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Entering The Fourth Year of SEO Freelancing
Why the newsletter hiatus? Plus a Nick's freelancing career update!
Hello friends, it’s been a minute!
well, it’s nearly been 6 months since I published the last podcast episode. Life has been busy and I’ve made a few strategic shifts in where I’m spending my time.
I’ve been wanting to send this email for a bit now. So first the “TL;DR” version followed by the longer version for those who want to know even more.
I won’t be as active on this newsletter but you can always sign up for my weekly SEO newsletter, the #SEOForLunch as well as follow me via my passion project, SEOJobs.com where I’m spending most of my free time these days.
If you’re craving more freelance/entrepreneur emails, I also highly recommend you follow Nick Lafferty over at The Early Exit Club where he has been publishing his own journey moving from 9-5 roles into an independent contractor.
Nick Lafferty previously led growth at Loom, Mailgun, and Magical.
I’ve REALLY enjoyed his posts thus far. A few topics, that, if you liked my writing, I know you will enjoy as well!
Do yourself and sign up today!
The Longer Update Version
Don’t worry. No, I haven’t gone back to working for others. I’m still very much enjoying the freelance SEO life and recently kicked off my fourth business year!
When I started this newsletter I focused on being uber-transparent. In fact, my first post on the topic of being FIRED to $165,035.20 in 8 months continues to be the top-performing post and I regularly share it with folks debating whether to join the freelance world.
When I started this newsletter I quickly found that writing posts took a bit of time and I decided to switch it up and use this platform selfishly to work on my public speaking. This is how the SEO Freelancer podcast was born and 13 episodes were published in total.
It’s amazing how much *cringe* listening to your own voice can help you eliminate bad speaking habits. These same habits likely carry over to our client work too. Forcing myself to do the podcast was a great experience but in time realized it (also) took up a lot of my time.
Focusing my time
I’ve written about the importance of setting goals as a freelancer. In this post, I highlight the importance of work/life balance and revenue for my personal goals.
I quickly found that between this newsletter, the podcast, the weekly #SEOForLunch newsletter, and SEOJobs.com I was spending too much time on projects that were going against these two goals. So changes needed to happen.
Focus Focus Focus
When I had Tom Critchlow on my podcast we had a disagreement on the value of diversifying revenue. Neither of us disagreed on the value of diversification but Tom was adamant about doubling down on what you are best at and making the most money — consulting (in both our experiences). Tom further explains that side projects and non-consulting-related work can derail someone from maximizing their revenue and overall efficiency.
I disagreed with him on the podcast. Fast forward a year and now I completely agree with him.
What Stays and What Goes?
Last year when evaluating where I was spending my time I quickly saw that my non-consulting time was spread thin across too many projects. The SEO Freelancer, a few affiliate/ad sites, the #SEOForLunch, and SEOJobs.com.
I made the difficult decision to stop this newsletter/podcast as well as the affiliate/ad sites that were not generating enough to justify the time spent. This left me with the #SEOForLunch newsletter, SEOjobs.com, and my SEO consulting services.
A quick update on each.
I’ve written this newsletter for over six years now. As many times as I’ve considered selling or even stopping the newsletter, I’ve re-embraced the newsletter.
As an SEO consultant, this newsletter holds me accountable for staying up to date with all the constant changes that each Search Engine throws our way. This newsletter not only keeps me sharp but helps others who aren’t able to dedicate the time that I do every week to read/decipher what is of value.
This newsletter is an asset and investment in my SEO consulting career. 7,000+ subscribers and slowly growing every day. I’m committed to growing this newsletter.
Oh, it helps that through sponsorships, it brings in enough revenue now to further justify the time investment.
Not signed up for the #SEOForLunch? Let’s fix that right now. See you at the lunch table!
Ever looked for an SEO role on Indeed or LinkedIn? Sick of engineering and web dev positions showing at the top simply because they have “SEO” as a bullet under the “nice to have” skills?
SEOJobs.com is my solution. While the site is still fairly new, I’m on pace to drive 100k sessions in 2023 and am averaging 20K+ pageviews each month.
So far I’ve definitely spent more money than I’ve made on this website but this website has been a really fun project. A project that has very little to do with SEO outside of the topic of the site itself.
As you see above, over half of the traffic comes from Direct traffic. With the volatility of job listings going live and expiring the “SEO Strategy” is minimal outside of ranking for some core keywords like “SEO Jobs” or “Remote SEO Jobs.”
This site is a passion project and forces me to think outside the SEO box when building this brand. Building the brand and getting this premium domain across as many eyes as possible has been key. Until the big boys such as Indeed/Linkedin fix their results (which I don’t ever see happening) I see the recruitment side of the SEO industry as an incredible opportunity.
This website is a win for employees, employers, and ME.
I have zero intentions of selling this website anytime soon. However, as a solo consultant, I don’t have too many assets that can generate income and be sold when I retire. I hope this may be part of my long-term goals.
Did you know you can receive an email every Monday listing all the new jobs posted from the previous week? Interested - sign up for the weekly email.
Nick LeRoy Consulting
Last but not least, we have to talk about my freelance SEO consultancy. My bread and butter has continued to flourish since going out on my own back in May of 2000.
The above image shows revenue earned for each of the four years. (blurred revenue but you smarty pants can extrapolate based on my initial 2020 earnings shared in previous posts)
You’ll notice that last year (2022) I made a bit less than what I did in 2021. Part of this I attribute to the lack of direction that I explained at the beginning of this post.
In 2021 I also took on quite a bit of consulting projects that I wouldn’t consider a good fit today or simply not worth the money. I cut a lot of these smaller projects out in 2022 but between that and non/low-paying personal projects, it impacted earnings.
As you’ll also see from the graph above, my renewed focus in 2023 has allowed me to increase my earnings (this graph projects signed engagements through EOY).
The pivots I’ve made in 2023 I believe put me in the best position to continue to succeed in 2024 and beyond!
As I wrap up this post I want to double down on a post I wrote back in 2021 on the importance of establishing goals as a freelancer.
I’ve been agonizing over my goals. What I have thus far isn’t solidified but I wanted to share some notes I wrote on my phone while recently walking on a treadmill (one goal).
You’ll notice for 2024, revenue is not my top priority. I have both a stretch and a reasonable goal but unlike previous years, I want to prioritize a few other areas such as my mental and physical health.
Mental + Physical Health
Raise your hand if your mental and physical health went to hell during COVID?
As I enter the back end of my thirties I’m starting to feel it. Getting a puppy this year was a reminder of how I am a shell of my best self - despite revenue “success” metrics being met on the business side
in 2024 I am equally prioritizing my mental and physical health along with my business. This includes establishing some new (better) habits.
I set up meetings 2x a month to discuss whatever is on my mind and have a safe outlet to think out loud. It’s only been one month but I can already tell this is going to make my mind much sharper and focused.
I’m out of shape. I drink too much and eat what I want, when I want, neither is great for me. I’m establishing some better routines such as a minimum of 2X visits to my local gym per week and no longer drinking alcohol at home. I’m more than satisfied saving my beer for networking events or meeting with friends. I also know from previous experience that losing 25-30 pounds will put me in a better physical shape to feel better on a daily basis.
Oh boy, business goals. In my fourth year, I’m finally feeling pretty confident that it’s not all going to implode overnight.
This is one of the reasons why I am comfortable putting my non-business goals ahead of my business goals. I also believe the non-business goals will allow me to absolutely crush the business-focused ones!
I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about my business. Should I expand? Hire contract help, start an agency, increase prices, be even pickier with clients, and/or invest in X Y, or Z.
As I’ve shared with you all above, I’m feeling pretty good right now with my approach to the business. Between a few focused projects and my existing SEO consulting clients, I’m feeling incredibly good going into 2024.
If/when I post on TheSEOFreelancer I suspect it will be around this topic as I continue to explore all my options.
This is Not Goodbye - “Seya Around”
While this newsletter/podcast won’t be nearly as active, I’m still as passionate about freelancing as I was when I started. I’m hopeful that you all will continue to follow me on X/Twitter and LinkedIn and of course, check out my weekly newsletter and the SEOJobs.com website.
P.S. I’m not kidding. If you’re looking for a good replacement for this newsletter/podcast, you really need to check out Nick Lafferty’s Early Exit Club.