I'm often asked about different home business ideas, and this is one we've never covered before — starting your own SEO (search engine optimization) business! As a webmaster/blogger, I certainly have to think about SEO on a regular basis, and I can assure you that this is a very in-demand industry. Some people simply do not have the skills to optimize their digital space, and they prefer to outsource the work to someone who really knows what they are doing.
Claudia Pennington currently runs her own, very successful digital marketing and SEO business. Her e-course, SEO Audit Guide, is designed to teach people new to the industry everything they need to know to get up and running — without a fancy degree or any special skills.
I've interviewed Claudia to learn a little more about the SEO business, what you can expect to earn, and to get more details on her SEO training course.
Please tell us a little about what a digital marketing & SEO consultant does and how you got your start in it.
Back in 2005, I had a college internship in emerging technologies. Blogging and social media were still new, so they fell under the purview of “emerging.” Smartphones like the iPhone helped increase popularity of these tools over the years, so it’s hard to imagine a time when we weren’t blogging or on Facebook.
In my internship, I had the opportunity to learn about all kinds of new technologies, but I also learned how to code websites. Over the years, I moved from coding websites to communications and marketing in which I used the latest tools to help businesses and organizations reach larger audiences.
As a digital marketing & search engine optimization (SEO) consultant, I consult with businesses on improving their websites to reach more potential customers. My clients’ goals often involve increasing website traffic, which leads to increases in leads and sales. Thus, website improvements I put forth often result in significant increases in website traffic, which means that my clients are better able to reach their financial goals.
Is this something anyone can do, or does it take a special skill set?
I believe that any motivated individual with a computer and Internet access who wants to learn new skills in an evolving industry can learn digital marketing and SEO to help entrepreneurs, small business owners, and nonprofit organizations.
While digital marketing and SEO represent a specialized skill set, it does not require any special skills to learn. In fact, great consultants leverage their skills and experiences.
For example, one consultant recently completed our online digital marketing training program with the intention of launching her own home-based business. Amber is leveraging her prior experience working in a medical office by providing digital marketing consulting to medical offices. Within a couple of weeks of finishing the online courses, she secured two clients, two medical offices in her area. With Amber’s understanding of the needs of a medical office, it was easier for her to speak to those needs when pitching her consulting services.
Let’s say that you have prior experience working as a teacher, but now you want to work and launch your own home-based business. As a digital marketing consultant with teaching experience, you can offer your services to local tutoring companies. Local tutoring companies need a constant flow of students to keep the doors open, so increasing website traffic can help them achieve that goal.
Regardless of your prior experience, you can gain work in the industry in which you have experience by offering consulting services. Every business in every industry I’ve ever encountered wants to increase leads and sales, which is the perfect fit for digital marketing consulting.
Has this line of work been fairly lucrative for you? And if so, how long did it take you to turn it into a full-time income once you started?
When I decided to hone in on digital marketing as a side hustle, I quickly found that my in-demand skill set was lucrative enough for me to leave my full-time job. Scaling my side hustle to replace the income from my full-time job was difficult because of the time required, so I decided to increase my hourly rate instead of increasing the number of hours I worked. With some trial and error, it took me a year and a half to replace my full-time salary.
How difficult was it for you to find work at the beginning?
Not at all. After a couple of weeks of combing the “gigs” section of Craigslist, I found a few potential clients seeking help with their websites.
Today, I leverage my personal and professional networks to obtain referrals to prospective clients. Referrals have been the best, most consistent source for finding clients. For new consultants, I highly recommend starting within your own network to land your first client (or two or three).
What are some tips you'd share for landing high-paying clients?
Learn everything you can about your potential clients. When my prospective clients see that I care enough about their businesses to ask lots of questions about who they are, what they do, what their goals are, what their pain points are, and how they think I can help them, it makes the sales process much easier.
High-paying clients often have lofty goals, so they want to know you are as invested in their goals as they are. My clients often spend more time with their businesses than their families–that’s how much they care. When you show you care just as much and that the service you have is the right fit for their needs, you’ll find it’s easier to land high-paying clients.
Beware of clients who seek the cheapest, fastest solution–these are clients who don’t understand the value of what you have to provide. You’ll be able to differentiate great clients when you’re qualifying your prospects. If they want to rush, rush, rush through the sales process and then question your rates, they don’t know the value you provide and you’ll want to move on to find clients who value your time and expertise.
Are there any start-up costs involved to start this business, and if so, can you go over some of the essentials?
First, you will need a computer and Internet access. I use email, Google Hangouts, and Skype to keep in touch with clients, all of which are free to use. Occasionally, I am on the phone with clients, so I also have a cell phone and a free Google Voice number.
Second, you’ll need training. You can scour the web to find free resources if you don’t wish to pay for training, but you’ll likely find out-of-date information that could actually be harmful, not helpful. We offer a package of online training courses designed to train anyone in the fundamentals and current best practices of digital marketing and SEO and how to launch a side business.
Third, you’ll need clients. All that is required for this step is your time. I have lots of resources for consultants-in-training to help you find and pitch clients.
Fourth, you’ll want to consider setting up your own website to increase your own reach, which you can do using the vary tactics you’ll use to help clients.
Please tell us a little more about your e-course and how it can help people begin making a comfortable income from home as SEO consultants?
Our package of digital marketing & SEO training courses is designed to train any aspiring freelancer in the fundamentals of marketing to be able to launch a side business from home.
We walk you through, step by step, everything you need to learn digital marketing and SEO. These are hands-on training courses that use video and written instructions to explain everything you need to know about digital marketing.
Each course trains you in a different digital marketing tactic: SEO website audit, keyword research, content audit, content marketing, and local SEO. I use all of these tactics to help my clients increase website traffic because more website traffic often means more leads and more sales.
We also provide tips, tricks, and strategies for finding and pitching clients, which is often where many aspiring consultants have questions.
And we also have ongoing consulting included via Facebook Live sessions in our private Facebook group.
Our package includes everything that aspiring work-from-home consultants need to launch a successful business!
Thanks so much Claudia for your insight on the SEO home business! If any of you are interested in the e-course, SEO Audit Guide, to learn how to get yourself up and running and start finding clients, you can go here to check it out. The intro course is FREE.