Micro Workers (Part II)

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Well, I thought I would do another review and update on how I am getting on working as a ‘microworker’. I have been doing this kind of work for a while now and I have found that over this time the work has changed considerably.

I first started doing this in the early days of the pandemic and lockdown in 2020. It was impossible to find work as offices had shutdown and the job market had come to a halt. If I wanted work the only two roles that seemed to be going were delivery driver or supermarket assistant. Neither of which I wanted to do as I did not want to exposed myself to the virus as this was pre vaccines.

So I jumped on the micro work path. I could work from home and just log in when I wanted and do as much or as little work as I wished. I signed up with a number of different sites which offered online micro work. Most of them did not seem to have much work going though. Existing users were saying the pandemic had affected work available. With client businesses shutdown they had little work to offer. I managed to earn some money working some data jobs (mainly for a large tech company – which has obviously done well out of the pandemic).

The main site I used offered links to additional online platforms (after passing tests & criteria) so once I had managed to gain access to the other platforms I had access to a wider work base and pay was directed via the main site. This payment route had its pros and cons. The main site operates in Euros and the additional sites operate in US dollars. So when payments were transferred to the main site they were converted and additional fees where taken by the main site. I had no control over the transaction fees or the exchange rates so had to accept the rates charged, the main site was obviously taking a nice chunk off the payments so was gaining income from the users while they worked the additional platform. It meant that they did not need to worry if they had no work to offer directly, they could just push users onto the other site and take a chunk of their earnings.

I sadly tracked my earnings and below is a graph for my monthly earnings on the micro platform.

microwork earnings

The blue line represents the main site and the orange line is the additional platform. When I first started, I did not check the orange platform much for work so earnings were low, there is also a lead time on the payments so sometimes the earnings would not get credited in the same month. In October 2020 I started to check the site more often and found more work available (the main site was bare) so about 70%+ of my work came from the additional platform.

As the winter of 2020 continued I managed to earn most of my earnings off the additional platforms as there was little to do on the main site (indicated by the narrow gap between the graph lines). In Dec 2020, they even offered a bonus, which I managed to achieve which increased my earnings but as the new year began and the site access started to widen to more countries globally, the ability to access and successfully gain work began to get harder. I don’t think I did too badly as I had a steady stream of earnings, it was hard to achieve the monthly target I had set myself but as 2021 continued the ability to keep working began to falter. I found that the competition for work was growing and it became impossible to access work and so my earnings started to fall. I think I need to work US hours as time zones definitely began to affect work availability.

From August 2021 onwards the platforms started dropping pay rates as they found they had a huge supply of users and based on geolocation they could keep dropping rates knowing that they could use the cheaper workers to complete the work. As 2021 came to an end, I found it really hard to get work on any of the sites. The pay has dropped considerably and most UK and European workers have started to drop off the site and find alternative work. The final straw for some UK workers was the removal of one of the payment routes (blamed on Brexit) as that now means additional fees have to be paid to withdraw your money via a different provider. With minimum transaction value thresholds it means the small sums earned are now hacked down to nothing as the fees take most of it away.

Now these online micro platforms are predominantly based/originate in the US and looking on the user forums for these sites, it is clear that the US users are now being affected by the changes over 2021 and are also complaining about the poor earnings opportunities and availability. For some this formed part of their nomadic life but they are now having to find other ways of bolstering their income. If I want to gain access to a bigger pool of work I would need to work US hours. looking at times of postings on the forums when work is active, I would need to work between midnight and 4am UK time. I do not want to do that.

I am having to seek alternatives. I have some other sites which provide sporadic micro work. One, has even upped its rates as the number of jobs has dropped. I get about two jobs a month on there, it does not seem to have recovered from the pandemic. When I first signed up it was providing about 10+ tasks a month. They email when jobs are available – so I can see how the work has dropped off.

I have never been able to achieve the monthly earning targets I had set myself and I have just about managed to earn the same annual amount as I did for the 2018/2020 tax year. I think 2022 will just get worse if the current earnings trend continues. It has dropped off so much, it is becoming a self fulfilling prophecy as I get reluctant to even login to find no work to do (or work that is paying so poorly it is not worth touching).

Monthly Update – Dec 21

Image by tigerlily713 from Pixabay

December has been a bit of an odd month. I have been finishing off some house jobs and preparing for Christmas. I have been good and tried to find useful gifts for people and cut back on over indulging on useless (wasteful) gifts. Christmas has been quiet and scaled back for me. Only one group event for a friend’s birthday. We all tested ourselves before we met as one of the party is still recovering from major cancer surgery. Everyone made the most of the event. A few of the attendees had had COVID before the vaccines were available and explained the extent of their illness. Luckily none of them required hospital treatment and have now had vaccines and boosters. I had an interesting conversation with someone I had never met before (a friend of a friend). They were telling me how they feel down with their job and want to quit. They caught COVID, lost loads of weight and now feel so down with their job and work life. They are a year older than me and seem to have some good savings and they were interested in how I was managing to live without a job. They have gone away to go through their finances and see if they can ‘retire’ early. They have a well paying job with healthy savings and a good pension and they have just inherited a house and looking at whether they should sell it or rent it out. It was interesting to compare notes and it made me feel good to be able to live without a ‘proper’ job and enjoy some freedom. I don’t have the luxury of a potential inheritance so have to earn and build my FI fund.

I think I am still going through the phases of ‘retirement’, I have had the ‘grief’ stage for a while now. It has lingered due to the pandemic and I have been struggling with the status anxiety of not having work. I have no real sense of meaning or purpose at the moment, made more so by this pandemic. I am getting out a bit more now and meeting others and listening to other’s work issues has made me feel more relaxed and confident over what I have done. The anxiety of not working is starting to ease as I don’t feel so worried about what people think. I saw a review for my last employer and it was very scathing, I am so glad I left that place. It hasn’t got any better and the review was pretty damaging, with a quote to avoid working there.

I had a pet sitting job which I completed just before Christmas, So a little bit of extra income earned and it was enjoyable. I was also supposed to have a repeat session in Jan but they have cancelled. They had booked a ski holiday in Austria but this was cancelled due to the Austrian lockdown. It would have been good to earn some extra money but hey, it is not a big problem at the moment.

My net worth has ended the year well and is 10% up, mainly due to the recovery of indexes and in the latter part of the year, an uplift in dividend payments as companies start to recover and restart dividends. So even though I am using and depleting cash to live, I am managing to offset this with income from investments.

I am still waiting to see what happens with my energy supplier. I just pay the bills and wait to see what happens. I dread to think what the costs will be next year. The rumours of large increases in April are worrying. I need to assess my usage v. charges. I don’t think I can reduce my usage any more than I currently have. Other than sitting in a cold house with no heating on I have done everything I can to keep my usage down. If anything it’s the increase in standing charges and unit costs which increases my bills and I cannot prevent this.

Income

On the income front, I have converted some online earnings to GBP so I can use towards Christmas expenses. Compared to last year I have not earned anything like as much online income this month. It has been really poor. I really need to look at other sources of income and see if I can diversify and increase passive income so I can go out and about and spend time enjoying life rather than tied to an online portal. At the moment it would be better for me to find a part time job give the earning rates per hour as it would be a more lucrative use of my time. I feel I am giving my time away for free.

My ISA has received some good sized dividends this month, the most I have received and I hope this growth trend will continue into next year. If I could get this value paid every month then I could happily stop looking for additional income sources and just live.

I have been looking at drop ship and other ventures which I could possibly use to generate some cash in a more passive way. I did setup another betting account and made another small profit on match betting but would need to add more money into the accounts to get them to generate some additional profit. I assume others are moving money around the accounts which feels like a grind to earn a few pounds.

Expenses

My main expenses this month have been related to Christmas, birthday gifts, meals out and meeting up with people to celebrate Christmas and the end of the year.

Month End Summary

I am pleased with how 2021 has ended from a financial viewpoint. My net worth has increased by 10% and my ISA and pension funds are looking healthy. I am still drawing down cash and leaving my ISA untouched so I can try to get the benefit of reinvested income. Some of my cash accounts have raised their interest rates, not enough to make a big difference. I will continue to look at moving some of my cash to generate a better return. I see that the markets wanted to try and end the year up. My passive income has improved and is higher than last year. I have dividends already declared for next year/month so that will be a great start for 2022. I just need things to keep moving in a positive direction so I can make next year better than this one and continue to move through the ‘retirement’ phases and get a more positive view of life and future.