How to Make Money with SEO? (Starting from Scratch)

How to Make Money with SEO? (Starting from Scratch)


Learning SEO can be a great way to make money online. Once you have the necessary skills you can start ranking your own websites to make money or explore other ways to make money with SEO.

Learning to make money with SEO business isn’t a fast path to online riches, but it can be an incredible way to make money online. Plus, there’s no limit on how much money you can make if you use your SEO skills to build, rank, and monetize websites.

In this post I’ll show you how to make money off SEO, the learning process you can follow, and 10 different ways you can use SEO to make money.

Why is SEO a Great Way to Make Money Online?

There are all kinds of ways to make money online, like building an eCommerce store, growing a popular blog, selling services and affiliate products, eBooks, online courses, and more.

However, you won’t make any money with these methods if you don’t have traffic.

One of the best ways to get quality traffic to your site is through SEO.

Search engine optimization is a foundational skill that can help to unlock your success online.

SEO Training

Knowing how SEO works and how to create and implement an SEO strategy can make you invaluable to business owners and any personal websites you launch.

You’ll understand things like:

Once you learn the principles and concepts of SEO (highlighted below), you can begin applying what you’ve learned to several different niches and types of business. You can even freelance to get paid to further learn and apply your skills in the new world.

How to Learn SEO and Become an Expert?

SEO isn’t that difficult to learn. All it takes is setting aside the time necessary to learn the various SEO concepts and best-practices.

The great thing about SEO is that you can start offering your services and getting paid on your path to becoming an SEO expert.

Benefits of Learning SEO

  • Can increase search engine traffic and rankings for your websites, along with client sites
  • You won’t be dependent on third-party SEO agencies to help grow your own business
  • If you do decide to outsource, you can make better decisions about who to work with
  • You can get a job with an SEO or marketing agency to further grow your skills as you learn

Nearly every online business can benefit from some kind of SEO strategy. Even if you have a traffic source that’s working great, you can add SEO to make the business more resilient while increasing revenue.

The SEO learning curve will be steep in the beginning, since there are so many new concepts to learn. But, once you pass this initial phase and start implementing, everything will become much easier.

Here’s a quick look at the path you can follow to learn SEO:

  1. Understand how the search engines work and how they index content
  2. Learn basic search engine marketing concepts and ideas
  3. Understand what the search engines are looking for (i.e. quality content that searchers love)
  4. Learn how to optimize content the right way
  5. Learn what offsite SEO factors are important and how to achieve these metrics
  6. Choose the right SEO tools to help you make data-based decisions
  7. Put what you learned to work with websites and other projects

If you want this process explained in-depth, then check out the Complete SEO Course.

Once you make your way through the path above you can start using the methods below to start making money off your SEO skills and knowledge.

10 Best Ways to Make Money With SEO

  1. Start an SEO Business
  2. Become an SEO Freelancer (Side Hustle)
  3. Set up a Blog and Make Money From Ads
  4. Set up a Blog and Make Money from Affiliate Sales
  5. Build an eCommerce Store and Sell Physical Products
  6. Build an eCommerce Store and Sell Digital Products
  7. Create and Sell SEO Online Courses
  8. Get an SEO Job at an Agency or Company
  9. Sell SEO Copywriting Services
  10. Sell Micro-SEO Services on Fiverr

1. Start an SEO Business

Website owners are constantly on the lookout for ways they can get new customers and clients. One great vehicle for this is increasing website traffic.

But, increasing traffic to your website isn’t as easy as publishing a few blog posts. As a result, business owners rely on SEO professionals to help generate more search engine traffic on their behalf.

The SEO market only continues to grow. The SEO industry is estimated to be worth over $80 billion.

Once you’ve found some success with your own website, or personal projects, you can take this service to clients.

Now, running an SEO business isn’t for everyone. It can be a ton of work, and managing client relationships and expectations can take up a lot of your time.

That being said, here are some of the pros and cons of starting your own SEO business.

Pros of running an SEO business:

  • Consistent monthly retainers from clients
  • The revenue ceiling is very high
  • The SEO industry only continues to grow

Cons of running an SEO business:

  • Client management can be very time consuming and stressful
  • The margins can be slim when you factor in staff and overhead
  • You’ll need other skills like hiring, team management, and more

Finding SEO clients

There are a variety of different ways you can generate leads and clients for your SEO business.

If you’re maintaining a regular SEO blog or guest posting on relevant sites you could have leads reach out to you, however, there are a few lead generation tactics you can employ as well:

  • Reaching out to businesses via LinkedIn and cold email
  • Target companies who are spending money on advertising, but not ranking organically
  • Forming partnerships with graphic design firms and other agencies
  • List your company on online marketing directories
  • Use your SEO skills to rank your company high in the local search results

Ultimately your success running an SEO business depends on the results you deliver for your clients.

How much money can you make?

With an SEO business, there’s no limit to how much your agency can earn. You’re limited by the number of clients you have and the size of your team.

In general, monthly retainer rates for SEO services are around $5,000.

2. Become an SEO Freelancer (Side Hustle)

If you like the idea of running an SEO business, but creating a full-fledged agency is too much work, then consider becoming an SEO or digital marketing freelancer.

If you’ve found a specific part of SEO that you enjoy, then you can offer your services for this specific skill.

For example, maybe you’ve found that you enjoy broken backlink building. You could partner with an agency or webmaster and offer this specific service. Or use a freelancer platform like Upwork and bid on SEO jobs for that skill.

The best thing about freelancing is that it can be done part-time. You can pitch your services, bid on job boards, and take on overflow agency work when you have the time.

SEO Rates Per Hour
SEO Rates Per Hour

As a part-time freelancer, there is a range of different types of projects you can take on, like:

How much money can you make?

As a freelancer, your rates depend on experience. You can price per project or per hour, usually, rates fall in the $50-100 per hour range.

3. Set up a Blog and Make Money From Ads

make money blogging for beginners

If you have solid SEO skills you can make money from a blog that gets a ton of traffic. One of the easiest forms of blog monetization is paid advertising.

Some of the most popular forms of paid ads include:

  • Google Adsense and similar providers like
  • Custom banner ads
  • Sponsored content

To find success as a blogger you need a niche that gets a high volume of traffic and doesn’t have extreme levels of competition. For example, the personal finance niche (mentioned above) is one of the most competitive online. Even if you’re an SEO wizard it’s going to take a long time to build up the authority necessary to compete.

You need to find a niche that gets a solid amount of traffic but isn’t insanely competitive. With solid SEO experience, you’ll be able to uncover niches that possess these two qualities.

Monetizing a blog via paid ads is one of the most passive models in existence since you’re getting paid on the volume of traffic and clicks.

Keep in mind to make money off SEO with advertising you’re going to need a very high volume of traffic. If the niche you want to build a website in is limited in terms of traffic, then you may need to monetize in other ways.

How much money can you make?

Once again, the money you can earn is variable. It depends on the volume of traffic you’re getting and the revenue you’re generating per 1,000 visitors. There are examples of sites earning over $40k per month from ad revenue alone, but it will take time to get to this level.

4. Set up a Blog and Make Money from Affiliate Sales

make money with affiliate marketing
How Affiliate Marketing Works.

Affiliate marketing is one of the most popular ways to make money online. It is competitive, but as someone with actual SEO skills, you have a much greater chance of success.

There’s no limit to how big of a site you can build as an affiliate. You have single-person blogs, all the way up to massive sites like NerdWallet and The WireCutter, which are large-scale affiliate sites.

With affiliate marketing, you promote high-quality products in exchange for a commission when someone decides to buy through your affiliate link.

The most common form of affiliate posts is “best of” posts and “product reviews”.

When a searcher is typing these kinds of keywords into Google they’re in the buying phase. So, if they click over to your site, there’s a good chance they’re going to buy from your link.

Building a successful affiliate site via SEO is a truly passive income. However, you are reliant on organic traffic, and the payouts from vendors (which can change).

How much money can you make?

Affiliate marketing has a wide range of income potential, but there are examples of sites earning millions of dollars in affiliate commissions, and even solo blogs earning over $100k.

5.Build an eCommerce Store and Sell Physical Products

Make money with an online store
Make money with an online store

If you know SEO, you can use search engine optimization to earn money from your store. Organic search engine traffic can be an incredibly reliable source of traffic.

You can conduct keyword research to find keywords your audience will use to find your product. For example, if you find a keyword like “waterproof backpack” that has a high volume and low competition, this could help to verify there’s a demand for the product.

Building an eCommerce store has all kinds of benefits like:

  • It’s a legitimate business model with a very high-income ceiling
  • You have full control over your brand
  • The eCommerce market only continues to grow year after year

However, with building an eCommerce brand there are a ton of additional steps involved in the process:

  1. Creating the product (or sourcing dropshipping products)
  2. Selling initial products and getting feedback
  3. Improving products and handling shipping
  4. Scaling your store

How much money can you make?

There’s no limit to how much you can earn when running an eCommerce store. For example, Dollar Shave Club sold for over 1 billion dollars.

6. Build an eCommerce Store and Sell Digital Products

If you don’t want to get into the physical product business, you can sell digital products using the same methods as above.

Digital products can be advantageous since the margins can be much higher. With digital products, you also have the opportunity to test different products and different angles, until you find something that sells.

The most common form of a digital product is an eBook, but you have all kinds of digital products you can explore like:

  • Online courses (mentioned below)
  • Recurring membership
  • Digital templates
  • Music and audio
  • Stock photography

How much money can you make?

The amount you can earn selling digital products is just as variable as other areas. One couple makes $50k per month selling digital products online.

7. Create and Sell SEO Online Courses

Once you’ve been practicing SEO for a while and have gotten some tangible results you can package up your knowledge and sell it as a course.

Keep in mind that the SEO space is flooded with low-quality courses, so if you are going to create a course you’ll want to ensure it’s something original and unique. If it’s backed by tangible results that you’ve been able to create for yourself, or clients, even better.

Another consideration is building an audience before you start selling your course. Sure, you can take advantage of paid traffic channels, but it can be a while until you’re turning a positive ROI, especially with no audience.

Instead, spend time sharing your SEO knowledge for free via your blog, YouTube channel, and Instagram before you launch an online course.

There are a variety of approaches you can take to monetize your existing SEO knowledge.

For example, if you don’t want to spend time building an entire course you can create something smaller, like a paid newsletter, Slack channel, Discord server, or private Facebook group.

You can also create a course that addresses a smaller subsect of the market. So, instead of creating an all-in-one SEO course, you could create a course on a single aspect of SEO, like link building, onsite SEO, or speed optimization.

SEO Courses can be extremely lucrative since you only have to create the course once and you can sell it time and time again.

How much money can you make?

The amount you can earn from online courses varies widely. There are multiple course creators who earn over $100k per year, but it depends upon your audience and the quality of your course.

8. Get an SEO Job at an Agency or Company

SEO Specialist Salary
SEO Specialist Salary

A lot of people who get into SEO don’t dream about working for an agency. But, this can be an incredible way to get paid to grow your skills and learn things you wouldn’t come across on your own.

Typically, when you work for an agency you’re going to be taking on much larger projects than you would as a lone freelancer.

By working with enterprise-level clients you’ll be able to learn how large-scale projects are executed from start to finish while picking up new skills along the way.

For example, with large client projects you’ll learn things like technical SEO, how to do deep dives into website analytics, and even presentations and pitching.

When you work with an agency you’ll be able to test and learn what’s working today using the resources of an existing company and its clients. Plus, you’ll get a consistent salary, which usually won’t be the case when you’re getting started freelancing.

The only real drawbacks are the long hours and generally chaotic environment of working for an agency, and working for someone else might not be what you’re looking for.

How much money can you make?

The amount you’ll earn at an agency depends on your experience, the salary you can earn ranges from $40k to $100k per year.

9. Sell SEO Copywriting Services

Make Money as a SEO Content Writer
Make Money as an SEO Content Writer

The term SEO writer used to mean writing content that’s optimized for the search engines. Writers who classify themselves as SEO writers are more generalists and don’t have a specific niche.

The drawback of this is that it’s difficult to charge higher rates and you’ll get lumped in with the rest of the generalist writers pitching the same services.

Instead, you’ll want to brand yourself as a niche writer who has advanced knowledge of SEO. Not only can you write authoritative content that’s geared towards a specific niche, but you know how to optimize it properly for the search engines, include relevant keywords, and more.

The benefit of selling SEO copywriting services is that you can work from anywhere in the world–all you need is a laptop and a WiFi connection. There’s also a ton of demand for writers since nearly every website needs a continuous stream of content.

As an SEO writer, you can either work for a handful of agencies and produce content for their clients, or pitch business and website owners directly offering your skills.

Unless you love writing, SEO copywriting probably isn’t something you’ll want to stay in forever, since you’re naturally limited by how much you can write.

How much money can you make?

The rates for SEO copywriting differ depending on your experience, the niche you’re writing, and the type of writing you’re doing. You can expect anywhere from $5 up to $2500 per project.

10. Sell Micro-SEO Services on Fiverr

As you know tons of different tasks must be accomplished to effectively execute an SEO campaign. It’s a lot for a single person, let alone a team, to accomplish.

Some common tasks include:

  • In-depth site audits
  • Backlink building
  • Content writing
  • Outreach for social media
  • Technical optimization
  • Keyword research
  • And more

If you’ve mastered one part of this process, then you can sell these micro-SEO services to companies in need.

For example, SEO agencies and individual website owners are always on the lookout for quality contractors to help execute successful SEO campaigns.

There are a few different ways you can offer your services, but one of the most effective is Fiverr. Fiverr is commonly overlooked since it’s generally associated with cheaper work. However, you can offer upsells on your packages and earn decent money for the tasks you complete.

The key to earning a solid income on Fiverr is to establish yourself as an expert in a given area. You want to choose a task that you know you can execute and get solid ratings from your customers.

Fiverr (and other freelance marketplaces like Upwork) can be very beneficial, for example:

  • You can quickly rise in the rankings if your work is good
  • You can deliver work fast and get paid fast
  • There’s a near-endless amount of leads you can tap into

However, there is a limit to how much you can earn on Fiverr. It’s a great place to start your SEO career, but probably not a platform you’ll want to use forever.

How much money can you make?

The gigs you offer on Fiverr start at $5, however, you can really start to earn by offering upgrades and higher-level packages. Some freelancers are earning between $2-3k per month.

Key Learnings

As you can see there is a wide range of opportunities to offer your services and make money with SEO.

By taking the time to learn SEO you’ll be learning a valuable skill that can be used to start your own business or bring value to any online project you’re a part of. You can easily answer the question: how do SEO companies make money?

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be an expert to make money with SEO. Once you’ve mastered the basics, have applied what you’ve learned, and have some results you can start earning money.

There are a variety of ways you learn how to make money online SEO. Some of the easiest ways to start include pitching your freelance SEO services on sites like Upwork, offering micro-services on Fiverr, or start selling your freelance SEO copywriting services.

At this point, with more results and experience behind you, you can further level up your skills by getting an SEO job at an agency or company or start your own business.

If you prefer the SEO services approach you can form your own SEO agency and start taking on your own large-scale clients.

Your final option with SEO is to create your own customer-facing website or business. The most common approaches include:

  • Creating a popular blog via organic traffic and monetizing via ads and/or affiliate sales
  • Creating a popular website ranking in the search engines and sell related physical or digital eCommerce products
  • Creating a popular SEO blog and teaching what you’ve learned (and what works) with an SEO course

SEO is a valuable skill that can help you land a new job, create a business, or even earn a solid side income. The time and energy you put into learning SEO will pay dividends for years to come.


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