Experience with Mechanical Turk
I spent a total of one hour and four minutes there and earned a total of $7.61 (assuming everything I did was accepted), giving an hourly wage of $7.11 for my effort. I probably could have done better than that if I weren’t logging what I was doing as I went along.
Six Tips for Using Mechanical Turk
Here are several things I learned that can help someone interested in Mechanical Turk earn more for their time.
1. It pays to be able to write comprehensible stuff quickly.
If you can be given a topic and immediately begin to write something readable on that topic, you can probably do pretty well at Mechanical Turk. The two biggest earners during that hour – the service review and the piece about email marketing – mostly involved me writing off the top of my head. Of course, if you were to focus that ability towards a passion, you could build a great blog on your own that would provide your own steady revenue stream.
2. The extremely low-cost Turk tasks aren’t worth it.
If it pays less than fifty cents and takes more than a couple mouse clicks to complete, it’s not worth it. If you can’t finish a fifty cent task in less than four minutes and move on to the next one, you’re earning less than minimum wage at this.
3. Most of the tasks fit well into short breaks.
I can see someone who mans a customer support line or something similar actually using Mechanical Turk to earn a bit of cash during the delays between calls. If you work at a job that has lots of short periods of downtime throughout the day, Mechanical Turk might fit well into those gaps, since the tasks mostly just take a moment or two.
4. Tasks that require “tests” seem to pay off.
Go ahead and take that test – it seemed to unlock quite a few tasks that paid well. Obviously, they were just trying to filter out people who just wanted to throw themselves at the next available task, enter junk, and move on as fast as possible.
5. If you do take on a task in the lower price range, look at it first.
Are you really going to be able to do this in a time frame short enough that you’ll actually make a reasonable wage for your time? Take my experience with the winery – it seemed, at first glance, that I would just be looking up contact information for wineries – easy enough. What they wanted, though, was a ton of data entry about wines sold at that winery – not worth the forty cents they were paying.
6. Be patient.
If you don’t see anything worthwhile available – meaning nothing that earns more than $0.50 – just hit refresh a few times. Good opportunities seem to pop up all the time, but are devoured quickly. Hitting refresh helps you get your foot in the door with better Turk tasks.
Is Mechanical Turk Worthwhile?
I was genuinely surprised by the experience. If you have the ability to throw down readable writing very quickly, you can earn minimum wage with the Turk – more than I ever expected. Given the short timeframe and the wide variety of tasks available, it’s something that you can sit down and do in short little bits when it’s convenient for you.
Having said that, you can do better than minimum wage with your time. Turk earns well enough that you might be able to fill in spare moments with it – or use it as a stopgap when you’re job hunting – but approximating minimum wage isn’t a good reason to just sit at your computer and click all day. If you have the abilities to earn minimum wage at Turk over an eight hour period, you’d be much better served using that mental energy building something for yourself – a blog on a topic you’re passionate about, a healthy network of people in your field, or something similar.
For me, at least, I don’t think I’ll be returning in the future, but I could see myself using it in the right situation – for example, if I did wind up doing customer service-type work or if I was really in a serious financial pinch. I also might use it if I was bored while watching a television program with my wife – but even then, I’d much more likely spend my time on Twitter or something like that. I value my mental energy at a rate higher than minimum wage.