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Side Gig Thursdays: Krystal Barber, Amazon Mechanical Turk

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I remember a few years ago with Amazon Mechanical Turk first appeared. The basic idea was that you created individual tasks, called Human Intelligence Tasks (HITs), put them in the system, and people would go and do these tasks for you. A lot of HITs would be information gathering and you can see them by searching the site. I took a look last week and saw jobs like “find legal categories of law firms” and “finding keywords on Google.” The pay for these jobs is not much but the jobs are short, you do them at your own pace, and a little extra cash in your pocket is nice. Until I talked to Krystal, I’d never met anyone who was a “mechanical turk.”

Here’s her describing her side gig in her own words:

I begin using Amazon Turk this past summer. So far, I have earned about $200.00 in my spare time from Amazon Turk. It may not seem like much but it is a little extra pocket money in this recession. I can go out to eat, get my hair done etc. I have also been paying my Internet bill monthly from the survey money. So the Internet really is paying for itself. You can do it at your own pace… whenever, wherever. I usually go on every other day looking for assignments. I could earn more but I have a lot of other stuff going on including being a fulltime college student. But the most free time you have, the more you can earn. If I had more free time, then I would’ve earned more. I recommend downloading a tool called TurkOpticon. This helps you pick the best tasks and avoid those tasks posted by scammers who want you to do the work, then they will reject the work and hurt your worker rating because they are too cheap to pay. Firefox and Google Chrome (I think) are the only two browsers that support Turk Opticon. If you have any other questions, let me know. Thanks.

What is your day job?
I lost my “day job” which is why I began looking into other methods. I am a socialogy student currently.

What is your side gig?
The side gig is going surveys with JD Power Panel and taking part in market research studies on Craigslist. I also do Amazon Turk.

Why this business and how did you start it?
I simply started it by searching the web for survey opportunities and searching craigslist. I heard a lot of interesting things about Amazon Turk (good and bad) so I decided to check it out.

How much does it make each month?
It varies. I make about $100 a month altogether which like I said is not much. But it pays internet and other necessities (toiletries, and “fun money”.)

Do you have a plan to try to turn it into your full time gig?
I would like to turn it into a full time gig. But I am currently dealing with mental and physical health issues in addition to being a full time student. As I get some things off of my plate, I can start putting more time into it.

What resources did you rely on in starting the business?
I searched the internet for information about these companies I chose to work for. I got a lot of information to help me avoid scams. The main thing I learned is how to avoid getting scammed on Amazon Turk by using Turk Opticon (like I mentioned earlier). It lets workers rate the requester. If you see that a requester has a low rating, you will know that he or she is the type of person who will have you do their work and then reject it so they won’t have to pay you. Yet, they keep your work and your worker rating suffers. It is sad that they are scamming already underpaid people but it does happen.

Do you have any advice for people looking to start something on the side?
My advice is not to spend money when you choose to do what I do. There are enough free opportunities out there. Unless you are starting a real tangible business (i.e. selling Avon, vitamins), there is enough information online for companies that will allow you to sign up for free and work for them. Also, do not expect to get rich doing this. But if your income has been cut to zero like mine was, any little bit helps.

A little supplemental income never hurt anyone! I hope you enjoyed the interview – if you know someone who would make for a good profile/interview for Side Gig Thursdays, please let me know!

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7 Responses to “Side Gig Thursdays: Krystal Barber, Amazon Mechanical Turk”

  1. elmo says:

    It is hard to evaluate this side gig without knowing how many hours she works to make the $100 a month. Next time ask that question too.

  2. Jim says:

    Good point Elmo, I suspect it’s a lot given the pay rate of most Turk projects.

  3. I can say I have done mTurk before for a while and found it to not be worth the time. Some of those .75c tasks take 15-30 mins to do. I did it religiously for a while, got to the minimum cashout amount and never logged back in. I recommend Fiverr.com at least the money is substantial and the tasks are creative and sometimes intelligent.

  4. daenyll says:

    I average somewhere around there cashing out from watching irazoo videos and quickrewards along with online surveys, the videos and some things on quickrewards can be done in the background and don’t take a lot of effort to earn some spare cash.

  5. It’s a good side gig for people who have alot of other stuff going on.

  6. thunderthighs says:

    I’ve made a fair chunk on mTurk, nice to know I’m not alone!


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