Side Hustle: Freelance Writer and SEO Specialist

Hi everyone. Lauren from L Bee and the Money Tree taking over for Michelle. Since I know everyone can have mixed feelings about “the substitute teacher” coming in for the day I thought we’d discuss everyone’s favorite topic: developing a side hustle. I’m not a “professional” blogger. In fact, Moneytree was the first self-hosted blog…

Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Last Updated: May 28, 2023

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Hi everyone. Lauren from L Bee and the Money Tree taking over for Michelle. Since I know everyone can have mixed feelings about “the substitute teacher” coming in for the day I thought we’d discuss everyone’s favorite topic: developing a side hustle.

I’m not a “professional” blogger. In fact, Moneytree was the first self-hosted blog and website I’d ever done/built and it’s taken a lot of trial and error to tweak and get it to where it is now. I do make a modest side income from the blog, but not enough for me to quit my day job and sit at home in my yoga pants all day.

Being a blogger has vastly improved my life: it helped me get the job I have now as a content and social media manager for a software company, and helped me sharpen a skill set I now utilize as my primary source of income. By combining what I do on my blog and what I do at my job, I’ve been able to string together a pretty baller portfolio of digital copy, a nice resume, and lots of applicable experience. Those assets in turn have morphed into a “freelance writer and SEO specialist” side hustle.

Unless you work with online content/marketing you may not know what SEO is; in brief it stands for Search Engine Optimization and it’s a process of super-charging your content so search engines can find it easier. There are a lot of factors that go into it, but the main trick is to write the copy so that it doesn’t sound like a robot or alien from Mars put a few sentences together and slapped it on a website. Poor copy means people take you less seriously, which is where I come in.

I work primarily in three ways:

  • Clients can send me copy they’ve already written and I fix it up and optimize it for them.
  • They give me keywords they want content for and I write 5-600 words specifically for each keyword.
  • I do research on what keywords would work best for them and their business (I work mostly with small business owners and start-ups).


If I have to do research, write the content, and do the optimization I make around $50 an hour. $35 just for SEO copy or optimizing what they’ve already written. I don’t make thousands of dollars doing this, but it can be quite lucrative.

If you are looking to build a side hustle for yourself in SEO (or in any industry really) I would recommend leveraging your networks, as that is how I get most of my clients. A really great friend of mine is a graphic designer and any time one of her client’s needs SEO/Copy she sends them my way. Friends help friends! I also never pass up an opportunity to help a blogger (free of charge, of course!) because you never know what opportunities fellow readers and authors can bring you.

You could also check job boards such as Craigslist, as a lot of people want SEO as just a one-time thing rather than hiring a contract or PT employment situation. I do know that as a blogger having a link to a complete body of work really pulls people in, so if you are thinking about a side hustle as an SEO specialist or freelance writer, I’d recommend starting a blog first to hone your skills and get people’s attention.

This is just a basic overview of what I do as a side hustle. The internet is abound with resources if you are wanting to learn more about blogging or SEO. Of course, I am nowhere near the epic level Michelle makes with her side income, but I’m happy being the master of my own destiny and being able to take on more work if there ever is a need.

Everyone should blog, it’s amazing. Don’t do it to make money. Never do that, because you’ll fail, but whoever said a little income on the side was a bad thing?

What side hustles do you have? Has a hobby of yours turned into a side hustle?

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Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Author: Michelle Schroeder-Gardner

Hey! I’m Michelle Schroeder-Gardner and I am the founder of Making Sense of Cents. I’m passionate about all things personal finance, side hustles, making extra money, and online businesses. I have been featured in major publications such as Forbes, CNBC, Time, and Business Insider. Learn more here.

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  1. Writing has been my profession from the start (print and web), though it wasn't till last year I actually got into blogging for companies. It can definitely pay a lot more than straight editorial (am working on a post on this…)

    Actually doing keyword research sounds like it could be pretty lucrative and is a great extension of that! Though it's not really something I want to get into at this time (nor do I think I know enough about it). Sounds like you have a good range of services going on.
    My recent post Foods I never used to like

  2. myfijourney

    I'm still pretty new to the blogging scene and have heard a lot about SEO. I know the general principles but I can't say that I write for SEO. I find it hard and time consuming enough to just create content.

  3. Awesome post Lauren! So glad you could guest post on Michelle's blog. My side hustles are essentially my blog and some freelance spreadsheet consulting. I suppose you could throw in our rental income as well. I would definitely consider doing some freelance writing if I had more time.
    My recent post Financial Literacy – Definition, Challenges, and Good News

  4. Great job on your side hustle! I didn't know that you had changed careers. Good for you!

  5. John S @ Frugal Rules

    We have just started adding this to our portfolio of offerings for our business. My wife has been a writer for about ten years now but had done little with SEO prior to that so I have been teaching her and we've added a couple of clients in the last month or so where we are doing primarily SEO for them. Like you said, we're not getting rich off of it…but we're starting to make a nice little sum each month off of it.

  6. Rachel

    I actually do this for my 9-to-5 job, but I've always thought about bringing it over and doing it freelance to make some extra money on the side!
    My recent post 3 Creative Blog Post Ideas

  7. Sounds pretty cool, where do you get your clients?

    1. Mostly thru my graphic designer friend!

  8. debtroundup

    Nice work on the side hustle L Bee. I just have a few internet properties that make me some money. It is not much, but it is nice to have a little extra money coming in.

  9. I love the idea of utilizing new skills to create a side hustle for some extra income. One of the many reasons Leslie and I are able to pay rent on such a tight budget is because we use her people skills, and my tech skills, to help out our landlord manage his properties. It's true, you never know where helping out others can lead you!
    My recent post Big Trip Coming Up This Weekend, How We Prepared

  10. This is always very interesting to me when people do SEO for a living. I have also felt as though I've learned so much over the years and could probably freelance out some of that knowledge. Who do you use for keyword research? I'm a fan of Long Tail Pro.

  11. Yea BUDDDDDDDYYYYYYYY!!!!! That is all.

    Also, great work using your blog as a platform for a career change. You are far more daring than I 🙂

  12. John @ Fearless Men

    I don't really have any side hustles. I used to be good at poker when going through school and actually paid my rent with it sometimes. Right now blogging is an outlet to share info and discuss with others and the side income has been an awesome benefit.

  13. I do SEO work as well and I am surprised how much I enjoy it. If you ever have more work than you can handle, feel free to send some my way 🙂
    My recent post Be Aware of Life Insurance Exclusions

  14. Christopher @ This that and the MBA

    great side hustle. i have dabbled in it as well and purchased some software to assist. There is so much to learn and it is ever changing. best of luck to you!!

  15. mycanuckbuck

    Hey L Bee – great post! It was kind of you not just to post about your experience, but also suggestions for us to try out! I have made a little money off my blog – nothing Michelle level. 🙂
    My recent post Top 5 reasons budgets can fail

  16. It seems like many are not on the Michelle level. How does she do it? Nobody knows her secret, besides she works really hard. Great SEO post, I would like to learn more about the tricks of the trade, to stick it in googles face. LOL. Thanks Lauren.

  17. SEO stuff might as well be German… I just can't wrap my head around it.

    I would LOVE to have a side hustle… I hate that all my income is dependent on one employer (despite having 2 separate positions). I've been racking my brain trying to figure out what my side hustle could be, but so far, nothing has come to mind.
    My recent post So, This is My Life, I Guess…

  18. thebrokeandbeautifullife

    I'm an actress and newbie blogger so side hustle is my life. I've babysat, worked tradeshows, waited tables, rented out space in my apartment, etc. I'm now personal assisting which is totally flexible and actually works with my schedule. Though I sometimes wish I had some other skills to put to use which I wrote about recently.

  19. brickbybrickinvesting2012

    Really sounds like you found your niche and love what you do. A lot of people would be envious of your situation. I'm currently working on getting up to speed with SEO for my blog as well.

  20. Branden

    I haven??t checked in here for a while because I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are great quality so I guess I??ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend 🙂