Do you like to surf the Web?
Ever use Google?
How would you like to get paid to do both of those things?
I’m talking about $50 an hour at a minimum. It could be a great part time gig to make extra money. If you go full-time, you could make a very nice living – close to six figures a year. And in either case, you don’t have to worry about going to an office, a 9 to 5 schedule, or any of that corporate hassle.
You work where you want, with whom you want, when you want (although you do have to meet deadlines).
And it’s all thanks to a specialized skill (one you can learn easily with practice) that you combine with a little mental elbow grease to create a money-making opportunity that could only come around in recent years.
I’m talking about becoming an Internet researcher.
No degree, special training, high-tech equipment, or expensive software is required. All you need is your computer, access to the Internet, and an email account. Yet, you’ll cash in doing something you probably already do for hours every day for free.
As a Internet Researcher you’ll work with writers, marketers, authors, website owners, publishing companies, and other businesses to find information they need for their blogs, websites, articles, books, ebooks, special reports, white papers… basically anything that can be published offline or online.
These folks want to concentrate on the actual writing, which is what makes them money. So they prefer to hire freelance professionals to do the research.
They need facts and figures, statistics, quotes, case studies, testimonials, study results, graphs and charts… and much more.
A project could be tracking down information about the Great Depression and accounts of daily life of that era for a novelist writing a book set in that time. Or you could help an advertising copywriter who needs detailed statistics about historical gold prices for a new sales letter. Or a blogger might need help tracking down quotes from famous politicians for his latest post.
Really the sky is the limit when it comes to the assignments you’ll get as an Internet Researcher. That’s what makes this opportunity so fun – every day will be different.
Your Research Resources
The Internet is chock-full of information to help you with your research projects.
Search engines are the gateway to the Web, so it’s no surprise that you would start your research here.
Google is a huge resource. First off, the search engine itself is a wonderful tool. Just by entering keywords related to your research assignment, you’ll have instant access to hundreds, if not thousands, of possible resources to get information and stats you need for your project.
To get the most out of Google, there are a few best practices you should follow. Otherwise it’s quite easy to get buried under a mountain of results, many of which aren’t useful.
1. To look for a specific word or phrase put it in quotes. This will return only results with those exact words in them, which eliminates many related but not useful results you might get otherwise.
Say, for example, you were researching European cruises. If you put that in Google, you would get information on both Europe and cruises, including cruises everywhere in the world. But if you the phrase in quotes and search for “European cruises” the results would be only about, you guessed it, cruises in Europe.
2. You can also exclude words from your searches to get more targeted results. All you have to do is use the minus sign. So, for example, if you don’t want any information about Mediterranean cruises specifically, you could search for this:
European cruises -Mediterranean. Be sure that the minus sign is touching the word you want to exclude.
3. To search for similar words at the same time, you use this symbol: “~”
For example, to get results about ferries in Europe, as well as cruises, you would enter this in the search box:
European cruises ~ferries
Google offers a wide variety of search tools just like this. You can find the official search tips here: http://www.google.com/insidesearch/features.html.
Google also offers some other resources that are perfect for Internet researchers.
Google Books – Save a trip to the library. You’ll also be able search by keyword and Google Books will scan the thousands and thousands of books in its collection to find related passages.
You could also set a Google Alert for articles and news related to the topic you’re researching. When you sign up, you’ll receive a regular email (daily if you wish) from Google that offers the most recent and most informative news stories and other web content (including blog posts) on that topic. So instead of searching for the information it comes directly to your inbox.
Of course, when it comes to search engines Google isn’t the only game in town. Microsoft’s Bing.com is fast becoming a quality search engine. It returns different results than Google. So if you’re Google search is coming up dry, check out Bing.
Another great search engine, especially for statistics, historical data, and other detailed, quantifiable information is Wolfram-Alpha.
Industry publications specific to your topic are going to be required reading. For example, if you are researching human psychology for your client, you would definitely check out the website for Psychology Today for the latest news and research in this field.
If you are researching health topics, check out some of these: New England Journal of Medicine, Merck Manual (info on drugs, diseases, and health), and Journal of the American Medical Society.
Copywriters working with investment advice publishers can be very lucrative clients. They get paid a lot – so they pay the people they hire to help them well, too. For these types of clients you don’t need to be an expert in investing. But it helps to know where to track down the information they need, like current and historical stock prices, quarterly reports, news from the Federal Reserve, and similar information.
Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal are excellent sources of financial news and trend analysis. Yahoo Finance is the best place to find stock quotes and other “numbers” like that.
Magazine and Newspaper Archives
Thanks to the Internet, hundreds of publications have put decades and decades of past issues online, every article searchable by keyword. Go to sites for the New York Times, Time Magazine, and the like and search their archives for information on just about any topic you need for your research project.
If you’re clients are interested in worldwide economic trends, check out The Economist or U.S. News and World Report.
The U.S. government puts out a ton of information every day, week, month, and year.
You’ll find official statistics for things like gross national product, unemployment, agriculture figures, geographical and geological surveys, and so much more.
So keep an eye out for government agencies related to the niches you’re researching in.
- The Food Drug Administration is in charge of drugs and medical treatments.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics studies how many people are working out there and where.
- The Small Business Administration helps entrepreneurs get on their feet.
- The Census Bureau has information on population, political affiliations, and more.
- The Bureau of Economic Analysis releases information on the U.S. economy.
This is just a small taste of the government agencies that you can use as research resources. This is official data – very trustworthy.
Warning! Warning! Danger Ahead!
Caution: Do not use Wikipedia as a primary source. There are just too many people with an agenda (or just plain wrong information) on Wikipedia. You can use Wikipedia as a jumping off point for further research. Never use any info directly from this site.
The Nuts and Bolts of Finding Gigs
The best way to find clients for your Internet research business is to ask.
It’s that simple.
Believe it or not, many of the world’s best paid copywriters, authors, and other writers do not realize how they could benefit by hiring a researcher to track down information for them.
So all you have to do is contact them and explain the benefits.
The first step is to make a list of the top copywriters, authors, publishers, website authors, and bloggers. Get their contact information. And then write them a simple letter explaining the benefits of your services.
Sure, not everyone will respond and hire you. But those that truly understand will appreciate the value of your work and will get in touch.
You can also post your services on craigslist.com, elance.com, and guru.com and other freelance sites.
Lastly, be sure to let your network know about your new career. Put it on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on your own blog… wherever. You never know who you know that might hire you… or whether they have somebody in their network in need of your services.
Once you land a client, it’s time to set ground rules.
As an Internet Researcher you’ll probably have to offer your services at around $20 an hour to start. But once you have some experience under your belt, within a few months you could be charging $50 or more per hour. I’d recommend working out retainer relationships with good clients that pay well and you enjoy working with.
That way you have a steady stream of income, even if you just keep this as a part-time income stream.
If you run into any potential clients that balk at paying $50 an hour for your research services, remind them of all the time and hassle they’ll be saving. These folks are interested in saving time most of all because they know they’ll be making plenty of money once the project is done and it’s ready to be published.
To Your Success,
P.S. The Internet is the world’s most powerful and comprehensive research resource. There are thousands of websites that can help you research any topic under the sun. But here are some of the best – you’ll no doubt discover your own as you start your Internet research business.
New England Journal of Medicine: http://www.nejm.org/
Journal of the American Medical Society: http://jama.ama-assn.org/
Merck Manual: www.merck.com/pubs/mmanual/
Food Drug Administration: www.fda.gov
Bureau of Labor Statistics: www.bls.gov
Small Business Administration: www.sba.gov
Census Bureau: www.census.gov
Bureau of Economic Analysis: www.bea.gov
Where to Find Jobs
You can’t get paid to surf the Web without clients, right? Here’s where to find them: