If you know the difference between genuine research and watching a bunch of YouTube videos, and you get a thrill out of the former, then the life of a freelance web researcher may well be for you.
Though you won’t be conducting double-blind peer-reviewed studies, you will carry out such things as literature reviews, data analysis, discussion of results, and forecasting; and you can get paid well for doing all this.
According to PayScale, top web researchers can earn around $121,000 per annum. However, it’s important to note that there is a huge amount of variance in this field.
As you can see, the median pay rate is around $62,000, while entry-level web researchers can expect to start out closer to the bottom rung of $36,000 per annum.
What do web researchers do?
In the simplest possible terms, you search the internet to create timely, thorough, accurate, and concise reports for people on the subject matter assigned to you.
There are many different companies offering web research positions, with options to work as a full or part-time in-house employee, a contract worker, or a freelancer.
Since Hope For Finance is all about empowering you to find financial freedom by working from home, we will focus on the freelance web researcher opportunities.
What skills do you need to become a freelance web researcher?
As we hinted at in the introduction, genuine research is about more than just reading blog posts and watching YouTube videos. To be a successful web researcher, you need to be proficient with technology and have a well-developed talent for conducting scholarly research online.
You will need to be capable of reading and interpreting scientific studies and other relevant resources, and will also need to be able to perform your own data analysis.
This line of work is well-suited to those with tertiary degrees, particularly if you’ve completed a Masters or Ph.D. program. Whether your experience comes from academia or via on-the-job training, your field of expertise will dictate what kind of web researcher you can be.
For example, if you have a degree in finance and have been working in the banking sector, but you’re now looking for a change of pace, you could become a freelance financial research analyst. In this role, you would most likely be tracking data and making forecasts for your clients.
Those who have studied mathematics, statistics, computer science, market research, and other related fields may find success as market research analysts. Once again, this involves a lot of data analysis, with your goal being to help your clients understand what their target audience wants, along with such things as the ideal price and promotional strategy.
Of course, you don’t have to have a data-heavy background to become a web researcher. Whatever your area of expertise happens to be, you’ll be able to find a niche.
For example, sites like JustAnswer offer experts in a wide range of fields – from wellness to home improvement, computer electronics to law – the opportunity to share their knowledge and research skills by answering questions from clients. The site works in much the same way as Quora does. However, with JustAnswer, only certified and vetted experts can offer responses (for which you will, of course, be paid).
How Do You Find Work As A Freelance Online Researcher?
You have plenty of options when it comes to finding online research jobs. Before we take you through the companies that regularly hire internet researchers and the job boards that list openings, it’s worth making a quick suggestion for those who have a high level of expertise in a given field.
Instead of starting with sites like Upwork, FlexJobs, and Indeed, hunt for opportunities in your field by entering keywords like “web research” or “online research” + “your area of expertise.” Some other variations you may wish to try include, “freelance internet research work” and “work from home research jobs.”
When conducting your own searches, it’s essential to brief yourself on what a work from home scam looks like to ensure you don’t get caught up in one.
If you’re not having much luck with freestyle job hunting, or you’d rather find your first web research role through a dedicated site, then the following resources will be helpful:
- Fiverr – Though Fiverr got its start as a site where freelancers took on small jobs for five dollars (keeping $4 for themselves and giving $1 to the site), they’ve since expanded to include larger projects. Fiverr still takes 20%, but it’s a useful platform on which to set up a profile as a freelance web researcher and start drawing clients and building your experience.
- FlexJobs – This online job board allows you to filter your searches by location, job type, career level, position title, and many other criteria. The platform also screens every listing posted, meaning you’re almost entirely safe from scams.
- Upwork – Set up a profile as a freelance web researcher, and if you’re accepted, you’ll be able to bid on projects. Unlike Fiverr, Upwork only takes a 10% commission. However, the overall rates can be quite low, and (sadly) there are plenty of people undercutting each other.
If you have qualifications relevant to any of the following fields, you can apply for web research positions directly with these companies:
- FlexJobs – Instead of simply searching for work on the FlexJobs platform, you can actually apply directly to FlexJobs for a role as a job researcher. If you’re a US resident, you can earn $15 per hour sourcing legitimate opportunities to list on the site.
- JustAnswer – As mentioned earlier, this company will pay experts in one of their set niches to answers questions submitted by users. JustAnswer takes a decent cut of the total payment made by the person submitting the request, but it’s still a great place to get started.
- Wonder – If your degree was in something like journalism, arts, or communications, and you have fantastic research skills but your area of expertise doesn’t match the companies listed above, Wonder has a place just for you. This platform is focussed on attracting web researchers who know how to assess credibility, find reputable sources, and then write compelling and accurate reports. They do ask that you have a bachelor’s degree plus some demonstrated research experience, but in exchange, you get complete autonomy over your work schedule. Since it’s a crowdsourcing site, you take the assignments you’re interested in from the job board and get paid accordingly. Though many people enjoy great success with Wonder, the platform is not without its difficulties. Check out review sites like Glassdoor to get a feel for what the work is like before you commit to the rather lengthy application process.
Becoming a freelance web researcher: final thoughts
Though you can have a lot of success with the companies and job boards listed above, many freelancers prefer to use these as little more than a place to build their experience before branching out and starting their own business.
In our next article, we’ll take you through the process involved in setting up your own web research business. So, stay tuned!
For now, if you have any questions, please feel free to drop them in the comments section below.