Review: Is MTurk a Marvelous Side Earning Resource?

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.

Signing up and 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 right-hand 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 previously managed a comprehensive resource for MTurk workers; you can learn more about that (and her current endeavors) at her website.
  • Two of the MTurk requesters I would recommend (once you’ve met their Qualifications) are:
    • Jimmy Dragon (business card info data entry; payment is almost instant, these HITs are snapped up quickly)
    • Crowdsurf Support (transcribe short audio/video clips, payment is again instant, with the chance for a bonus for accuracy).
      • Alas, I took a break of several months from MTurk, and haven’t seen work available from either of these requesters since my return.

Presently, I’ve been focusing on short surveys that pay at least $0.25, with requesters who have around a 99% approval rate. Even then, though, there’s a chance of going through the survey and not getting the code needed to submit it for payment. Make a note of the requester (even keep a spreadsheet, perhaps), and avoid them going forward.

Time is, indeed, money.

Originally, I used MTurk only as a backup for a little extra to add to my gift card balance, since that was the main payout option available to me. However, in November of 2019 I received an email from Amazon MTurk stating that as of December 15, 2019, they were implementing a new payment distribution option. Now, MTurk payments can be deposited directed into bank accounts here in the United States – a welcome change, in my opinion!

  • If I decide to do some tasks on there and receive approvals for them within (my choice) a Monday-Friday week, then I’ll receive an email on Tuesday that initiates payment to my bank account. The money is officially there usually that Thursday.
  • As for amounts, I aim to get at least $1.00 each time – I’m unsure as to specific minimum amounts on MTurk’s end.

So yes, 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.

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.

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. Some money is better than no money at all – just don’t exhaust yourself in the process!

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