Whether you are a poor college student, a stay-at-home mom, or just someone who would like a little bit of extra spending cash, making money online is something that a lot of people wish they could do. There are a lot of scams out there promising you the ability to make big money with their “system” for a small fee or who claim to have a list of legitimate job opportunities but you have to pay them for access to the list. As a general rule of thumb, stay away from any make money at home opportunities that want you to pay anything. You shouldn’t need to pay your employer to work for them. That’s ridiculous!
Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a legitimate opportunity to make money online. You can trust it because it is run by Amazon (though that doesn’t mean there are no scammers on there, but more on that later). Tens of thousands of people use the Mechanical Turk to make real money from the comfort of their own home everyday.
So what is the Amazon Mechanical Turk? According to the description on Wikipedia, “The Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a crowdsourcing Internet marketplace that enables computer programmers (known as Requesters) to co-ordinate the use of human intelligence to perform tasks that computers are currently unable to do. The Requesters are able to post tasks known as HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks), such as choosing the best among several photographs of a store-front, writing product descriptions, or identifying performers on music CDs. Workers (called Providers in Mechanical Turk’s Terms of Service, or, more colloquially, Turkers) can then browse among existing tasks and complete them for a monetary payment set by the Requester.”
There are a wide variety of odd jobs that you can perform on the Mechanical Turk with payments ranging from just a few pennies to a couple of dollars each. In addition to the examples given in the description above, tasks include performing a Google search and recording a specific website’s ranking, transcribing text from a picture, captioning an article or video, and more. These quick tasks will generally only pay a couple of cents each but they take little effort and almost no time to complete. It is easy to mindlessly churn out hundreds of these per hour (new accounts are limited to 100 HIT completions for the first 10 days but can do thousands each day after that period). There is always more work to be done. At the time of this writing, there are nearly 300,000 HITs available to perform.
Some of the better paying tasks include stuff like audio transcription and taking surveys. Surveys are one of the most common methods of making money with the MTurk because there are constantly new ones being added by institutions looking to collect data for research such as colleges and institutions. This can give some people a sense of helping out in addition to earning money for their troubles. Most surveys take between 5 and 30 minutes to complete (depending on how fast of a reader you are) and will pay anywhere between $0.20 and $3.00 each.
It is easy to earn several dollars daily just by spending a few hours on the MTurk. Over the course of the last 10 days, I have made $61.22 and still have 259 HITs worth around $15 or so pending approval/payment. That works out to something like $7.60 per day on the Mechanical Turk. Obviously I’m not making a fortune off it, but who wouldn’t want a couple hundred extra bucks to play around with every month? Also keep in mind that this type of money can be earned just by spending one or two hours each day Turking. There are forums (such as www.turkernation.com and www.mturkforum.com) where people discuss ways that you can actually make a full-time living through Turking. Making a living with the MTurk requires a lot more time and effort, of course, but it’s nice to know that it is at least possible.
You are probably thinking to yourself how stupid it is to work for pennies. I thought the same thing. But the money adds up and the work is so easy, it’s hard not to get sucked in. Turking is highly addictive, too. There is something about knowing that there is money out there for you to earn if you just reach out and take it. That draw of constantly wanting to earn more and more will keep you on the MTurk for longer than you think!
Mathematically, low-paying HITs might initially not seem worth the trouble. If you can complete a HIT that pays $0.02 in 15 seconds, that works out to something like $4.80 per hour – below minimum wage. But there are a few intangibles that need to be taken into consideration as well. For example, you should keep in mind the MTurk isn’t a real job. You can do it whenever you feel like it and stop whenever you feel like it. This makes working at a lower pay rate per hour more acceptable because you are in charge.
Another reason the low-paying HITs are still worth doing is because a lot of the high-paying ones require that you have completed a certain number of total HITs or have a high percentage of HIT approvals. Blowing through a few hundred low-paying ones per day is a good way to get your completion and approval numbers up and unlock the better paying tasks.
You can also get paid whenever you want. Payment comes with two options. You can attach a bank account to your Amazon Payments account and instantly withdraw money into your bank. Alternatively, you can get paid via Amazon Gift Cards which then get automatically applied to your existing linked Amazon account. The only waiting you have to do is for a completed HIT to actually be approved and paid. After you complete a hit, you submit it to the Requester. How long you have to wait for them to approve it can vary based on the Requester and the type of work involved in the hit. Usually HITs are approved in the same day you completed them though some can take several days to get approved.
As previously mentioned, although Amazon’s Mechanical Turk is a legitimate opportunity, there are still some dubious Requesters on there. You should stay away from any HITs that ask you for identifying information like an email address or phone number. I am also skeptical of visiting websites I don’t know, so I avoid HITs that ask me to visit their site and tell them something about it. Just be wary when completing HITs from Requesters you don’t know (or work for well-known Requesters) and you’ll be fine.
In conclusion, the Amazon Mechanical Turk is a great way to earn some extra money in your free time. If you are looking for ways to make money from home, you should definitely try it out. The first step in getting started is signing up for an account here: www.mturk.com/mturk/welcome.