Discover the Secret of Faster Research for Freelance Writers

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 06/10/23 •  6 min read

There’s one great way to kill your hourly rate as a freelance writer.

It’s not taking into account the research you’re going to have to do for the work when you’re pricing the project. Fortunately, there is one super easy way to make the research process way faster for your jobs moving forward.


You’re going to love this tip for faster research. I’ve found it’s massively cut down my writing time, which helps me get more done in a day.

So let’s get into it. Keep reading or check out the video.

First, Avoid this Trap

I see so many new freelancers make this mistake. So I want to share it upfront.

Research according to the length and context of the article you’re writing.

If you’re doing a 700 word post, then the vast majority of the time, it’s a high-level overview piece. All that needs is basic research.

But I see some freelancers spending 3-4 hours doing research for these posts. And that really impacts your rate. If you’re getting paid $125 to write this post and you spend 4 hours researching and 2 hours writing, you’ve cut your rate and taken way longer than you need to.

So remember, you don’t have to get into the nitty-gritty and every detail of a topic in 700 words.

As you get into writing longer and more in-depth and expert posts, that’s where you want to spend your research time.

Here’s how to approach that.

My Best Piece of Advice for Faster Research

There will come a point in your freelance career when you need to do a lot of research.

How do you keep yourself from having to spend hours and extra work for every article you write doing research?

Well, there’s one thing I do that has made all the difference in the world.

I create a resource pack.

Here’s how it works.

As you get deeper into your freelance writing career, you may become a specialist focused on a niche. So you write about a handful of topics all the time.

You might need to reference the same studies, reports, articles, or research.

Rather than looking them up all over again every time, create a resource pack for the topics you cover.

Fire up a look like Notion, Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive, or whatever works for you. And make a folder for each client. Within that folder, create subfolders for specific niches or topics you write about.

Then, start adding resources and information to those folders. Some examples:

In my client resource pack, I also like to include any documents from the client about their requirements. A lot of companies provide brand guidelines for easy reference. Keep those docs in that pack.

And if your client doesn’t have an official one, create your own (then go to the client and offer to write one for them — there’s an easy way to land a freelance writing job).

Every six months or so, go through the folders and clear out the old stuff. And, when you’re in the process of researching and outlining and come across some good resources you know you can use later, add those to the mix.

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What to Add to Your Client Resource Folder

When I’m researching, I usually look for a few specific types of resources.

First, they need to be credible. Most clients will have a list of approved sources, and (depending on your niche) those are generally:

The vast majority of the time, any research from these sources will be fine with your clients. In fact, they may be the first place they want you to look. But if you aren’t sure, it never hurts to ask the client to clarify.

Once you’ve got about 5-10 really solid sources, up for as many studies and reports as you can and save them to your folder for easy access.

Plus, as an added bonus, as you spend more time getting familiar with these reports, you’ll probably start getting a lot of ideas for new articles you can pitch to your clients.

So keep an open mind while researching, and you can make yourself an invaluable writer for the companies you’re working with to create more content.

Does This Work for Generalists?

So obviously, this works well if you are a specialized freelancer and you work in one specific niche or one specific industry.

But what about generalists?

I think the same approach still works. When a client hires you to write as a generalist, there’s still a good chance you’ll have some topics you’ll cover a few times.

Let’s say you got hired by a marketing agency and your first gig is writing for an automotive client. If they like you, chances are, they’re going to keep assigning you more work for that client. So having your automotive resource ready to go can be really valuable.

And, if you decide you love writing about this niche, then you’ve already got a leg up on the information-gathering process.

Now You Can Write Faster

What I love about this process is it saves me so much time when I sit down to write my outline and then articles. I can write so much faster because I’m prepared. Rather than writing stuff and trying to search all over the place to find research to back up my points, I’m starting with the research at my fingertips.

It makes it that much easier to write with that research in mind and insert it into my post rather than coming up with something and hoping there’s some research out there somewhere that may back it up.

And, it goes without saying, you also have more credible sources. I think every freelance writer has a horror story of finding the perfect stat in a list post only to keep clicking through and find it came from a study from 2004.

So there you have it.

My best tip for faster research. Once you get the hang of it, I promise you, it’s going to speed up your entire writing process. You’ll be able to do more in less time and make more money — all while keeping clients happy.

That’s a win-win in my book.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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