Use your freelance writing skills for more than just a writing career. Expand your reach by going into information brokering-researching niche topics for corporations, small business, entrepreneurs, and other writers.
Getting ready. You’ll need access to the Internet, of course, but real-world research skills and opportunities expand your potential client base immeasurably. The public library, university libraries with inter-library loan privileges, access to a law library, and expert interviews are all excellent resources in addition to the Internet.
Profit potential. Information brokers command $45 to $75 per hour if data is difficult to find, and perhaps $20 to $40 if you use only the Internet. Most information brokers produce reports, white papers, and databases; your fees for polishing or compiling data may be comparable to pure research fees or may be more. Clients will want an estimate of how many hours you think it will take to meet their expectations. It might be helpful to establish a minimum so you’re well-paid for small jobs.
Marketing your at-home information brokering business. Target potential clients through trade journals, business publications, networking conventions, conferences, and universities and business schools. Advertise in real-world markets and online. You may be able to find clients through freelance writing sites.
Essential equipment and software. If you’ll be producing final reports, charts and graphs, or web pages, you’ll need software to support those activities. If you stick to pure research, you won’t need any special equipment or software to get started.
Possible pitfalls. Make sure you and the client are clear on what needs to be produced from your research. Help the client to zero in on the subject rather than leaving it too broad. Conducting research can be quite fascinating-don’t get caught up in tracking down an obscure bit of information that may be unrelated to the project at hand.
Since I can’t list them here, please visit the link in the Resources box on the right for a list of legitimate resources about research and information brokering.