Are Online Expert Sites a Valuable Choice for Freelancers?

In the quest to maintain financial stability within our freelancing careers, keeping a variety of opportunities at the ready is part of the process. It seems as though expert sites have always, in one form or another, been at the forefront of possible side earners. Although Internet search engines are becoming more and more comprehensive in their artificial intelligence, it’s the human answer that still (for now, anyway) makes all the difference. It’s just a question (pun intended) of determining which, if any, format holds potential in the long-term.

Knowing our niches…

The question of whether we, as freelancers, can really make any sort of an income on these sorts of sites comes down to (as with so many other opportunities) our niches. Overall topics that are here to stay include science, technology, finance, translation, and math – all of which (with math and translation being possible exceptions) have information that’s constantly changing. So, there’s no room for complacency in the expertise area.

What if our expertise lies in other areas? To be perfectly honest, there’s just a lot of saturation out there, especially when it comes to lifestyle topics. As for academia, it seems as if everyone’s got a background in English writing or literature. This isn’t to say, however, that we can’t set ourselves apart in these areas – we just have to get really specific by selecting a niche within a niche.

So, freelancers, I have the following suggestions for those more popular niches:

  • Are you great at home décor? Focus on a set color scheme or room.
  • English experts out there, tie in works of literature to current day societal themes.
    • Writers, prove your mettle by tackling relatable subsets of societal topics with honesty and even humor – don’t fall into the trap of being inappropriate, though. Take the little-known or altogether-unknown and highlight the relatable threads within.
  • Relationship experts, you can have all the college and post-graduate degrees in the world, but theory only gets you so far. Your audience needs to completely trust you – they need empathy in its truest form. Therefore, you’ll meet with more success if you, for better or worse, have actually experienced your expertise.

Recognizing the requirements…

The term “expert” is open to a lot of interpretations. Even the most basic of online expert job opportunity searches will reveal to us that one site’s definition of expert might vary quite a lot from another’s. Take, for example, the following paid online expert site requirements:

  • Maven: A resumé and a written a knowledge summary.
  • OnFrontiers: Profile should be filled out with as much detail as possible.
  • Clarity: A detailed-as-possible LinkedIn profile to apply with.
  • Yup: Must pass an overall teaching exam, as well as an exam for each chosen tutoring subject.
  • JustAnswer: Perhaps the most stringent, it’s necessary to provide proof of expertise in the form of licenses, certificates, or diplomas.

NOTE: Anna Thurman, from Real Ways to Earn Money Online, has compiled some intriguing job resources in her post, “11 Sites That Pay You to Be an Expert (and Work from Home!)”

Cultivating a presence…

It’s one thing to be an expert for a reputable site, and it’s quite another to just signup and answer away for free. Quora results are often listed amongst online expert sites, and often get top-billing for searches posed as questions. The latter of which can also sometimes be said for Yahoo! Answers, which I’m surprised-yet-amused still exists.

  • Both sites are peppered with answers that aren’t even remotely at an expert level (or even coherent). Despite this, both could still be considered training grounds of sorts in preparation for (mostly part-time/supplemental) paying opportunities elsewhere.

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