Do you want to know one of my favorite ways to make money online? Over the past three years, I have been a member of Amazon’s Turkmaster platform known as Amazon Mechanical Turk (mTurk). This is a platform that allows you to do mundane tasks like take surveys, transcribe data, and review the authenticity of websites that machines are not able to do. The tasks, or otherwise known as hits, are typically between 10-15 minutes long and have a payout of around $0.25 per hit.
Now I know at first glance that the money that I have earned with mTurk may not sound like a lot, because in reality it isn’t. However, I found it as a great way to supplement some of my favorite habits that cost money and allow me to keep more money in my pocket at the end of the day. I have used the money that I have earned on mTurk to fund ad campaigns for my website, buy books about self-improvement, and even take care of those pesky subscriptions to streaming services that always takes a bite out of my monthly income.
In this article, I will be going over exactly what mTurk is, how much I have made on it over the course of my time doing business with them, how you can get started yourself, and some of my best tips and tricks for getting the most value out of your time doing hits. I also will talk about exactly why I recommend this as a way to make money online.
Let’s get started.
Amazon Mechanical Turk is a crowdsourcing website for businesses to hire remotely located “crowdworkers” to perform discrete on-demand tasks that computers are currently unable to do. It is operated under Amazon Web Services, and is owned by Amazon.
Below is an example of what these tasks looks like:
My Total Revenue from mTurk
As you can see, I have made over $700 in the years that I have been completing hits. While it may be mundane to you, imagine if you were saving up for a new toy that you couldn’t find the money anywhere else to purchase it. Where would you go? Would you want to go through the process of getting a part time job or would you rather just complete hits in your free time? In each of these years, I have only completed hits about 20-30 minutes a few days a week whenever I have downtime. I use mTurk as a way to pass the time and make a little extra money as well.
Working on mTurk could easily pay for some of your smallest expenses per month. Got a Netflix subscription? Pay for it with mTurk. That gym membership is about to expire? You can quickly get $10-$15 a day completing surveys, every day. When you think about mTurk as a way to supplement your income and not a full-time job, you will begin to think a lot better about this “meaningless” amount of money that is being offered. Although I don’t see $700 as meaningful when you’re talking about just finding ways to make money online.
How I got started
I found out about mTurk through a google search a few years back. Like many of the other paid survey services out there, I was skeptical that you could actually make cash doing them. Many of the other services that I tried out would pay you in “points” and you could only redeem your points for cash after you reached a certain threshold. Not with mTurk. If you do a $0.01 survey with mTurk, you can withdraw that penny in cold hard cash a few days later. There is no reward point system, only cash being exchanged for services.
MTurk has helped me cover quite a few of my expenses as a young adult as well. When I first started working for mTurk while still in college, one of my biggest expenses were gas and travel. This amounted to a little over $50 per month that I was spending. With mTurk, I was able to completely cover my gas expenses and then some, which allowed me to use the extra money to make payments towards paying my debt back faster.
You must keep in mind that any money that you earn from mTurk will be taxed at your regular income tax rate. This is because it is stilled considered “earned income”. At the end of the year, mTurk will send you a tax form like any other employer that you must report to the IRS.
I did not personally have to deal with this because while I was in college I did not have any other forms of “earned income,” as my college stipend did not fall into this category. This left my earned income for the year at less than $10,000 which is below the required number to be reported to the IRS. I say this to let you know that any money that you earn should be used with caution as some of it will have to go to the government eventually. Whether or make money online or not, Uncle Sam will come for you.
How you can get started
Getting started with mTurk is extremely simple. All you have to do is go to mturk.com and create an account. Usually, you can log in with an Amazon account that has already been created.
Once you have created your account, you will go through a process where you are asked to put in some personal information. Remember that Amazon Mechanical Turk is a subsidiary of Amazon, so it is completely safe to put in your information. In fact, your account will not be approved if you provide mTurk with false information about your name, age, or personal identification number because mTurk has to verify all of this information with the federal government before allowing you to work.
This goes back to taxation. If you can put in any kind of false information, then it would be impossible for the federal government to track you down to get their share of your earning pie. (This sounds good until you get audited for tax evasion.)
Once you have entered in your information, you will then be put on hold while your application is being reviewed for authenticity. This process can take up to a week, and in my personal case it took about two business days. Once you are approved, you can begin completing hits immediately and earning money.
Tips and Tricks
Throughout my career of earning money on mTurk, I found that there are three keys things to earning more money per hour you put in. These three things are: timing, hit selection, and hit credibility.
We will talk about these three keys in more detail in a later post, but to be brief here is what you should do.
When looking for a hit, timing is vital. Most of the hits are gone by the middle of the day, so it is important to get on around 8 or 9 am in order to have fresh picking of the best ones of the day. These typically include paid surveys, as they are the most profitable per minute hit on mTurk. I like to do my hits before lunch, which usually yield about $5-$10 a day, (enough to pay for my lunch or the next book that I want to read!)
The next key is hit selection. You must know when to stop doing hits. On mTurk you can sort your hits from highest payout to lowest and work from the top down. Once you get down to the hits that are offering you $0.10 – $0.05 per hit, you are really wasting your time. I like to do the hits that are around $2 to $1 and work my way down to the $0.50 hits. I have found that once I get below $0.50 then it really isn’t worth my time to do surveys anymore.
The last key is hit credibility. All hits are not created equal so you must make sure that you are looking at a good hit with good reviews before accepting a project. This could mean that you are shifting through the lines of hits before finding a good one, but it is definitely worth it. Once you find a hit with good reviews and a fast response rate, you can be assured that you will be paid quickly after submitted your work. This allows you to receive the money in your bank faster as well.
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As I am not a Certified Financial Adviser, any information that you read here is purely for educational and entertainment uses only. For professional legal advice, contact a CFA.