Surveying your options

How I made hundreds doing pretty much nothing

ben edited
The Spectrum

Over the summer, I completed over 100 tasks a day at my job. My hands were always busy, and every day required more and more of a laser sharp focus on my part. 

But I didn’t work an internship, no sir, I sat on my bed and did surveys in my free time — and earned about $1000.

After I completed my Bachelor’s in May, and after two companies declined me internships (to their loss), I jumped onto Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform for the second straight year. 

The site, commonly referred to as MTurk, is an online work requester service. Workers can work comfortably from their laptop or their phones throughout the day and night. The tasks are simple and most are survey-based jobs, requiring just a few minutes of workers’ times.

I began “turking” in June 2017, after I saw a serious dip in my bank account. I went to Toronto two weekends in a row, and like Drake, told my friends I had an affiliation with the six — that is, the six dollars I had left to my name.

So I took a full court heave and considered all the opportunities available — trimming hedges, freelance writing or selling my toenails to a psychic.

Although the last option enticed me, I joined MTurk with a heavy dose of skepticism, instead.

The first couple of surveys were dull but after a while, filling out demographic information became second nature. As a result, MTurk made me think deeply about being a 22 year old white male who hasn’t committed a felony or smoked tobacco.

I soon discovered what a breeze it was to make money with the service and I started using it just about every night. This past summer, I discovered the various scripts I could run on my computer that automatically grab the highest paying surveys, some which paid $10 or more.

Besides surveys, there are more offbeat ways on the site to earn money, too. In one case, one of the site’s work requests asked me to draw a bear and take pictures of said bear on my phone. The prize for completing the task? $2.75.

I promptly took a page from my sketchbook and I thought it would be easy.

Boy was I wrong.

The task asked me to draw multiple bears, with my bears being rated by a professional artist. I realized after my first sad bear drawing I needed to step my game up. I googled pictures of bears — black bears, spectacled bears, you name it. Inspired by my love of movies like “Brother Bear” and TV shows like “Bear in the Big Blue House,” I knew I needed this $2.75.

I sent over my second drawing, which the artist fell in love with. The MTurk work requester who asked for the bear sent me my money a few days later.

As simple as it is to get paid, I initially entered into MTurk with ultra high expectations.

I discovered I needed to verify my bank account through Amazon Pay before getting paid, which took over a week to complete. This is one of the downsides to the platform, overall, but once workers get over this hump they’ll start to rake in the cash.

And MTurk is an ideal source for a college student in need of income. It’s a job with flexible hours, despite the minimum wage pay. If you sign up for enough surveys, like I have, you’ll start to get emails every week with more and more offers.

The opportunities are endless.

Nowadays, thanks to MTurk, I have a week’s worth of Starbucks money under my belt. 

After the semester began in late August, I’ve stopped using the site as much as I used to. Unfortunately, I don’t have two hours to kill every night staring at a screen waiting for the next $1+ survey to appear.

There are plenty of other opportunities out there but MTurk trumps the offbeat, weekend gig you may find on Craigslist. It’s far from a supportive financial means, though, and if you’re in desperate need of money — don’t do this.

Nonetheless, if you’re looking for an effective way to make some money for weekend spending this year — MTurk is your best bet.

Benjamin Blanchet is a senior features editor and can be reached at benjamin.blanchet@ubspectrum.com and @BenjaminUBSpec