Sunday, December 16, 2012

Human Intelligence Tasks

John Hollister from League of Power taught me about this way to make some quick, although minor amounts, of cash.

I know I posted something similar before but this is sponsored by! Check out this email from John and the website:

Mechanical Turk: The Money Machine 

The Internet is bulging at the seams with companies that offer small rewards for small jobs: $.10 to take a survey, $1.50 to download a toolbar, etc. And while many of these may not sound like they're worth your while, if you approach it wisely and efficiently, you can quickly start making a tidy sum of money for not much effort at all.

You won't get rich doing these kinds of online jobs, but how does an extra $200 to $500 a month sound? And these are tasks you can do in your spare time, in many cases while you're sitting on the couch watching TV.

The Scoop on Mechanical Turk

There are a couple of services in this space. But there's one in particular that's caught my eye recently.

Mechanical Turk is a website that connects companies who need simple tasks done (they call them HITs - Human Intelligence Tasks ) with people that will do them. These employers are leveraging the power of the Internet to "farm out" little jobs they don't have the time nor inclination to do on their own. It's called crowd-sourcing.

As a Mechanical Turk worker, you work from home, choose your own work hours, and, best of all, you get paid for doing simple tasks. And you know it's a reputable company because it's part of

So what are some of the HITs you'll be getting paid for? Well, on Mechanical Turk right now there are more than 330,000 HITs available. The tasks you can choose from vary widely - even more widely than any website of its kind that I've come across. This means you can choose the jobs that pay the best and the job that appeals to you the most. With Mechanical Turk, you are truly in the driver's seat.

Here are some examples of HITs:

* Tag images

* Translate a page from English to French

* Determine the gender of people in five photos

* Find company contact information

* Write a product review

* Write questions based on keywords

* Determine if a website is adult-oriented

As you can see, there's something on Mechanical Turk for everyone, whether you're creatively-inclined or are just looking for an easy, repetitive administrative task to make a quick buck. If you're computer-savvy, there are plenty of well-paying HITs that will take you under two minutes to complete. Like I said, there's money to be made here for everyone.

Some of the tasks may seem a little strange. But they're all legit. And useful for whoever is commissioning them, which do include scientists and researchers trying to get data. So don't worry too much about what you're doing. Just focus on the task at hand.

Strategies for Getting Paid Well

Once you create your Mechanical Turk account through, you'll be able to browse through the different HITs on offer, and your first reaction may very well be one of disbelief. You see, most HITs pay under $1.

But you have to think in terms of bulk. Most tasks will take you a minute, five at the most. Simple arithmetic shows that adds up very quickly, especially if you decide to devote, say, two hours each week knocking out HITs. When you take this approach, that extra $200 to $500 a month in spare time income I mentioned up above doesn't seem too far-fetched now, does it?

Listen, you aren't going to get rich doing this. But it doesn't hurt to have spare cash around, does it? One friend I know who does this sort of work calls it her "manicures and mojitos" fund. She works just enough to pay for these little luxuries each month for herself.

Specialization Is Key

When you first wade into the jobs Mechanical Turk has to offer, I suggest sampling a wide variety to find which ones fit you best - both personally and financially. Once you find a particular type of HIT that you not only enjoy but can do fast and make more money doing, focus on HITs of that particular nature.

Not only will your Qualification Value (your ranking on the site that all "employers" can see) rise, businesses will also start seeking you out. Become an authority. By the way, some Qualifications require you to take a test. Go for it - some of the higher-paying jobs will become available when you do.

If you're artistically-inclined, become the master of photo classifications, for example. If you can type 90 words per minute, find those clerical jobs. And if you're a jack-of-all-trades, there's nothing wrong with that. You'll find new challenges every day and greater and greater rewards.

Best of luck!

John Hollister

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