A bean here, a bean there: Eventually you have a hill of beans. Photo: Public Domain Pictures

How Micro Jobs Are Saving My Ass in 2019 (Who Knew?)

Those Tiny Little Crowdsource Jobs Can Pay Off Pretty Big

Micro Jobs Are Perfect If You Already Have a Job

Ever since September 2018, when I realized how very not okay we were financially, I’ve been angling for ways to make bank. After cutting all the expenses we could possibly cut, our family still had to make more money.

Microtasks: Little Tasks Add Up to Big Money

While I was looking for The Next Big Thing, I’d been studiously loading up on little things. Imagine my surprise that first month when I made $80 here, $20 there, and…pretty soon it added up to real money. Here’s what I did.

Amazon Turk

Amazon owns everything, it seems. I admit, it can feel a little spooky on the Amazon MTurk platform, doing small jobs that are just this side of being automated. The name of the service has its roots in 18th Century Hungaro-Austria, when an inventor named Kempelen Farkas created a chess-playing gizmo to impress Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. It was portrayed as a completely mechanical automaton that could outplay humans at chess. In fact, it was built to have a human chess master concealed inside, a secret never revealed by its several owners during the 80 years of its existence. It was destroyed by fire in 1854. Its secret was told in the pages of Chess Monthly soon after.

Kempelen Farkas’s Mechanical Turk turned out to be people! The automaton is people!

Other Survey Sites

I just signed up with Vindale and have earned $2.00 so far. They pay out in $50 increments, so it will be a while before I see a return. As I am waiting, I experience a difficulty I’ve also had for certain requesters on Amazon: market surveys are sometimes run by an aggregating requester who makes you qualify — unpaid — again and again for 10 or more minutes, often without returning a single survey you can participate in. How this works (or doesn’t) is that you are repeatedly asked your age, your income, your geographical location, and/or your politics or health status or other lifestyle information, and some factor — usually age, I think, or income — disqualifies you, so that you are then put through another qualifying questionnaire, all without compensation. It’s frustrating, to say the least. I’m getting a lot of that on Vindale so far, but I’m willing to give it a try for a while longer. Many other sites exist for survey-taking for cash; a quick Google will find you a few.


I earn between $10 and $50 a month using UserTesting, which also puts you through many unpaid qualifications before finding a match. Once matched, you are testing the usability of a website, recording yourself with the audio recorder the site asks you to download. You have to be willing to download this software and to share your screen and voice during testing. There is also a fair amount of frustrating non-paid qualification involved, so even though you are paid $10 per test, don’t dream yourself into hundreds of dollars per month. It’s designed not to happen that way.

Receipt Hog

Receipt Hog collects information about your shopping habits in exchange for credits you can cash in. It’s one of the few apps that I can load onto my iPhone 4s (although its latest version is not so good for me now). As soon as I move to a new phone, I’ll take on a service like iBotta, as well as keep Receipt Hog. The payback is a bit slow for the effort, but it’s good clean fun and I like the cute little pig graphic, which changes its attired each month in some new way that reflects the season.

Dabba dabba dat’s all, folks!


About a month after signing up for Medium’s Partners Program, and after giving up on the process because of my tiny numbers….I made money!

I think one of these fans is my mom.

Chegg Tutoring (not a microtask, but full disclosure)

I have to be honest: Chegg Tutoring has not been a dream come true for me. Maybe because what I teach is English, and what people mostly need is math; or maybe because I just can’t sit and hang out for the hours required to catch requests, or maybe just because there are too many tutors and too few students, but in all my time as a Chegg tutor, I think I made a few hundred dollars for some very hard, human-intensive counseling, coaching, and editing.

I’m a 50-something bohemian with a mountain of debt and regrets. Can I dig out before it’s all over? I brake for poets.

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