Review: Is MTurk Worth Your Time?

Freelancing is, as with all things in life, what you make it – the more effort you put into it, the better the chance of success. Of course, depending on the time of the year and the type of freelancing, some opportunities are more regular than others. Amazon Mechanical Turk, known hereafter as MTurk, is one of the most enduring and popular microtask sites available. There’s always something to do, but the trick is finding microtasks, referred to as “HITs,” that are from reputable requesters, and don’t take forever to do.

Getting Started

If you already have an Amazon account, then you’re ahead of the game, because that can double as your MTurk account. If you don’t, then you’ll have to sign up with the usual contact information. As to payment, you can either have your earnings transferred to your gift card balance, or transferred to your bank account via Amazon Payments – there will be additional information required for that component, such as your bank’s routing number.

Once everything has been verified, it’s time to start working on HITs at your convenience. Starting out can be a little slow going, since the better HITs are usually available to those who’ve completed a certain amount at a certain accuracy rate. To figure out which HITs you’re qualified to work on at any given time, simply click on the Filter button in the upper righthand corner of the page, and change the search options accordingly.

MTurk Filter
Choosing HITs

Surveys, data entry, and data verification dominate the MTurk marketplace. It can be tempting to just go for what seem like the best-paying HITs, but in reality, some of those requesters either are fraudulent (never pay), or take forever to pay if they do. There’s some trial and error to this, but if a task seems unreasonable or looks questionable, then it probably is. Kristy Milland has compiled a comprehensive resource for fellow MTurk workers; you can learn more at her website.

As of this writing, two of the MTurk requesters I recommend (once you’ve met their Qualifications) are:

1. Jimmy Dragon (business card info data entry; payment is almost instant, these HITs are snapped up quickly)
2. Crowdsurf Support (transcribe short audio/video clips, payment is again instant, with the chance for a bonus for accuracy, HITs are almost always available)

Time Is Money

Some people actually earn thousands of dollars on the MTurk platform – I’m not sure how they accomplish this, but I certainly commend them for being so diligent. Yes, there’s that elusive MTurk Masters qualification that might help some of them; the criteria for that varies – perhaps hundreds of thousands of HITs need to be completed at an exceptionally high accuracy rate to be granted that.

I use MTurk only as a backup for a little extra to add to my gift card balance. Even then, I’ve found that it takes a significant amount of time to actually accrue anything – again, though, this is only with minimal effort. Those of you who are particularly fast with data entry will find that this can be a good opportunity.

So, bottom line, I recommend MTurk as a source of supplemental income. After all, the more you diversify your income streams, the better your chances of always having something to do, and some money is better than no money at all!

Please note that all Fabulous Freelancer posts might contain affiliate links.


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