Name: Bobby Warren
Location: Wooster, Ohio
Bio: Bobby Warren is a former Associated Press award-winning journalist who left the industry to start his own search engine optimization and content creation company. Bobby works with businesses and bloggers around the country to improve the SEO of their websites and content.
How long have you been doing freelance work?
More than 5 years.
Tell us about your freelance business, in 200 words or less.
I analyze websites by conducting technical SEO audits; I create content to rank higher in SERPs; I write copy to convert for affiliate marketers; conduct keyword research; and create content strategies.
What do you consider to be your specialty. How does it help you in your business?
I work with a variety of bloggers, companies and professional services firms. I prefer not to work with political candidates, issues or initiatives.
What made you become a freelancer?
I initially began freelancing to supplement my income. After learning how to conduct SEO audits through Claudia Pennington, I decided to start my own company.
What do you love most about freelance work, and why?
I enjoy all of the different people with which I get to work and tackling a variety of assignments. On any given day, I might create a social media post or video in the morning; work on keyword research before lunch; research and begin writing a blog post in the afternoon; and optimize existing content at the end of the day.
What do you hate about it?
Sometimes it can be difficult keeping track of everything I need to do in a particular day.
Tell us about your first paid job. How did you land your first client?
I was studying journalism at the University of Central Florida. I worked for the student newspaper. A trade association was having a show in town and wanted someone who was an outsider to write about it. So, I made $200 in 1992 to write a story about the power washing industry.
Do you think aspiring freelancers should take unpaid work to gain experience? Why or why not?
No. The worker is worth the wage. I see a difference between taking unpaid work and volunteering. I would volunteer for a nonprofit organization, but I would not take unpaid work from a for-profit entity. If the business cannot afford to pay you, then it does not have a good business model.
Do you feel you’re charging what you’re worth?
No. After years of low pay in the journalism industry, I think I undervalue my services. I am getting better.
Describe your process for finding new clients? Where do you look?
When I started, I approached companies where I knew the people who owned it or ran it. I ran some Facebook ads, which helped raise awareness. I gained new clients through word-of-mount referrals and by working with other freelancers. Attending FinCon was a game-changer for me.
Have you ever had to ‘fire’ a client? If so, why and how did you do it?
I came close once. My attorney and my accountant said I should. I just didn’t want to because a good friend made the referral. Things worked out in the end beautifully, but midstream was difficult. It was a web development project — an area I now work with a partner.
Name 3 tools (apps, equipment) that you can’t live without. What makes them so great?
Textmetrics, Stencil, inVideo
What is your #1 productivity hack?
Didn’t you see? I have trouble sometimes figuring out what I need to do on a particular day? I don’t have one.
Do you outsource tasks? Why or why not? If so, which ones?
Yes. I have outsourced high-end video work; web development; and content creation in a heavily regulated industry.
In your opinion, what is the most important skill required for freelance work, and why?
Do you consider yourself a strong time manager? How do you stay organized?
Do you also work a 9-5? If so, how do you balance it with your freelance business?
I work when I can’t sleep; I work when I have a football game on; I work at night while the TV is on.
Where do you do most of your work?
When I work early in the morning, I do so from my home office. Then, I will get ready for the day and head out to my office.
Do you use a co-working space? Tell us a bit about it.
I rent space in a business incubator that is connected with one of the top universities in Ohio.
Name an entrepreneur/freelancer/influencer who inspires you. What is it about their story/message that resonates?
Claudia Pennington. What she knows about digital marketing is staggering. I would not be where I am without her guidance and counsel.
Name 1 thing you would do differently, if you were starting over today?
I would not do anything differently. I say this not because I did everything right, but I learned from everything I have done.
What is your #1 tip for aspiring freelancers?
I don’t know that I have a No. 1 tip, but I do know it is important to be genuine. Be willing to give back just as others helped you on your path. I tell potential clients, “I am happy to help you, and if we do business, even better.” If someone needs advice, I will give it freely. I know what it is like trying to bootstrap everything and get things done at little to no cost.