How to Make Money With Mechanical Turk

Mturk is a Great Way to Make a Side Income

Saving Money While Traveling

Are you interested in making money online? Back in the beginning days of the internet it may have seemed like a laughable idea. But recently there are more and more ways to earn an extra buck on the world wide web. Some people go as far as to create their own websites or businesses, and live off the income from that. Others, however, are still content with their 9 to 5 jobs and are just looking to make a few dollars in their off time. What do you do if you’re in the latter group?

One thing to consider is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Originally founded in 2005, the site has grown significantly since then. On Mechanical Turk - or Mturk for short - requesters put up a variety of HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks) - small tasks that users can complete for varying amounts. Usually HITs go for around a few cents to a dollar for a few minutes time, with more specialized tasks - such as audio transcription - getting around ten dollars an hour. It’s not something that you can make a full time living off of, obviously, but for those down days at work or if you have some extra time on your hands, Mturk can be a great way to make a supplemental income.

I’ve been Turking since late last year, and at first I didn’t take it very seriously. With a bit of time, you can definitely learn ways to make it work for you, however. Here are some things I feel are required as part of making your Mturk experience as enjoyable as possible.

Patience and Persistence

You’re going to need a lot of patience, especially at first. The pay rate for first timers on Mturk is abysmally low. We’re talking maybe a couple dollars an hour if you are lucky. The reason for this is that different hits only become available to you based on your experience. Many requesters want workers who have at least a solid 1000 hits under their belt before they allow you to take on their HITs. Others require special “qualifications” - though honestly, getting most of these qualifications is a simple matter of just requesting them, or taking a simple test.

I discovered Mturk because I was between jobs and was looking for a way to make a bit of pocket money so I wouldn’t dig into my savings too much. Needless to say though, after getting those kinds of results, I didn’t put much effort into it at first.

But once you get more experience and HITs start opening up to you more, you can do much better. I now make a solid 5 or 6 dollars an hour on average. That’s still not much, but for a website where you can do work at your own convenience, and get paid for very simple tasks, it’s not bad. Stick with MTurk and you can get a decent side income from it eventually.

Use Turking Websites

There are many tools and websites for Mechanical Turk. My personal favorite resource is the MTurk Forum (do a web search). Their “Great Hits” forum is something I check every day. Users start new threads on a daily basis where they post the highest quality and best paying tasks. Many of these disappear fast, however, so be diligent in finding new HITs!

Turkopticon is another great site where you can leave feedback for MTurk work requesters. If you feel you’re being paid too low or not on time, you can leave feedback on the site. It’s also a great way to find out who the best requesters are.

Find your Turking Style

There are a variety of different HITs to do on MTurk. Some are as simple as copying and pasting Google search results. Others include surveys, writing brief articles, and even short translations from foreign languages. Needless to say, some of these are going to pay better, and some of these are going to suit your own working style better. Find which ones you like working on best and focus more on those. For example, I personally like working on surveys - they tend to pay the best for the amount of work involved. They’re simple, but usually interesting enough to keep my attention. I don’t like writing on MTurk, as the work in writing tasks is usually too involved for the amount of pay you get. Still others do quite well, especially if they can receive higher level writing qualifications.

MTurk is not going to replace your real job anytime soon. Still, it’s a great way to earn a little extra on the side. With a bit of persistence and learning the best Turking style for you, MTurk can be a great source of supplemental income.


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