What is Amazon Mechanical Turk? Known as MTurk among fans, Mechanical Turk is a website where pretty much anyone can earn small amounts of money doing simple activities computers aren’t yet smart enough to do.
Since the beginning of time, or approximately 1995, people have sought easy ways to make money on the Internet. What’s a cool cat in search of easy money to do? Well, he could start using Mechanical Turk, powered by e-retail giant Amazon.com.
On MTurk, you’ll find easy tasks you can perform for a small payout — about 10 cents each – in a very short period of time, say 60 seconds. Things like identifying what’s pictured in some photos, finding the email addresses for a list of companies, or selecting related products by photo can all be done for money on MTurk right now. As of today, there are about 293,000 such jobs available on MTurk.
Who Should Use MTurk?
MTurk is ideal for people with short bursts of free time that they could fill with a little entrepreneurial effort. Scenarios where MTurk is worth considering include:
- You are traveling with nobody to talk to but have Internet access.
- You are waiting at the DMV and there’s free wifi available.
- You are babysitting, the kids are asleep and there’s nothing on TV.
- You work at a ticket window and are allowed to surf the web during lulls.
Let’s just be crystal clear about something: You’re not going to get rich on MTurk, and it’s probably not going to take the place of a full-time job. (Easy money may be possible on the web, but vast quantities of easy money remain elusive!)
How to Get Started on MTurk
Becoming proficient at using the Amazon Mechanical Turk website to make money does involve a small learning curve, but you can be up and running on MTurk quickly with a little research.
The workflow for “Turkers,” or what Amazon.com calls “Workers,” (pictured above) is fairly simple. Each job on MTurk is called a Human Intelligence Task or “HIT.” These are posted by companies — called “Requestors” — in need of your human brain.
A few other quick vocab terms worth knowing:
- An “Assignment,” defines the number of Turkers who can take on the job. Once you’re part of the Assignment, Amazon will track your job to completion or until the HIT or Assignment expires.
- A “Reward” is the money the Requestor pays you when the HIT is completed to satisfaction. You can earn multiple rewards for performing multiple HITs, even if the tasks are identical in nature.
Now that you understand the core lingo of MTurk, you can jump right in, sign up and find tasks you’re willing to do for money. Don’t forget to submit your HITs when you’re done!
Beyond the Basics: Turking Like a Pro
If your finances are stretched incredibly thin, and you’re spending and saving your income down to the penny, MTurk could be a good way to find a little wiggle room in your budget. Again, you’re probably not going to look back on this wondering how you became such a financial fat cat, but if you are desperate for added income, it’s something you can start making money with right away.
Want to get good at Turking? Understand this key fact: Requestors can set special standards about which Turkers qualify for their HITs.
Proving you have special qualifications, such as the ability to translate between two languages accurately can help you get better gigs on MTurk, and participating in online forums for Turkers can help you pinpoint quality HITs.
However, the trick to getting really good at Turking is understanding this key fact: High quality work gets rewarded on MTurk in the long run.
Maintaining a really high approval rate is critical if you want to get good gigs. If you do good work, and your HITs are always approved, you’ll fit the parameters Requestors set on better jobs. Simply performing a lot of HITs on MTurk can help you qualify for better jobs as well, because that’s another threshold Requestors can set in the parameters of their postings.
PerkStreet’s First HIT
To demonstrate this last fact, and because I’m not a professional Turker (PerkStreet and my fiancee keep me plenty busy!), I posted a HIT on MTurk today asking some pros to come out of the woodwork and share their best tips for making money on MTurk below.
I will be paying $10 total in increments of $1 each to Turkers for commenting on this post. They have to have at least a 95% approval rating and at least 5,000 HITs under their belts to qualify.
If the pro tips aren’t in the comments yet, check back. If you’re a PerkStreet customer who is also a pro Turker, get over to my HIT right away and consider your earnings bonus perks!
Are you a considering Turking? Post your questions in the comments section below and hopefully one of the pro Turkers will kindly answer it for free.