Friday, November 23, 2007

Is MTurk Really The Best Way to MAKE MONEY ONLINE?

So I promised you a story. And, quite anti-Murphy's Laws of Blogging, I'm providing it. ^__^

I wrote a few days ago about my "continuous, constant" thought process re: the post-graduation job search. This includes my trying to do one thing every day that will get me closer to a post-graduation job.

Yesterday, this "one thing" was going shopping and investing in some functional, professional-looking winter clothing. Not as cause-effect related as, say, updating my resume (that's on the list for next week), but a huge step up from my graduate-student wardrobe of thrift-store sweaters and tatty "theatre-person" scarves.

However, there's something else that I'm trying to do "one thing towards," every day. That'd be "finding ways to earn more money."

Now wait, you might ask. Aren't these the same goal? I mean, won't getting a good job get you more money?

Yes and no. Or, more accurately, "Yes, but in the future. I need money now."

Not to mention that landing a decent job is a cost-intensive process. There's the clothing budget, the travel budget, the transcript-printing budget, etc.

Oh, and rent-food-utilities.

So, in the name of "what's one thing I can do today that will help me earn more money," I joined Amazon's Mechanical Turk.

In case you're not familiar with MTurk, it's the sort of thing people do right before they start selling their bodily fluids. (Which I've thought about. There's a plasma bank two blocks from my apartment.) It's... well, click here for the details, but it's essentially a way for companies to outsource menial tasks to anonymous workers, while paying very, very low prices. Think "0.06 per task." That kind of low.

It's also about the only legitimate "make money online" thing I've found, so far. So I signed up.

I chose a task asking me to transcribe thirty minutes of an audio podcast, in exchange for $5.00. I've got over 100 wpm (sixteen years of piano lessons), and so thought it would take me about an hour. That's almost minimum wage!

Three hours and twenty typed pages of text later, I earned my $5.00. I don't think I've ever typed twenty pages in a single block before. 7,000 words.

Part of my problem was that I was a n00b; I didn't know, for example, that I could reconfigure WinAmp to play the dialogue at a slower rate (thus allowing me to type alongside it in real time instead of wasting time stopping and starting the audio). With a little practice I could probably half my transcribing time. This would put me at... well, less than minimum wage, but still something.

And yet I don't know if I can type 7,000 words night after night; an extra $25 or $30 at the end of the week would be great, though, and the incentive is enough to make me want to give this transcribing business another shot.

What about the rest of the offerings on MTurk? Dismal. And mostly related to spamming people. One pays $0.06 if you send them the name and phone number of a local gym owner (for telemarketing purposes, no doubt); another pays $0.10 for you to post advertisements in the comments of people's MySpace pages. One, which I almost did, pays $1.00 for you to call a number and give your opinion about "your college experience;" then I wondered if they were just after my name and phone number (for telemarketing purposes) and decided not to bother.

I suppose today's "one thing towards," then, is turning over the question to all of you (my own crowdsourcing, as it were). Is there a better legit place to make a little cash via the internet, or is Turking, sad as it is, the best way to go?


Abi said...

I would say use this blog. Write (a lot more) about cultural events and products (movies, books, music ...), increase your readership, and run ads! Simple, no?

BTW, have you considered going pro in blogging? Why not?

Here's another way: writing reviews of products, services, and websites too. Patrix wrote about it sometime ago (one of his paid reviews is here). It certainly pays a lot more than MTurk, and it allows you to indulge one of your passions -- writing.

Blue said...

Thanks, Abi. I like your vote f confidence. ^__^

Actually, I have thought about it.

Reviews are one way to go, but the real cash cows in blogging seem to be the "how-tos." Penelope Trunk, Tim Ferriss, Ramit Sethi, etc.

The question would be whether I would want to run a second blog alongside PBS or mix it in to the general PBS content. That will probably come after watching how different topics rank, page-view-wise, on PBS -- which topics are getting read, etc.

Daniel said...

try online tutoring, or secret shopping.