You'd like to know how to become an online researcher, and in a way, you're already one. Even if you don't think of yourself as an online researcher, you've probably been doing it for as long as you've been online.
You're just not getting paid for it.
You may have debts weighing you down and monthly bills piling up. Or maybe you'd just like to work from home.
Getting paid to do something you're already doing would be a good gig, right?
Of course, starting a career as an online researcher is not the same as searching Google (or any search engine for that matter) for answers to your own questions.
Many industries depend on reliable research, from the academic and medical fields to legal, political, and more. Therefore, online researchers are in demand.
How and where to get started though? That's what I'm going to cover in this article.
Here are the main topics:
- What Does an Online Researcher Do?
- How Does Online Researching Work?
- Types of Online Research Jobs
- What Do I Need to Become an Online Researcher?
- How Much Do Online Researchers Make?
- How Do I Get Started as an Online Researcher?
- 10 Places to Find the Best Online Research Jobs
- Other Types of Freelance Jobs Related to Online Research
- Starting Your Own Online Research Business
What Does an Online Researcher Do?
Online research simply means using the internet to gather truthful information on a variety of topics. You've been doing this for your personal needs of course, but you can also do it as a job.
Businesses and professionals hire online researchers because they don't have the time to do it themselves.
As an online researcher, you will use your sleuthing skills to search for honest and reliable information on the web (which isn't always as easy as it sounds). There is a lot of misleading information online.
The topics will depend on your client or employer and may also involve data analysis and interpretation.
Those of us over 40 will remember when this kind of work meant combing through books at the library, but now many printed publications are being converted into digital documents and are available online.
That makes it a much easier job. And one you can do from home.
If you pursue a career in online researching, you can either be an employee or an independent contractor (freelancer). And you can work full-time or part-time depending on your situation.
How Does Online Researching Work?
As mentioned above, how it works is simple. You're gathering and assembling information on the web. You can do it from your office, living room, bedroom, or wherever you feel comfortable working.
Let's also talk about the time-saving and cost-cutting benefits of working at home as an online researcher. You won't be dealing with long commutes, traffic, and annoying co-workers. You also won't need to spend on fuel or public transportation.
The job of an online researcher can also be as straightforward or as complex as you want (yes, you have a choice).
You can simply gather information through search engines and follow the rabbit hole wherever it takes you.
Or, you can do your own original research by conducting…
- Focus groups
- Questionnaires, and…
Another way to do research is to ask questions in various forums, online groups, etc.
Again, your research methods will depend on your specific task and your client's needs. Below are some of the reasons businesses require your services as an online researcher.
- To provide content on their blogs/websites.
- For product testing
- To target specific audiences.
- To check on customer satisfaction.
- To fact-check documents.
- To build document outlines and content briefs.
Types of Online Research Jobs
Listed below are some of the types of online research jobs you can pursue.
1. Basic Online Research
This is the closest you can get to your own personal research on the web. With this type of online research job, you simply gather data on the internet, analyze and interpret the information in a way that will benefit your client/employer. Subscriber publications like Business Insider, for example, are a great way to find information that's not accessible to the general public.
2. Content Analysis
Depending on the niche you're working on, you can use sites, blogs, and communities related to the topic you're researching. In communities, such as those found on Facebook pages, you may use the platform's internal discussions to supplement your study.
3. Online Interviews
You can include interviews in your online research if there's a need. Online interviews function just like face-to-face interviews – but with the convenience of not leaving your home. You can do real-time interviews via chat, for example. Or, if you want, you can also conduct interviews through emails (not in real-time). In any case, keep in mind that the goal of your online interview is to get feedback and learn what others think about specific topics.
4. Social Network Research
For better or worse, social media is one of the most popular online activities. And there's a considerable amount of data found on social networking sites. For example, someone studying the relationships and engagement between people and businesses will find social media research useful.
5. Polls, Surveys, and Focus Groups
Platforms like YouTube and Facebook provide simple polling tools if you're researching opinions about various topics. With platforms like SurveyMonkey, you can conduct more complex surveys.
As you can tell, online research jobs are needed everywhere, in all industries. That, of course, doesn't mean all industries are hiring. But there are many opportunities. If you have knowledge or experience in the medical or legal fields, for example, you can look for online research jobs in those industries.
The following are some of the reasons why brands and businesses hire online researchers:
- Product research and improvement
- Improve customer satisfaction
- Establish and grow brand loyalty
What Do I Need to Become an Online Researcher?
If you know your way around the internet, you're already qualified to become an online researcher. And, if you have a degree in a particular field (medical or legal, for example), you will have better job possibilities.
Since you will be working from home, you also need a computer and an internet connection as well as basic computer skills and knowledge of various software applications (depending on your client's requirements).
If you are pursuing a job as an entry-level internet researcher, you may be accepted even with no prior experience.
With that said, even if you're not skilled in a particular area, you should be good at validating information. Finding the information you need is one thing; making sure you can trust that information is another.
Investigate a site's legitimacy and reputation by checking its Better Business Bureau profile (if they have one), social media presence, years in business, and reviews on the internet.
Use critical thinking and leave your opinion at the door.
Your client or employer requires objective research, not research that validates your opinion about a subject or topic.
If your work involves creating content, reports, and write-ups about your research, you will also need writing skills. On the other hand, if your job requires simple data entry, knowledge of your employer's software apps might be sufficient.
- You will need a computer and an internet connection.
- Software knowledge that will depend on your particular job (and your client's needs). For written content and reports, for example, knowing how to use word processors like MS Word or Google Docs will be required. For data entry, you may need experience with spreadsheets like MS Excel or Google Sheets. If you need to create presentations and specific formats, your client/employer will also require your knowledge of related software applications.
- You should enjoy research.
- Analytical skills and critical thinking since you will be dealing with a lot of information on the internet. Some of it will be true, and some of it will be false. Some will be outdated, and some just flat-out wrong.
How Much Do Online Researchers Make?
As with many other online jobs, how much money you can make as an online researcher depends on your skills, experience, and speed. Speed is essential because being quick allows you to take on more jobs.
The average hourly rate for an online researcher is $29/hour. However, an entry-level online researcher might make as little as $5 to $10 per hour.
As a freelancer, many jobs will pay per project, which means your speed and accuracy will determine your hourly rate.
With experience, you can apply for jobs that range from $10 to $20 per hour. And in high-demand technical fields that require certified researchers, $50 to $80 per hour is what I've found in several reviews.
How Do I Get Started as an Online Researcher?
There are two types of online researchers.
- Certified Online Researchers (or Certified Internet Research Specialists)
- Uncertified Online Researchers
This article will primarily focus on uncertified online researchers and freelance work. Since you're just getting started, it's probably safe to assume you're not a certified researcher.
Having said that, if becoming a Certified Internet Research Specialist interest you, the CIRS Training Program offered by the Association of Internet Research Specialists is a globally recognized certificate.
Some of the things you'll learn are:
- Practical approaches to building complex search queries and search tools.
- How web pages are indexed and crawled by search engines.
- How to use search assist and predictive search.
- Introduction to Google Advanced Search Operators.
- How to find names, emails, phone numbers, jobs, and resumes.
- Business and industry searches related to finding leads, doing competitor research, etc.
- Property searches and finding ownership and rental information.
- Information on the deep web
- Cyber law and legal issues.
This is actually just a short list of what the Certified Internet Research Specialist Training covers.
If doing online research as a freelancer or as a side hustle is what you're after, a good place to start is local job boards, like Indeed, for example.
Search for research jobs in your area.
If you specialize in a particular field like education or a trade, you most likely have connections in that field. Ask around. Check industry-specific publications and job postings.
Next, you can search for jobs on freelance platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr.
There are also research platforms like Studypool who hire, which I'll cover in more detail below…
10 Places to Find Online Research Jobs
Listed below are ten places to find the best online research jobs. These are not listed in any particular order because jobs are unique to every individual.
Some sites accept job applicants from entry-level positions, and others may be looking for experts in the field. For the most part, the positions here do not require certification.
There are part-time opportunities, and depending on when you're reading this, full-time jobs might be available.
Classified as an online tutoring site, Studypool was founded in 2012. They've been BBB-accredited since 2019, and they have an A rating.
As an online researcher, you will be paid on Studypool to answer homework and academic questions from the registered students on the site.
If you have academic expertise and great researching skills, you can try applying to Studypool. Just click on the Apply button on their website to create an account, and start the hiring process. Just keep in mind that passing their screening procedures might be difficult. They need to ensure that you're truly qualified for the position.
If you do pass their hiring process, you will be able to bid on projects. However, to get paid, you must first have your client accept your work.
The nice thing about working on Studypool is working your own hours and setting your own rates.
Aside from the homework tasks, students can also post questions on the platform for you to answer.
As for payment methods, they currently use PayPal, Payoneer, Western Union, and Transferwise. Their minimum threshold to withdraw is $50, and your payment is processed within three days of your withdrawal request.
2. Experts 123
Established in 2010, Experts 123 is a site where you can answer questions and write articles.
You can sign up on their site and fill in your profile with your credentials. Some of the details they'll need are:
- Your expertise
- Your interests
- Your educational background
To make money on Experts 123, you can write content for them and then post the article on your own site (if you have a website). You can earn through ad revenue sharing, so your income will depend on the traffic your article attracts. Then, once you build credibility on Experts 123, you can become one of their paid writers and earn $10 to $20 per article. Below are some of the topics you can find on their site:
In my opinion, it's a bit challenging to earn a regular income on Experts 123. You need to build up your credibility on the site first before getting paid as a writer. Also, making money from ad revenue sharing can be tricky because you need traffic for it to work.
Another way to earn money on Experts 123 is to answer standing questions on the site.
They pay via PayPal with a minimum payout threshold of $20.
Founded in 2003, JustAnswer is a question and answer website for experts. Like Studypool, they are accredited by the Better Business Bureau and currently have an A+ rating.
JustAnswer only accepts experts on their site, so their application process is quite tedious. You will be required to submit your Social Security number, ID, and licenses/certifications. And they will also run a background check on you through a third-party entity.
If you do get accepted, you can use the tools inside to answer questions. Simply log into your account whenever it's convenient for you, and make money answering questions.
Here are just some of the topics you can expect to see on JustAnswer:
- Tech support
There's no regular pay rate. Your pay will depend on your agreement with your customer. But keep in mind that JustAnswer will charge fees for the use of their platform.
Therefore, you'll only get 20% of your customers' payment at the start of your freelancing career on JustAnswer. However, if you consistently get good ratings, they'll increase your pay to 50%.
They pay monthly through PayPal.
It's not a full-time gig, and it won't replace your job, but it's a way to make money doing research and answering questions. Only you can decide though, if the pay is worth your expertise and time.
Flexjobs is a paid freelance marketplace that started in 2007.
You can search for online researcher jobs on Flexjobs, but you need to buy one of their packages first. Remember, all job posts in Flexjobs are vetted by the site, guaranteeing that their job postings are legit.
You can choose any one of their packages:
- Monthly – $14.95
- Quarterly – $29.95
- Annually – $49.95
Flexjobs has been BBB-accredited since 2008, and they are well regarded in the remote/work-at-home field. They currently have an A+ rating.
You can search for jobs like you would any job board. Here are some search keywords you can use:
- Online researcher
- Internet researcher
- Web researcher
- Research assistant
If you want, you can also sort by location or salary.
They also have an advanced search tool which in my opinion is one of their best features.
Now, you can search for jobs on the site without paying, but you won't be able to see the full details. And, of course, you can only apply if you've paid for one of their packages.
What you can do though, is check their job listings first to make sure there are some that interest you. And, they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on all of their packages.
As for the pay, you can expect the online researcher jobs on Flexjobs to pay between $10 to $20 per hour.
You can also try applying to Flexjobs itself because they do research to approve the job posts that get placed on their site.
Upwork is a merger between 2 popular freelance platforms – Elance, founded in 1999, and oDesk, established in 2003. They were known as Elance-oDesk when they merged in 2013 but were later rebranded as Upwork in 2015.
You can join Upwork to look for freelance online researcher jobs.
They need to approve your application first – but once accepted, you can start building your profile on the site and applying for jobs.
Jobs are won by bidding on Upwork. And if you get accepted, you can set your own rates. However, in my experience as a freelancer on Upwork, your final rate is still negotiable until you and your client close the deal.
Upwork pays within the platform through PayPal, but they also charge fees as follows:
- 20% – on your first $500 earnings per client
- 10% – on your earnings above $500 up to $10,000 per client
- 5% – on your earnings above 10,000 per client
I have no issues with the fees because they provide a valuable service. And, because of their progressive rates on your earnings, Upwork encourages repeat clients among their users. This is also an incentive for freelancers to stick with clients who want them.
Freelancers are currently charging anywhere from $7 to $100 per hour. You can use those pay rates as a guide when creating your profile and applying for jobs.
I like Upwork as a starting point for beginners. I've used this site before and know firsthand that there are good clients there. While there are businesses with low budgets, there are also those willing to pay reasonably for good work. Performing well and maintaining repeat clients are 2 of the best strategies to use on Upwork.
Fiverr is another freelance marketplace, which was established in 2010.
What makes Fiverr unique from other platforms is that you can buy and sell services with only one account. So, you can sell your services as an online researcher and purchase other freelancers' services if needed.
You can also offer more than one service. Suppose you have other skills besides online researching, like writing or graphic design, for example. In that case, you can sell those services to clients too.
Although Fiverr was initially named because services were bought and sold for $5, those days are long gone. Now, you can charge anywhere from $5 up to hundreds (and even thousands) of dollars. And your pricing can be per hour or project.
I've used Fiverr before, and I can say that it's an excellent platform for offering your freelance services, especially if you're a beginner (and have multiple services to offer). Like Upwork, though, they charge a fee, which is 20%.
Founded in 2005, Clickworker is a freelance site for small tasks. Although micro-task sites like this are often looked at poorly, the number of years Clickworker has been around is testimony to their credibility.
To join Clickworker, simply register on their site as a freelancer or independent contractor. Then create your profile as you would on other freelance platforms and start applying for microtasks, some of which will involve research.
While it's easy to join their site, it's not always easy applying for jobs. This is because they have built-in assessment tests you need to pass before you can apply.
If you're qualified for the jobs you're applying for; then there is a good chance you'll pass these tests. If you're not qualified, well… you may struggle (which is the purpose of the tests).
You can search for online researcher jobs on Clickworker, as well as related keywords such as:
- Web research
- Internet research
- Market research
- Online researching
Based on current job listings and services, online research jobs on Clickworker pay around $10 per hour.
Clickworker pays via PayPal, and their minimum withdrawal threshold is $6.
As a job listing service, few are as extensive as Indeed. And it is probably the one you're familiar with most.
It was founded in 2004 and, like many of the other platforms listed here, is BBB-accredited. Their current rating is A+.
Indeed works by allowing you to search for jobs by keywords and location. Therefore, you can search for online researcher jobs as well as other jobs related to it. You can also search by city, state/province, or region.
Start by setting up an account and posting your resume so employers can find you. You can also apply for jobs on Indeed without an account.
Although many jobs require that you apply using Indeed's user interface, some will need you to contact the employer directly via email or by visiting their website.
Indeed also provides a feature that allows you to be alerted (by email) when new job postings linked to your past searches become available.
CareerBuilder is another job board similar to Indeed. It's been around since 1995.
Searching CareerBuilder for online researcher jobs is like most job listing sites. Just enter your related keywords, location, etc., and see what's available.
You can also narrow your search down to specific fields, like academic, medical, etc.
From there, click on any particular job that interests you, and CareerBuilder will direct you to that company's website.
You also have the option of joining CareerBuilder. Doing so will allow you to post your resume on their site so employers who have access can find and view your credentials.
CareerBuilder also has unique features such as:
- Salary tool – You can compare your desired salary against other people for the same job title within your chosen location. This will give you an idea of how your skills fare with other people's skills and if you're charging enough for your services.
- Job alert notifications – You can opt for this service to be notified by email when new job openings appear for your searched keywords.
- Quick-apply function – CareerBuilder has a built-in tool that allows you to send multiple job applications in 1 click (up to 25), but I don't necessarily recommend it in most situations. In my experience, customized applications get far more responses from employers and clients than generic ones do.
Last but not least on our list of places to find the online research jobs is another job listing site called ZipRecruiter.
ZipRecruiter was established in 2010 and have been BBB accredited since 2012. They are currently rated A+.
ZipRecruiter can help you find jobs in any industry, location, or experience level. Search by job title, keywords, or city, state, zip code, etc.
Like CareerBuilder and Indeed, you can create a ZipRecruiter account and set up a profile to include your skills and experience. This allows ZipRecruiter to match you with potential employers and clients looking for what you have to offer.
Of course, you don't have to join. You can also use ZipRecruiter to find jobs without having an account.
ZipRecruiter also has features like job alerts. If you opt-in for this feature, they'll send you job matches via email.
Other Freelance Jobs Related to Online Research
If you have a talent for internet research but can't find a job doing it, you might consider other types of online jobs and freelance gigs.
Below are some related jobs to consider, which involve online research.
1. Freelance Writing
50% of freelance writing is research. Maybe more.
One of the benefits of freelance writing is that there's always a demand. It can be competitive, but the truth is, there are a lot of bad writers.
It's a wide-open field for good writers.
You can check out the freelance marketplaces and job boards in this guide to find freelance writing jobs.
Transcription jobs mainly involve listening to audio files and typing down what you hear. What you may not know is that most transcription projects require some research for accuracy.
This is especially true for transcription files involving technical terms, proper nouns, or lousy audio with background noise, multiple voices, or strange accents.
Depending on the topic, transcription jobs may require significant research, even though that's not technically what the job is about.
3. Data Entry
Data entry jobs typically require researching data/information and inputting these into databases.
Because of the nature of the job, your computer skills and knowledge of word processing tools and spreadsheets are essential.
Still, data entry can be considered an entry-level position. So, if you're new to online jobs and want to get your foot in the door, this can be an excellent alternative to online researcher jobs.
Start Your Own Online Research Business
In the list I presented above on the places to find the best online research jobs, some of the sources will charge you fees for using their platform, which I think is fair. They are helping you land those jobs.
But there's another way to keep all your earnings to yourself.
You can create your own online research business and be your own boss. After all, freelancing is considered a business. You can offer your services through your own website or locally to small businesses, professionals, etc.
You don't necessarily need your own site, but it helps.
You can also use social media to promote your research business or do what people did before social media. They knocked on doors, metaphorically speaking. Print some business cards and flyers and drop them off at local businesses.
You can optimize your profiles in social media (e.g., Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) to make these attractive to your clients. Use keywords and hashtags to grow your network and connect with brands and companies.
Of course, it's a lot easier said than done. And it takes time. But at the end of the day, an online research business is like any other business. You're supplying a service to clients.
And you don't have to go all-in from the start. Start as a freelancer and do jobs that might not pay very well to gain experience. Then, use what you learn to build a roster of your own clients gradually.
Creating your own online researcher business is a slow process but being your own boss and keeping all the profits is a great reward.
The Benefits of Online Research Jobs
- There's always a demand for online researchers.
- A variety of job opportunities from different industries.
- Entry-level positions don't require experience.
- You get paid to learn new things.
The Drawbacks of Online Research Jobs
- Entry-level positions are generally low-paying.
- Although the demand is relatively high, it's not as high as something like freelance writing.
- Not all topics are interesting. At some point, you'll find yourself researching subjects that put you to sleep.
- It can be challenging. You won't find everything from search engines. You may have to seek out experts, look through printed materials, or conduct surveys.
Where Do You Go From Here?
Online research is a great gig for freelancers, especially with the increased demand for factual content.
Many content publishers and site owners that once hired writers to do their own research are now hiring dedicated researchers and fact-checkers instead.
So it's a good time to be an online researcher. Starting out might not replace your job income, but it's a stepping stone.
It might be slow in the beginning as well, as you build up your client base. During this time, online research doesn't have to be your only work-at-home gig.
Making money online usually works best when you combine it with other methods. Simple surveys for example are good way to to earn a few extra bucks. Companies like Survey Junkie pay you for your opinion. Inbox Dollars is another.
Like your first online research jobs though, they won't replace your job income. But they are a great way to get started if you've never made money online before.
You may be looking for a way to make money full-time from home. In that case, an online business might be what you want. Something that gives you financial peace of mind.
Whether it’s your health, your kids, or a struggling economy… when you don’t have financial stability your nights are spent lying awake and worrying.
Getting peace of mind is definitely something you want and earning an income online can give that to you. I've been there too, and I can tell you, it is possible.
Knowing how to get started is what you need in order to get what you want.
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I hope this guide has been helpful and if you any comments, questions, or experience working as an online researcher, please share in the comments section below.