As a recent college graduate, I'm always looking for ways to earn a few extra dollars to pay the bills until my degree pays off. One of the avenues I pursued was online surveys. However, with all the possibilities available to earn extra cash by doing online surveys, it's easy to become overwhelmed and confused. Many of these sites make it seem easy to get rewards, but in fact take a long time before you see any reimbursement.

Tired of wasting my time signing up for survey sites that guaranteed easy rewards, only to find that I didn't qualify for many of them, I had given up. Then I heard about Amazon's MTurk program from a career counselor at my university. Anyone with a few spare minutes a day can earn a couple extra dollars with MTurk by doing what are referred to as "Hits," (small surveys, opinion responses, etc.) assigned by "Requesters."  Basically, these are assignments you choose based on your interest and qualification. Here's what I've learned after two months of being an MTurker.

Start Small

It's easy to get going and salivate over the $15.00 surveys you see listed on the Hits page.  However, many require a Master Qualification, which you can only get after you've completed a certain number and type of Hits. Starting small, with the lower value Hits, allows you to build up your accuracy rating so you can take on more high-paying Hits. It also allows you to get the hang of how the system works.

Read Before You Leap

Often, a Hit's title looks like it'll be just the thing for you. You click "Accept" and then read the description only to discover you either don't qualify for it due to a demographic reason (age, gender, etc.) or it's not what you expected. In the case where you do click "Accept" but find you're not interested, make SURE you "Return" the Hit. Otherwise, your rating will lower for accepting work you didn't complete.

Watch the Clock

Each Hit has a designated amount of time for you to work on it. The amount of time you have is given in the description of the Hit.  There is a handy little clock at the top of the Hit's page that counts down how much time you have left. Don't get up for a cup of coffee if you only have ten minutes left.  You don't want to let easy money slip away!

Have Favorites

Mom was wrong; sometimes it's okay to play favorites. If you complete a Hit for a Requester that you particularly enjoyed, or if they compliment your work in an in-system message, check back with them. The more good work you do for someone, the more likely they are to notify you of available Hits first. They may even pay you bonuses for a job well done.

Treat it Like a Job

Sometimes, if you've been at the computer for too long, it's tempting to skim whatever Hit you're working on and miss a step or a crucial bit of information. When I was starting out, I read everything I participated in very thoroughly, but after awhile I got comfortable and started to skim. That's when I began to miss key information the Requesters had put in the Hits to ensure their MTurkers were paying attention.  Things like, "If you're reading this carefully, type the number 6 into the box." It's easy to miss details like this buried in the text if you're not reading carefully. Remember, someone's paying you for this.  Give them the attention you would give any other employer.

MTurk is a great system, and the fact that it's run by a company as well-known and dependable as Amazon means that the money you make is real.

This has been a guest post by Kaitlyn from Martinsburg, WV
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