Thursday, April 28, 2011

How much money do you earn online with Amazon MTurk?

How much money do you earn online with Amazon MTurk?  This is good question and a relevant one for someone who is weighing up various ideas to make money online.  In my experience Amazon Mechanical Turk is actually a relatively straightforward option for making money online, as it is free to sign up to and once you have got used to the set up of the site, you can easily find out details of what each Amazon MTurk hit (task) entails and how much money that you will earn for its completion before you click to accept it. 

If you want actual earnings figures for MTurk then I will give you an idea of how I work and how much I earn in return for completing MTurk hits.  I tend to work in stints of two to three hours per day on MTurk.  Where possible, I do hits for MTurk requesters that I have worked for before, as then I know that there is a good chance that I will be paid and I also have a rough idea when.  For those two or three hours work, I would normally expect to come away with somewhere between and $8 and $18.  There may well be MTurk workers out there who do much better than that, if so, please feel free to comment.  I think the most that I have made is $27 in a half day but that is not typical for me.

On my bad days, a lot of my time is wasted on trying to find suitable MTurk hits.  On the good days, I find hits straight away and get straight on with it.  I don’t use any programs to cheat, though I am aware that there is software out there that some people have experimented with, such as software for generating reviews, blog posts, written articles etc.   

There are people who say that they have stumbled on reasonably well paid tasks that they can complete a lot of very quickly and they’ve come away with earnings of  $200+ for a day’s work, but that has never happened to me.  I would also remind people to be wary of the very high paying hits, as many of them are scams, designed to get you to hand over personal information.

I am relatively cautious when it comes to choosing jobs, but my wife is more experimental and that means her MTurk earnings tend to be more variable.  You can sometimes find lucrative MTurk hits by looking around and trying things.  But one risk of doing a lot of completely new MTurk hits all at once is that sometimes the requester will reject all your hits, either because you didn’t understand the instructions properly and did the tasks wrong, or because you have been unlucky and got one of the dishonest Turk requesters.  This can damage your rejection stats and effect your future work, as well as waste your time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Swagbucks tips and tricks

Message from Paul: This post is a guest blog by my wife, who is a big fan of Swagbucks.  When she is not blogging about Swagbucks, she can be found over at her Green/frugal living blog: Born a-green.  So anyway, without further ado, here are her Swagbucks tips and tricks.


Swagbucks is a rewards program that gives you virtual currency for doing everyday tasks, like checking in on the website, installing their toolbar, doing web searches, taking surveys, filling out profiles, watching videos and shopping online.   Swagbucks are credited to your online account.  When you have a certain level of Swagbucks in your account you can redeem them in the online store.  Two of my favorite ways to redeem my bucks are to purchase either the $5 Amazon gift card (for 450 Swagbucks) or the $5 PayPal cash to my account (for 700 Swagbucks).

Some tips for collecting Swagbucks: 

They do a daily Groupon deal that often awards you Swagbucks.  I love to do a Groupon, so this is a match made in heaven for me.  I did the Barnes & Nobles Groupon a week or so ago and got a $20 card for $10, but since I went through Swagbucks I got 315 Swagbucks in my account on top of it.  That’s most of the way to a $5 Amazon gift card, and all I did was buy something I was going to purchase anyhow!

Don’t buy something purely to get Swagbucks, only buy it if you want it and get the Swagbucks as a bonus.  Remember, Swagbucks are virtual currency.  It’s not a rebate in the cash money sense.  

The Swagbucks Logo

Use the Swagbucks tool bar.  You can get 1 Swagbuck just for logging into the toolbar each day.  You can get another 1 Swagbuck for checking out the surveys page, or the offers page, or voting in the Daily Poll.  You can get anywhere from 0-50 Swagbucks for a web search, depending on the Search Results.  As you can see, it makes sense to install the toolbar.

Add Swagbucks on Facebook, Twitter and also use their widget on your blog.  You’ll get more opportunities for Swagbucks that way, including bonus codes for ‘Swag Hunts’.


I definitely would recommend you try Swagbucks.   This month so far I have $35 in Amazon gift cards uploading to my Amazon account, as a result of all my Swagbucking.   The money sure comes in handy when I want to get someone a gift, or even if I just want a treat for myself!

Friday, April 22, 2011

MTurk Forums

There are two main MTurk forums, Turker Nation and MTurk Forum (links can be found below).  Both serve their purpose well and there is no reason why you cannot join both of them, if you wish.  You can communicate with the MTurk community and keep up to date with what is happening.  For instance, you can sometimes find out useful info such as which MTurk requesters have a bad reputation.  You can also use them just to socialize and have fun.  Both these MTurk forums are ‘unofficial’ in that they are not run or administrated by Amazon, and they are run very much from an MTurk worker perspective.

MTurk forums are generally a fantastic source of information for beginners and experienced MTurk workers alike.  I never cease to learn from them and they are awesome free resources.  People new to MTurk (aka known as Mechanical Turk or Mech Turk) might find them especially useful.  To join, you just need to register for free, get yourself a username and a password, read the rules and away you go!

(I believe that Amazon do have an official forum but it is for MTurk software developers, not MTurk workers.)

Turker Nation

The Turker Nation Mturk forum can be found at  It is efficiently administrated by the firm but fair, Spamgirl.  It’s always pretty vibrant there in my experience and there is a tremendous wealth of Mech Turk news, information and opinion in the discussion threads.

MTurk Forum

The appropriately named(!) MTurk Forum can be found at  The site has a simple and easy layout, but it is not usually quite as lively as Turker Nation in my experience.  It serves its purpose well, however, with plenty of discussion threads.  I don’t know who the administrator of MTurk Forum is, unfortunately.  (Please feel free to introduce yourself if you’re out there?)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Finding MTurk good hits

Finding MTurk good hits can be a very frustrating business.   The main difficulty is that there are usually many thousands of MTurk hits posted and it can take forever sifting through them.  If you are not careful, you end up spending half your time browsing for good hits, which is time that you could have spent earning.  Browsing time = wasted earning time, in my opinion!

One of the difficulties of searching for good hits on MTurk is that the search facilities are pretty basic.  There is no ‘Advanced Search’ option.  You can only search using critiera such as how much the hit pays and what words are included in the title of a hit, which means there’s a lot of guesswork involved.  You can’t search for specific requesters (though it’s true that you can click on their name once you’ve found one of their hits to see all the rest of them).  You can’t save your searches if you want to do a similar search later on.

Another problem is that once you’ve found a source of good hits, they can either dry up, or your requester disappears, often quite suddenly.  You are then left wondering whether the requester is going to return in a few hours, a few days, or never again.  If you are like me, you can waste time searching for them over and over again!


There aren’t any easy solutions to either problem.  Of course, it would probably be useful if MTurk split hits into categories rather like Microworkers does.  It would also be useful to have more advanced search options and the ability to save searches, so that you can use them again.  This is in the hands of Amazon MTurk, however.

With regard to keeping abreast generally on what’s happening, there are ways of communicating with the MTurk worker community that I’ve mentioned before – namely, the two main forums, Turker Nation and MTurk Forum.  Also the Turkopticon Toolbar has many comments on specific requesters that MTurk workers have written, such as how reliable they are and how communicative they are.

Not all MTurk workers are willing to give specific details of their favorite requesters and good hits, however, for fear of creating increased competition!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Is Amazon MTurk slave labor?

This article was prompted by a friend who told me that she’d tried Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) after reading one of my articles.  She had done a number of hits but eventually decided that the MTurk payments were way too low and that Amazon MTurk was essentially a form of slave labor.

It is an issue that I’ve wrestled with myself, during my darker moments as an MTurk worker.  MTurk requesters effectively sidestep most labor legislation when they use MTurk,  meaning that MTurk workers, unlike people working in the “real” world, have virtually no rights.  Employers get a good deal out of MTurk potentially, as their overheads are minimal and they can effectively hire and fire at will.  Workers, on the other hand, are vulnerable to being ripped off.

Some of the MTurk requesters also offer payment rates that are effectively absurd.  Sometimes if you are like me, you look at the hit and think that they are paying you 1 cent for each task, which is already poor money, but then you read on and there are 10 of these tasks per hit.  That means that you are being offered 0.1 cent for each task.  Even if you can complete two tasks per minute, that’s still an hourly payment rate of just 12 cents!

Okay, I will shut up moaning.  But the issue is still a serious one.  At the end of the day, I use my MTurk payments to supplement other income that’s coming in and spend the money on essentially frivolous stuff such as nice coffee and audio equipment.  I feel concerned about people who are in a dire financial situation and reliant on MTurk to pay for some of their essential, day to day needs.

MTurk is fine in that context, as casual work that supplements other income, but I’d hate to see a world where all work was like MTurk and everyone was forced to scrape a living from day to day with virtually no rights or job security - a kind of weird cross between Victorian England and internet technology.  In short, I think that MTurk is great as an online earning option (which can also be fun sometimes!) but not if it’s your only effective choice!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Review of Inbox Dollars

Inbox Dollars is a website-based rewards program where you earn money for doing simple tasks, like internet searches, completing paid surveys, looking at paid to read emails, playing games, shopping online and watching online videos.  It has some similarities with Swagbucks, but instead of earning virtual money which you then exchange for gifts or PayPal money, you effectively earn real money from the start.

There is an Inbox Dollars toolbar that you can download.  I would recommend getting it if you are planning to have a serious go at Inbox Dollars.  You are paid Inbox Dollars to download it and it helps you keep track of earning opportunities and your accumulated dollars.  Plus even if you uninstall it at a later date, you still get to keep the dollar that they paid you.

Pros of Inbox Dollars

You get $5 just for signing up to Inbox Dollars, which is nice!

If you are dedicated, you can reach the $30 payout very quickly.  The quickest way is to download the Inbox Dollars toolbar, which earns you a dollar and makes it easier to keep tabs on earning opportunities, as well as pays you for searching the web, then do every survey that comes your way.

None of the tasks are too challenging, at worst they just eat up a bit of your time.  The paid to read emails on Inbox Dollars, for instance, are an easy 50 cents if you let them accumulate for a week then read them all in 5 minutes.

It’s actually quite easy to accumulate money on Inbox Dollars by doing very little over a long period, in my experience.

Cons of Inbox Dollars

You have to reach a $30 threshold before you receive a payout and then it has to be in the form of a check which is posted to your home.

I would create a separate email account for Inbox Dollars, rather than use your personal account, as they do send you a lot of emails, many of them ways to earn money and therefore welcome, but they still fill up your inbox.

Summary and Sign Up Link

Inbox Dollars is a stress free way to make money, in my experience.  It’s not going to make you into a millionaire, but the regular checks for $30 to $50 are always welcome in my home.  You can join HERE if you’re interested.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

MTurk or Microworkers, which is best?

With MTurk and Microworkers effectively competing with each other for the same pool of workers and employers, I thought it might be interesting to compare the two companies from a worker’s perspective, and ask the question: “MTurk or Microworkers, which is best?”

MTurk Advantages

1       Definitely more jobs/hits available on Mturk
2       No minimum earnings level to reach before payments begin.
3       MTurk has more jobs with multiple hits, rather than one offs than Microworkers in my opinon.
4       The Amazon store sells a large variety of products to choose from.
5       Amazon are a large company which are unlikely to fold and they also have a reputation to look after.
6       You can work on Amazon Mechanical Turk for as long as you wish and the pool of hits keeps replenishing itself.
7       There are lots of surveys to do on MTurk and they often pay reasonably well.
8       MTurk is big enough to have its own community, which can be found at the Turker Nation forum, MTurk Forum and the Turkopticon Toolbar feedback.
9       You can occasionally make a reasonable amount of money in one day on MTurk if you find good hits and put some effort in.

Microworkers Advantages

1       The lower number of jobs on Microworkers actually makes the site more manageable and easier to navigate.
2       The look and design of Microworkers is more attractive and functional, methinks.
3       They let you know what percentage of workers were successful previously on a job, which helps you to decide whether to take it or not.
4       Certain jobs like Youtube likes and voting in competitions seem to pay better on Microworkers than on Amazon Turk, that’s my experience anyway.
5       PayPal is good way to be paid with lots of options for spending your money etc.
6       Microworkers is fine for supplementing other income sources and gradually building up some extra money.


Unfortunately both the Amazon MTurk and Microworkers websites have plenty of scammy, spammy, requesters/employers on them, in my experience.  Although this doesn’t stop me working on them, it would be nice to see this sort of thing clamped down on more.
I personally tend to use both MTurk and Microworkers, but in slightly different ways.  MTurk I sometimes work on for extended periods, maybe a few hours, especially when there are hits and requesters that I particularly like.  Microworkers, on the other hand, I tend to use for maybe 15-30 minutes/day and just do a few tasks, with the intention of making a dollar/day towards the ten dollar payout minimum.