From SEO Agency to Freelancer with Ryan Darani

Last updated: Jun 21, 2023

The video is about Ryan Darani's journey from working in an SEO agency to becoming a freelancer, including the pain points and struggles he faced along the way.

The video is an interview with Ryan Darani, who shares his journey from working in an SEO agency to becoming a freelancer. He discusses the pain points and struggles he faced along the way, including not liking the politics and power trips in the agency, and feeling like he couldn't see anything through properly. He also talks about how working in an agency helped him develop skills in working with clients, but he did feel under-skilled when he first started freelancing and had to learn how to do tasks himself or find someone who could do them for him. Overall, the video provides insights into the challenges and rewards of transitioning from agency work to freelancing.

  • Ryan faced pain points, struggles, and gaps in his journey from agency to freelancer.
  • He was not feeling satisfied in the agency and wanted to start his own business.
  • Agency life is fast-paced, and he had to balance multiple clients at once.
  • When Ryan transitioned to being a freelancer, he felt under-skilled in some areas.
  • Upselling skills learned in agency helped with bigger budget clients as a freelancer.
  • Started seeking clients on LinkedIn in September.
  • Ryan's approach to selling is not to sell, but to drop knowledge and let clients come to him.
  • Ryan deliberately went after clients with a minimum of 2k a month.
  • Working in an agency gave Ryan an understanding of the value and what a contract looked like.

From SEO Agency to Freelancer with Ryan Darani - YouTube

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Ryan's Journey from Agency to Freelancer

  • Ryan faced pain points, struggles, and gaps in his journey from agency to freelancer.
  • He met the interviewer in Brighton and later in Amsterdam in January 2020.
  • He was not feeling satisfied in the agency and wanted to start his own business.
  • He was inspired by the down-to-earth and humble attitude of the people he met in Amsterdam.
  • He wanted to be like them and have the freedom to do what he wanted.
  • He did not like the politics, authority trips, and power trips in the agency life.
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Challenges in Agency Life

  • Ryan did not like the mantra of the agency and the politics involved.
  • He did not like the authority and power trips of some managers and internal teams.
  • Agency life is fast-paced, and he had to balance multiple clients at once.
  • He could not do anything of substance or value for any client because he was always jumping from one task to another.
  • He wanted to see something through properly and execute it himself.
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Skills Learned in Agency Life

  • Working in an agency helped Ryan to work with clients face-to-face and manage relationships.
  • He learned how to balance multiple clients at once.
  • He gained experience in different tasks and roles.
  • He learned how to work in a fast-paced environment.
  • He developed his communication and teamwork skills.
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From SEO Agency to Freelancer with Ryan Darani - YouTube

Transition to Freelancer

  • When Ryan transitioned to being a freelancer, he felt under-skilled in some areas.
  • He had to do tasks himself or find someone who could do them for him.
  • He could not just pop around the corner to talk to a web developer.
  • He had to learn how to manage his time and prioritize tasks.
  • He had to learn how to market himself and find clients.
  • He had to learn how to manage his finances and taxes.
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Transitioning from SEO Agency to Freelancer

  • Upselling skills learned in agency helped with bigger budget clients as a freelancer.
  • Realized agency life sheltered from actual SEO work.
  • Agency work involved planning, research, and strategizing, but not direct implementation.
  • Left agency not confident in link building skills.
  • Agency life sheltered from what actually works well in SEO.
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Starting as a Freelancer

  • Started taking on web build clients while still at agency.
  • Used web build clients as an intro to try and get SEO clients, but it didn't work out.
  • Had no recurring revenue coming in when starting as a freelancer.
  • Started seeking clients on LinkedIn in September.
  • Went from a reasonable salary to pretty much zero in a three-month period.
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Using LinkedIn as a Platform for Lead Generation

  • Chose LinkedIn as a platform to find potential clients.
  • Started making his presence known on LinkedIn from September onwards.
  • Found success in telling people how to do things in his content.
  • Being consistent with posting on LinkedIn is important.
  • Massive engagement on LinkedIn helped with lead generation.
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Challenges Faced as a Freelancer

  • Choosing to leave a monthly salary for an uncertain income was scary.
  • Had to bridge the gap between leaving agency and finding clients.
  • Thought he was a web designer at one point.
  • Had no recurring revenue coming in when starting as a freelancer.
  • Had to work hard to make his presence known on LinkedIn.
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Building a Client Base

  • Ryan's approach to selling is not to sell, but to drop knowledge and let clients come to him.
  • He never cold DMs or emails anyone, but instead waits for inbound requests.
  • He advises clients without being pushy.
  • He believes the best way to sell is to not sell.
  • He has found success in this approach, with clients coming to him after seeing his content.
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Generating Leads on LinkedIn

  • Ryan utilized LinkedIn to make his face and voice known.
  • He committed to writing LinkedIn posts regularly.
  • He got his first 2k a month client through a referral.
  • By the end of September, he had signed a six-month agreement with a local web design company.
  • Within three months, he was doing 10k a month in clients.
  • He did not have agreements or contracts with clients when he started out.
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Targeting Higher Paying Clients

  • Ryan deliberately went after clients with a minimum of 2k a month.
  • He knew what it would take to deliver value to these clients due to his experience working with big companies.
  • He kept himself away from businesses that would hurt his reputation or be more of a headache due to smaller budgets.
  • He steered clear of businesses where he would be dealing directly with the business owner.
  • He deliberately chose to work with smaller businesses but at the same level of work as bigger companies.
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Benefits of Working in an Agency

  • Working in an agency gave Ryan an understanding of the value and what a contract looked like.
  • He knew what it would take to deliver value to clients due to his experience working with big companies.
  • He was able to use his experience to his advantage when targeting higher paying clients.
  • He was able to avoid headaches by steering clear of businesses with smaller budgets.
  • Working in an agency gave him a resume that helped him land higher paying clients.
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Understanding Your Value

  • Underselling and undervaluing oneself is common when starting out as a freelancer.
  • Networking with other SEOs can help one understand the different ways to make money and what people are charging.
  • Working in an agency can help one understand their value.
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Scaling Problems

  • Project management becomes a big issue when working with clients in the 10k-15k range.
  • Managing all emails, slacks, and project management software can lead to things slipping through the cracks.
  • Less focus on tasks and deliverables and more on spending time with the client to prioritize and manage expectations.
  • Using software like Shift for managing multiple emails and workspaces.
  • Basecamp is the most intuitive project management software.
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Outsourcing and Time Management

  • Going from 5k to 10k brings more headaches and the need for more hands.
  • Outsourcing and using remote workers can help free up time.
  • Struggles with finding the right people to outsource to and managing their work.
  • Using tools like Trello and Asana to manage tasks and deadlines.
  • Setting boundaries and managing expectations with clients to avoid burnout.
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Continuous Learning and Growth

  • Continuous learning and growth is important for staying relevant and competitive in the industry.
  • Attending conferences and networking events can help with learning and growth.
  • Building a personal brand and reputation can lead to more clients and opportunities.
  • Staying organized and disciplined with time management is crucial for success as a freelancer.
  • Being adaptable and willing to pivot when necessary is important for long-term success.
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Delegating Tasks

  • Delegating tasks is important to free up time for running a business.
  • It can be difficult to trust others to do tasks as well as oneself.
  • Learning to delegate tasks can help free up time for personal branding and networking.
  • Personal branding and networking can help improve a company's brand and positioning in the market.
  • It took Ryan about a year to understand his place in the market and start charging better rates.
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Niching Down

  • Ryan has niched himself down to a particular industry and specializes in content growth.
  • He believes it's important to have a unique selling point and position oneself in the market.
  • People have niched down into specific topics in the last five to ten years.
  • Knowing one's unique selling point and branding oneself can make people want to work with them.
  • Positioning oneself in the market can help improve a company's brand and positioning.
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Personal Branding and Networking

  • Personal branding and networking can help improve a company's brand and positioning in the market.
  • Networking can help build relationships with potential clients.
  • Getting three hours back a day through delegating tasks can be spent on personal branding and networking.
  • Improving a company's brand and positioning can help go from 10k to 20k.
  • It took Ryan about a year to understand his place in the market and start charging better rates.
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Learning to Delegate Tasks

  • It can be difficult to trust others to do tasks as well as oneself.
  • Learning to delegate tasks can help free up time for personal branding and networking.
  • Personal branding and networking can help improve a company's brand and positioning in the market.
  • It took Ryan about a year to understand his place in the market and start charging better rates.
  • Positioning oneself in the market can help improve a company's brand and positioning.
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Regrets and Lessons Learned

  • Ryan's biggest regret is not leaving the agency sooner.
  • He always wanted to leave but didn't know what he wanted to do for himself.
  • When you're in a job, it's hard to find the time and headspace to figure out when the right time to leave is.
  • He was attracted to the lifestyle he saw when he met up with people in Amsterdam.
  • He had lost all passion for his job and was in a bad mindset.
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The Laptop Lifestyle

  • The nomad lifestyle and the laptop lifestyle are often seen as a dream that doesn't actually exist.
  • When you're in an agency, it's easy to think that this lifestyle isn't real.
  • People in agencies often think that those who live this lifestyle are selling snake oil.
  • Ryan reached out to people who were living this lifestyle to prove or disprove it.
  • He saw that the lifestyle was real and decided to pursue it.
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Starting Again

  • Ryan's biggest regret is not leaving the agency sooner.
  • He didn't know what he wanted to do for himself.
  • He was in a bad mindset and had lost all passion for his job.
  • He was attracted to the lifestyle he saw when he met up with people in Amsterdam.
  • He wishes he had done it quicker.
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Self-Doubt and Money Concerns

  • When you're thinking about leaving a job to start your own thing, self-doubt and money concerns can hold you back.
  • It's important to remember that if it fails, you can always go back and get another job.
  • Ryan understands the feeling of wanting to leave a day job to pursue your own thing.
  • He was given a kick up the ass to pursue his own thing after seeing others living the lifestyle he wanted.
  • He took the opportunity to prove or disprove the lifestyle and saw that it was real.
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Ryan's Journey

  • Ryan met someone who was making money online and decided to give it a try.
  • He started working in an SEO agency and realized he wanted to be a freelancer.
  • He struggled with self-doubt and fear of failure.
  • He eventually took the leap and became a successful freelancer.
  • He emphasizes the importance of trying things out for yourself and not letting others skew your judgment.
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Delegation

  • Ryan struggled with delegation as an agency owner.
  • He didn't trust his staff and wanted to be hands-on with everything.
  • He eventually realized he needed to let go and delegate tasks.
  • He delegated content writing, link building, and smaller tasks like content planning and strategy.
  • Delegation has helped him save time and focus on selling himself as a freelancer.
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Content Writing

  • Ryan started out writing content himself for clients.
  • He quickly realized he couldn't keep up with the demand and delegated content writing.
  • He emphasizes the importance of finding a good content writer and holding onto them.
  • He also recommends not sharing your good content writer with others.
  • Delegating content writing has helped him save time and focus on other tasks.
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Link Building

  • Ryan struggled with link building and bought bad links that upset clients.
  • He tried manual outreach and tools like Buzzstream and Pitchbox, but found it wasn't scalable.
  • He eventually started outsourcing link building and found a good vendor.
  • Outsourcing link building has helped him save time and focus on other tasks.
  • He recommends finding a good vendor and being confident in their work.
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Building a Personal Brand as a Freelancer

  • Delegating smaller tasks does not detract from the fact that you are the brand.
  • Clients will still expect to deal with you directly.
  • Building a personal brand is important for freelancers.
  • Being a freelancer means you are the face of your business.
  • Personal branding helps establish credibility and trust with clients.
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Sharing Vendors and Loopholes

  • Sharing vendors and loopholes can ruin it for everyone.
  • People will pile in and take advantage of the information.
  • It's important to be careful about what you share.
  • Stealing people from other people and hiring them full-time is common.
  • Freelancers should not be naive about sharing vendors.
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Long-Term Plans for Freelancers

  • After reaching a certain level of success, freelancers need to think about long-term plans.
  • It's important to invest in other opportunities to continue making money.
  • Scaling up can be difficult due to time constraints and management responsibilities.
  • Personal capacity is a limiting factor for scaling up.
  • Long-term goals for freelancers include reaching higher revenue levels.
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Long-term Goals

  • Ryan's long-term goal is to build a business and sell it for eight or nine figures.
  • He is interested in affiliate or content sites and e-commerce.
  • He wants to build a brand and scale it to a certain point before selling it.
  • Ryan wants to exit a business and sail off into the sunset with pina coladas in every corner.
  • He tailors his services based on the niche and the client's growth goals.
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Pricing and Projects

  • Ryan structures his pricing based on the project's estimated time and cost.
  • He does not work on an hourly rate unless it's a consultancy call.
  • Ryan tells clients what success looks like and how much it will cost to achieve it.
  • He protects himself by not disclosing how many hours are spent on specific tasks.
  • Ryan asks clients if they trust him enough to achieve their goals.
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Work Schedule

  • For the first year, Ryan worked 14-16 hour days to get everything done.
  • Now he works a normal nine-to-five schedule, but it's flexible.
  • On average, Ryan works six to seven hours a day straight.
  • He has a dedicated office space to create separation between work and home life.
  • Ryan finds it distracting to work in his bedroom or living room.
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Revenue Share and Proposals

  • Ryan had not touched revenue share before, but he is considering it with a potential e-commerce client.
  • The only issue with revenue share is protecting oneself legally against non-payment or non-achievement of growth.
  • Ryan structures his proposals and estimates based on the project's estimated time and cost.
  • He makes sure to ask clients if they trust him enough to achieve their goals.
  • Ryan does not waste time on proposals and estimates by tailoring them to the client's niche and growth goals.
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Proposal Process

  • Ryan stopped doing proposals for clients or potential clients.
  • He does a 15-20 minute loom video to explain how he's going to do things.
  • He walks them through hrefs and shows them some potential opportunities.
  • If you get quicker excel and good excel, you can show some forecasts.
  • Ryan will not spend five hours six hours producing a proposal for somebody to say thank you.
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Building Personal Brand

  • Ryan is going to continue to invest and build his personal brand as much as he can.
  • He plans to do that heavily this year with podcasts and keep pitching his story to publications.
  • The worst thing that can happen is someone will say no or just don't respond to you.
  • Ryan believes in giving it a try and seeing what happens.
  • He has nothing to lose.
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Mistakes Made

  • Ryan spent around 10-15 grand on courses and tools in the early stages.
  • They all pretty much turned out to be the exact same thing as what you can find online.
  • Masterminds are valuable because you're around people that are giving genuine information.
  • Ryan thought there was something out there that he didn't know, but it's less about the trick and more about understanding the process.
  • He believed in the secret where's this link shop you've all got the keys to.
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Future Plans

  • Ryan is building a personal brand.
  • He intends to do the whole speaking thing and podcasts.
  • He plans to invest and build his personal brand as much as he can.
  • Ryan wants to continue to pitch his story to publications and see what happens.
  • He believes in giving it a try and seeing what happens.
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Ryan Darani's Journey from SEO Agency to Freelancer

  • The first challenge Ryan faced was figuring out what works in SEO and how to scale it consistently.
  • He also learned the hard way not to become too emotionally attached to clients, as it can lead to sacrificing personal life and giving more than what was paid for.
  • Ryan shared a story of wanting to see the "real link shop" instead of the typical link building strategies.
  • He emphasized the importance of finding a niche and specializing in it to stand out in the industry.
  • Ryan recommended building a personal brand and networking to attract clients and grow a business.
  • He can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter for those interested in connecting with him.

Watch the video on YouTube:
From SEO Agency to Freelancer with Ryan Darani - YouTube

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