Review of Amazon Mechanical Turk

If you're not familiar with Amazon Mechanical Turk, it is a website that allows you to do relatively menial tasks online and get paid. I've been registered at the site for a few months, and occasionally go there to make a few dollars, which I can then use for purchases on

For the first few days after you are registered, there are only limited opportunities to make money. You need to do a certain number of tasks to get the better jobs, and you are limited in how many you are allowed to do per day the first days. Therefore, for about the first week, you won't be able to make more than a few cents per day. However, after you have gone through this initial process, you are able to do tasks that pay a fairly small but at least measurable amount of money.

The greatest advantage of the site seems to be how fast you get paid. While it occasionally takes a bit longer, most of these jobs are approved and paid within about a day. In some cases, the approval and payment is nearly immediate, and the money is available right away in your Amazon Payments account. You can immediately use the money to make purchases on It's also possible to transfer the money to your bank account, but I've never bothered. I simply use the money whenever I make an Amazon purchase.

The best resource to learn about Amazon Mechanical Turk seems to be By studying this forum, you will learn how to best use the site. More information is also available on my money making ideas page.

Since I now have a few hundred approved hits, I decided to give Amazon Mechanical Turk a fair test, and see just how much money I could make. I decided to work for an hour or two as dilligently as possible to see what I would do.

In practice, I think my earnings would be slightly higher that what I found in this experiment. I was taking some time to make notes, and I also spent some time on activities that I wouldn't have normally bothered with. For me, the writing tasks seem to be the most lucrative, and I probably would have concentrated on them if I didn't want to show a bit more variety.

I started at 10:40 AM, and ultimately decided to call it a day at 12:10 PM, for a total of 1.5 hours of "turking". Here's how it went:

I started out by going to, specifically to the forum where other users report good available hits. There is a daily thread posted, where these are reported in real time. I browsed through the most recent pages and didn't find anything particularly good.


Since the writing jobs seem to do the best for me, I went directly to and searched for "write". I found one that I had done previously and was allowed to re-do: "create a very short fictional story and some multiple-choice questions." This hit paid $2.50. It was an interesting project, since I had to write a short children's story and then make up reading comprehension questions to go with it. According to the description, the purpose was to create data to test a computer program's ability to answer such questions. This project took about 15 minutes. It would have been a little faster, but I made an error and didn't accept the job prior to starting to write. Therefore, I had to cut and paste my work into a new window.


Next, I did a search for "survey", and the first result I found was: "Answer a Short Survey on how you Perceive Everyday Situations." The description said that the survey, which was from the University of Amsterdam, would take about 15 minutes, and paid $1.50. The estimate was fairly close, although I was hoping I could get through it a bit faster.


The next survey I tried was: "Answer a 10 minutes survey about your perception of low-cost airlines". This paid $0.80, and went slightly faster than the estimate.


I tried another $0.60 survey, but wasted a couple of minutes, since the link didn't work.


I did another search for "survey". One of the results was not a survey, but a data-entry activity to make entries from an OCR sheet. This paid only 3 cents, but I assumed there might be multiple hits available. It took only a few seconds, but there was only one available, so I only earned $0.03.


I decided to do one "Oscar Smith" hit. Oscar asks you to type in the text shown on the image of a business card. He only pays two cents each, but he approves 100% of the time. Therefore, these are a very good way to get started during those initial days when you need to get hits approved fast. This particular card contained more information than most, and I took almost four minutes to earn my two cents.


I decided to search for more surveys and settled on "Answer a fun short survey for a MIT-sponsored study" for $0.61. The estimate was 6-8 minutes, but I finished this one in three minutes. I then did another survey: "Answer an academic survey about your opinions on different products". This one only took a minute and paid $0.20.


I went back to and found "answer a Survey About a Court Case Settlement" for $0.43.


In order to find big batches of fast mindless hits, I did a search with the results listed by number of hits available. After checking out a few, I decided to try "Identify the exact number of people depicted in an image" for $0.02. This was a waste of time, since I had to look at over 20 pictures to get the $0.02.


I tried searching for other fast mindless projects, but didn't have much luck.


I went back to and found "Groupon Deals pretest" which paid $0.50 for just a few questions.


Also from, I found "Choosing Products and Brands 3 - $1 for 10 minutes". This took only about 6 minutes. Then from, I did "short survey" which paid $0.40.

After looking around a few minutes, nothing jumped out at me, and I decided to conclude the experiment at 12:10, for a total of 1.5 hours. My total earnings were $5.23, which works out to $3.48 per hour.

If I hadn't been doing this experiment and simply wanted to increase my earnings, I probably would have done more of the writing hits. I earned well below the minimum wage with this experiment, so it's not a particularly lucrative way to pass the time. But I do have $5.23 more than I would have otherwise.

My conclusion is that you probably shouldn't quit your day job to become a Turker. And if you really need the money, you should probably go apply at the local fast food establishment. But if you need a few extra dollars, particularly for an purchase, it is a relatively painless way to make a little extra money.

Posted 5/21/13

Return to my main page
Copyright and privacy policy