You probably know by now that content is king…and in order to be the king of content, you must write articles. You need articles for your niche website (unless you decide to go the “this site” route, which I will discuss in a future article) – and you also need articles to submit to article directories.
For my own site, I prefer to write my own articles. I don’t love to write, but I think that I am a decent enough writer and I cannot yet afford to hire a full-time virtual assistant. There are PLENTY of sites out there to buy articles from, but if you are looking for really good, keyword rich, quality content, then you are probably going to have to pay at least $5 per article. Fiverr is always a good option, as well as other freelance-type sites, such as Upwork.com and Freelancer.com (both of which I have used in the past). Once you have a good article, you can always use spinner software to spin the article and re-use it in various places. I just purchased The Best Spinner, so I plan to write a review of it soon once I start using it!
But if you are just starting out, you may not be able to afford, or may not want to pay $5 per article… If this sounds like you, then I recommend Amazon Mechanical Turk (or MTurk for short). As I mentioned above, I prefer to write my own articles for my own sites… But when I am not feeling motivated to write an article for an article directory, I often turn to MTurk. According to the site:
We give businesses and developers access to an on-demand, scalable workforce. Get thousands of HITs completed in minutes. Pay only when you’re satisfied with the results.
I think the intent of the site is to use humans to do menial tasks that humans are able to do better than computers. For example, workers can get paid to identify images, to help improve image search engines. There are thousands of tasks that pay from 1 cent per job up to a few dollars per job. I’m not sure if article writing was ever an intention of the people that came up with Mechanical Turk, but that is what I use it for.
Side note #1: If you are really hurting for cash, you can always sign up as a worker and complete jobs for small amounts of cash. It’s a pretty simple way to make some extra money – not a lot of money – but money nonetheless.
Side note #2: Writing articles for article directories are a necessary part of creating backlinks to your website. See my resources page for my list of favorite article websites.
Setting Up Your Article Writing Job on Mechanical Turk
The first step to creating a job on Amazon Mechanical Turk is to sign up as a requester. You have the option to make money as a worker, or to get results from workers as a requester. You will want to create an account at mturk.com and then choose the “Get Results” link on the right side of the page. (It’s been some time since I signed up for my account, so I’m not sure if you have to fund your account during the signing process or not. But at some point you will have to provide a credit card in order to put some initial funds into your account in order to pay workers.)
Once your account is set up and you are logged in, you will see the following three tabs at the top of the page:
There are also some handy little resource links and videos to help you get started. I’ll admit that I’ve never watched any of them, but I’m sure they are very helpful and can probably provide a lot more information than I am in this post.
Designing Your Job
You should begin by clicking the Design tab. You’ll basically want to follow the tabs in order from Design -> Publish -> Manage.
The design process consists of creating a HIT template. (A HIT is just mturk’s word for a job or a gig.) The purpose of creating a template is so that you can create multiple similar jobs, without having to recreate the exact same job every time. Rather you can log in, head over the Publish, and select an existing template. You then feed the template a comma-separated list of keywords, and you can quickly post a new job.
The site gives you a whole selection of existing sample templates to choose from to help you get started. I am going to paste the wording for my template that I use below. Feel free to copy my template or change it as you see fit.
Get started by choosing the Blank Template from the Sample HIT Templates and press the button: “Start with this template“. Give the template a name, for example, “400 Word Article Template”. The name is for you to differentiate between your templates and will not be seen by the workers. The Title and Description are what will be seen by the workers, so make these somewhat more specific – but at the same time, leave the title generic enough that you can reuse it for multiple article jobs. An example of a job title that I have used in the past is: “Write a 400-word article on a specific topic”. An example of a description that I would use is “Write a 400-word article on a specific topic, using the provided keywords.”
The other important properties to fill out are the allotted time for the HIT, the HIT expiration, and most importantly the Reward per assignment. The allotted time starts at the time the HIT is accepted, so be sure to give enough time. An hour or two should be sufficient for writing a 300-500 word article. I usually just go with the default 7-day expiration. As far as the payment, you can play around with what works best for you and what gets you the most bang for your buck. In general, I pay around 80 cents for a 300-word article and up to $1.00 for a 500-word article. I think it’s really up to you to decide what you think is a fair wage for an article and also play around with what gets you the best results. If you offer 50 cents, you may have trouble getting anyone to take the gig, or you may get very poor quality articles. The more money you offer, the better results you will probably get, and the more strict you can probably be with what articles you accept.
And with that, I think this article is getting a bit long, so I’ve decided to split it into 2 parts. In the next part, I will discuss designing the layout of your HIT, and I will also give you the sample layout that I use for my article writing jobs. I’ll also cover publishing and managing your HITs. I hope this is enough to get you started with Amazon Mechanical Turk. Look for part 2 in the next couple of days.
UPDATE: Part 2 is here: Using Amazon Mechanical Turk to Outsource Articles – Part 2