You get what you pay for
Why would anyone pay for online information when there’s so much available for free? Sometimes – when you can’t find what you need on the free web, when you need it fast, or when you need something beyond basic information – it’s a good idea to consider paying for premium. For example, if you’re going to spend four or five hours looking for something through the free web, when – for a small fee – you can get it in 30 minutes, what’s really more cost-effective?
So how do you know when to choose premium content instead of opting for free? It’s a good idea to turn to fee-based sources when you need to:
- Find specialized content – Whether you’re running Social Security traces, hunting down old Wall Street Journal articles, or tracking litigation related to a Chinese investment, these tasks will be difficult – if not impossible – to accomplish with free resources.
- Verify the accuracy and validity of information – Unlike Google, premium content aggregators generally stick to credible sources, and some even take the time to verify the data. No source is perfect, but fee-based sources tend to be more trustworthy.
- Quickly retrieve and analyze data in an organized fashion – Premium content providers add features that save time and money, including databases with advanced searching capabilities, mapped data, charts, and expert analysis.
- Take advantage of customer support – I can’t tell you how many times a simple call to customer support has helped me quickly drill down to the best information possible for my client. No need to wander aimlessly.
- Repackage the information in a usable format for clients – Are you seeing a pattern here? It’s all about being fast and efficient. Anything that helps me package the information I find and make it easier for me and my clients to use is worth its weight in gold.
So, whether it’s Tracer’s for public records, Nexis for news, or Factiva for their Dow Jones content, I’m able to provide my clients with the right information, at the right time, and in the right format – thanks to a collection of professional, fee-based sources.
[…] Note that these include free and fee-based sources, because – with online information – you definitely get what you pay for. You can’t do a thorough job with just […]
It would be interesting to have a column where you list the different databases you use for different searches.
It is difficult to discern which databases are really good at specific searches.
Keep up the outstanding columns.
Thanks, Rory! This would be a tough blog post to write. Every search is different, and every investigator has different database needs. You’ve given me something to think about, though.
[…] *Consider fee-based services, because you won’t find everything for free. While there’s more available on the open web than ever before, premium databases may be worth the investment. […]