There are 500,000 MTurk workers around the U.S. seem that seem to think MTurk is worth it (figure according to Forbes). It is a great site for little bits of productivity during breaks and downtime, but steady work can also add up to a $10 an hour job if you know your way around the site.
MTurk can be daunting at first, though. It is a little intimidating to see so many task options at start up, you’re unsure about which of them will be a huge waste of your time.
And I’m sure that most of you were just as surprised as I was to log onto the site for the first time and see .01 and .03 cent tasks. I didn’t stay long for that visit, that’s for sure.
But there are many different reasons why a person would purposely choose to work for such low, unappealing rates. The experienced MTurk worker knows that those low rates can add up fast. It’s all about learning from your mistakes and figuring out which tasks will bring in the most money.
How does Amazon Mechanical Turk work?
MTurk is a crowdsourcing site. Crowdsourcing is a way for an employer to get help from the masses of willing people to do his work or complete tasks for a per-task payment. A few examples of these task would be:
- Select the correct spelling for these search terms
- Is this website suitable for a general audience?
- Find the item number for the product in this image
- Rate the search results for these keywords
- Are these two products the same?
- Choose the appropriate category for products
- Categorize the tone of this article
- Translate a paragraph from English to French
When/How do you get your Amazon MTurk payments?
So, is Amazon Mechanical Turk worth it?
After you get through the newbie stage, yes, absolutely. It takes a little bit of time in the beginning to become qualified for some of the better HITS. In a sense, you have to prove yourself as a serious worker who is actually trying to do a good job. After a short time, you’ll be given better-paying opportunities.
After a while, everyone gets the hang of it. You’ll quickly learn which HITS will be easy and worth your time.
You will start to learn how long certain hits will take you, and automatically start each HIT by calculating its worth by hourly wage.
How to Make the Most on Amazon Mechanical Turk..
- Take your qualification tests.
If you’re offered a qualification test, take it. Certain individual requesters have more strict requirements. This usually means that it’s a better paying job, and qualifying for it will open up more opportunities for you to make better money now and down the line. So even though it might take a little more time, you should always try to qualify for the good HITS.
- Start out doing as many quick, low-paying hits as you can.
A lot of people quit MTurk because they’re not being offered any good HITS that are worth the payment being offered. But the opportunities get much better the more successful completions you get under your belt. The point is to just get your number of (successful) completed tasks up above 100, and this can be done in only a few days. You’ll be qualified for more jobs, the more money you can make, and you’ll have fewer competitors for qualified HITS. So, stick it out.
- Keep track ofthe time it takes you to perform different types of tasks, so you can calculate hourly wage for future similar HITS.
If the hit’s pay divided by the actual time it takes you to do the job, gets you about 10 cents, then you’ll be making a little less than minimum wage. If you aim for 15 to 20 cents per minute, you’ll average closer to $9 and $12 an hour. Of course, at first this is a little harder to calculate because you don’t really know how long each task might take you. But after a few hundred completed hits, you’ll know which types of HITS take too long and just aren’t worth your valuable time.
Does MTurk always pay?
To filter through the HITS, MTurk scripts are essential.
MTurk scripts are sort of like plugins for your browser. Some of them are extremely useful for saving valuable time when working on HITS.
In order to be able to install scripts, you must first download the plugin.
After you’ve installed one of these addons, you can install your scripts. Here are a few must-haves:
- TurkOpticon gives you reviews on each requester. There are some requesters who refuse payments too often, which can in turn hurt your qualification rate. Turker reviews will tell you if you should avoid working for any requesters in particular. This is an absolute must-have for any MTurk worker.
- Discover Fake Availabilities categorizes the hits for you in a productive way. Too often, after clicking on a hit that sounds good, you’ll get a message saying “There are no more hits available in this group”. Discover Fake Availabilities script highlights all your hit choices in different colors, including highlighting those empty groups purple. This will save you from wasting time clicking on dead HITS.
- Context Menu Search allows you to highlight text. Some HITS will require you to do a Google search for certain terms, but the MTurk pages do not let you copy and paste any text. You have to actually open a new browser and type out your text into the search engine. This may not sound like much now, but after a few of these, I actually paused my work to go and search for a script like this.
Check out more valuable MTurk scripts here, including instructions for installing. They’re all absolutely free!
Another excellent MTurk Resource:
MTurkList is a great site that shows you recommended hits. They also calculate how long it will actually take you to complete each one, and the hourly-wage figure. You will always find good hits in here, but they go quick. So you’ll need to refresh every few times you go back to the page, or you might end going to a bunch of dead hits.
The only downside to this site is that you’re forced to see a five second ad each time you click through to a hit. But for new workers who don’t yet know the good from the bad, this is incredibly helpful.
Some things you should know..
If you haven’t signed up yet, they have a two day “waiting for approval” period, and in my case, they took the full two days before they let me in.
- Don’t forget to ACCEPT THE HIT first! I cannot stress this enough. More than a few times I have forgotten to click that “accept” button at the top. When you realize it, all the work you’ve done is deleted and you’ve wasted that time.
Click through these slides for guided instructions on getting started and completing your first HITs on MTurk.
Is there a Canadian’s Amazon Mechanical Turk? Or an MTurk UK?
Unfortunately, no. Amazon stopped accepting workers outside of the U.S. Apparently there was a lot of scamming going on from outside of the country, and Amazon couldn’t verify the identity of overseas account holders. Amazon would close an account for abuse or fraud, and that person would just open another account in another name. So, because Amazon can easily verify the identity of US residents, and ban them from the site if necessary, they only allow U.S. residents as workers. They do, however, accept MTurk Requesters from multiple countries. You can find an extensive list of MTurk alternatives for non-US residents here.
MTurk is not the only site online for making extra cash online. Check out this list of great online jobs and alternative crowdsourcing sites.
You can also earn a good part-time income taking surveys in your spare time. Here’s my list of top-paying survey sites that pay cash.