I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Carlo Cretaro of NextStopWhoKnows.com, an Irish entrepreneur who went from absolutely zero experience in freelance SEO writing, to creating and managing his own SEO content writing company in just 3 years.
FYI, in case you’re unfamiliar with the acronym, SEO stands for “search engine optimization.” It’s a specific way of writing web content that helps businesses get found online.
Carlo, together with his girlfriend, Florence, figured out how to successfully develop and run a business that has recently been bringing in an average of $10,000 per month. And they did all this while riding motorcycles through Vietnam, traveling throughout India, living in Rio de Janeiro and having many other travel adventures.
In a no holds-barred interview Carlo and I dove into specific details on exactly how they made that happen. The intriguing part? They didn’t have any tricks, gimmicks, or certifications up their sleeves. They were just two people who possessed a burning desire and a whole lot of hustle.
Life Before SEO Writing
Back in 2012, Carlo Cretaro was running his own poker tournament company in Ireland while his girlfriend Florence worked as a child care practitioner. While Carlo’s income varied between $1,200 to $2,000 and his schedule was flexible, Florence had a normal 40-hour work week bringing in approximately $1,400 per month.
Life was fine as it were, but Carlo and Florence were yearning for something more. They decided that they wanted to live life on their own terms. They were of the mind that money was great, but freedom was greater. So how did they finally embark on that road to freedom?
By boldly breaking away from their current lifestyle and figuring out exactly how to earn an income online so they could travel the world together. Heart, hustle and a little experimentation paved their way to success.
The Hunt for a Freelance, Online Career: Why SEO Writing?
For about two to three years prior to the big change, Carlo had been fascinated by the idea of working online. While recovering from a back injury he began researching how to break into the online freelancing world and stumbled across SEO writing. It quickly became apparent that SEO writing had a low barrier of entry to start making money online.
While Carlo didn’t have any specific writing skills to write home about (no pun intended), he was a native English speaker who knew how to write and was likely better at it than most other things he was into. Without any real programming or web design skills, freelance writing seemed like the best option.
As Carlo revealed to me, the great news is that you don’t have to be an English Professor to break into SEO writing.
A little determination and a whole lot of hustle can take you down the same road to freedom that Carlo and Florence have been traveling on the last few years.
How to Get Started as a Freelance (SEO) Content Provider: 6 Steps
Like Carlo, you might have an idea in your head and a desire in your heart, but neither of those things will get you very far without some action. So how do you take action when you feel like your skills are few and far between? In short:
- You research.
- You learn.
- You try.
- You fail.
- Then, most importantly, you try again.
With no prior writing, marketing, sales or management experience Carlo had to get to work learning a few things. By following his simple steps below, you can easily get started in SEO writing too.
1. Learn How to Write for the Web
If, like Carlo, you have no prior writing experience you’ll have to start learning. A simple Google search can help you find lots of useful info, such as these 23 SEO Copywriting Tips.
Use the advice you find to create a handful of sample articles for your portfolio. You can use the samples as Word Document attachments in your pitch emails or upload the samples to a portfolio website should you choose to create one.
As an example, Carlo’s first sample article was titled, “What Makes a Good Locksmith?” This topic might seem a bit dull at first glance but what a topic like this proves is “I can write about anything.”
On top of that, make sure your samples showcase your grammar, punctuation and spelling skills as well as your structural understanding of SEO writing. Bullet points, subheadlines and clear concise, scannable content is integral in this niche.
2. Land Your First Clients
This step of the process can often sound scary if you are a new on the scene. However, Carlo’s simple approach can easily be replicated. Here’s how you can find your first clients:
- Email digital marketing and SEO companies in your local area (find them via Google).
- Ask if they have any writing work you could do.
- Attach your sample articles.
- Continue to email and follow up until you land some gigs.
As with any cold pitch attempt, you might get some silence or “unsubscribe” requests. Don’t let this get you down. It happened to Carlo and it will happen to you too. Keep on pressing and eventually someone will say, “Yes I need help!” And off you’ll go!
3. Keep Pitching
After landing your first few clients you might feel pretty proud of yourself. Don’t stop there. Consistent pitching will equal consistent work flow. Clients come and go. Companies experience slow periods and extremely busy periods.
If you keep a consistent pitching schedule you’ll be setting yourself up for continued success (and paychecks!).
4. Be Informal and Friendly With Clients
I found this part of my interview with Carlo most intriguing. He mentions a few times that the key to his success with clients was creating an “informal” relationship with them. This might sound counterintuitive when you first hear it but this hadn’t been the case for Carlo.
Most clients came to appreciate an authentic, real, honest, and friendly person versus a formal business person. Carlo also found that being consistent, up front and honest with clients was integral to ongoing relationships and repeat business. He mentions, “Clients are going to work with people they like.”
You don’t have to go into this business knowing it all but you do have to put your best and most authentic foot forward. People will see the true you and begin to respect and trust you, viewing you as a great person to work with.
5. Start Outsourcing
Once you have your feet wet and have several clients under your belt you’ll start getting busier. Now is the time to start outsourcing your work and make the switch to more of a management role. You will still be the person to find the jobs and communicate with your clients, but you’ll assign most or all of the work to other writers.
This of course means you’ll need to proofread and double check the quality of the work before passing it back to the client.
There are plenty of freelance writers out there looking for work. A simple job posting on Upwork will likely turn around tons of applications in a short amount of time. Sort through to find the best fit for the most reasonable price.
Keep in mind, a more talented writer might cost a bit more but the editing you’ll have to do on the back end will be much less. You have to decide how much you are willing to pay for the quality of work you expect.
6. Put Management Systems in Place
Once you begin managing your own team of writers, things will start to get interesting. You’ll need to stay organized to keep everything running smoothly.
Project Management tools like Trello helped Carlo transform his freelance career into a bonafide SEO writing business where he and Florence currently manage a team of 41 writers from all over the world.
What Have You Got to Lose?
That is the great thing about jumping into freelancing as an SEO writer. It costs nothing but a little time and energy to get started as is the case with most online freelance gigs. You are no different than Carlo. By following the exact steps he took, you can also create a life of freedom through SEO writing.
Here’s a summary of the steps that helped Carlo and Florence build their $10k/month writing business:
- Learn to write for the web
- Land your first clients
- Keep pitching
- Be informal and friendly with clients
- Start outsourcing
- Put management systems in place
If you want to hear all of the nitty gritty details, be sure to check out my full interview with Carlo here. As an added bonus I’ve included additional resources, such as the exact email pitch Carlo sent to one of his first clients.
Follow Carlo & Florence’s Adventures
If you’re interested in reading more about Carlo and Florence’s adventures, check them out over at Next Stop Who Knows.
Lastly, remember this: building an online business that gives you the freedom to travel isn’t reserved for the most talented, skilled professionals. It’s possible for anyone who is willing to put some time and energy into learning and hustling.
Follow the steps presented above, and you too can have a thriving online business that enables you to pursue a life of travel, or whatever other life you dream of.
About the Author: Niall Doherty writes books, builds websites, and helps people get started working online. He spent 44 months traveling around the world without flying and now lives in Berlin, Germany.
P.S.: With the Right SEO Writing Training, You Too Can Earn Thousands/Month While Travelling the World. I Do, Just Like Carlo & Florence — from Jamaica.
I’ve Taught Many How to Get Started. Are You Ready?
I’ve made my living as an online (SEO) content writer since 2007. Some benefits of starting this type of freelance business:
**You can never be laid off;
**You determine how much you earn; and
**You can work from anywhere (as long as there’s an internet connection).
Since 2009, via my online SEO copywriting course, I’ve trained many others how to start this type of freelance business. Are you next?
P.P.S.: Have Something about SEO You Want to Share?
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