Over the course of 7 months, I have tried several ways of making money online that do not require cash to get started. In that period of time, I’ve managed to generate a grand total of $503.99. Not too bad, considering I started out with nothing. The following list gives some insight on my experience with the various sites I used to make some extra money.
Amazon Mechanical Turk: This is a site offered by Amazon, which allows users to sign up as a worker or a requester. As a worker, you can access HITS (human intelligence tests) posted by those who have made requests. They are generally simple tasks and can range anywhere from categorizing pieces of information to reporting the total number of search results for a given search term. There are always a good number of unique HITS available, so you’re sure to find something that you either enjoy or don’t mind doing.
Tips For Using Amazon Mechanical Turk:
- Be skeptical of hits offering the highest reward amounts. Oftentimes there are strings attached to these, such as paid subscriptions or at the very least a credit card number is required to complete it. If you are looking to make money without having to spend it, stay away from hits with titles like “Test our product!” or “Test of registration form functionality” and anything along those lines.
- If you are not confident that your hit will be approved by the requester, I recommend returning it rather than taking a gamble which could lower your approval rate, which will make fewer hits available to you.
- Keep a little lists of the titles for HITS you have enjoyed working on the most, or have made the most profit from completing. Use words from these titles to search for and find similar types of HITS when you need some new tasks. For example, if you worked on a hit titled “Help us find a name for our domain” and received good feedback from the requester, as well as what you consider a fair reward amount, then perhaps a good search for future hits would be “ domain.” Some of my personal favorite searches are: “find,” “email,” “account,” “domain,” “categorize,” “tag,” “image,” “write,” “rewrite,” “words,” “sentences,” and “contact.”
- When you view hits, make it a habit to use the different search parameters. Make sure to always check the box underneath the search box to the right side of the screen with the text “for which you are qualified” next to it. This will save you a great deal of time, since you will only see HITS which are available to you. If you have a minimum amount you are willing to complete hits for, specify this amount in the box that says “that pay at least.” After doing these two things, take one of the words from my list of searches and enter it into the search box, then hit enter. Once you are on the results page, you may also want to make use of the drop down list on the left side of the screen that says “sort by.” This will order your results based on reward amount (highest to least or least to highest), time given to complete HITS, the number of HITS requested for each title, and more.
- There is one search term that you will ALWAYS want to repeat, to make sure you don’t miss any opportunities to work on this type of HIT. That word is “survey” or also “study.” Always double check to make sure you’ve completed all the hits available for surveys, polls and academic studies, which will usually be requested by a college or university. There are two reasons why these are always good HITS. First of all, the reward amounts are usually fairly decent in comparison with others and are usually far less effort than HITS with oftentimes lower reward amounts. The second reason is that in most cases, there are very few restrictions on who is eligible to participate in these. Minimal qualification requirements makes them a sure thing.
- Do some research on the options you have for spending the earnings credited to your Amazon Payments account balance. Wiring them to a bank account or receiving credit for Amazon purchases is not all you can do with Amazon Payments. For example, I personally enjoy playing games on Facebook which require purchasing credits and I happily discovered that my Mechanical Turk earnings could be used to do this through Amazon Payments. So be aware of the different places which accept Amazon as a form of payment, to make sure you make the most of what you earn.
Survey Spot: I tried out a dozen different free survey taking sites when I started out my search for making free money online. I signed up for Inbox Dollars, DollarSurvey’s.net, Opinion Outpost, Toluna and many more. The only one that I consider worth using is SurveySpot.com. After signing up and creating a profile, you receive survey invites almost every day. The rewards system is easy to understand and simple: 1000 points equals $10.00. This is the minimum amount you must have in points to redeem your money, which is immediately sent via paypal. There is ample opportunity here, and the rewards for a single survey can occasionally be as high as $25, but you will have to be quick to get a spot in those since they go fast. On average, expect to receive invites for surveys somewhere in the range of $.50 to $7.00.
Tips for Using Survey Spot:
- Use an email account that you check the most often, preferably several times throughout the day. The surveys are only open for limited windows of time, usually only 24 hours or so. Any invitation link you click that’s over a day old, will most likely just take you to an error page or inform you that the survey has been closed. When this happens, ALWAYS click the “take another survey” button on the landing page, since it will direct you to a newer survey opportunity 8 out of 10 times.
- If you are offered a chance to participate in a survey where you’re asked to try a new product, I assure you that disclosing your address is safe and worth it. I’ve taken part in many of these product tests, most of which have been pleasant to use. Nice thing is that you get to keep it and they are usually useful to at least one person in the household. So far, I’ve been sent facial cleansers and scrubs, snack bars, soups, teeth polishing treatments, and more. These were all from well-known major brands and high-quality.
- Don’t be surprised if you end up losing out on rewards for a survey by encountering an error message for no apparent reason. This is fairly common, I’d say it happens somewhere around 30% of the time. This can be rather annoying if you’ve spent a considerable amount of time on the survey already, or if the award offered was great enough to tempt you. If it is a big enough amount, I strongly suggest contacting either survey spot or the email admin usually provided on the survey itself, near the bottom of the page where it says “Technical Problems.” Not all surveys have this, but when they do it is important to contact them as well as SurveySpot. To make your contact with both more smooth, take a screenshot of the error message page you were redirected to, and then use your browser’s back button to take a screen shot of the previous screen, and attach both to the email you send them. A friend of mine spent a solid hour answering a survey with a $25 reward, only to end up at an error message at the very end of it. He contacted Survey Spot and they handled his complaint in a couple of weeks, by eventually crediting his account with the full amount in that time frame. So speak up if you have a dispute!
Fiverr: Fiverr is a neat concept site where anyone can create a “Gig” offering any type of service (except for adult themed services) that you are willing to give in exchange for $5.00. It can’t be any more or less than this. Payments are made via paypal and recently they began allowing users to cash out with any amount earned, rather than having a $40 minimum.
Tips for Using Fiverr:
- Even if you think you have a good idea for a “gig,” it will surprise you how many others have already thought of it and posted one offering something similar. Getting creative is a good idea, but it will only get you so far. More important than originality is making your gig more appealing than others like it. If you want to offer your services as an editor for proofreading papers, you will find TONS of gigs on Fiverr that are already offering this type of deal. The key is to make your offer seem like the best option for anyone who needs their paper proofread. How do you do this? Let’s say you see two different gigs like this, one offering to edit a maximum of 10 pages and the other one specifying a 5,000 word limit. In that sort of case, I recommend not mentioning ANY type of limit or maximum amount in your gig. This gives potential buyers a stronger sense of getting the most out of their money. Even go as far as saying that you will edit one entire paper or essay, regardless of length. This will be looked on far more favorably than gigs that will only be helpful to people with shorter papers. I have refrained from mentioning any limits in my own gigs, and so far no one has taken advantage of that in any way. Oftentimes two similar gigs will deliver services of equal value, but the reason why a buyer chose one over the other lies in the wording of the gig they purchased. What this means is that you don’t necessarily have to provide a service that actually ends up being superior to others like it, but writing your gig a certain way will make buyers perceive your service that way and choose you over others.
- Don’t post things that you aren’t willing to follow through with or can’t take on. Fiverr uses a feedback system which clearly displays your rating to all viewers of your gigs. You want to keep that number next to your name “100%” for positive feedback. Good comments left by your customers are shown for each gig, and give your services credibility which can lead to more people purchasing what you offer. If your gig is ordered a couple times, and you need time to work on them then I suggest temporarily suspending the gig until you have delivered your current orders first, then reactivate it when you are ready for new orders.
- Give yourself enough time when you specify the number of days needed to deliver your service. Underestimating time will result in a late delivery status for your order.
- Be aware that Fiverr takes $1 for every $5 order you receive. This is a considerable chunk, so don’t be surprised when you get less money than what was shown as your total before the site fees are applied.
- Using Fiverr’s email system, you can only send one attachment per message. This can be a hassle in some situations, but the site discourages exchanging emails to contact customers outside of the site.
Opportunities Found in the Sites on This List: By using the sites above, other opportunities were offered to me that have ended up being profitable and promising. Although some of them don’t allow contacting your customers outside the site, I still suggest that you do it because often a satisfied customer may be interested in other services you offer that go beyond the limitations of the site you are using. For example, I was contacted by a Mechanical Turk Requester after working on one of their HITS, and invited to take part in similar work on a freelancing site. I’ve had customer’s from Fiverr do business with me on a greater level after purchasing one of my gigs, as well as re-order the same gig after being pleased with the results.