18 May What Is Amazon Mechanical Turk?
Amazon Mechanical Turk, or “MTurk” as site users call it, is a freelance crowd-tasking platform that enables cash-strapped individuals looking for a side hustle to make a few bucks performing in-demand tasks for clients – usually for short pay and on tight deadlines.
Workers on MTurk only engage with clients on a task-by-task basis – it’s part-time work where freelancers can connect with companies, organizations and individuals looking to get help performing a short-term task or job. Amazon’s (AMZN – Get Report) goal is to bring human intelligence onto the MTurk platform, thus giving as Amazon describes it, “a diverse, on-demand, scalable workforce that gives workers a selection of thousands of tasks to complete whenever it’s convenient.”
All a freelancer has to do is sign up on the Amazon Mechanical Turk site and choose from thousands of tasks and jobs across the globe, and start earning part-time gig money that may help with the household budget – if you choose the tasks that offer the best return on investment for your time and effort.
Any pay earned on MTurk won’t create an immense amount of wealth (some gigs pay only pennies on the dollar), but the platform does give workers a pipeline to instant cash to use as they see fit, whenever they feel like logging in and taking a gig.
The short-term tasks available vary, and may include the following work:
- Transcription services, usually involving audio notes that need to be transcribed and organized
- Data entry, usually for back office accounting work or for data spreadsheets, workflow documents and for academic studies and reports
- Online translation of articles, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, and other information content forms
- Describing or identifying an online photo or image
- Writing and editing for online content creation
- Graphic design, web site design, and search engine optimization (SEO) tasks
- Computer programming
- Identifying social media trends
- Entering an up-to-date price on online products and services (like those sold on Amazon.com or eBay.)
- Capturing screenshots of online photos and digital videos
- Reviewing videos, articles, social media posts, and photos.
- Taking paid surveys
- Machine learning tasks like tagging data and annotating data.
Amazon (AMZN – Get Report) uses the term “micro-tasks” for the above jobs, i.e., quick, short-term jobs that don’t take a lot of time to complete (if you know what you’re doing) and don’t pay a lot of money (more on that below.)
The goal is a quick turnaround for MTurk micro-tasks, which does give knowledgeable freelancers an opportunity to turn over jobs quickly, and line themselves up for more work and more money, using the platform.
How Does Amazon Mechanical Turk Work?
For freelancers and taskers looking for work on MTurk, the entry point is both easy and straightforward.
In signing up on the site, you automatically become what Amazon ( AMZN – Get Report) calls a “Mechanical Turk Worker”, or “Turker.” After signing up a Turker can review a list of Human Intelligence Tasks submitted by a company, organization, or individual (known as Requesters) looking for tasking help on the platform.
Finding Work on MTurk
The Requester lists the job that needs to be done, the rate of pay offered, and the timetable for delivery. The Turker clicks on the task and expresses interest or ignores the task. If the task is a good fit, the Turker is chosen to do the work.
Completing the Task and Getting Paid
The tasks, more formally known as “Human Intelligence Tasks” (HITs) on the platform, need to be completed to the Requestor’s satisfaction before pay can be submitted. Once the task is approved as “complete”, the money owed is automatically paid within 24 hours, and appears on the Turker’s personal MTurk dashboard.
MTurk freelancers can also elect to steer their payment to an Amazon gift card or Amazon account, for personal use as they see fit.
Turkers have a great degree of flexibility in using the platform and choosing jobs, but they are required to complete a minimum of Human Intelligence Tasks completed in their first 10 days as an MTurk freelancer.
Basically, the more HITs you complete, the faster you hit key payment benchmarks like 100 or 1,000 HITS, which once cleared, provide the Turker with access to better-paying gigs.
Tips on Maximizing Your Earning Power on MTurk
Potential taskers need to face facts – you’re not going to get rich working on the platform. Most jobs pay a few dollars an hour, with the more technology-oriented tasks paying the most ($10 or more per task) and tasks like completing surveys ($3 to $5 per survey is common.)
To maximize your payment experience on MTurk, there are a few steps you can take to increase your earning power beyond simple task selection:
Be Vigilant During Business Hours
The highest paying jobs on the platform are usually available during U.S. business hours. Thus, it’s best to check in first thing in the morning, when MTurk Requesters are busy trying to fill tasks, and will likely pay extra to get the job done.
Correspondingly, weekends are the slowest period and offer the lowest paying jobs.
The more tasks you complete, the more “in demand” you’ll be on MTurk. Requesters prefer to work with Turkers who are experienced using the platform and have a good record.
Consequently, if you can accumulate, for example, 1,000 HITS on the platform, that shows you know what you’re doing, are reliable, and can get the task completed. That’s what Requesters want to see.
Taskers are rated for quality of work on the site, as Requesters want to how well a Turker scores on reliability, quality of work submitted, and attention to directions. Turkers who do a good job not only get paid promptly, but they also earn a high score (any score above 90% is what you’re aiming at.) Typically, Requesters hire platform taskers at that scoring level – anything below that and you may not get the job.
Be a Qualifier
Note that you may have to “qualify” for some…