all this stuff. So it's, it's a lot. But when it comes to, I think that your audience will be mostly interested in freelancing consulting. So that's where there's so many amazing resources. And what I would recommend is to read without teaching, that's an amazing book, by me, by Blair ends, he's actually who actually lives in Canada. And that's, that's the book where I learned that like, were sort of like I learned, it's just, it was just me tweeting my thoughts that I do not need to perform for the client. And I was reading it at the beginning when I was just like, starting to pick up those business skills. So it's a really, really quick book to read. I'm not affiliated we will. I love it. I would also recommend Jonathan Stark. He is amazing. He has a podcast and he has a newsletter. Ditching ditching hourly, but like you can Google just Jonathan Stark, he talks a lot about value pricing. While value pricing is like a very advanced level of pricing, that would not suit everyone. And it doesn't necessarily mean that like you need to do value pricing right away and that you will need to do value pricing at all. It depends on what like how you saved for yourself. But what I love Jones Johnson Stark is because he talks a lot about against hourly, right, I will read and that's another topic that I instill passionately, love charge hourly, most of the cases. That's the only thing that I would say. But yeah, so we loved his newsletters and his podcast, as well. And yeah, I think, I think just find people who inspire you, for me, I really loved watching how Aleyda Solis Does, does her staff She's amazing. She's amazing as a consultant. So it was, I was watching, I was watching her, of course, I still I was talking her, then I became friends with her. As you're watching her all the time, and think she She's amazing. So just like find people who share content about, like, how the free ones do how or how they are consultants. And yeah, stalk them online, if they have products about freelancing, buy those products learn because it never hurts to see different perspectives. Yeah, that's what I would recommend.

Nick LeRoy  46:06

So I'm definitely going to look into those books, and I will include them as links to Amazon in the wrap up here. But I would definitely agree everything you said about Elena, I would say she's kind of the gold star, especially as it comes to the SEO industry and freelancing. You know, not only is she just exceptionally nice and is always sharing, you know, her just information or techniques or strategies, but she just, it seems like she's always doing everything right, which is absolutely fantastic. And I think we all should try to be doing 90% of what she does. And like I said, just fantastic. But Kristina, thank you again for joining us today on the SEO freelancer. For people that are listening today. How can they get in touch with you in addition to your let us know about your courses? And the next one coming up?

Kristina Azarenko  46:57

Yeah, of course. So you can reach me out at or Twitter @azarchick or LinkedIn. You can see hit me up there if you have any thoughts about this podcast or have any questions about the courses.

Nick LeRoy  47:16

Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Kristina. Really appreciate you having on today. We'll catch you next time. Thank you.

Kristina Azarenko  47:24

Thank you so much. Bye, everybody

The SEO Freelancer
The SEO Freelancer
Each month Nick LeRoy interviews a freelance consultant about their experience generating over six figures in annual income.