Earning Money Online: Amazon Mechanical Turk

by AJ Pettersen · 18 comments

If you are looking to make some supplemental income, you may find yourself perusing the internet for work. I found myself in this situation last fall. After baseball season was over I needed a flexible job. I had heard about making money online and decided to give it a try. Amazon Mechanical Turk was the first site I stumbled upon. It provided me with hours of entertainment, satisfaction and a path to becoming a freelance writer.

What Is It?

Amazon Mechanical Turk is an online community of workers and employers. There are “hits” workers complete for cash. Thousands are available at any time throughout the day. Once you sign up you are able to complete assignments. You can cash out at any value above $1. There are a few strategies I used for the site, some yielding better results than others.

Many Small Jobs

The amount you earn to complete a hit can be as small as one cent. These jobs are usually categorizing pictures and correcting short sentences. I quickly learned it would be impossible to earn anything completing hits for less than 4 or 5 cents. I consistently checked what my wage was to check my progress. If I was earning less than $6 or $7 an hour, I knew it was time to modify my techniques. While others have found success with this strategy, it wasn’t right for me. I was earning a little cash, but was doing so at a snail’s pace.

Few Big Jobs

Bigger jobs on MTurk are anything over $1 (I know, big money, right?). These typically consist of audio and video transcriptions and freelance article writing. I had more luck making money with this strategy, but found it to be quite frustrating. Once a good hit appears on the site it is gone immediately. This led to a lot of refreshing in an attempt to win the race to the best assignments. I spent a lot of time searching and not a lot of time doing. Even with constant searching, my hourly wage was around $10 an hour.

Things to Keep In Mind

If you are considering trying Amazon Mechnical Turk, there are a few things you may want to keep in mind. Many of the better assignments require certain completion and acceptance rates. The smaller hits can help to keep your percentages high, allowing you to qualify for the best jobs.

There are a number of qualifications you can acquire on the site, which will “unlock” a greater number of hits available to you with the side benefit that the additional jobs will have less competition.

Some jobs offer big payments for little work. If they look too good to be true, they are. This site is not for those looking to strike gold easily and quickly.

However, if you are looking for a supplemental income that needs to be flexible, give Amazon Mechanical Turk a try. It was a great jumping off point for my freelance career. If you have used the site in the past, what worked for you? Have you ever worked for a similar site with success?

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Modest Money April 4, 2012 at 7:24 am

I’ve never used Amazon Mechanical Turk, but it sounds like an interesting concept. Even though the wages are low, it seems to be a better deal for the freelancers than the ones doing the hiring. It seems they get stuck with whatever quality work is delivered by whoever happens to score the job.

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Remy @MLISunderstanding April 4, 2012 at 11:00 am

I drop by MTurk when I remember about it, and cherrypick a few simple tasks. I spent less than 10 minutes doing this yesterday and got $5 out of two tasks. When I have an hour or two to spare, I can buckle down and work through a whole bunch. The Amazon credit offsets my spending on used textbooks.

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Financial Advice for Young Professionals April 4, 2012 at 12:49 pm

So this is similar to hiring a VA it sounds like? I guess on a more one-time basis. I might check it out but from the hiring perspective. $6-7 an hour ?!

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Maggie@SquarePennies April 4, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I’d be interested to hear what most people would think was a fair wage/hour for this sort of thing. Also with freelance writing, I wonder how much people are making per hour. For example, if you are getting paid $25 to write a blog article, but it takes you 2 1/2 hours to write it, you make $10 an hour. Would you be better off working at a regular job for $10 an hour?

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MoneySmartGuides April 4, 2012 at 6:10 pm

I’ve tried this before. Aside from the few jobs that pay decently, it just wasn’t worth it for me. I thought that even though many jobs only pay $0.02, I could crank out a bunch in an hour I did but still only made a few dollars which isn’t worth my time. I now focus on higher margin projects to earn a side income.

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Darren E April 4, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Interesting article, I’ve heard of MTurk here and there but never attempted to try it, I just might after this comment post! Freelance work, especially starting out, is often tedious. Good luck you guys for earning extra dough!

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Jordan April 5, 2012 at 8:02 am

I used MTurk while I was in college, but that was shortly after it released, and it was so crowded at that time that practically nothing was available, and even long, difficult jobs were going cheap because people were there to take it. I haven’t checked in a few years now, but hopefully that has balanced out a little.

If it has, MTurk would be a fantastic way to make a small income on your own terms. You can work as quickly as you want, work hundreds of penny jobs, or focus on a few high-dollar jobs that may take more time.

I would NOT suggest MTurk as a replacement for your 9-5, but if you need extra income, or can’t get a job at all, MTurk isn’t a bad short-term option.

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KM April 5, 2012 at 7:49 pm

To everyone who tried this: what did you do about taxes? Did you get a 1099 or just filed as freelance income?

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Nicole C. April 6, 2012 at 11:31 am

I make $5-10/week or $1-2/hour on mturk. It isn’t a lot of extra income, but it is a good amount to add into my emergency fund savings.

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Tyler S. April 6, 2012 at 5:09 pm

Ha I had never heard of this site, it looks interesting! Has anyone here written on Textbroker?

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Jean April 7, 2012 at 1:50 am

Thanks for the insight into this. Had not heard about this arm of Amazon at all prior. There times in life when every little bit helps and it’s good to know about as many ways to make some money as possible.

-Jean

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Marbella April 8, 2012 at 7:10 am

I had never heard of this site, but it seems there are several similar if you’re looking for extra money.

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Kristen April 8, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Mechanical Turk seems like a lot of time spent for a small payoff. I much prefer Squidoo – another Amazon-linked venture, to make extra money. Though it is slow at first, after a year of writing lenses I am starting to make $100+ per month writing about products I buy online, and other topics that interest me.

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Roberto April 11, 2012 at 9:24 pm

I don’t know. This seems like a whole lot of work for just a little bit of payoff. How about some of these suggestions:

For musicians: sing at a wedding once in a while. Even as a beginner, you can make $50 for just an hour of good singing. Same for funerals.

What? Not a musician? Then how about selling some of those old cell phones, LCD screens, and othe electronic junk you have laying around gathering dust? Anything is better than what those things are earning you now.

Ok. So you don’t sing or play an instrument or own any sellable equipment. Well, do what I did when I needed money fast…learn to write essays! There are more than your fair share of fiscally endowed college students who are just itching to find some nerd to help them with their thesis. Make a killing…and learn something in the process.

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Dan M April 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm

I started about 1 month ago and I am now making about $220 a week

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David S January 9, 2013 at 11:14 am

What are your techniques I have yet to bank a week like that… at first I was really dumb and jumped in on the .01 hits only to find I was only allowed to do 100 in a day… I made a buck… LOL now I wont do a hit for less than a buck and I find that I run out of tasks available really quickly, and I generally get 10.00 to 12.00 per day if I pump out 2-3 hours…. which still kinda sucks… Do you spend a lot of hours on this

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Writerforhire January 24, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I’m a freelance writer and was online looking for work that I could do from home. Found myself at CrowdSource who said they were looking for freelance writers.
Sounded perfect, or so I thought. Registering on Amazon Turk was a bit of a pain and was confused to see jobs were paying 0.4c….figured I was missing something.

But no, that’s the average price of a job. And you have to race against the clock to get the job done, so not good for those of us who multi-task (and what happens if life gets in the way?)

So, for this writer, the idea of working for 5 hours for $5 is, I’m sorry to say, a joke.

Not worth my time. I come from the business world where my hourly rate was often more than $50.

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Arafath @ MoneyEarningConcepts.com March 26, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Amazon Mechanical Turk is a clever kind of money earning program and even a beginner can earn reasonable amount of money with this website.

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