Is Amazon Mechanical Turk a Money Maker or a Time Waster?
Amazon.com offers buyers just about anything—from shoes and books to videos and toys. They also offer work-at-home opportunities. These jobs are unlike the rarely seen telecommuting ones that some companies offer. Amazon’s jobs are part of their Amazon Mechanical Turk program. When you go to the Amazon site, click the “skip the ad” link at the top right to go to the appropriate page. While their program name sounds a bit unusual, by no means is the program.
How does Mechanical Turk Work?
The premise is based on you working on their HITs—human intelligence tasks. For example, if a company has a restaurant directory with thousands of listings, they may need each restaurant’s hours of operation. You, as a turk worker, would be responsible for finding this information through online research. The company would provide the name and city of a restaurant and upload these HITs onto the Mechanical Turk job board. You, the mechanical turk, would take an HIT and the company would pay you for the amount that is posted on the board with that particular HIT.
Another example would be if a company hires people to upload images to their website. What they do not want are people uploading inappropriate or obscene images. Your turk job would be to monitor the site and flag the images that should not be there. The company will most likely provide you with some type of program to do this. Payment may be for every picture you flag or something along those lines.
What is the Earning Potential with Amazon Mechanical Turk?
Do not expect to make a ton of money flagging pictures or gathering arcane information. The payments are on the low side for each individual HIT. However, this is the type of opportunity where the more you can do, the more money you can earn. In other words, do not quit your day job to take this as a full-time gig. The good news is that there are many HITs to choose from so you could work all day long if you like.
When Do You Get Paid for Being a Mechanical Turk?
Once the job is completed to the requestor’s (that is how they are referred on the program) satisfaction, you will be paid for every HIT you did. The money goes into your Amazon account and when you want to cash it out, you have two options:
1. The money can be transferred to your bank account that only Amazon has access to; or
2. The money can be instantly turned into an electronic Amazon.com gift card.
There are withdrawal amount minimums for each—ten dollars to transfer to your bank account and one dollar for the Amazon.com gift card. Many people like the gift card option as you can use the money before the day is over. And who does not like a good end-of-day shopping on a site where you can buy anything.
Are There Jobs Available and What are they?
Here is a partial listing of some of the common HITs found on the Amazon Mechanical Turk program:
• transcribing audio or text
• writing articles and summaries
• rewriting/paraphrasing sentences, paragraphs and articles
• image tagging (identifying objects in a picture)
• posting comments to blogs
• writing reviews of movies, products or services
• researching details on different topics
• answering questions
• rating sites
• checking search results
• becoming a fan of someone’s Facebook page
• tweeting a message
• participating in a forum
• bookmarking sites
• watching videos
Be Wary of Scammers
Unfortunately, as with any online opportunity, there are always people out there looking to take advantage of people. Sites like Craigslist, Monster and Careerbuilder are vulnerable to these con artists who prey off of innocent people looking for legitimate work. Amazon is no exception. People will try to take advantage through the Amazon Mechanical Turk program. Here are some helpful tips to avoid becoming a victim of online scam artists.
First, stay away from HITs that ask you to enter your personal information like your name, phone number, e-mail address or home address. Often these HITs are advertised as quizzes, surveys, data entry or website testing when they may really be looking for this type of information to send out spam or use them for scams. No requestor should really need any of your personal information so it is best to skip the ones that say they do.
Second, you know the saying if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The same goes for HITs that promise unusually high payments. There are HITs that do pay well, but those are not like the ones mentioned earlier. High paying HITs require a lot of work like any job—online or not.
Be sure to check for new HITs throughout the day. They are always adding new ones and you can easily snatch them up and earn a few dollars if you have the time.
Mechanical Turk Pros
Here is a list of some of the benefits of becoming an Amazon Mechanical Turk:
1. Instant income. By day’s end, you can have cash to spend.
2. Easy tasks. Most HIT jobs are so easy, you could probably show your 7-year old how to do it (not that you would want to).
3. The jobs are all there just waiting for you to accept them—no resumes, no interviews, no waiting.
4. Work on your own schedule. If you have a free few minutes throughout the day, use them.
5. The payout minimum is low compared with other online opportunities. If you do the gift card transfer, the money is there for you to use by the end of the day.
Mechanical Turk Cons
1. The payout per HIT is low. Some may see it as not being worth the effort, but you cannot expect an easy work-at-home opportunity to pay a lot.
2. Amazon’s system for detecting and reporting requestors who are nothing more than scammers is not very effective. It is up to you to weed out the good ones from the bad.
3. Some people may object to giving Amazon their bank account information. It is understandable, but think about every time you ordered something from their site—you have given them personal information including credit card numbers, addresses and first and last names. Nothing bad ever came of that so your worry there may be overblown.
The Amazon Mechanical Turk program is definitely worth a look since there are hundreds of available HITs to choose from and you work on your own timetable. Many people have made a fairly decent amount of money by becoming a turk worker. Like any of these online programs that promise you can make money—it is done by doing a lot of these little jobs from a variety of programs through different companies. You certainly have nothing to lose by giving it a try.