Micro Workers (Part II)

Photo by Soumil Kumar on Pexels.com

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).

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