Wouldn’t it be nice to earn an extra few hundred dollars per month? Especially if you’re on a tight budget? Well, you can – and you can easily do it in your spare time.
The internet is full of opportunities to make money that a lot of us don’t know about. One of this is the Amazon Mechanical Turk System, a novel concept that was developed by Amazon to help clean up the content on their website with regard to product descriptions. Over time, Amazon Turk grew into a behemoth of a subsidiary company that many corporations have come to depend on when it comes to having access to affordable labor.
Amazon Mechanical Turk (also known as MTurk) is a cloud platform system that brings together requesters and workers so one can make money by completing small tasks known as HITS and the other can have their work done by a global workforce in a fast and convenient manner. In order to be accepted as a worker or requester, you have to fill in a form to make sure that you are a legitimate business or legally-permissible worker. Since you’re a student looking to make money, we’ll focus this review on what’s required of you as a worker.
Step 1: Sign Up for an Amazon Account
Step one involves setting up an Amazon account if you don’t have one already. Simply sign up by following this link and fill in the required fields. Once you’re done, you can head over to the Google search page and type in ‘Amazon MTurk’ so you can go straight to the Mechanical Turk homepage.
If you already have an Amazon student account, you’re doing the right thing!
Step 2: Amazon Payments Account Details
Please note that you may be asked to sign in to your Amazon account once again if you don’t have cookies stored in your browser. At any given time, there are hundreds of HITS you can complete, but not until you fill in the requirements for your Amazon Payments account. The Amazon Payments account makes it easier for the company to send you money in whichever way you see fit in a convenient manner for both parties. Please use real information and follow instructions closely so you don’t experience payment problems later on. Remember, you’ll have to sign in as a “worker” and not “requester” by clicking on the worker link to the top right side of the Mechanical Turk homepage.
When filling in the Amazon Payments page that opens up once you select the worker link, you will be required to put in your social security number. This is just a formality that’s done for tax purposes as well as to ensure that only legal residents of America and contiguous territories apply. After this step, you’re all set and ready to start exploring the work available to you.
The Time Factor
The thing about Amazon MTurk that most students will like is the fact that it allows you to have a job without having to commit to one employer or a crazy amount of time to the jobs. You can perform HITS as you wait for class to start, during lunch breaks and whenever you have a few minutes to spare. Tasks pay from $0.01 to more than $30 depending on what the clients need. However, most tasks are very simple and can be done in a few seconds. Please note that higher-paying tasks may require more skill and commitment than lower-paying ones, and that you will have to apply to be accepted into some assignments.
Application to perform these HITS usually involves clicking on a button at the top of the hit cluster and seeking authorization from the requester. Once you do so, you’ll be taken to a new page that has information on how to complete a hit. In some cases, you may have to click on an agreement button before continuing.
In addition, you are presented with the option of accepting or rejecting a HIT at the top of the page. The first section of the HIT window contains the name of the requester, the amount of time you have to complete the HIT, the qualifications needed, the reward or payment, and the HITs available. If you feel like you won’t be able to complete a HIT within the required timeframe, consider skipping it so you aren’t booted from the whole project by the requester.
Unfortunately, you cannot pause a HIT and come back to it later since there are a lot of workers at any given time who are looking to pick up work.
Not Enough HITs? Follow These TIPS!
A lot of people complain that there aren’t that many HITs to work on to begin with. This is admittedly due to the massive popularity of the MTurk platform and the resultant competition. As a newbie, it may seem discouraging to log in every so often only to find that there are no decent tasks for you to complete. A great tactic to try out would be to keep refreshing the main MTurk page once you’re logged in in order to get your hands on new work. In addition, you may want to consider not being too choosy because a $0.02 HIT may actually add up with time. Another tactic that can help you gain an upper hand would be to steer clear of lower paying tasks because they have the potential to dampen your motivation which in turn will reflect on your work and make you more likely to quit way before you’ve gained any kind of traction.
Here’s a list of some of the jobs you can get on Mechanical Turk:
- Tasks that ask you to identify pornographic images and sort them out from clean images
- Tasks that ask you to complete a survey if you are eligible, usually determined by filling in a short questionnaire before getting started
- Tasks needing you to look for information regarding certain real estate listings
- Tasks that ask you to write up short product descriptions
- Tasks that ask you to translate text into foreign languages
- Transcription tasks for things like medical-related conversations between doctors and patients
- Picking relevant search results from a certain phrase
- …and so on.
If you’d like to qualify for higher-paying HITs, take some time to finish qualification tests any time you have ten to twenty minutes free. You are also welcome to send a note to the requester detailing your qualifications (mentioning what degree course you’re taking can give you a competitive edge). Another way you can build a great reputation on MTurk usually involves choosing HITs that showcase your natural abilities. Going with your strengths can make it that much easier to complete tasks in record time, making you a valuable asset to requesters who may choose to keep you on for long periods of time.
If you’re looking to climb the rungs of success and become a high-ranking worker, look into reaching certain milestones in the shortest amount of time without compromising on quality. This includes completing 1,000 HITs and 5,000 HITs. In addition, you can be granted Elite status by Amazon if you possess a certain level of accuracy and consistent quality over a period of time on certain types of HITs.
Scripts are Your Best Friend
Technology is on your side when it comes to completing and looking for tasks thanks to certain scripts you can install on your web browser. For example, Turk Alert is an add-on that alerts you the minute your favorite requesters post new HITs. Another good one that helps foster a culture of excellence and transparency is Turkopticon, which gives you the opportunity to rate a requester after working with them. Head over to userscripts.org for more Mechanical Turk add-ons and scripts to make working on the site easy, convenient and fun.
Skip These HITs!
Here’s a good guide on what types of HITs you should do your best to avoid:
- Any HIT that requires you to test your zip code.
- Any HIT that requires you to click on an external link
- A HIT that asks you to provide your credit, debit card or bank information
- HITs that require you to download something
- HITs that require you to send a text message
- HITs that require you to enter personal, identifying information
- HITs that require you to post information on Craigslist
- HITs that ask you to add a widget or button to your or someone else’s website
- Marketing HITs that ask you to email and call people up to solicit their business
- HITs that ask you to comment on a blog post or share something on social media
The HITs listed above violate the Amazon Mechanical Turk Terms of Service, and they may compromise your account as well as your computer. Amazon asks you to read their ToS in its entirety, but most people don’t pay attention to it and end up in trouble. We hope that this short list gives you a rough idea of what’s not accepted on the platform. Generally, if a task doesn’t feel right, keep looking.
Here are a couple of advantages of working on MTurk that stand out:
Due to the transient nature of work on MTurk, requesters aren’t interested in getting to know you or engage in back and forth communication with you. They are usually interested in getting the work done in the shortest amount of time possible. In addition, not revealing personal information can work in your favor since you are not likely to fall victim to identity theft and phishing scams which are a dime a dozen these days online.
Access to Work
There’s always work available on MTurk , so it’s usually a good option for people who have a lot of time on their hands; for example, if you’re an art major, you may have a lot of free hours and days that you can put to good use by performing tasks on the platform.
Fast Approval Times
With MTurk, you get instant feedback from requesters that have been on MTurk for a long time. This compared to working on other online jobs such as working for content mills can help you become a more effective worker as well as help you make less mistakes in the long run, helping you qualify for higher paying tasks which in the end boosts your payout.
Have you used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk?
Robert Farrington is America’s Millennial Money Expert® and America’s Student Loan Debt Expert™, and the founder of The College Investor, a personal finance site dedicated to helping millennials escape student loan debt to start investing and building wealth for the future. You can learn more about him here.
He regularly writes about investing, student loan debt, and general personal finance topics geared towards anyone wanting to earn more, get out of debt, and start building wealth for the future.
He has been quoted in major publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox, ABC, NBC, and more. He is also a regular contributor to Forbes.