It's been 3 years since I quit my full-time professional career. Sometimes I miss the challenge of my former job, sometimes I miss the people, and most of the time I miss the money. But, I don't regret my decision to quit my job and stay at home with my 3 kids.
I will admit I've had a really hard time getting used to the idea that I no longer earn money. When I first quit my job, I started doing mystery shopping on the side as a way to contribute, even if just in a small way, to our family finances. At the time, I had one kid in school 4 days a week and 1 at home with me. I liked the flexibility of mystery shopping because I could sign up for jobs when I had the time and when they were located conveniently to me. I could usually bring my kids along or do the jobs at night and on the weekend. I earned about $100-$300 a month and actually found the jobs to be quite interesting.
When I became pregnant with our 3rd child, I was so sick that I had to quit doing the mystery shopping. And I have never picked it up again because now I have kids with different school schedules and various activities and I just can't seem to fit it into my schedule.
I've never been interested in the multi-level marketing jobs that many SAHMs enjoy (Avon, Scentsy, etc.) and I am skeptical of a lot of internet jobs. But last year I started doing work on mturk.com and have had some success earning money on it (it was one tool I used to earn money for our Christmas budget last year, see this post).
I just spent the last few weeks working on mturk and I earned enough money to buy this pink Radio Flyer tricycle for my daughter's upcoming birthday. It cost $64.91 with tax and shipping and I worked for 13 days for around 1 hour a day to get the money. It averaged out to be around $5.00 an hour, which I realize is very low, but I can choose my own hours, choose my own tasks, and choose how long I want to work. I only worked when my youngest was napping or at night after all my kids had gone to bed.
Mturk.com stands for Mechanical Turk and it's a website run by Amazon.com. It's basically an online place where people can post to have online work done, or you can search for online work to do. Each job is called a HIT (Human Intelligence Task) and the pay per task can be as low as one cent up to $10 or $15 (that's about the highest I've seen).
From what I've seen there are 4 main types of tasks that people post:
* Surveys (usually from university graduate students or political surveys from interest groups)
* Writing articles (blog posts, articles, comments on a website, comments on a forum)
* Generating webpage hits/traffic (i.e. get paid to create a dating profile at a new online site, get paid to hit "like" on a new Facebook business page, etc.)
* Miscellaneous internet research (i.e. go search for these things and post back website addresses)
I now only do surveys on mturk. This is because they are a sure thing, just complete the survey and it gives you a completion code and unless you didn't pay attention in the survey, your HIT is automatically accepted. (Most surveys do have certain questions to see if you are actually paying attention). I've written a few articles in the past but to me those take more time and they are more subjective and if they don't like your work you might not get paid.
I've tried other online survey companies but what I've found is that I could spend 30 minutes trying to fill out surveys only to learn after working on each one for 10 minutes that I don't qualify, and then that time was wasted. Most of the surveys on mechanical turk just require you to be over age 18 and live in the U.S. (most, not all).
I've learned to maximize my efficiency on mechanical turk so that I spend the least amount of time searching for work and the most amount of time actually doing work. I usually don't work on the site for 2 days in a row, I like to let the potential HITs build up for a few days and then sit down and do a bunch at once. I also sort them by newest added first, so that I can first see the HITs that were added since I logged on the last time. I also put in a minimum threshold of 35 cents in my search, because I don't want to be bothered by anything that pays less. I also look at the maximum time allotted to complete each HIT because that gives a clue (usually) as to how long it will take you to do it. Most of the surveys I find actually take less time than they allow or say it will take you. There is definitely a learning curve to figure out how to most efficiently search for the tasks you want to do.
Once I complete a HIT, it is reviewed and either accepted or rejected. If you start working on a HIT and don't like it or realize it will take more time than the pay is worth, you can return it and not be penalized. But if you accept it and just don't finish it, it will count as a strike against you and you might not be eligible for certain future HITs. It can take up to 21 days to actually get paid in your account, but usually it takes just a few days. The money I earn from mechanical turk goes into an Amazon payments account which I can use right on Amazon.com to order stuff, or I can request it go into a bank account.
I realize that there are many other part-time jobs that pay more money than online work sites like this, but right now I don't want to commit myself to set hours and a set schedule that would take me away from my kids. When my kids are all in elementary school, I would like to get a "real" job, but for now I like the flexibility of working when I can or when I want to.
Have you done any work on Mturk.com? Do you have any other sites you use?