SEO is all about credibility and hard work. In SEO, your reputation precedes you. If you have a lot of credibility, its easy to bring in new business or get hired at a prospective new company.
That being said. There are some quick and easy ways to establish credibility without work experience.
Study for the following two certifications and get them.
Google Analytics IQ (Cost $50)
This certification is a prerequisite for doing any kind of SEO work. You need to have a solid grounding in web analytics so you can track the effectiveness of your SEO campaigns. Google Analytics is used everywhere and the analytics mindset that you get from this certification will hold you in good stead for most of your professional life (It did for me).
Google AdWords (Cost $50)
This certification is necessary for building the foundation for your SEO skills (keyword research). Good keyword research specialists are very difficult to find because most of them did not learn a Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising skill like Google AdWords or a similar platform before learning SEO.
PPC gives you a solid grounding in keyword research. It makes you learn which keywords convert the best into a sale and which ones don’t. This knowledge will aid you greatly when you start building your first SEO campaign.
On the client side, PPC is fundamental because it goes hand in hand with SEO. You will rarely have a client who does 100% SEO. Most of the time it will be part SEO and part PPC and part something else. It pays dividends to understand how the different parts of marketing fit together.
You will also gain the ability to switch between three very similar career paths if you get bored or if its a bad economy. SEO, Analytics and PPC pay very good money if you are skilled at your craft. Imagine an individual with mastery in all three elements.
Aim high. If I can do it, then so can you.