What is data entry?
Data entry, is pretty much what it sounds like. It involves helping companies input different types of data (alphabetic, numeric or symbolic) into a their system.
The beauty of data entry is that it can done remotely, even from the comfort of your own home. And you often don’t need fancy equipment, just a keyboard and computer is sufficient.
For this reason, data entry jobs are becoming more popular with people who want the flexibility to work from home while earning some income.
What does a data entry job look like?
Back in the day, most data entry jobs were for large data entry companies who were a hub where business outsourced their data entry tasks.
These days, most data entry jobs are for micro labor outfits that use crowdsourcing techniques. This means data entry workers are being paid hourly or at a per word rate for data entry projects. This is a shift from the traditional data entry employee of yesterday to the data entry freelancer of today.
So how do data entry jobs pay?
Data entry jobs typically pay using the following rate types:
- Per-piece (of work completed)
- Keystrokes per hour or keystrokes per minute
For this reason, the faster and more accurately you type, the more you will earn in this line of work.
Most data entry jobs never advertise their compensation on an hourly rate. But it is important that you do the math before deciding on whether a job is worth your time.
Places like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk pay people do small tasks, such as clicking links. These micro tasks are paid on a per piece basis, for example $0.01 per link clicked. This means that if you complete 60 link clicks in an hour you will be paid $6/hour.
The good new is if you get skilled at a task and can perform it very quickly, you can get paid well under the per piece method. I used to earn $10/week pretty comfortably just doing random tasks when I had a moment between trying to figure out motherhood for the first time. However, if you aren’t very skilled, some tasks can work out to be more like $1/hour so then you need to decide if you think that job is worth doing.
So before you decided on a job, make sure you do the math.
Most data entry jobs from home often pay less than minimum wage because:
- These contractor roles are not subject to minimum wage laws, and
- You are in competition with a global workforce (someone living in India with a lower cost of living than the United States will be willing to accept a lot less wages).
So if there is a work from home data entry job promising very attractive wages for basic data entry work, it is most likely a scam.
General rules to spot a scam…
Basically, data entry job don’t pay particularly well. So any data entry job promising big money should raise a red flag for you.
You also should not be asked to pay an application fee or any training fees.
Data entry scams may look like:
- A firm requiring you to pay a fee for a ‘data entry starter kit”. They will often ask for a fee of say $50-$200 for the materials to fill envelopes from home or process rebates from home. Some of these scams just take you fee and never send any starter pack out. Some do actually send a “starter pack” but then require you to use your own money to fill envelopes to send or process rebates that you don’t get paid for.
- Some scams require you to pay for certification or training in order to perform their “technical” data entry job which pays large amounts of money. Make sure you check out any training that you are asked to complete. While some specialized data entry jobs, like medical or legal transcription require special training, most should not.
So where can you find legitimate data entry jobs?
The most popular is Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. You can sign up here to perform ‘HITs’ i.e. tasks like:
- Blog comments
- Short editing and writing jobs
- Keyword searches
- Photo captioning and tagging
Most ‘Hits’ give you an estimated time for completion and a brief description so you can do the math is choose which ones are most worth you while.
I’ve found that once you’ve tried out certain tasks you will have a better idea how long you take. You will also start to get a feel of which tasks you are better and faster at.
I do note that the “time allotted” shouldn’t be mistaken for an estimate of how long a tasks is expected to take. Instead, this is how long you have to complete the task before it is assigned to someone else.
The downside of Amazon Mechnical Turk is that if you aren’t a US or Indian resident (like me), your only option is to get paid in Amazon.com gift cards and not into your bank account. I personally prefer cash into my paypal account.
In their FAQ, Clickworker boasts that their workers average around $9 an hour. That is a pretty impressive wage for this industry. However, I suspect this level of earnings can only be reached with some practice to hone your skills so you can complete more tasks in less time. The complexity of each tasks will also affect how long you take to complete it. So once again, make sure you do the math quickly before selecting the tasks.
I do note Clickwork has a few more requirements to sign up with them (which is a good thing and I’ll tell you why in a minute). For example, all US residents have to be 18 and if you are not a US resident, you must either:
- Have a bank account in a SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) country or
- Have a valid PayPal account and can accept payment via PayPal
I personally prefer to get paid via paypal because it’s so much easier. It is also simple and easy to get a paypal account set up if you don’t have one already.
Click workers with SEPA accounts get paid once a month while those with paypal accounts get paid once a week between Wednesday and Friday. So I’d definitely go ahead and set paypal up if you don’t have an account already.
The Downsides of Data Entry Jobs
There may be a wait to get paid
Your account doesn’t get credited after you have completed a task until the requester (person you are doing the task for) approves it. Sometimes this happens very quickly and sometimes it does not.
Most people generally have their work reviewed and credited within days and some within a few hours, but it does depend on the requester so there may be instances where it can take weeks to get credit for your work (which will be super annoying!).
you need to do the math
I’m beginning to sound a bit like a broken record but you need to do the math before you take on jobs. Every penny counts but some pennies are just not worth your time. I found out some sometimes I was better off just having a cup of coffee and relaxing rather than trying to earn $1.
At first, doing the math might actually take 5 minutes of your time to jump on excel and do some numbers. But as you get on, you will be able to do the quick math in your head to determine if a job is worthwhile or not.
This will only supplement but not replace an income source
You won’t get rich doing legitimate data entry jobs. However, they are great for down time in the evenings when you don’t feel like you have great brain-power to perform complicated tasks. And every penny counts. I’ve earned about $10/ week as a stay at home mom on these types of sites doing tasks here and there when I had some downtime.
As a new mom, I really only had the head space for simple tasks so this was a perfect way to make some money on the side.
However, if you are hoping to make a bit more than just pocket money then you might want to check out affiliate marketing. This is currently how I make money working from home.
While it does involve more work than data entry jobs, it has the potential to generate more income in the long term.
You can check out my no. 1 recommendation here. This is for those who are serious about building an additional stream of income online.
If that’s you and you are willing to commit time and effort, then check it out!