Thousands of Americans are making money online every day — working whenever and wherever they want — through a platform called Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk).
Never heard of it before? Team Clark decided to put this flexible remote job opportunity to the test!
Here’s how MTurk works: Various businesses submit Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs) to the website, then workers pick and choose the micro-jobs they want to complete and submit for payment.
Many of the tasks don’t require special skills. There are thousands of HITs available to complete at any given moment. The amount of time required to finish a task varies greatly and so does the pay.
This is how MTurk describes the marketplace for work on its FAQ page:
“Amazon Mechanical Turk is based on the idea that there are still many things that human beings can do much more effectively than computers, such as identifying objects in a photo or video, performing data de-duplication, transcribing audio recordings, or researching data details. Traditionally, tasks like this have been accomplished by hiring a large temporary workforce (which is time consuming, expensive, and difficult to scale) or have gone undone.”
Legitimate work from home opportunity: What you need to know about MTurk
Some of the HITs, which you can think of as small jobs, pay only pennies.
Despite the low pay, people are drawn to MTurk because of its flexibility. Most other remote jobs require a set schedule that may not be convenient for stay-at-home moms, college students, busy retirees and people in between jobs.
MTurk doesn’t place any of those restrictions on its workers — you can accept HITs 10 minutes a week or 10 hours a week.
I’ve used MTurk on and off for the past two years and can confirm that it’s not a scam! Earnings are transferred to an Amazon Payments account or can be redeemed for an Amazon.com gift card.
How much money can you really make with MTurk? I recently spent three hours doing three different types of HITs to find out…
Hour 1: Short transcriptions
For the first hour, I completed short transcriptions through a requester called CrowdSurf Support. I transcribed about 20 seconds of audio for each HIT, which had a reward of $0.05 per HIT — plus a bonus.
I was able to do 46 transcriptions for an hourly rate of $2.30 before the bonus of $1.23. Not very good.
Bonuses vary depending on the length and difficulty of the transcription. Sometimes the bonus will only be $0.01 per hit and other times it will be $0.04 or even more than the initial reward.
I thought this task would be easy because I type fast, but poor audio quality slowed me down.
Hour 2: Surveys
My fingers needed a break after all of that transcribing, so I spent my second hour as an MTurk worker filling in bubbles on various surveys. Most of them appeared to be part of studies that colleges and universities were conducting.
The most interesting survey asked me a few multiple choice questions about Facebook’s Memories feature. I earned 65 cents.
I made a total of $6.85 for the hour by submitting 10 surveys. MTurk lets you filter the HITs that you want to complete, so I only accepted surveys that paid at least $0.50 and could be finished in a short period of time.
I tried to give my 100% attention to each HIT because they can be rejected if the worker doesn’t follow instructions properly.
Hour 3: Google search descriptions
I accepted 101 HITs during the third and final hour of my experiment. Each HIT required me to conduct a Google search for a specific term and then copy and paste something from the results page into the MTurk platform.
Some of these $0.15 HITs only took about 15 seconds to complete. I earned a total of $15.15 for the hour.
Total MTurk earnings
For the three hours of work, I made $25.53 including my bonus, which works out to $8.50 an hour.
UPDATE: I wanted to see how much money I could make with MTurk over a longer period of time, so I challenged myself to complete 30 jobs in 30 days — spending 30 minutes a day on HITs.
I earned an hourly rate of about $7.30 over those 30 days, for a total of $110. Read about my experience here.
My review: A few thoughts about Amazon Mechanical Turk
MTurk probably isn’t going to be a primary source of income for most people, but it still could be a way to earn a few extra bucks during TV commercial breaks, pet sitting or maybe even during your lunch break.
Just know that there’s a probationary period where you may not qualify for higher paying HITs — be patient!
There’s an entire community of MTurk workers on Reddit who share tips and tricks to increase your earnings. I started to get the hang of MTurk after I downloaded Turkopticon 2 Beta, a user script that helps workers decide if jobs are worth it.
Once installed, the tool helped me choose surveys that would pay the most. Here’s an example:
I’ve also learned that the best HITs are typically posted during regular business hours. You can click on the “Created” button in MTurk to see the newest HITs first.
An Amazon Payments account is required to work on HITs and your earnings may be subject to tax reporting with the IRS. You’ll also be asked to provide your Social Security number when registering with Amazon Payments.
Have you made money online with MTurk or another platform? Let us know in the comments below!