I'm familiar with the Mechanical Turk service and enjoy sharing advice with others who are interested in it.
Amazon Mechanical Turk: The Basics
Mechanical Turk is a service run by Amazon.com that provides a moderated way for individuals and corporations to crowdsource their workload, usually in relatively small chunks. Workers who sign up for the service can browse jobs that are uploaded on a daily basis and see how much money is being offered for their completion.
For a worker with both time and dedication, it is possible to make quite a bit of money during your spare time. Some even manage to make a living using Mechanical Turk, though this requires an intimate knowledge of the service.
What Types of Work Can You Expect to Find on Mechanical Turk?
There is an almost limitless variety of jobs that can be posted to Mechanical Turk, but here are some of the most common from my experience over the last several years:
- Data Entry: This is a broad category that encompasses many types of jobs on Mechanical Turk. Companies will frequently upload pictures of receipts and ask users to transcribe their contents. Others will upload documents and require workers to transcribe key points. These jobs are generally quick but pay relatively little.
- Surveys: Surveys are uploaded very frequently to Mechanical Turk from various sources, including both corporations and academics. Because surveys can vary in length and require a degree of effort, they typically pay relatively highly compared to other jobs.
- Audio Transcription: These jobs usually require the user to take an evaluation in order to accept, but they can be well worth the effort. When audio transcription jobs are available, they tend to be some of the highest paying jobs on Mechanical Turk.
- Text Review: There are a number of blogs and news sites that use Mechanical Turk to crowdsource their editing process. Workers can earn a fair amount of money by reading and assigning scores or suggesting edits for pending articles.
How to Make the Most of Your Time on Mechanical Turk
Many people who sign up for a worker account on Mechanical Turk immediately get discouraged when they see a list of hundreds of jobs that tend to reward less than a dollar at a time for completion. Getting over this hurdle will prove to be immediately rewarding. Despite the low payout for most jobs, they tend to be incredibly simple and can be done quickly. Once you reach your stride in learning to quickly and efficiently complete jobs, you will be surprised by how much money you can make.
Jobs Hidden Behind "Qualifications"
Furthermore, many workers on Mechanical Turk do not realize how many jobs on the site are hidden behind various types of "qualifications." There are many different statistics that Amazon will track for each of their workers, and doing well on these statistics can lead to the opportunity to complete more numerous and higher-paying jobs.
Users can also complete various different types of assessments to unlock these jobs, further increasing their earning potential. One such example, as mentioned earlier, is audio transcription. These jobs can pay exceptionally well, but they can often only be seen and accepted once a user successfully completes an evaluation.
Once you have successfully completed a large number of jobs and had them accepted, you will find that your options will open up significantly. Along with this comes an even greater potential for earning money.
What to Watch Out for in Order to Be Successful
While Mechanical Turk is moderated by one of the largest and most successful corporations around, it is still not perfect. Here are some of the most important tips to ensure that you succeed:
- Beware of Scams: Jobs for workers are heavily moderated, but occasionally a scammer will slip through the cracks. If a job asks you to visit an external website and enter your personal information, it is generally a good idea to back out and stay away.
- Keep a High Job Approval Rate: If your jobs are frequently rejected, make sure you take a look at your work and ensure that it is up to the standards of whoever submitted the job. If this continues to happen despite your best efforts, stop accepting jobs from that particular source. Your job approval rate is very important to be successful on Mechanical Turk.
- Find a Job Source That Matches Your Skills: If you find a job source that is frequently available and you are good at it, then stick with it! This will benefit you in multiple ways. The obvious benefit is that you will be continuously earning money for your effort. Secondly, your job approval rating will rapidly climb. This will aid you in qualifying for more difficult and higher-paying jobs.
Always Be Willing to Adapt
My closing advice for anyone who wants to be successful on Amazon Mechanical Turk is to never be afraid to try new things. The listings of available jobs will constantly be shifting, and as such a job that is immensely profitable for you today might not continue to be available from day to day or week to week. As long as you are willing to test your skills against many different types of jobs, you will continue to enjoy the profits of your work.
Share Your Experience
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.