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[Got a fresh new hustle to share with y’all today! My man Michael Naab walks us through the world of making extra money using Amazon Mechanical Turk (or mTurk). He makes a couple hundred a week and tells us how it all works. Welcome to Hustle #65 of our Side Hustle Series!]
“Make money by taking surveys online” – how many times have you seen that claim made in online ads, pop ups or in your spam email folder? Answer a few questions while sitting at a computer and make a few bucks sounds way too easy.
I’ve researched a lot of sites that claim this. Most of them are bogus. Either they pay ridiculously low wages for the time spent, rarely have any work that fits your demographic or will only pay you in gift cards or some other type of credit instead of cash.
None of them fit what I was looking for until I discovered Amazon Mechanical Turk.
How I Got Started
I was days away from the birth of my first child and I started freaking out a little bit about money. I started thinking about all of the new expenses we were going to start taking on…daycare, diapers, food, etc. and I decided that we were going to need some extra income to handle it all.
I began researching ways that I could make money online. Already having full time jobs, my wife and I were only interested in supplementing our income. I came across an article on Yahoo that talked about ways to make money from home. There were things like sell things on Ebay or babysit, but the last item on the list was Amazon Mechanical Turk. I figured since it was featured in a Yahoo article is was probably legit, so I looked into it further and liked what I saw.
Ok Cool, So What is Amazon Mechanical Turk?
Amazon Mechanical Turk (or mturk) is a site hosted by Amazon that allows “requesters” to post tasks they want done by workers for a specific price. Tasks can be from universities, researchers, consumer product groups or small business owners to name a few.
Tasks are called HITs (human intelligence tasks) and each HIT from each requester is listed with the price it pays and the time allotted to complete it. At any given time, there are typically hundreds of thousands of tasks that can be worked on. You simply go through the list of available HITs, accept the ones you want to work on, then complete and submit them.
(Current screenshot of Amazon – 329,142 HITs available right now!)
HITs vary greatly from one another. There are surveys on a wide range of subjects (finance, products, emotions, personality, risk tolerance, etc.). There are transcriptions from audio, video or handwritten notes. Some want spreadsheet work done in Excel. Others are looking for things categorized into different groups. There’s something for everyone on there.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: I also like that their tagline is, “Artificial Artificial Intelligence” :)]
How Much Money Can You Make?
Well, that really depends on how much time you spend working on the site. You can find work immediately after signing up but there’s better paying work that opens up after you’ve completed more HITs. Some of the better paying requesters put qualifications of 100/500/1,000 HITs completed before you can work on their stuff.
I’ve been working on Amazon Mechanical Turk for about 2 and a half years (with a full time job) and make anywhere from $150-300/week. In total I’ve made about $20,000 in that time period simply working on tasks right from my computer.
Having worked on there for as long as I have, I meet basically every qualification from a standpoint of previous work completed (I have over 85,000 HITs done). However I have gotten a few friends of mine involved with it and they’ve gotten up to $100/week after 2-3 weeks.
Realistically, I would say that you can probably expect anywhere from $6-12/hour on there. You’ll be on the low side initially getting the hang of things but your hourly rate definitely goes up once you learn the ropes (UPDATE: $6/hour was the lowest I’ve ever made – I’ve had some that go roughly $20/hour, with the absolute best being $75/hour!). It also depends on the time of day that you work on there. Work is always available but the best work is usually available on weekdays during normal working hours.
Pros and Cons to Turk’ing (Awfully close to Twerking, right?)
- Do as much or as little work as you want to, whenever you want to. You can spend all day working on there or do something for 5 minutes if you have a quick break in your day.
- Do it from anywhere, all you need is an internet connection.
- Get paid in cash and transfer it right to your bank account. No gift cards or credit, no minimum amount to hit before you can cash out.
- There are scripts that you can add to your internet browser that help you be more efficient with your time on there.
- You’re not going to get rich doing this. It’s a nice supplement to your job but it won’t replace it.
- If your only availability to do this is nights and weekends, you won’t make as much as you would doing it during weekdays.
Sign Me Up! How Do I Start?
You can start on Amazon Mechanical Turk by registering at www.mturk.com. Once you sign up, it will take a couple days to verify your social security number (they need this for tax purposes when you sign up). After that, you’re off and running. There’s a 10 day probation period where you must complete at least 1 HIT for 10 days. During that period, you have a cap of 100 HITs/day and you can’t withdraw your money. Once that period is over, there are no restrictions on your withdrawals.
If you want to check it out, I also wrote a book (ebook) on helping people get started: Side Hustle From Home: How To Make Money Online With Amazon Mechanical Turk. It has all the tips and tricks that I’ve learned in my time working on there including the best scripts, forums, requesters and resources. My intention was to straighten out the learning curve for anyone looking to get started. Plus it’s free with Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime through the lending library (only $2.99 if not).
Happy to answer any questions! I find it a much better way to spend your time than checking Facebook or trying to beat level 2,000 on Candy Crash… And you get paid for it!
UPDATE: For those asking about doing this outside of the country: You can work on mturk outside of the US, but you can’t withdraw cash. The money you earn would go toward gift cards on Amazon. Some requesters may have qualifications that only allow workers from certain locations. However there is work available on there in most countries.
UPDATE #2: My friend here who wrote this is now up to $31,000 earned from turks – a mere 8 months later from when we first posted this! It actually works if you have the patience and hustle!
[Photo cred: Paul Cleary]
EDITOR’S NOTE: To learn about 60+ other ways to make money, check out our side hustle series.