Making money with Amazon Mechanical Turk

I discovered Amazon Mechanical Turk while searching for a way to make money online and work part-time. It’s one of the most famous crowdsourcing websites; it allows businesses to post online micro-tasks (at most a few minutes long), which will be completed by online workers. Due to their short durations, these tasks pay very little individually, often a few cents; however it’s possible to complete many of them in a single hour. I spent a bit more than two months on Mechanical Turk; although I work part-time and I’m a non-US worker (more on this below), I managed to make around $375.

You may wonder why I publish an article related to crowdsourcing on Alternative Investments. I think that one large advantage of real-estate crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending is that they allow to invest very small sums, making them much more accessible than traditional investments. However, even these small amounts may be unavailable to some would-be investors, especially when you factor in the fact that you need to diversify your investments. Crowdsourcing allows nearly anyone to make an additional revenue easily, providingthem with some additional income they can invest.

Signing up to Amazon Mechanical Turk

As I already had an Amazon.com account, signing up to Mechanical Turk was trivial. A few days later, I received an e-mail stating that I got accepted as a Mechanical Turk worker. Unfortunately, it looks like Amazon doesn’t accept all applications; the required criteria are unclear, and some even suggest that they’re purely random. In case you’re rejected, all you can do is wait; apparently several workers got accepted at a later date.

First steps with Amazon Mechanical Turk

If you’re among the lucky ones who get selected, you’ll be taken to the main screen of Amazon Mechanical Turk. In spite of its simplicity, the it can seem a bit overwhelming. By default, you’ll be on the “HITs” part of the website. A HIT (human intelligence task) is simply another name for the tasks available for workers.

The screen will show you a list of available HITs; for each of them, the site shows the requester’s name, the title, the number of HITs available, the reward and how long ago it was created. If there’s more than one HIT available, workers commonly talk of these HITs as a batch; they’re a quick way to improve your statistics and earn more if you can work on them quickly enough.

Clicking on “Accept & Work” will directly allow you to start working on the HIT, while “Preview” will only display it, allowing you to either accept it or skip it. Note that it’s also possible that the HIT you selected isn’t available anymore, if another worker completed it; in this case you’ll be taken back to the main screen, which will also display an error message at the top.

It’s possible to search for a special requester or HIT name by using the search bar. In addition, clicking on “Filter” shows the following dialog, which not only allows to filter but also to sort. Note that sorting is also possible by clicking on any of the column header labeled “HITs”, “Reward” or “Created”.

Finally, you can display how many HITs are shown for each page.

Previewing & accepting HITs : let’s work !

HITs can be anything. You’ll find many surveys; other may involve searching for a company’s website, transcribing data, tagging photos and videos… The possibilities are rather endless and there are always new requesters, which provides some variety.

Each HIT will look different, however in most cases the controls at the top and bottom of the screen will be the same. If you’re previewing the HIT, you have the opportunity to Skip it; that is, switch to the next one on the batch. Otherwise, you can start working on it by clicking on Accept. Once accepted, you can Submit the result of your work if you’re satisfied; you may also give up the task by using the Return button.

At the top of the screen, you’ll also see the HIT name, requester name, number of HITs available, reward for each HIT as well as a timer showing how much time is left to complete the task. Indeed, you’re alloted a limited time; once the time is up, the task is automatically returned and you can’t submit it anymore.

After a task is submitted, the requester had one month to accept it or reject it. In most cases, it will only take two or three days. If your work is accepted, the money will be added to your available earnings. If unfortunately the requested isn’t satisfied and rejects your work, you  won’t get paid and your statistics will be hurt. While having a few rejections is unavoidable, you should try to have as few of them as possible. Let’s head out to the dashboard to find out why.

Amazon Mechanical Turk’s dashboard : show me the money !

The main role is the dashboard is to display how much money you’ve made so far. It also allows you to transfer your gains to your Amazon.com gift card.

However, another very important information here is the statistics on the number of HITs approved and rejected. Indeed, if you click on any HIT on the main screen, it will show you the conditions necessary to be able to work on it. Many of them require you to have a minimum of approved HITs, and often also set an approval rate threshold. The more HITs you complete and the higher your approval rate, the more HITs will be available; it’s kind of a virtuous circle. I can’t stress enough the important of having a good approval rate ! Otherwise you’ll have to transcribe handwritten text for one cent until the end of your life 🙂

Qualifications & tests

In addition to your statistics, other aspects will influence the HITs availability. HITs may be targeted at workers in a specific country (often the USA), barring you from taking them.

If you uncheck “HITs that I’m qualified to work on” in the filters screen, you will see many more HITs. With some perseverance, many of them may become available. Indeed, when inspecting the requirements for a HIT by clicking on it, you may see a “Take Test” button, like in the following hit.

Successfully taking the test will grant you the matching qualification. Should you fail, you may be able to try it again later; however, in some cases, you won’t be given the opportunity for a second try ! This information is displayed before you start the test; if you’re unsure of yourself, I strongly advise you to wait a bit and take the test later.

Note that you may also try the “Request qualification” button when it’s available, although apparently the request isn’t visible to most requesters and thus useless.

As time goes by and your statistics improve, you’ll have more and more tasks available. Even as a non-Us worker, I now have enough to keep me busy several hours a day if I want to !

A warning note for non-US workers

If you’re located outside the US, the only way to enjoy your hard-earned money will be to use it to buy stuff on Amazon.com; you won’t even be able to spend it in other national Amazon stores !

One safe but slightly inconvenient way to get rid of your gift card is to use purse.io in order to exchange them against bitcoins. You’ll fulfill other people’s orders using your gift card, earning bitcoins in return. Unfortunately, the price to pay for the safety of the process is high : you’ll often lose as much as 20% of the transaction’s value.

Is Amazon Mechanical Turk worth it ?

It totally depends on your expectations. I’m totally satisfied with my earnings so far, considering I work part-time. However, the restrictions on the payout may be really bothersome for non-US workers. Also, it requires a rather large time investment at first, in order to boost your stats and have access to HITs that pay better and are more interesting.

In a later article, I’ll share some advises in order to help beginner Turkers (that’s how workers at Amazon Mechanical Turk call themselves). meanwhile, a great way to get more information is to browse Reddit’s forums.

 

P2P lending portfolio review for April 2018

Overview of the month

April was another quiet month for my P2P lending portfolio. I withdrew some more funds from my Omaraha’s portfolio as it’s getting harder and harder to invest there, and managed to withdraw some money from Bondora.

Website changes

I didn’t have time to update many articles, but finally started Alternative Investment’s Facebook page ! I’ve been thinking for some time about a way to communicate up-to-date but transient informations, like P2P lending companies’ new offers. I think that a Facebook page is a great way to do so, instead of cluttering the website with short-lived posts. Of course, the website will remain my main focus, and I have a few background articles being written !

Current performance

Omaraha

Current XIRR is slightly down again, at 20.26% against 20.47% in April. Again, it’s still an excellent result, but it looks like it will be harder and harder to replicate it, especially for large accounts.

Bondora

XIRR was 12.91%, compared to 13.54% last month. As I mention in my last portfolio review, I stopped re-investing at Bondora. I keep on computing the resulting XIRR in order to see how well the recovery performs.

Grupeer

Another month with a lot of cashback offers from one of my favorite companies ! As a result, the XIRR increased to 14.68%, up from 14.54%. Do I need to point out that it’s an excellent return ? 🙂

Mintos

Like Grupeer, Mintos offers runs several cashback campaigns; however I once again failed to invest in the matching loans. As a result my XIRR was really stable at 12.75%, basically the same value as last month’s 12.71%. Note that for long-term investors, it’s now possible to invest in loans offering as much as 15% interest rate, coming with a buyback guarantee.

Swaper

Returns were very stable this month, with an XIRR of 12.14% versus 12.16% last month.

Robo.cash

After several months of slow increase, the XIRR for April was nearly identical to March’s one, at 12.23%; last month’s value was 12.25%.

DoFinance

Shame on me ! I just realized that I forgot to include this company in my monthly review. Well, now it’s done; the XIRR for my portfolio there is 12.17%,  stable from last month’s 12.20%. Note that thanks to the simplicity of the company’s offer, I don’t expect this value to fluctuate much !

Other companies

As usual, I didn’t compute the XIRR for several companies.

Several of my investments at CrowdEstate have been paying interests for a few months, but as they’re not real-estate crowdfunding, their returns are different from most other projects in my portfolio. My first investment in Crowdestor also started to return interests, but here again my portfolio is too new for me to publish the results. Finally, I’m still waiting for my BulkEstate‘s long-term investments to pay interests within a few months.

Finbee and Monestro’s reviews still aren’t ready, so reporting the result would be rather pointless if I don’t provide more details.

Aggregate portfolio XIRR

This value is the average of the XIRR for each company, weighted by its amount. This month it’s fallen again; it’s now 17.03%, versus 17.34% last month. Once again, the large weight of Omaraha and Bondora explain most of this decrease.

XIRR evolution

Remember that values until October (included) were provided by the platform or crudely estimated; from November onwards they were computed using the method outlined in this article.

There’s nearly no noticeable change compared to last month; the tendency is again for returns to get uniform between most comparable companies.

Returns by P2P lending company - April 2018

Current allocation

As mentioned in the overview, I decreased the size of my Bondora and Omaraha portfolios. My only new investment was in CrowdEstate’s last project, as I had some idle funds there.

Due to the large withdrawal in Omaraha, most other companies’ relative size increased.

Allocation between P2P lending companies - April 2018

New platforms

I found out a new platform which seem great, but several aspects kind of annoy me so I want to spend some more time researching it, rather than give a rushed opinion.