“Micro Job” and Survey Websites: Are They Really Worth it?

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The internet is full of websites that claim to offer you a chance to make money through your computer and from the comfort of your home. Many, especially the ones that pop up in adverts offering absurd paycheques, are outright scams. Some, however, are legitimate. Two of the main types of websites that really pay are micro job providers and survey sites.

While many of these sites do indeed pay you reliably and as promised, a question that is overlooked surprisingly often is that of whether they pay enough to be worthwhile.

What Are These Kinds of Websites?

Survey websites and micro-job or “crowdsourcing” websites are quite different, but they represent probably the two most prominent examples of genuine and relatively accessible ways to make money online from home. This is something that many people have, understandably, found attractive.

Survey websites are pretty much what you might think: websites where you get paid to take surveys. Those surveys are used to gather opinions for companies and other organisations carrying out market research. As market research is important to these companies, they are often willing to offer small payments as an incentive to complete the surveys.

Micro job websites give specific tasks to people to complete in a practice known as “crowdsourcing.” These tasks are usually small but difficult to automate, such as data entry or testing websites, so companies find that the most effective way to get them done is to hand them over to a “crowd” of workers on the internet. Payments are usually very small – often just pennies – but the tasks are small as well so the theory is that you can complete as many tasks as you want in order to build up your earnings. Some have hailed this concept as a way for businesses to get large tasks done quickly while making easy, flexible paid work available for ordinary people. Others have been more critical of the idea, particularly the low pay and the focus on getting things done quickly.

Are They Worth It?

This is the big question, and ultimately one that any individual who is considering these websites must decide for themselves. However, there are a few things that you really should think about before deciding whether to sign up for these kinds of sites.

The main consideration is the pay. Because payments are small but jobs are small too, it is hard to judge how good or bad the earnings are and many people who use these sites regularly do not really know what their effective “wage” is. The truth is, with most micro job and survey websites you are unlikely to make even the equivalent of minimum wage. This is legal because you are being paid per job and not for your time. However, legal or not, the idea of working for less than what would normally be the legal minimum is not one that will appeal to many people.

Many sites also do not really have enough work to go around the large numbers of workers who have signed up. This puts an automatic cap on your earnings, even if you find one that does pay well for the time a task takes, and requires you to spend extra time watching for new jobs to appear as they tend to be snapped up quickly.

The main positives are the flexibility and accessibility. You can work when you want, from home, using only an internet connection. For some, such as busy parents or those who are between conventional jobs, this may seem attractive enough to make it worthwhile, but it is important to weigh this against the pay in order to make an informed decision.

Can you really afford a career change?

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Many people dream of changing their careers. The reasons are many; the prospect of a change from the same old routine, or a new challenge, learning a new skill set or industry, the opportunity to relocate (perhaps internationally). A career change can be part of a fresh direction or start in life, or the realisation of an old dream or ambition.

For whatever the reason, many people have considered changing careers. What stops most people is the cost.

It is not easy to break into a new industry, especially when already comfortable and experience in the workplace. Additionally, not only does such a change take much time, effort, planning and research, but it can be expensive. There might be training course to attend, certificates to acquire, or costs associated with a necessary relocation. Work experience may often be necessary when starting a new profession; those are often voluntary. Pursuing opportunities to enter a new career field may mean that you have to take time off your existing work.

Even when successfully starting out in a new career, career changers will inevitably be at the  bottom of their new profession- and undoubtedly take a steep pay cut, which will impact on their lifestyle, especially when taking existing debts and financial obligations into account. All the benefits accrued in your previous industry (health insurance, holidays, parking, industry specific perks) will all vanish, and have to be laboriously worked towards all over again. Effectively, you will be starting at the bottom of the career ladder again; mentally and financially, can you handle that?

Although it is a major thing to consider when contemplating a career change, there is absolutely no reason that financial issues should stop you making that longed for change.

1Consider your current financial position carefully, with your existing obligations and income. Can you afford to make that change? How long can you afford to be between jobs and careers? Start saving, and building up financial reserves to deal with the expenses of such a change (nobody said that a career change would take place quickly!). Small steps in managing your finances will pay off dividends when actually taking the plunge and making the change.

According to some life coaches and self- help gurus, challenge and revise your thinking about money. Many people have certain limiting beliefs about money, which often hold them back. Now is the time to challenge those beliefs, and to change your thinking as regards money. Try turning limiting or negative financial beliefs or concerns into positive thoughts; for example, instead of ‘I can’t manage money’, thinks instead ‘how can I manage money more effectively?’ Don’t allow yourself to be held back from your goal of a career change by financial concerns. After all, you can stay at the same job, with the same lifestyle and finances- or you can take an expensive and risky chance. The reward, however, is a sense of achievement and accomplishment, a fresh start in an area that probably makes you happier overall. With greater positivity will come greater effort and enthusiasm- and over time, more money.

A point to consider is timing. Time your career change right, so that there is the minimum of time between jobs and careers, ideally when you have enough saved, or are financially stable enough. Time your change so that it is a good time break into your new profession, when the markets are good, companies are hiring, or (if applicable) it is the right time of year or season for hiring.

Gradually get the experience, skills, and qualifications that are required for your new profession. Research your new profession carefully, so you understand exactly what is required at entry level, and exactly what it involves. Talk to people in your prospective field, or specific, specialist recruitment consultancy agencies. For example, for financial and similar professionals, recruitment consultancies such as Randstad are very experienced and are knowledgeable about the job market out there right now, and will be able to help and advise those seeking employment.

Although challenging, tough, and a very long drawn out affair, a successful career change is ultimately fulfilling. There are many questions to consider, and issues to overcome- but don’t be put off career changing by financial concerns.