Your First 1000 HITs
Mturk can be both underwhelming and overwhelming at first. Underwhelming in terms of your earning potential, and overwhelming logistically. If you persevere, however, it can become a pretty reliable source of income.
Notice that I said "become." If you come to mturk expecting high hourly earnings right away, you will almost certainly be disappointed. It takes time to learn how the site works, what work is available to you, how to find work and how to optimize your browser processes to maximize your time and work as efficiently as possible. You are already doing something very right by using MTG and exploring the educational resources available here.
Assuming you're in it for the long haul, one of your first acts should be to install basic turking scripts and extensions if you haven't already, especially Turkopticon (aka TO), which is a feedback/review system for workers. Install the Page Monitor extension. While you're in the Resources section, ready Zingy's intro to mturk, too.
If you have not already, go to the Qualifications tab on the mturk website and take the following qualification tests: Adult Content (if you're okay with it; qual value is 1) and Venue Quality (qual value is 80). If you type fast, consider trying the Crowdsurf qualification. (Some would suggest Claritrans as well, but they do reject so IMO stay away from them for now.)
For your first 1000 HITs you may want to concentrate on approval milestones rather than $$$. It's not that the money is not important, but most of the better-paying requesters require 1000/5000/10000+ approved HITs to do their surveys or work on their batches. (Also, the requester tools provided by Amazon default to >1000 approved so there's that.) You can accept 100 HITs per day the first 10 days you work on mturk following signup. After the 10 day intro period, the floodgates open and you can work on as many HITs as you like up to a max of ~3800 HITs. (FYI few have ever reached the daily limit, I'm just including the info because it's a common question.)
Besides the # approved metric, there is also the % approved metric. This is the number of HITs approved vs. rejected. Right now you want to pay close attention to talk of rejected HITs and for the most part avoid requesters that reject. Rejections will hurt an account that has <100 approved much more than someone with 10K+ approved. Early rejections will restrict your options to push forward and get to the better paying work. You should be very hesitant about doing HITs from requesters that are known to reject until you have at least 1000 HITs approved.
Something else you'll see mentioned is numbers HITs. These are typically penny or otherwise low-paying HITs that offer terrible pay and usually mind-numbing tasks BUT they also tend to approve quickly and never or rarely reject. Examples of pretty much rejectproof numbers HITs are Venue Quality HITs, Taskrabbit HITs, and Redwood review transcript HITs. Tribune has started a thread for numbers HITs here. NOTE: be sure to read the helpful text after each one regarding approval/rejection/etc.!
Page Monitor can help you keep tabs on these sorts of HITs, which are typically available throughout the day, but who wants to sit there and refresh a page every 30 seconds until you find a HIT to do? No, let Page Monitor do that for you. Once you've installed the extension, right-click the PM icon (to the right of your browser address bar), select Options, and set your check interval to 25 seconds. Search mturk.com for the names above, and add those search pages to Page Monitor by clicking the PM icon and selecting Monitor This Page. PM will automatically check for changes and if there are HITs available for those requesters, you'll see a number in the PM icon box. Click the PM icon, then click view all updates and check if there are any HITs for you to do.
You'll eventually add more requesters/URLs to Page Monitor and will have to stagger refresh rates (or use something more powerful like DCI's wonderscript), but for now you should be fine with defaults. (Also, there are more elegant ways to add requesters, such as by requester ID, but when you're first starting out, there is nothing wrong with adding a requester to PM by name.)
And one more very important thing! Always be qualing. If you see HITs that have a qual test, or if someone in the daily thread mentions a qual test of any sort, take it even if you don't think you would want to do the work. Qualifications on mturk = OPTIONS. The more options for work you have, the steadier your income from mturk will be. You can make money without any major quals, plenty of MTG'ers are proof of that. But having a variety of quals makes it easier to find work at the times when you want to/can work. Always be qualing.
Your first goal should be to get to 200 HITs approved because that opens up Crowdsource keyword search HITs, which are somewhat reliably posted and easy to do. The keyword HITs you should focus on are those in the US, UK, and occasionally NG and are simply titled "Search: Keywords on Google.x" (where x is the domain suffix for .us, .co.uk, .ng, etc.) These HITs go quickly with this script. If you are having trouble with the script, feel free to ask about what might be wrong. Occasionally scripts break with browser and CS updates, so it may not be you.
Crowdsource has their own work dashboard now, so once you pass 200 HITs approved, check it every time you log on to see if you have more keywords to do. Different folks report different amounts of HITs available, so just check.
Protip: if you are doing CS keyword HITs and you get a HIT with less than four searches, make sure to the accept next HIT box is unchecked so you don't get stuck with a return. The last HIT available to you in these batches typically has 1-3 searches.
While you're amassing the approved HITs, keep checking for numbers HITs and keep up with the daily thread for HITs that you are able to do. Pay attention to what people say about Turkopticon ratings, i.e., "good TO" or "bad TO," so as to avoid rejections this early on. Ask questions. Everyone who knows what they're doing, or sounds like they know what they're doing on MTG? They were a newbie once, and we all realize how confusing it can be to get started. Ask questions!
Your second goal should be 500 approved which opens up more surveys for the most part. At this point you should be browsing the daily thread regularly for new HITs, and becoming more familiar with the feedback people post about HITs as well (good/bad TO, reports of rejections, the time a HIT may take, etc.) Continue to work, read, and learn.
You might have a received a rejection or two by now. When you get your first rejection(s), try not to take them too personally. Rejections always hurt, but sometimes you simply cannot prevent them from happening. Sometimes you just mess up. Sometimes requesters mess up. Your best bet is to keep using TO and keep up with feedback from other workers to avoid bad requesters and HITs. Also check out some tips on reversing rejections.
Third goal would be 1000 approved. I think by 1000 approved you will have a better idea of how mturk works in general, how the scripts and extensions help you find things to do and work more efficiently, how much time you want to spend turking, and what sort of $$$ goal you want to set on the way to 5000 approved. You may also find that mturk work is not really for you, and that's fine, too. It is not easy to make steady $$$ from turking. It takes time and perseverance to learn how the site works, how to find HITs, and how to optimize your workflow with scripts and browser extensions (and hand stretches!)
Everyone has one basic goal for turking ($$$) but different folks have different short- and long-term goals, schedules, and prefer some tasks over others. The overarching advantage of mturk is that it gives you the possibility of earning money in a manner and on a schedule of your choosing. To maximize your earnings, you may occasionally need to work when you'd rather be doing something else, because the HITs are up now but will be gone in an hour. The great part about that, though, is that the choice is yours. Once you've learned the ropes, figure out what works for you in terms of schedule, type of work, and monetary goals. Keep learning and asking questions, too!
A word on hourly rate. This is purely my opinion here, some may disagree, but once you reach 1000 HITs approved, while I would still encourage you to continue to do numbers HITs up to 5000 approved, I would also suggest that you start to be more selective about the work you do. The standard acceptable metric for time-$ on mturk is currently 10 cents per minute. That results in $6/hr, which is okay if you just want to turk while watching TV or something, but let's face it -- that's not even minimum wage. Nobody in the US can live on $6/hr. And working for such low wages will not benefit you in the long run.
Unless you are in extremely dire financial straits (e.g., risk of eviction), I strongly suggest that if the only work you can find on mturk pays less than minimum wage, then you are better off spending that time doing something more productive. Your time is valuable and you can never get it back!
So if all you can find on mturk is HITs with crappy slave wages, then take this opportunity to give yourself a free pass and do something better with your time! Look for other online work opportunities. Go to edx.org and enroll in a free online class. Go to codeacademy.com and learn how to program. Go to khanacademy.com and pick a subject you're interested in. Check sites like freestufffinder.com or the myriad other free stuff sites and look for deals on things you normally buy anyway, and save $ that way. Go to youtube and learn something new, or learn something new about something you already do. Go make something, or learn how to make something. Even cleaning or organizing your living space, or destressing with a video game is more beneficial to you in the long run than working for less than minimum wage for a requester that clearly does not care enough about you nor the larger world he/she lives in to pay people a reasonable wage. You would gain so much more using that time to better yourself.
Hope this helps. Welcome to the grind, and good luck!
Last edited by jklmnop; 04-02-2014 at 06:28 PM.
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That helped out a great deal. I had no idea that things opened up after 1000 hits. thank you very much
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