Can You Make Money off of MTurk?
Generally speaking, websites that offer opportunities to make money while watching TV are scams with a capital S. So, I was very skeptical when I heard about Amazon’s MTurk program. I was also desperate for some cash inflow, and desperation stifled my skepticism. Some places, you’ll see claims of people making 1,000 dollars a week off of Mturk, and on other sites, they say the average turker makes only 2.00 dollars an hour. The truth lies somewhere between these numbers. MTurk is what you make it. It’s an ever-changing variable environment. One day, you can make 60 dollars before lunch. The next, you’ll find yourself at 12 dollars at 4PM.
You won't make money until after you’ve learned how to work the site, a process that takes at least a few weeks, and you will continue to hone for as long as you’re turking.
I say this, not to discourage you from using the site, but to set your expectations in their proper place. This isn’t a get-rich-quick site, and it shouldn’t be your primary income provider. It is, however, a great place to make income while searching for a job, or a great place to make some extra beer money while watching TV.
What is Mturk?
Mturk is a site created by Amazon that allows thousands of users, all over the world, to complete online tasks (HITS) for compensation. Compensation is decided by the requester, and is often far below minimum wage.
Let’s Get Started
Signing up for an account is incredibly easy, the hard part is what to do once you’re on it. When you click on your Hits button, you’ll see thousands of Hits ready to be completed. They will vary in subject and length. Your first instinct might be to jump in, BUT WAIT. There is a lot you need to know before starting on this site. These tips come from working on the site for a few months and they will help you avoid the mistakes many people fall into before they know better.
Avoid the Reject, They’re Just Teenage Dirtbags
The success of your turking future relies on you completing many Hits and maintaining good statistics. Many of the better requesters will not allow you to work for them if you haven’t completed a certain amount of tasks with a high (near perfect) accuracy rating. Now, most requesters on Mturk are fair reasonable individuals, but there are some seedy bastards that scam the system. They have unfair rejection policies, or they have you complete their work and then decide not to pay you for it. If you get rejects, it’s bad. If you get enough, your account may never recover and you’ll have to make your money somewhere else.
There is, however, a great program out there that will protect you from these rejecting dirtbags. I use it and trust it, but I highly advocate you do your own research before downloading any of the scripts and programs I recommend. (It's never a mistake to be too cautious, right?)
It’s called TurkOpticon, you can download it here: http://turkopticon.differenceengines.com/ as an add on for Chrome or Firefox. I highly recommend you use Chrome to turk as I will be recommending a lot of add-ons that will help you increase your income capabilities and they’re mostly on Chrome. TurkOpticon, will now show you the overall ranking of requesters based on user reviews. This will save you from countless rejects and shady encounters. Stick to the good requesters, and take chances only on the new ones. This is one of the only protections Turkers have as workers. Requesters can reject scamming turkers, but turkers can only choose not to work for scam requesters if they have the information to do so. Supporting each other in not doing underpaid hits, and not contributing work to unfair requesters is imperative to keeping mturk a place to make honest money.
Where Can You Find Hits You Can Trust?
Next, you will be introduced to the two greatest assets when working on Mturk. One, is this forum: http://mturkforum.com/forumdisplay.php?30-Great-HITS. I keep this forum up while working.
The other, is this subreddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/HITsWorthTurkingFor/. Both of these pages will offer you hits that are worth working on.
Now, I recommend these sites with a bit of trepidation. If you’ll allow me to step up onto a soapbox for one second, I’d like to proselytize for a minute. These sites are not meant to just spoon feed you money. They are made up of good generous individuals who choose to share the wealth in the hopes that you will return the favor. When they find good hits, they share them and it means less money in their pockets if you work on them. When you first start out you won’t be able to contribute, but if you decide to continue turking, it is your obligation to provide to the communities that helped you succeed.
It’s only fair. Alright? Alright, give me a second to dismount this moral high horse…and I’ll give you the next lesson.
It’s Time To Begin
Now, you have two resources to help you start making money. Your objective in these first ten days of turking is not to make a ton of cash but to get yourself familiar with the site and to build up your numbers and statistics. Your first ten days are like a probation period on the site. There are only a certain amount of hits you can complete, and because you have no experience, there are only a certain amount of hits that will allow you to work on them. Now, you are looking to acquaint yourself with batches.
What are Batches?
Batches are hits that you can complete multiple times. Examples of these include: ‘write down a barcode’, or ‘check these images for adult content’. Batches generally come in the thousands, and are easy to complete.
Here, is the golden list of requesters that put out batches often and are good for new Turkers to increase their numbers: PPC, TaskRabbit Turk, ProductRnR, Venue Quality, Zing, Acme Data Collection, Readabl, Homezoo, Crowdsource, CrowdFlower Christopher Malon, WMT, Crowdsurf, EBH, VapLab.
(Hubpages also has an mturk account! Try your luck on the qualifying test. It's difficult, but if you pass they're incredibly generous with bonuses and you get paid to review hubs.)
This is by no means, the full list. Every day there will be new requesters, that you willl have to seek out. The objective is to find a batch and get turking. Your mission is to get to a thousand approved hits. Once you reach a thousand, a whole world of higher-paying hits will open up.
How to Become a Successful Worker on MTurk
The best hits are Monday-Friday from 9-5. This makes sense because requesters are putting up hits at their jobs. A highly successful turker would make their schedule fall between 9AM eastern time to 5PM pacific time. There are sometimes good batches put up outside of these times, but they are the exception to the rule.
There are a series of add ons and scripts that are easy to download, and make Mturk a more-manageable maze. They can be found here: http://mturkscripts.com/, and this site will keep you updated. I recommend you download them all.
So, here’s what I like to do. I wake up at 7:30AM PST (It’s the earliest I can stand.) I make a cup of coffee and get on Mturk. Opening up ‘Great Hits’ in one tab, and ‘Hits Worth Turking For’ in the other. I quickly check on the hit forum if any batches are being discussed and what surveys are available. Then I use the chrome add-on called Page Monitor to see which of my favorite requesters are on.
Page monitor is an invaluable add-on for your turking experience. Once installed it will search for you and alert you if requesters add any hits. This will be an ongoing process for you. At first, you won’t monitor many pages, but as you get more accustomed to the site, you will find yourself adding more and more sites to the monitor. This, is the key to getting batches early.
So, after checking Page Monitor to see what’s up I start on whatever batches I can find. When a good batch is gone or I just can’t take it anymore, I take a break by seeing what high-paying surveys are out there. Surveys are great and can be good money-makers and a welcome distraction from the monotony of clicking. I choose to save surveys for down times and I don’t sweat it too much if I miss a good one, as long as I’m in a good batch. You may find a different strategy is good for you.
Turking is a game of cat and mouse, the good batches can last hours or minutes. You can go a whole day without seeing anything worth clicking, or you can feel like your arm is going to fall off because there’s too much to choose from. The only way to succeed is being there. You can’t get the good hits if you aren’t waiting at your computer for them.
Some Friendly Advice, And a Call to Explore New Worlds
Sometimes, (usually at least once a day) the forums will be dead, and the hits will be scarce. This, is your time to explore. Staying wise and alert, start searching for different criteria to see if you find any new hits. Check the requesters TO, and take risks only on new requesters. Try new hits with the worst case scenario in mind. Don’t do 50 new hits, try two. If they approve and seem legitimate, this is your time to shine on the forums. Bring them some new excitement. They’ll love you for it. Also Hits Worth Turking has some cool incentives to provide links and may end up making you a few extra bucks if you become a good contributor.
So, by this point you should be getting the hang of it, and climbing up the learning curve. Enjoy turking.
But I’m Not Ready for This Article to End.
You aren’t? You sneaky reader! I’ll give you just a little bit more. If you want to get to the next level it’s time for you to try your hand at auto-accepting and hoarding hits: http://mturkwiki.net/index.php?title=Page_Refresh. It’s time to learn what Masters is, and get caught up in the mystery as to how you become qualified for such a tremendous honor :)