Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Amazon.com's MTurk Freelance Jobs Marketplace: What the Hell Is It?

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Amazon.com's MTurk Freelance Jobs Marketplace

Up until last year, I never knew Amazon.com had its own marketplace where freelancers could find work. Called Mechanical Turk (MTurk), it is Amazon's own custom platform to help businesses outsource their work virtually from anywhere in the world. When I say "work," I mean very small assignments or tasks that don't pay competitive rates; these include:

  • writing content, 
  • researching facts, 
  • evaluating and rating websites, 
  • proofreading, 
  • translating, 
  • categorizing products, 
  • and other types of administrative and virtual assistant-type jobs.  

Amazon's MTurk Marketplace
Amazon.com launched MTurk in 2005

Individuals, agencies, and businesses (really, anyone) can post their gigs at MTurk for freelancers to complete. Regardless of your experience or skill-level, you can find tasks that interest you.

If you are already an Amazon.com customer, you can log in to your account and register for a free MTurk account; otherwise, you can create an account and go through the registration process. Once registered, you will have your own private dashboard where all of the "action" takes place.

MTurk features virtual "Hits," a term Amazon uses to refer to gigs that are open to freelancers to complete. From your dashboard, you can browse or search through Hits and apply to any one of them. Once you accept a Hit, you must complete it before the deadline to get paid.

MTurk recruits a wide selection of new clients regularly, giving you the opportunity to take "qualifications" tests to earn bonus money and to receive direct orders from previous clients. You can search for Hits by keyword, title, pay rate, or deadline.

When I saw what many gigs on MTurk pay freelancers, I  felt insulted, then I laughed in disbelief, and then I kind of felt sorry for freelancers who decided to slave over these gigs to earn a few cents per gig (yes, I do mean under a buck). I couldn't figure out a way how one would make any serious income.

To show you what I mean, here are a few real Hits available on MTurk and what they pay:
  1. Writing a 500-word article or review: $0.70 cents up to $12
  2. Writing a description of a location: $6
  3. Writing a call-out for an article: $2
  4. Writing an essay: $1
  5. Answering three questions: $0.85
  6. Writing a quick article summary: $0.30
  7. Editing a 300-word article: $1.50

The highest paying gig, out of over 4,000 available gigs, pays a measly $38, and that's to add captioning to a movie.

As you can see, you would need to work vigorously and long-hours to earn an amount that might equal minimum wage or below. Perhaps it's "easy money" for college students who have free time and need "macaroni and cheese money," or freelancers who don't mind picking up easy work in their off-hours. For myself, I know there are better ways to earn higher pay at other similar platforms that you can find here. Amazon's MTurk is definitely not for me.

I welcome your comments, suggestions, or corrections. Please use the Comments form below.

Sincerely,
Brian Scott