Search engine optimization (SEO) is a method of optimizing web traffic to a particular site, whether it is a personal blog or a corporate site. This includes everything from using certain keywords or key phrases, to the way the pages are designed; effective SEO requires someone who understands the techniques and principles behind it, how to write to a brand, and what really drives traffic to a site. In order to do freelance SEO, you will need to learn these techniques and demonstrate a proven track record of success. You will then need to approach clients and advertise your services doing freelance SEO; in this field in particular, the importance of networking really cannot be overstated.
Learning how to effectively do freelance SEO will take some dedicated effort on your part. Though you may be able to attend college and study topics such as marketing and communications, search engine optimization is still a relatively new area, and, as a result, is typically not even covered in many classes. Instead, you will need to do research on your own. Read instructional websites and books, look at websites that use these techniques to see what works and what doesn't, and talk to other people who already do this for a living to try to learn all you can.
Your next step is generally to get some hands-on experience. If a company will give you a shot, and is willing to train you a bit, by all means, take the job. Most companies will want to hire experienced freelancers, however, and they will want to see the freelance SEO experience you already have. As a result, many freelancers will build their own websites, even if they are simply personal websites, and demonstrate how they use SEO techniques to build their personal brand and drive traffic.
As you are doing this, be sure to continue networking as much as possible, sending your resume to potential clients, and detailing what you can do for them. You may need to market SEO as much as you are marketing yourself, since some companies may not even be aware of it. Take projects you know you can succeed with, ask for positive references at the end of a job, and build your client base. Social networking tools represent excellent opportunities for freelance SEO networking as well. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and take the first step in getting a new client; don't just wait for them to contact you. In addition, always be ready to discuss your rates, and recognize that you may have to begin with lower than average rates until you build a record of success.