I became a Mechanical Turk Worker in 2015. There are thousands of workers like me and right now there are 625,063 HITs available. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me start from the beginning.
What is Amazon Mechanical Turk?
Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) is a marketplace where companies put in requests for workers to complete. There are a huge variety of tasks you can do such as: answer survey, transcribe media, label images, receipt transcription, and lots more. These are called HITs or Human Intelligence Tasks. They range in pay from $.01 to whatever amount the company wants to pay someone to complete the task. If I look right now, the highest paid task is $62.59 and it is to transcribe 1 hour 32 minutes of audio recording. Most of the HITs range in the $.20 range or even less. When I first read about MTurk I was a bit hesitant to get started, you have to be careful with online surveys and I’m a naturally cautious person. MTurk is a legit site and an easy way to earn money. It’s extra reassuring that it is operated directly through Amazon. You can get payments transferred to your Amazon or bank account. MTurk was started in 2005 and there are now hundreds of thousands of workers all around the world.
How Do I Sign Up?
If you want to give this a try, it’s really easy to sign up and start turking. Head over to https://www.mturk.com and sign up.
Once you’ve been accepted as a worker, you can begin searching the HITs to find one you want to do. There are some HITs that require you to take a test in order to do the task, some require you to have completed a certain number of HITs before you can do theirs (like 100+ or 500+), but there are thousands of HITs that don’t have any prerequisites. Here’s how your screen will look.
There are 622,902 HITs available right now. The HITs that are blue are ones I qualify for and the brown I don’t. The reward is how much you’ll get paid and there are a certain number of HITs available in that group. For example, the 6th item down is a HIT for extracting items from a grocery receipt. This means I’ll type in information from an image of a receipt. I’ll get paid $.01 (yep, one penny) for each receipt and there are 4,744 receipts available. Sometimes all you have to enter is a one word answer (like the date or store name) and you can fly through 100 receipts and make a dollar in about 10 minutes time. Most of the time these small penny HITs aren’t the best paying, but they can help you increase the total number of HITs you’ve done pretty quickly.
Which HITs are the Best?
The best hits depend on you. Do you have experience transcribing? Are you a good writer? Are you bilingual? There are good HITs that can pay decent if you have certain skills. But my #1 tip if you’re looking for good HITs is to check https://www.reddit.com/r/HITsWorthTurkingFor/ .
It’s a great community where people post the HITs that are the best pay for the amount of time required and time vs pay is the key to being successful on mturk. The reddit community completely changed how I used MTurk and made it much more worth my time!
There is another site similar to the reddit site here http://www.mturklist.com/. These are a great resource if you’re looking to do one or two HITs a day and let your account slowly build.
How Much Can You Make?
In my opinion, it would be hard to make $10/hr on MTurk. I know some people do, but you will need to get some qualifications, build up the number of successful HITs you’ve done, and figure out what HITs work best for you. It’s possible, but don’t expect $15 the first hour you log on. I typically make about $5 – $7/hr and that was after I started using the reddit site for suggestions. If you go to the reddit site right now, here’s what you would see.
That top link is for a survey that takes about 5 minutes and pays $0.58. If you were to do HITs like that for an hour, you’d make $6.96. Meh. It’s okay. Better than nothing I guess.
Do you Recommend MTurk?
I recommend MTurk, in the following scenarios:
Turking at Work
Don’t think I’m advocating to be a terrible employee and ignore your legitimate work responsibilities. Definitely not. But here’s a scenario that happened to me. During the summers between my college years I lived at home and worked for a temp agency. I got assigned to sit at a front desk at a garage door company and greet customers when they arrived. I should say *if* they arrived. There were days I sat there for 8 long hours and nobody came in. I didn’t have any other responsibilities because I was only there for a few weeks while the real receptionist was on maternity leave. I read books, I scrapbooked, I played solitaire. This was before there were so many ways to earn money online and before MTurk even existed (I guess I’m old), but if I were in that same situation I’d be using that time to do other things that would make me money. I can’t believe I seriously brought my scrapbook supplies to work, but I did!
Turking While Waiting
You know those times when have 15 minutes to kill before you need to leave somewhere, or you’re at hours and hours of gymnastics because your daughter is crazy and spends tons of time at the gym, or it’s 9:30 at night and you aren’t in the mood to do laundry. These are all great time to click through a few HITs and earn a couple bucks. You could also be at airport, alone in hotel rooms if you travel a lot, or if it’s nap time and you don’t have enough time to really get into a project. Then I think it’s worth it!
Do I Turk?
I occasionally do a few HITs when I’m in the scenarios I described above. I’ve made about $50 that I had put in my Amazon account. It covered the cost of a bunch of piano books I was buying so I was happy for that. I don’t think Amazon Mechanical Turk would be worth a full time effort, but I wouldn’t discount it if you have some spare time and want to make a few dollars without much thought.
Please comment below if you’ve tried MTurk and what your experience was or if you have any questions!