Nickel and Diming

With everybody staying inside and home from work during this whole COVID-19 thing, I thought I’d share the ways I earn money online.  These are in no way intended to be a replacement for actual employment, but hopefully they help bring in a little extra income during some really uncertain times.  (Full disclosure, I find it immensely satisfying on a psychological level to feel like I’m making progress on my financial situation by earning a few bucks on the side.  Your mileage may vary.)

I’ve used all of the sites below, and unless otherwise indicated, I’ve cashed out actual money from them, so you have a Hans Moleman guarantee that they are legit.  That being said, all of these platforms involve earning small amounts of money for performing simple tasks.  If you’re looking for a get rich quick idea, well…

In normal times, I usually perform tasks on these platforms during my commute and lunch break, and I pull in about $100-$150 a month or so. 

Amazon’s Mechanical Turk

https://worker.mturk.com

This is basically the gold standard of “Get Paid To” (GPT) websites.  Officially, it’s a platform to help computers understand how humans think.  Jobs posted on the site are referred to as HITs (Human Intelligence Tasks), and usually range from training AI to participating in academic research. 

The good:

  • Mturk always has the most tasks available, by far.
  • No fees or minimum cash out balances
  • Funds can be deposited directly into a linked bank account as frequently as every 3 days
  • Amazon finally started displaying requester approval rates to help you spot bad faith requesters

Ummm…no thanks.
  • Some nerds have created a bunch of extensions/programs that help you more efficiently find and accept HITs.  I’m still just a casual turker, and have never tried them out, but you can get some better info about them here: https://www.reddit.com/r/mturk/
  • You might receive favorable treatment when the machines rise up and enslave us all

The bad:

  • Amazon limits the number of workers on the platform, so it’s possible you won’t get approved.
  • The best jobs won’t be available to you until you’ve  built up a sizeable amount of approved HITs.  It’ll be a slog in the beginning.
  • New accounts are particularly vulnerable to bad faith requesters.  Be careful on working on big batches early on.  Getting hit with a lot of rejections early on could get your account suspended or tank your approval rate so badly that you won’t qualify for anything legitimate.
  • Amazon will never take any action against a bad faith requester, even though they’re getting scammed too. 

Prolific

https://app.prolific.co/studies

This is a platform used solely for posting academic studies/surveys.  It’s based out of the UK, so it pays in GBP. 

The Good:

  • Prolific does the best job of giving you all of the information you’ll need up front.  Each study lists which devices it can be taken on, a realistic estimate of the time, the amount you’ll earn and how that works out as an hourly wage.
  • The website auto-refreshes, so you can just leave it open on a tab in your browser and you can see when new studies get posted
  • Academic surveys are usually better paid and give you rights as a participant that protect you against being scammed. 

The Bad:

  • There’s less work on prolific
  • £5.00 minimum to cash out to Paypal
  • They have fees?  Their fee structure is really hard to figure out.  I haven’t been charged a fee since I switched from cashing out as soon as I hit the £5.00 minimum to once a month.  I honestly don’t know if the fee is waived if you let it get to a certain amount, or only withdraw funds at a certain frequency.  It’s really the only thing they don’t do a good job of explaining. 

Swagbucks

https://www.swagbucks.com/

Swagbucks is a platform that allows you to earn SBs (1SB=$0.01) for a variety of different things.  SBs can be redeemed for gift cards or paypal.  You can earn SBs through completing marketing surveys, signing up for spam, shopping online, using their crappy-ass search engine, playing in trivia games, etc. etc.

The Good:

  • There are lots of different ways to earn money, and there is usually some sort of special promotion or event nearly every week.
  • There are lots of ways to maximize your earnings, and I feel like I’m still learning them.  You can get extra money by hitting your daily goal, completing your to-do list, and participating in their special events
Making nice progress on this goal
  • They have apps (mainly just for Android users) that pay you to watch ads.  I usually set it up before I go to bed and wake up to a little bit of money earned in the morning.

The Bad:

  • You’re not going to make that much.
  • Paypal cash out threshold is normally $25, which is pretty high.  I think you can get Amazon and Visa gift cards for as low as $3, though.
  • Marketing surveys pay crap, and will often bounce you to a different survey or disqualify you after you’ve put a lot of work in. 
  • Swagbucks is kind of like a gateway into the scammier parts of the GPT world.  You can earn money to sign up for other platforms which are far less reputable.  I wouldn’t advise you to go down that rabbit hole, besides pocketing the SB offered for the initial sign up.
  • So. Much. Spam.  If you’re thinking about signing up, consider creating a dedicated email address just for Swagbucks.  (However, if you want to cash your earnings out into PayPal, the PayPal email address needs to match your Swagbucks account email, so keep that in mind when you’re coming up with your plans to cash out.)

Likely legit, but I haven’t cashed out

Clickworker, Microworker and Picoworker are all basically the same concept as Mturk, except with a lot less work available.  I have dabbled in all three, but never gotten my account high enough to reach the minimum cash out threshold.  They don’t have a reputation as being scammers in the GPT community, so I am willing to bet that they are legit, but I can’t personally vouch for them.  Also, Microworker and Picoworker are mainly just places where requesters can buy artificial engagement (Social media likes and follows, search engine clicks, etc.)  They always feel kinda sleazy.

Garbage sites

There are tons of Swagbucks imitators out there.  I’ve used Inboxdollars and SendEarnings, and while they will let you cash out, the thresholds are really high, they spring hidden fees on you, and the pay is so small that it takes months to build up enough to cash out.  You’re probably better off looking for spare change in your couch cushions than trying to make money on these.

There are also lots of sites out there that use the same partners/offers as Swagbucks, just with a lot less other ways to earn.  Their rewards structure tends to be even more cryptic, and if you already completed the offers on Swagbucks, you won’t be able to complete them a second time.

There are about 1,000 sites out there that just link you back to these . If that’s all the site has, stay away. .

That’s all I have for now. If there is any interest, I can follow-up with a post about apps/sites I use that help save money on purchases. Feel free to add any suggestions and/or stridemother jokes below!