Instacart – Make Money From Home, Part 2 Zones, Hours and Batches
Now you know why you should sign up to be an Instacart shopper (Part 1) – and it is time to get started. Where do you start?
When you sign up Instacart will identify zones that you may want to be associated with. They may or may not be what you are willing to work with. For me – it assigned three possible zones, one of which is so far away I would never pick up a job there. When you go into your profile, you can de-select whichever zones you don’t want to be associated with. If there are zones not listed, that you’d like to work with, then contact customer service through the app and ask them to add you to a certain zone. For example, I camp in Maine 6 months a year on the weekends. When the next season starts I am going to ask them to add the applicable zone to my options so I can sign up for some hours on weekends when I am not at home. Working from home (or on the road) allow me to make money anywhere I am.
In my case it is interesting that the zones are so far into Connecticut when in reality Massachusetts and Rhode Island are only ten minutes from my house. It would make more sense to add those zones. I may call and ask them to add them at some point but honestly I get plenty of work close to home so I see no reason to travel farther than I need to. If work slows down at some point, I may decide to ask for more zones.
I will point out that I do not live in a city. My assumption is that in a city you will pretty much work nonstop since so many people rely on public transportation and grocery shopping can be such a hassle. But even in the suburbs – I am busy pretty much as much as I want to be.
There are several ways to get “batches” (jobs) on Instacart. The first is to schedule yourself for hours. If I know I will not be traveling on a Sunday – I sign up for plenty of hours during that period. New hours are listed for the week on Sunday mornings. Sunday is the last work day of the pay week (Monday through Sunday). And just to confuse things you sign up for hours Sunday through Saturday. The schedule week is different from the work week. The good news is, if you work on Sunday, you get paid by direct deposit on Wednesday. You can cash out early for a small fee but you cannot cash out your tips early.
Things to keep in mind:
If you sign up for a shift that ends at 4pm – it is entirely possible (and likely) you will get a job right at 4pm or a little after 4pm. So make sure you choose a shift that works for you. If you need to be done by 4pm – perhaps choose a shift that ends no later than 3pm.
If you work enough hours in the previous few weeks, you earn early access to select hours for the future week. For some people that is a big deal but I have found it has not mattered much because I just put myself on the waitlist for the hours I want, and I get batches anyway.
When you sign up for a shift, they expect you to stay within that assigned zone throughout your shift. If you venture out, you risk getting kicked off your shift and penalized. Some people get kicked off in minutes while others say they have been out of the zone for an hour before being penalized.
The new week is available to select hours – what next?
- Go through the days and select whatever hours you want that are available. At the top of the hour/shift selection screen you will see zones. Make sure you sign up for hours in the zone you want.
- When you sign up for hours, you sign up for a minimum of two hours. During the week I don’t have time for a two hour shift after working all day. But I am more than happy to accept one batch if it just happens to come up – on demand.
- Do not cancel your shift once the shift actually starts – if you do, you will be charged with a reliability incident and you don’t want those!
- You can cancel your shift anytime without penalty prior to the shift starting.
- Even when you sign up for a shift you can choose not to accept a batch. If you don’t accept it, there will be a short survey at the end asking why you didn’t accept it. For the most part I accept anything unless it is too far away. Though I did not accept one once because there was no tip assigned to it and it was such a small batch – the only thing that would have made it worth while was the tip.
- If a batch becomes available on your scheduled shift and you do not want it – the batch will beep audibly for 4 minutes until it is no longer available. Of course their goal is to get you to accept the batch.
- Sometimes hours that you want are not available – at the top of the screen there is a WAITLIST button – click on that and put yourself on the waitlist for the hours you are interested in. This will tell you if you are 1st, 2nd, or 3rd on the waitlist.
- Even if a batch comes up while you are on the waitlist – act fast, it can be gone in an instant. I have always gotten work when I signed up on a waitlist so it is definitely worthwhile to do.
- Another way to get a batch is on demand. Basically when there are batches that can’t be assigned (not enough shoppers) you can get a notification that there is an unassigned batch that needs to get picked. These are interesting because if no one takes them, and time passes and still no one takes them, Instacart will keep increasing the rate they are willing to pay to have it completed. Sometimes I will pick up an on demand job if I am not doing anything important – just because who doesn’t want money… Other times I will ignore them but if I see no one is grabbing it and the rate is on its 3rd or 4th increase – well, why not grab it.
- I actually like these jobs the best. It is almost like a gift when it lands in your lap unexpectedly and you can actually do it.
The entire goal is to get batches – batches that are worthwhile and you can actually do them. When a batch becomes available it will tell you the estimated earnings – pay and tip, and what store it is for. In some cases you may need to pay attention to the store address. For example we have an Aldi’s within three miles of my home and one within 12 miles. So far I haven’t accepted any work from the one 12 miles away but there are plenty of opportunities that come up more locally.
The batch will also tell you how many different items and how many total items. For example there may be 50 different items – but a total of 75 items because many of them are multiples of the same product. You hit the jackpot if you get something like 10 different items but 100 total items – woohoo…