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Jul 23 2014

Is It Worth It? Let Me Turk It!

No, I am not actually cool enough to make Missy Elliot references, but I am cool enough to talk to you about extra money.

I, like a lot of Americans, enjoy the comforts that money can bring in terms of extra stuff for the household. I have a lot of stuff too, especially in the movie and video game department. But when there are lots of bills to worry about, and debt, and food for four, those extra fun purchases can be minimized to practically zero. That means you are stuck watching the movies or playing the video games you already own! Gross!

I have literally nothing to watch. Ever.


Well, in the least infomercial way possible, I’d like to talk about Amazon Mechanical Turk. Named after the Mechanical Turk, which was an 18th century fake chess playing computer. It was thought to be a machine that could play chess, when in reality, people were just hidden inside of it

Which seems to have been the original purpose for the Amazon version, a self proclaimed artificial artificial intelligence. A lot of apps exist out there where you scan your receipt or a document. It is sent through the computer, and eventually the information is transcribed for whatever marketing reason. Well, the computer doesn’t do it. No, instead Amazon helped create an army of low skilled workers.

Throughout my first week of using it, it seems that there has always been 300,000 jobs available, at least, called HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks). For the receipt example, they have literally thousands of jobs where you just transcribe a receipt and submit it for approval.

Now these jobs are very low skilled and pay appropriately. Depending on the size of a receipt, you may only earn a few pennies up to 10-20 cents. But overtime, these values add up.

Per the rules of the site, if you sign up as a worker (for free), you have about 2 days until they approve your account. Once you do your first task, you won’t be able to transfer any earned money until after your first ten days. Also, unless you have more than $10, the money can only be used on Amazon. Anything more can be transferred to whatever bank or paypal account you want.

A phrase we can all aspire to say.

“But wait, Nick!” you might yell. “That doesn’t sound great at all! That is barely any money for what might be hours of work! Who gives a poop!”
The good news is, Mechanical Turk has more than just receipts. My claim to money fame is the surveys. Surveys offer between $0.25 to $1.50 I have come to find out. These are the surveys done for Academic research, a lot of social science stuff. If you maximize the amount of money you earn per time spent, you make some decent cash on this website. 
There are resources out there to help, such as the subreddit HITsWorthTurkingFor. There people post the best cash/time ratio jobs they can find, so others can join in and earn as much as possible. I use it from time to time when I don’t feel like doing my own leg work to find the jobs that make sweet cash. Not all money jobs are good though. You don’t want to actually ever spend 30 minutes taking a single survey, or spending 2 hours translating a document.
Finding the right balance is the key to making the most buck for your time. Here is a chart of some stats I quickly made!

That’s right, the important thing to note is that in 7 days of working during free time, I have made almost $54 extra cash that I didn’t have before. I have a full time job, which currently works weekends, along with several movies in theaters a week, travel time, chores, and spending time with family. Yet I still made a bunch of money.

To understand the chart, the Approved column is cash already confirmed, Pending is the HITs that have not been approved yet (some surveys take awhile), and the Day Earnings is the overall amount per day. The # Worked is the number of HITS I worked, and the days with big numbers are due to a lot of filler. I personally like transcribing business cards for 2-3 cents per HIT. Helps boost up my HITS done numbers pretty quickly.

And that is it! I can’t get any of this money yet, I have three more days before I can begin transferring, but seeing the values that high is exciting. I am averaging $7.68 a day, with an average of only 21 HITS.

All in all, if I make an extra $200 or so a month, it helps out a bunch. We have a wedding to plan and pay for, and I still have video games coming out during the busy fall release months.

I should note that no, there is no referral bonus or anything and all links are direct, I just kind of want to help spread the word out there to friends. People who do this more throughout the day have earned hundreds of dollars per week, and in reality, it looks like the HITS will never stop coming.

{*Editor’s Note: Although Nick wrote this, I (Shelby) also do the activity described, making far less than him because I like receipts due to my past experience in data entry and don’t like surveys because clicking a billion radio buttons gets old for me. To each their own.}

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