Friday, March 16, 2012

Put Another Nickel In

I recently read an article about legitimate ways to earn income from home using the internet. One of the ways suggested by the article was a website that pays its “workers” to do short tasks such as taking surveys, submitting to psychological or skills testing, writing short essays, evaluating Google searches, and similar tasks. The tasks generally take very little time, but they also generate very little income. And by “very little,” I mean literally a few pennies. Many of the tasks pay two or three cents for ten or fifteen minutes of your time. Some pay thirty or fifty cents. A few even pay a dollar, or two, or three! So I signed up to be a worker.

Some of the tasks are interesting, like comparing the top hit of Google searches with slightly varied keywords, or transcribing a political interview. Some are good for polishing writing skills, like writing a few paragraphs of copy for a photographer’s website, or writing a brief article on how to give an effective wedding toast. Some are just plain goofy fun, like watching brief images flash on a screen and picking the category that they best fit into, or adding a column of figures while clicking on an icon whenever you hear a certain sound.

But it’s certainly not going to make anyone rich. After four days and probably ten or twelve hours of “work,” I’ve earned a grand total of….wait for it….twenty-two dollars and sixty-one cents. Now, technically, it’s likely that I’ve earned more than that, because some of the tasks take a day or two to be approved, so I have a number of outstanding payments that aren’t included in that total. So assuming that I did twelve hours of work and made a little more than thirty bucks, I’m earning roughly two fifty an hour. Before taxes.

That kind of sucks.

And yet, I’m still doing it.

Why? Because it’s kind of fun. And because, as my husband pointed out, that’s booze money for the week. Thirty bucks a week will buy a nice bottle of wine. (Or a pair of shoes. Or a dress. Or dinner out - for one, anyway.)

It’s a bit humbling to think that my time is worth so little. And yet, it’s not worth that little simply because that’s all that I’m being paid for it. It makes me think of the many talented musicians I’ve heard playing in subway stations. Every few minutes, someone tosses them a nickel, a dime, maybe a quarter, maybe even a buck or two. They’re not being paid a fair wage for their skill, but they’re willing to share their talent for the little bit they get back. And why? Because they enjoy it, whether or not they’re being paid. Because the world is a better place due to their willingness to share their time and talents. Because eventually those nickels and dimes do add up to something.

Even if that something is just a bottle of wine. Because that makes the world a better place, too.


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