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July 08, 2021

Can you make money working online?

By Gordon Powers, Sympatico / MSN Finance 

A soured economy has prompted a boom in crowdsourcing, reports Businessweek, an efficient trend that will outlast the recession, it predicts. Good news for some, but not necessarily all.

online retailer Amazon, for instance. In case you're unfamiliar with it, Amazon's Mechanical Turk is a crowdsourced marketplace for tiny tasks.

Someone needing work done can set up a HIT (human intelligence task) and wait for others to come along and complete, earning modest payments along the way. The jobs might include taking surveys, contributing to a restaurant guide, or transcribing audio clips. You choose an assignment, and, on completion, are credited with payment to your Amazon account, which you can withdraw once it gets up to $10.

In theory, businesses gain access to an on-demand, scalable workforce and online workers get exposure to micro jobs they might not otherwise see. At least that’s the theory. Disgruntled workers complain about working for peanuts or simply getting stiffed altogether.

This controversy is what prompted blogger Trent Hamm of the Simple Dollar to document his-minute-by-minute experience with Mechanical Turk. He set aside an hour to try to earn some money and kept a detailed log of his experience.

His conclusion? Don't quit your day job. If you can write quickly, you might be able to earn close to the minimum wage, or a bit better if you really work at it.

Hardly a way to get rich but perhaps a useful stopgap when you’re job hunting, he advises.

What's your experience with online work?



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...