Mechanical Turk (or mTurk, for short) is one of the oldest micro job sites around. It’s been around since 2005 and has been providing people with a platform to make extra income online by performing simple tasks. It’s backed by retail giant Amazon, so you’re in good hands.
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It’s one of those too-good-to-be-true statements where you can work from the comforts of your home in your boxer shorts, pajamas and fluffy slippers and earn real cash. But unlike other scams online, mTurk is legit and has been paying people on time for easy-to-do tasks for years.
Getting Started with mTurk
Mechanical Turk has two kinds of users – requesters (the people who assign and pay for tasks) and workers (those who will complete the tasks). Requesters are the ones who will accept or reject completed tasks of workers. Amazon doesn’t have a say on this, but mTurk simply provides the platform to connect these two category of users.
To get started completing tasks on Mechanical Turk, you’ll need to create an account. But note that not everyone will be accepted. mTurk has an approval process, which has been notorious for denying some users for no apparent reason, but if you’re lucky to have your application accepted, you can continue filling up your account info. If your application gets rejected, you can try again in a few days.
As a new mTurk worker, you’ll be under 10-day probation with a maximum cap of 100 accepted HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks). All workers must complete at least their first HIT to begin the 10-day count. Once you finish the probationary period, you’ll be given a daily cap of 3,800 accepted HITs.
One of the most important parts of your mTurk account is the dashboard. This is where you’ll see your worker ID, how many HITs have been approved or denied, how much money you’ve made so far, and your entire HIT record.
Note that all workers have to provide their tax details and other personal info like driver’s license number, SSN, etc. If you’re not from the U.S., you have to send mTurk a filled-up W8-BEN form.
All About HITs
The HITs are on a first-come, first-serve basis, but requesters will only give you the HIT if you qualify for it. There’s a qualification tab on every HIT, so it’s best to check it out first. These vary completely depending on the requester, but common qualifications include taking a test, completing a qualification HIT, or “approved HITs greater than 500, 1k, 5k, or 10k+.
These 500, 1k+, 5k+, or 10k+ milestones are important, since your approval HIT rate refers to the number of HITs that have been approved compared to the number of HITs that have been rejected.
Qualification tests pay as little as one cent upon completion, but they are important if you want to turn mTurk into a lucrative full-time career.
You can find three kinds of HITs on the platform:
- Data Entry (converting image formats, filling out captcha, etc.)
- Surveys (Answer surveys from requesters)
- Transcriptions (transcribe content)
Some HITs are grouped in Batches (two or more HITs posted in one HIT). Workers should choose HITs carefully, especially if they’re still in the probationary period, since Amazon can close your account if it sees something wrong with your account.
Some HITs must be completed in just 3 minutes upon acceptance. Others have an hour, a day, several weeks of completion time, but if you miss this time frame, it will be counted as an expired HIT. It’s important to note that workers with high expiration rates won’t be able to qualify for HITs with higher pay.
Scripts and Why You Need Them
You have to understand that at any given time, there are millions of HITs available on mTurk. The great thing about mTurk is that you can filter these HITs according to your needs (such as expiry date, reward, time allotted and more).
New workers should familiarize themselves with the platform first, before taking on HITs. Ideally, those in the probationary period should choose easier HITs.
Once you get the hang of mTurk’s platform, it’s time to use various scripts that would take your turking to the next level.
The three must-have scripts you should install and why you should use them:
- Tamper Monkey for Chrome or GreaseMonkey for Firefox – These browser extensions allow you to install all other scripts that will make your turking life manageable.
- Turkopticon – Available as a Chrome or Firefox extension, this script lets you see workers’ reviews on requesters. This helps you avoid scam HITs and requesters who have made it difficult for mTurk workers in the past. Requesters listed her are given ratings for 4 factors (rewards, fairness, generosity and communication). Workers would be on the safe side if they choose requesters with over 90% ratings.
- MTurk HIT DataBase – Automatically records every single HIT you’ve completed.
There are tons of Mechanical Turk scripts and plugins available for workers to use. You can check out a huge list of them here. Others let you auto-refresh the HIT screen automatically, some makes browsing for HITs more effective by personalizing parameters, others alter you via text or browser. Some scripts are aimed at advanced turkers (such as Scrapper or PANDA).
Whichever scripts you decide to use, these tools would help in increasing your productivity, calculating profits, improving HIT numbers, and providing a history of all your HITs. Simply put, if you wish to earn $500 per week on Mechanical Turk, you have to take advantage of scripts.
How Much Can You Earn from mTurk?
The income potential of mTurk may seem week, since HITs range from cents to dollars, but if you give enough time and work your way up to higher qualifications (10k+ milestones), the payment you’ll receive will definitely increase as well. Many turkers have done this as a side hustle to start, but are now banking on six-figures yearly from doing simple tasks.
Withdrawing money from Amazon requires your SSN and address proof. You can request for Amazon gift cards, or have your earnings transferred to your bank account. Your mTurk funds should be transferred to Amazon Payment on your Amazon account, before it will be withdrawn to your chosen bank. Note that bank transfers take 24 hours.
It’s recommended to transfer your mTurk funds weekly, since Amazon can terminate your account for some reason or another and all income you’ve generated from Mechanical Turk will be lost.
There are tons of resources to increase your mTurk income, such as Reddit (/r/HITsWorthTurkingFor), mTurk List, CloudMeBaby, and mTurk Grind, among others.
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The Bottom Line
mTurk is a legitimate platform that lets you earn real money from simple tasks. Earning your way up to higher-earning tasks may seem daunting, but you can always do this on this side and focus on mTurk alone once you’re able to earn higher rewards.
It’s an awesome platform, and if you’re still mulling if you’re going to join or not, don’t. Do it now and reap from future rewards by turking today.