Saturday, January 29, 2011

HITs with reckless abandon

a.k.a Amazon Mechanical Turk: The good, the blah.

You may have heard of "crowdsourcing" or "human intelligence tasks". The idea is basically various companies (known as "Requesters") assigning short, repetitive tasks to an anonymous group of people, for whatever reason that may be. It sounds nice in theory: you can "work from home", do interesting work, start and stop whenever you feel like it, earn extra money, blah blah. In practise, it's more like virtual slave labor: tasks pay VERY little, and can take much longer than anticipated. And if you mess up, the requester can reject your submission and you won't get paid for that task. HOWEVER, you can definitely make *real* money in a short amount of time, without changing out of your bathrobe. Just don't expect too much, and follow these guidelines to see if it's something you want to pursue.

How to use it:

Make your account, and link your bank info so you can get paid. Then go check out the tasks. If you're new, there may not be many available to you (some tasks have requirements of, say, 1,000 successfully completed tasks.) You might start by checking out ones that ask for twitter followers or Facebook likes (see Other advice/warnings, paragraph 2). If there isn't anything good, just leave and come back later. New tasks are added all the time.

The good:
  • Anyone can do it, as long as you stay in good standing by not having too much of your work rejected (I've had only .7% of my work rejected)
  • Some of the "tasks" are actually fun. One of the first ones I did was to read product reviews on and mark if they were "sarcastic" in tone. The reviews were all hilariously snarky, and I still chuckle when I remember them.
  • Occasionally you come across very easy tasks that manage to pay decently.
  • Passes time when you're really, really bored.
  • Pennies eventually add up!
  • You can turn your earnings into an gift card (cash out: $1) or transfer to your bank account (cash out: $10)
The bad;
  • Many of the higher-paying "tasks" are actually scams. Well, maybe not outright scams, but they are attempts to get you to sign up for their website which turns out to be a for-pay site. Avoid anything that says "Test this website!" or "Check functionality of our new sign-up process", and for the love of god, don't ever give out personal information or your credit card number.
  • Basically impossible to make more than $2 an hour.
  • Most tasks are pretty fucking mind-numbing. Of course, you have no obligation to keep doing them.
  • Some occasionally crash or have broken links. Always RETURN these, and report them as broken.
  • Sometimes successfully completed tasks take awhile to pay. Most take less than 24 hours, however.

Other advice/warnings:

Find a group of tasks that has a lot available. (You can sort by "HITs available: Most first") Find one that seems reasonable and take a look at it. If it looks doable, click "Accept". If you then find it isn't something you think is worth it, feel free to click "Return". There's no penalty for returning a task. If it is good, you can click "automatically accept the next HIT in this group" and keep working on those tasks and watch the money add up!

Search "twitter" or "facebook" in the search box. There are usually plenty that offer 1-15 cents just to follow them on twitter or like their page on Facebook. Get yourself some "secondary" accounts if you like, just make sure to check their requirements (some will not pay unless your twitter account has 100 followers, for example.) This is a great way to take advantage of people who heard on the news that "social networking" was all the rage, and totally the way to succeed in business.

Make sure to check the time allotted. Some that ask you to follow them on Twitter or like them on Facebook only give you 60 seconds. If your internet stalls, you're screwed, and the HIT is considered abandoned. If you find one like that, go to their site and follow them BEFORE clicking "Accept". Then accept the HIT and enter the info they want.

Avoid anything that takes you to a 3rd party site (even having to visit a search engine is iffy.) This includes ones that ask you to post ads on craigslist or other similar sites. Most likely the "submit" button will be broken, and/or it will ask for some non-existent "confirmation code" to prevent you from getting paid. Feel free to report these (there's a link at the bottom of the page to report anything broken or in violation of terms.)


Like I said, it's something to do when you're bored. I wouldn't think for a second that anyone could actually make any kind of living doing it (unless you literally did tasks 24 hours a day), but a little extra money certainly can't hurt, right? I've made over $45 from it, which is $45 I didn't have previously. I also really like that you can directly apply your earnings to purchases at by converting them to gift cards. That way I can add it to my pile of Swagbucks and MyPoints gift cards and use it to get food. :D

Friday, January 28, 2011

ICS: New & Improved?

I've written positively about Instant Cash Sweepstakes before (I still wish they would change their name though. -_-) You answer a few user-created (and some sponsored) 3-question surveys and you win "tickets", "coins", and/or a few cents in actual cash. You can play every 3 hours, and once a day they hold a $50 prize drawing which you are automatically entered in with all the tickets you've won that day. You can cash out at just $2, and they send your money with Paypal. Very cool, no?

Since then, they've added a new feature to the site! Previously, the purpose of "coins'' was that you could save them up as long as you wanted and exchange them for more tickets in the daily $50 drawing. Now they've added a $2 drawing every 4 hours, and you use your coins to place entries in that drawing. You do this manually, and you can enter some or all of your coins (which you can still save up for as long as you want!)

I think this is a huge improvement to the site; you can have a much higher chance of winning the $2 drawing because it must be entered manually, so you can wait until very few people have entered, then dump all your coins. There's even a meter that tells you if a lot of coins have been entered (so if you wait until the meter is close to green, you will have a higher chance of winning!)

I haven't won any of the drawings yet, but I was able to cash out $10 just from the survey prizes, and I am still earning. You can even write your own surveys and other users will answer them!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

MyPoints: a slightly lamer rewards site

While it's not as good as Swagbucks (which I have now gotten $185 worth of gift cards from :D), MyPoints is another potential way to earn rewards. I've gotten $50 worth of gift cards from them (2x$25) in the past 9 months, so I'd say that's at least worth checking out.

It works like this: they send you a few sponsored emails a day. You get 5 points for clicking on them. That's all you have to do. You usually get more points (depending on the offer, sometimes 10-25, sometimes thousands) if you "take advantage of the offer" (ie buy something, but sometimes it's a free thing like sign up for a website or take a survey.)

That's about it. There are more ways to earn (if you install their toolbar you can get 75 points/month for doing at least 30 searches), but that's the meat of it. Their offer wall is lacking, and the only other way to earn points is by shopping. If you happen to already do a lot of online shopping, you are likely to rack up points much faster, but of course that somewhat defeats the purpose of "free" (still better than no rewards though!)

Other good points:
  • Sometimes the ad emails they send actually have really good offers in them. I've mentioned before that I love That site already has a lot of good deals, but thanks to MyPoints I've gotten additional deals *plus* extra rewards on MyPoints for buying stuff I would have paid more for at any local shop.
  • You can actually get points for shopping on eBay! You can access eBay search and even bookmark items directly on MyPoints. Then, if you win an item that you clicked through, you get points from the purchase. Just make sure not to clear your cookies between the time you clicked and the end of the auction (if you do, just go back and click again.)
Kinda lame points:
  • They actually insist on mailing you your gift card claim code. No clue why. The good news is, the letter shows up pretty quickly (less than a week in my experience.)
  • There used to be a "Spin and Win" feature on the site which gave you the daily opportunity to get free points. It seems to be gone now.
  • There doesn't seem to be a referral link or banners to use; you have to email people to get referrals, which I don't really like doing (makes me think all my friends and family will just start ignoring my emails because they may see stuff like that as spam. I much prefer to direct people to my blog!)

Bottom line: It's pretty worth it, but especially if you shop online frequently. They have a lot of available retailers, and seem to be pretty good at tracking cookies. (I have had to email Swagbucks customer support several times to get them to cough up my Shop & Earn points!)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Broke Sandwich now on Facebook!

Like us! I will be posting links to awesome deals I find, recipes, random tips, photos and more! I plan to do a giveaway once the page hits 1,000 likes, so feel free to share!

If you aren't already, you can follow @brokesandwich on Twitter, too!

Time to pay the piper, bitch.

It's been awhile! I hope everyone is doing well on their efforts to save money. :) Did anyone else get that sweet LivingSocial deal the other day? $10 for a $20 gift card! I was able to get mine for free by getting 3 referrals. $20 worth of free food on Amazon Grocery? That's what I'm talking about. :D

What else is new with me? Well, you'll be pleased to hear that I am no longer a broke college student! That's right, I am now officially a broke college drop-out! Which brings me to my next (and possibly most important) money-saving tip: Never, never, EVER go to college.

So now I'm working on paying back my student loans, which means I'm going to be broker and more fabulous than ever! Speaking of debt, I found an interesting new site: CreditKarma. It's actually 100% free, and you can access your credit score whenever you want (which, one would think, is how it SHOULD be, but I've unfortunately been hosed by "free credit score" sites before. On that note, why the hell should I have to provide my credit score to a potential landlord? I'M the one giving YOU money, dickbag.) Anyway, they also have a lot of neat tools and calculators to help manage your debt and raise your credit score.

According to that site I'll be out of debt by, oh, 2060. Awesome!