I promised a while ago though that I’d get back to the roots of what this blog was all about and that is making money online.
After all, you want to be lazy and get away with it and part of that is of course sitting on the couch while earning a decent income.
Well, like a true procrastin8r I said “eventually” I’ll do it and I’m here today to tell you folks that “eventually” is here and I want to share one of my favorite online money-making methods.
The site is called Amazon mTurk and it’s one of the easiest and laziest ways to earn extra money in your pare time.
Now if you’ve been following me for quite a bit, you’ll know I mentioned before how you can make money with mTurk. But the content I provided previously was really just a thumbnail version of what the site has to offer and how to actually go about earning some moola on it, as part of a top procrastin8 list.
So today, I want to explore mTurk in a full review and analysis. We’ll get into how much money you can potentially earn as well as the methods I use to minimize effort and maximize results, getting the most out of the site with as little work as possible.
First of all, I want to make it clear that results may vary. I can’t promise you’ll make “x” amount of dollars in “such n’ such” hours. It really all depends on the tasks available, how much they’re paying, and how quickly (or slowly) you’re able to complete them.
mTurk is a great way to earn a bit of extra cash in your free time though. There’s no doubt about that.
Anyway, without further ado, let’s dive right into it.
Nah. the Turks from Final Fantasy VII. mTurk is a crowdsourcing website, where companies (and educators) can hire workers to do tasks virtually, this includes data entry, transcription, and taking surveys.
It’s owned and operated by Amazon, which unlike a lot of these other “get-paid-to” sites, is a well established and trusted brand. Being the most profitable company in the world, Amazon ain’t going away any time soon.
That's actually a big deal when it comes to mTurk because I can’t tell you how many sites I’ve signed up for, poured hours into working and doing various tasks, only to never see that paycheck come because the company closes before I can make a cash out request. Or maybe they pay for a while, then one day just pull the ole Houdini and disappear.
Either way, you don’t have to really worry about that sort of shit with an Amazon branded company. I also feel a lot more comfortable sharing my personal information, including bank details, with such a brand, as opposed to some start-up company.
I mean, we all have shared our payment details with Amazon for that juicy Prime delivery anyway, amirite? If you’re going to be making money online, might as well make it from the company you’re going to spend it at :D
Where tf it available?
The Interwebs, duh!
No but seriously...
When I first started “turking”, it was only available in the United States, India, and Canada, but they have since then added about a dozen different countries. Unfortunately, for my global readers out there, mTurk isn’t fully global. That, and it’s still English only.
There are several translation tasks available in foreign languages and some surveys that you’ll only qualify if you’re bilingual, but aside from that, everything else is completely in English.
Now to me, that ain’t much of a big deal. It’s my Native (and only) language and I know to *most* of my readers they’re in the same boat. But I do know that a few of you are foreign looking for “global moneymaking”. MTurk isn’t that site. I’m just throwing that out there up front.
If, however, you happen to be in one of the available countries, and do in fact speak English fluently, then I’m throwing it right off the bat, I highly recommend this site.
Enough. You can earn enough.
Okay, but seriously I wouldn’t go into this site expecting to strike it rich quick. You’ll doing tasks that pay a few cents each, like maybe fifty cents or so.
Now you may be thinking that’s not a whole lot, but lemme tell you something. The little bit of cents here and there turns into a profit, slowly but surely.
Earning about $.50 per “HIT” doesn’t sound like much but it does add up over time.
If you earn $1 a day from mTurk (about 2 HITs), that’s $30 a month. If you earn $10 a day (about 20ush HITs), that’s $300! For doing hardly anything at all in your spare time, you can earn quite a bit of a stash.
Personally, over the years of mTurking, I’ve made over $11,000. Not bad for a site I click around in my free time and never have to leave the couch while doing so.
It’s important to mention that while the direct deposit, if you look at your bank statement, comes from Amazon, it’s not Amazon paying you your money (or assigning the tasks for that matter). It’s the requesters.
Requesters ar ethe one that create task, and you, as a turker complete them.
It *usually* takes a few days before your task is approved and paid. Usually. Sometimes it can take up to a week before approval/payment. But as a procrastin8r myself, I cut ‘em some slack for putting things off.
There are certain “bad” requesters that reject your work and/or don’t pay, but we’ll get to how to avoid those cheap bastards in a sec.
So...how exactly do you earn money?
You complete what’s called “HITs” (which is short for Human Intelligence Task). Most of them are going to be surveys from Universities. Occasionally you’ll do something else like tagging a video for certain content or maybe providing audio recorded commentary of your first impressions of a website.
You know those “studies” you hear about in the news that tell how a certain percentage of Americans or (insert demographic here) believe (blank). Well, that’s where this data comes from. You’ll be participating in *those* surveys*.
Now I don’t recommend doing any of the tasks that pay less than $.25. Those are typically the ones where people are cheaping out. Not worth doing. The amount of time it takes to pay ratio is simply a waste. Completely.
I always filter by “pays at least” .$25 and sort by “Creation date: newest first”
This allows me to filter out those low paying HITs that aren’t worth my time as well as what HITs are just posted.
You want to be able to see new HITs as they pop up so you can be one of the first to grab them. Thing is, there are limited spots available to complete each HIT, so you want to make sure you’re one of the first to “reserve” a spot.
It’s difficult to find which HITs are new if you sort by anything else besides Creation Date. Reason you want to see the new HITs first is because you otherwise might miss out on the ones that are good-paying and worth your time.
Because there are limited spots, other turkers might snag those good paying HITs by the time you even see it otherwise.
You can click the “Filter” button at the top to sort it in this way,
The other parameter I recommend ticking is “HITs I’m qualified for”. This allows the search results to filter out HITs you literally can’t even do because you either lack the amount of HITs and/or approval rate necessary. Saves a lot of time of clicking “Accept & Work”, only to get a message that you aren’t qualified to participate.
You definitely only want to see HITs your qualified for. I don’t even know why it’s an option to see HITs you’re NOT qualified for. Like, you can’t even do them, so uhhh what’s the point?
Finally, once you’ve got that all set up, you want to download two add ons to your browser in order to be able to see a Requesters’ rating and reviews.
This is VERY IMPORTANT and really the key to making decent money on mTurk.
Like I said earlier, the Requesters are the ones that PAY YOU. They make the decision on how much a HIT is worth.
So it makes sense that you want to be able to find Requesters that...I don’t know? Actually freaking pay. And not only pay in the first place but actually pay at a decent rate.
The standard “acceptable rate” dubbed by the mTurk community is 10 cents per minute ($6/ hour) BARE MINIMUM. Anything less than that is considered a pretty shit wage (read: NOT WORTH YOUR TIME)
Knowing how good (or how awful) a requester is is fundamental in making an income form mTurk efficiently. You don’t want to waste time with requesters that have high rejection rates or pay a low amount of compensation for the time involved in completing a HIT.
You want reasonable and fair requesters, ones worth your time, ones that provide HITs worth turking for!.
mTurk unfortunately doesn’t have a built in rating system, which is frankly a shitty move on their part. Like, workers should know about bad requesters that are gonna straight up rip you off or waste your time, as well as the good ones that are worth doing tasks for.
Anyway, you’re first going to need some sort of User Script manager, like TamperMonkey or GreaseMonkey, so that you can install one of the mturk rating review scripts
You then want to grab Turkopticon or TurkerView I use TurkerView, a personal preference. Either one is good though, really. They both achieve the same goal of showing you mTurk Requester ratings in an easy user-interface.
Whichever app you choose, it will display a rating next to the Requester’s name and show a pop up of the full rating if you hover your mouse over their name. From there, you can read other users’ reviews or write your own.
You’ll have to sign up for an account (separate from your mTurk account) in order to write reviews.
I’m lazy. I never write reviews. I mean I agree with the principle of giving your fellow turkers a heads up about a requester and appreciate the people that take the time to rate and review them, but I’m just too lazy to partake in that myself. Still, it’s there. As an option.
I mostly use it as a tool. I’ll admit, I don’t contribute to the community as far as ratings go as much as I should.
There are other mTurk related scripts, such as adding a shortcut to copy/paste your worker ID, which frankly used to be necessary.
Amazon has recently added your Worker ID to the top of the main HIT search page though.
You used to have to go into your account settings and through a huge series of hyperlinks to find it. It was a pain in the ass.
Your Worker ID is the bread and butter of this whole operation. You’re going to need to copy/paste it (or maybe memorize it. I don’t know. I never memorized mine.) But you’re going to need to provide your Worker ID in I’d say 90% of the HITs you complete.
Okay so now you’ve got your filters in place. You’ve set it up so that you see Requester reviews. You’re now ready to officially start turking! YAY
Make sure you stay in your PJs for extra efficiency.
As I mentioned earlier, there are limited HITs available. Your goal is to grab the good ones and complete them. Pretty simple.
Now in order to grab them, you have to “Accept” the work before other turkers do. And in order to get in line first...
You have to accept MORE THAN ONE HIT at a time.
Otherwise, you run the risk of “losing a HIT” to someone else that clicked it before you. By the time you click one HIT, finish it, then click the next one, the next one is already gone.
That’s why you must Queue it up!
Basically if you see a good paying hit, click it. It’ll go to your Queue, which you can visit later.
I usually queue up/accumulate 5-10 HITs (depending on the estimated completion time of each) before I start actually working on them. This assures I got a decent sized bundle of good-paying HITs and won’t lose out on the opportunity
Once I complete a HIT, I’ll refresh the main HIT page and see if there are any new ones worth doing, then accept (in a new tab) to add to my Queue.
I pick the one in my Queue with the LEAST amount of time left to work on.
Rinse and repeat.
Once you “Accept” work, you’re in!
Well, unless you run out of time, which I’ll get to next.
You essentially reserve a spot by “accepting”. There’s no penalty for not completing a HIT, unless you actually submit it
Running out of time or returning a HIT does NOT count against you or your approval rating. You can return as many HITs as you like or let that timer expire as often as you fancy. Doesn’t matter.
No worries though, as I found a loophole around this, even if you run out of time. What I do is I submit the HIT *without* a completion code. Careful now, ‘cause this is something you typically shouldn’t do.
You should always assure the HIT is completed before submitting. Don’t get into the habit of submitting a blank HIT.. This is just a “worst case scenario”
Anyway what you do is submit the HIT blank (without a completion code).
Then go to Dashboard → the date you completed the HIT → name of the HIT → Contact Requester
Then send them a kind message about how you “accidentally forgot” to paste the completion code and provide it right then and there.
Again, I don’t recommend relying on this tactic at all. In fact, an old saying goes, never bite off more than you can chew. In the same vein, never queue up more HITs then you can complete before they expire.
Sometimes though you miscalculate how long shit takes. Sometimes a survey takes a bit longer than you expected. Sometimes you get distracted by your dog barking. Sometimes you gotta take a piss.
Ya know, shit happens.
My point here is not to worry *too* much about the timer. Don’t feel any pressure to “get it done on time”. Just get it done eventually.
There are two main deciding factor that determine which HITs will be available to you:
HITs complete and Approval Rate
In order to “build up your account” and really start earning money here, you have to assure a high approval rate. The amount of HITs will grow over time and you shouldn’t worry too much about that.
It’s better to do a small number of good paying ones than a mass amount of shitty paying ones, just to boost your HITs complete number.
Your Approval Rate and HITs complete will determine whether or not the opportunity to even *attempt* the HIT to begin with is available to you.
Basically, higher approval rate + higher amount of HITs complete = more HITs available which also = more $$$
Now I’ve done well over 16,000 HITs total and maintain an approval rate of 99.7%, a nearly perfect score, so I know a thing or two about getting approved.
The first thing I’d say to do is to pass any and all attention checks.
In the surveys you’ll be filling out A LOT of multiple choice sections. It’s tempting to just select random bubbles.
But I’m telling you...DON’T.
DO NOT be random in your answers.
You have to be on the look at for attention checks. Attention checks are little questions that tell you to select a certain answer. Failure of attention checks can lead to rejection of the HIT which is no bueno.
The key is not to pay full attention, though. We’re doing this the lazy way.
The key is to RECOGNIZE attention checks and the type of methods used to check your attention
- The first type of attention check is what I call the “obvious” attention check. This tells you “select ___” as your answer.As long as you look at (not necessarily read verbatim) each individual question, it’s really hard to miss these ones.
- The second type of attention check is what I call. The “boring” attention checks. This has a really long paragraph, which at some point tells you to select (or type) a very specific answer or click on a certain letter to proceed to the next page.I call it boring because it’s trying to bore you and they know you’re probably not going to read the whole wall of text unless you’re paying full attention. Fortunately, you can skim and scan every single paragraph for the word ATTENTION or you can always use ctrl+F when in doubt.
The thing about attention checks is they’re either going to give you a command like “select x” or straight up tell you “if you are paying attention...”
So literally, while taking surveys the only words you need to be on the lookout for are “SELECT” and “ATTENTION”.
If you see that word, guarantee you it’s an attention check and you’ll pass it, not because you were paying attention, you lazy mf, but because you knew what to actually look for.
Now like I said, you want ot answer the questions not randomly. Answer them...honestly actually.
There’s sort of a pattern to the types of questions all these surveys ask so eventually you’ll just memorize your own answers.
I’ve reached the point where I can kind of skim and scan and know what the question is as well as what I’d put for my answer on the scale.
I look for key phrases like “to see if you’re paying attention” as I’m rolling through, of course.
The only other thing I’d say about getting approved is make sure you provide your completion code. This will be a string of letter given to you at the end of the survey.
If there’s some glitch or I forget to copy it, I take a screenshot and upload it to a site like Imgur then include that link in the “Provide completion code here” box”
Other than that, it’s pretty simple, dude. As long as you're looking for the good reviews, and avoiding Requesters with a high rejection rate, you’re pretty much golden here on leveling up that approval rate.
Now obviously you want to save as much time as possible between HITs, so there’s a few key tips I want to give about being efficient with your time (and not working any more than you have to)
First of all...
Any time it asks “What do you think this study was about?”
Or “What do you think the researchers were trying to study?”
Or something along those lines, I always put “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure”
No sense typing out long paragraphs about what I think the research was trying to achieve if it’s not necessary. Again, I’m lazy. Minimize effort. Maximize results.
Second, Templates are your friend!
Yes, there is writing involved in some of these surveys, which sucks. I mean, I’d rather just click shit.
It was a turn off for me at first, these “involves writing” surveys. But...then I noticed a lot of these writing tasks were asking for the exact same thing. I decided to “one n’ done” it.
In other words, I wrote the text ONCE and kept it in a folder labeled “mTurk templates”.
Thing is, when it comes to surveys that involve writing, there’s like maybe about a single dozen different writing prompts. I designed a template for each of them.
Maybe the question is a little different, but I can adapt and chang eit *just enough* to match what they’re looking for.
No sense rebuilding the wheel
Topics that are on nearly every “writing” survey include:
Your daily routine, a time you felt powerless, a time when you acted unfairly, what are two attributes you have that contradict each other, a time you were scared, a time you felt guilty, a time you felt support from friends or family, a time you felt grateful.
My suggestion is to write about 2 paragraphs for each of those prompts and save them in your own folder. Pull them out when you need it. You’ll thank me later.
Further, I reccomend Google Docs or some other cloud storage site to keep these documents because there are some HITs that are mobile only so you want easy access to your writings from all your devices.
Now one of my few rejections I got was because I “finished too quickly” and they were led to believe I didn’t give it enough time and attention, even though I successfully passed their attention checks because I knew what to look for.
(Damn! Caught me! So I wasn’t at all paying full attention though)
So I got smart.
I’ll now paste the code into the box and NOT press submit right away. This will allow the timer to tick down.
The Requester sees how long you spend on the HIT. In the name of the HIT, they’ll often time put the estimated time of completion. I’ll just wait until that amount of time passes before hitting submit.
Another factor too is since I queue up a bunch of HITs at once, the timer ticks down even on HITs that aren’t currently being worked on.
This means it looks like I spent more time doing a HIT than I actually did, making them think “Boy, this guy really put in a lot of time and effort into doing this” and go ahead and give me that approval and pay.
That’s maximizing results baby!
Withdrawing Your Earnings
Now you’ve got some HITs approved. Payment has gone through. You now get to withdraw your cash! Woo!
There are two options when it comes to this. You can withdraw your earnings in either...
Amazon Gift Card or Direct Deposit
AGC is nice if you’re gonna order shit on Prime anyway, but I prefer money being in my bank account to be honest. I ain’t about to try and convince you what to do here though. It’s your money and I’m not your advisor. DO as you damn please with it!
You used to be able to request a withdraw whenever you wanted and receive that money (or gift card balance) within 24 hours. Now they have you set up a schedule of every 3 days, 7 days, 2 weeks, or 30 days.
I do 3 days, cause...why not? If I can get paid more often, I see no downside. Some banks have a limit to how many deposits you can make per month, so there’s that.
But yeah, There ya go, an online money-making blog from the ProcrastiN8r. Back to the roots, baby!
Overall, I give mTurk a Procrasti6/8
It’s not the best paying online money opportunity out there, but it’s one of the most consistent and reliable. The little bit of cents add up a lot and it’s a really easy, low effort thing to to do.
Heck, I can watch Netflix while earning money or do a survey or two in between rounds of Dead by Daylight or hunts on Dauntless.
It’s rather mindless and you can choose when you do it and how much you do it. A simple way to be your own boss.
I don’t know if you could necessarily “make a living” off this site alone. There simply wouldn’t be enough tasks to earn a livable wage (especially during the winter, which is a huge slow down since school’s are out for break and there aren’t academic studies going on which is a huge CHUNK of your income here).
You can, however, make enough each month on mTurk to pay a car bill or cover groceries quite easily.
As you’re lying on the couch, eating your Cheetos and catching up on the Walking Dead, go ahead and give mTurk a try. You’ll be glad you did.
After all, lazy money is awesome!