90-Day Life Challenge: Amazon's Mechanical Turk

Well, I'm on to Day 2 of my 90-Day Life Challenge, and today is about Amazon's Mechanical Turk. I desperately need a little extra money to feel secure that we won't be homeless again if one of the cars breaks down, and we still have to focus on my medical debt. I've dabbled with it for over a year, very very sporadically, and have accumulated somewhere around $70 that I transferred to my Amazon gift card balance.

As you can see, it's not a scam. You really will earn a little extra money towards Christmas gifts, household supplies, etc, and there's no catch.

What is Mechanical Turk?

Amazon's Mechanical Turk, or MTurk for short, is a form of crowdsourcing work that pays individuals small amounts of money per assignment to complete microtasks at home (or on the go). MTurk's particular form of microtasks are called HITs--Human Intelligence Tasks--and they range from $0.01 per task, all the way up to $100 or more (depending on the work, of course).

How Much Money Can You Make?

As stated, the amount of money you can make on MTurk directly depends on a few factors:

  1. Your "level" as a worker. When you start out, you do not have access to some of the better paying HITs because those requesters may want you to have a specific success rate (i.e. >95%) or have completed at least 500 HITs. However, this is easily accomplished by taking on as much "batch" work as you can until you hit the threshold that allows you to accept better work. More on that later. 
  2. How much time you are willing to commit. Since my work at the preschool is only 10 months out of the year, and my work with the special needs baseball league has off-season time, I usually wax and wane a bit in my use of MTurk. However, for the purposes of creating a better source of income, I will be aiming for between 30 minutes and 4 hours every day.
  3. Use resources that help weed out the good HITs. I will link a few below, including a Reddit forum that posts high-paying, low-time commitment HITs.

Ultimately, you can probably expect to make $2-3/hour when you first start out and are learning the ropes, but once you get the hang of "batches" and uses some the resources I have listed below, you will be able to earn (I've been told) upwards of $30/hour. Right now, I've progressed to $5-6/hour. 

What Are "Batch" Jobs?

"Batches" are jobs that pay only $0.01 to maybe $0.10 per HIT, but you can complete 5-10 HITs per minute making them a very efficient way to bump your experience and make money. You can find them by sorting your available HITs by "most first" (see image below). Transcription is a difficult one to start with unless you're good at that sort of thing already, but you get the idea.

So, What Am I Going to Do?

Right now, I'm a decent level worker with respect to my approval rating, and I have completed a little over 350 HITs, but I need to do better. 

Here's the plan:
  • Complete "batch" work to get me to 500+ HITs, then 1000+, then Masters level. The Masters level is where you find the fun jobs that pay you $1-2 for 5 minutes of work, sometimes more. 
  • I will post a follow-up to this post every 45 days, since that is the length of time that MTurk uses when you check your account and click on the link that says "see more." 
  • MTurk and the appropriate forums will be loaded onto my computer when I wake up in the morning. If I have a few minutes to sit down and churn out a few, great, but if not, it must be available for me to do whenever I have spare time during the day. I generally feel too busy for this, but honestly, TV isn't as productive as paying down debt...
  • At minimum, 30 minutes and 50 HITs must be completed before I go to bed at night.

Ultimately, I would like to see myself in a position where I am working around 1-2 hours per day, and make $30-60 daily. That would allow me an additional $900-1,800 in income monthly.

Plans for the Money

For a more detailed description of our personal finances, click here. Needless to say, we are functional, not quite comfortable, but we definitely don't have enough extra money floating around to preemptively handle household issues or significantly pay down debt. That's where MTurk comes in.

I have budgeted around $400 every month for odds-and-ends: tires for the cars, oil changes, new shoes for Wee-One, household supplies, and any other neccessities. Whatever isn't used just gets rolled over into the next month's budget. The thing is, all of these items can be purchased through Amazon. I've always transferred my MTurk earnings to a gift card balance so it works perfectly. Now, I have $400/month set aside that I can use to pay my medical debt!!

Useful Links for MTurking

HITs Worth Turking For (Reddit)
MTurk Forum
Turker Nation
MTurk Grind

Well, that's it. Good luck to anyone that would like to try MTurking, and let me know how it goes.

Happy Reading,

Your Devoted Friend

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