It’s time to stop asking SEOs (Digita marketers) to work for free

Digital marketers, especially SEOs, are a special breed. There is no other profession I know of who work for free. No taxi drivers, waiters, lawyers, accountant, or any other person with bills to pay works for free. But, that is what SEOs are often being forced and asked to do.

So let’s get one thing straight.

Businesses are based on transactions, not charity. We all have bills to pay. Do not ask people to perform labour without remuneration in order to achieve your own success.

To my fellow SEO collegues

It may feel flattering at first when somebody wants to ‘pick your brain’ and it feels like you are being recognized for your expertise, but it doesn’t take long to grasp that the “potential” customer doesn’t really appreciate it enough to actually want to pay you what it’s worth.
In the end, you may end up feeling pretty awful.

To the business owner

And then the tools. Too many of the so-called ‘free” SEOs overpromise but under deliver. Why? Because professional SEO tools are expensive. But these expensive and powerful tools allow an SEO to see exactly how a business is performing or in many cases underperforming online. And because of the price of these tools, many ‘cheap’ SEOs don’t deliver and leave a lot of disappointed customers.

It takes skill and tools to properly audit a website (and anyone who says differently is simply trying to fool you).

What I am trying to tell the business owner is, in the end, this will hurt you, too. If you aren’t willing to pay someone for their time and effort you’re contributing to a cultural mindset wherein eventually, you’ll find that someone will be unwilling to pay you for your time and effort, too.

I am a believer but I am not stupid.

In the end, I don’t want you to think that I am totally against free stuff.
I go to a lot of conferences and I give a lot of conference talks and I’ve never been paid. I am very active online and I’ve given hundreds and hundreds of free advice.
Not just that but I will have coffee with every young SEO out there who hits me up and wants advice. I will sit with them for an hour and listen, and talk, and do what I can to help. Sometimes I even give them my tools to play with so they can understand the importance of being well prepared to do a proper job for a client.

But when it comes to clients I am totally against asking people to work for free. It’s insulting.

The next time you want someone to work for free, do me a favour. Ask your landlord if she’ll accept you living in her house without paying rent for a month. Ask your mechanic to fix your car for free. Ask your builder to paint your house for free. Ask your Uber driver for a free ride. Ask your bus driver for a free ride. See what they say.

After all: you wouldn’t like it very much if someone asked you to do your job for free. Why would you expect it of anyone else?

Published by Omi Sido

Omi Sido is an SEO and Web Development professional with 6 years of experience in both web and traditional advertising, promotions, events, and campaigns. He has worked on integrated campaigns for major clients such as Vectone Mobile, Delight Mobile and The Global Real Estate Institute. Currently, Omi Sido is Senior Technical SEO at Canon Europe.

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