Instacart shopper and instacart shopping

My First Week as an Instacart Shopper [Why I Started and What to Expect with Instacart Shopping]

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As a teacher, blogger, Pinterest designer, mother of two, wife and athletic director, one would argue that I have enough on my plate.  So how is it that I find myself sitting here ready to write about my experience in my first week as an Instacart shopper? 

You might think I’m crazy, and I probably am, but with everything going on in the world, the thought of getting out of my house for even just a little bit seemed alluring.  If you’re thinking about becoming an Instacart shopper I wanted to share my experience to help you decide if this is the job, career or side-hustle for you.

Reasons why I chose to become an Instacart shopper

It may be genetic, because my dad was always scheming ways to make more money, but becoming an Instacart shopper seemed to fill a few different needs in my life.  For starters, Instacart shopping would get me out of the house during this COVID-19 lockdown, and give me some time away from it all. 

Get out and Get Moving

It’s not that I’m bored, I certainly have enough to do with my other side hustles, but all of my side hustles involve technology and sitting at a computer.  Since my regular job (high school teacher) was now 100% online, I needed something to do to get me off my butt and away from the computer.  Instacart shopping fills that need.

Earn Extra Money

Another reason I wanted to start instacart shopping as a side hustle was to earn extra money.  My husband and I are both teachers and we have loads of student loan debt.  Blogging isn’t a get rich quick scheme by any stretch of the imagination, so the dollars aren’t rolling in there.  My friend had started as an Instacart shopper two weeks before me and had told me about how she raked in over $600 in one week (her home situation is slightly different than mine however).  I thought to myself, if I could bring in even $100 extra a week, that I could put that towards paying off student loan debt, or any other debt we may have.  

I’m Going Out Anyways

Finally, since I’m going to the stores anyways, why not help out others?  There are people who cannot leave their house at all due to child care restrictions, health or age restrictions or lack of transportation.  There are millions of people looking to order grocery or meal delivery during this COVID-19 pandemic, so why not help out the community in any way I can.  

I Live Close to a Few Participating Stores

I also live close to a few grocery stores, which makes it well worth my while to do Instacart shopping because it’s not like I’m driving 10-15 miles to the closest store.  Keep in mind you only get paid mileage from the store to the clients house. So the mileage that it takes for you to get from your home to the store is on you.

Instacart shopping, become an Instacart shopper

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Signing up through the Instacart Shopper App

Once I decided to sign up to become an Instacart shopper, the registration process was generally pretty easy.  I asked my friend for her referral code so that she could get credit for referring me (use mine here if you like!).  I was already an Instacart service user, so within their app I found the option that said “Become an Instacart Shopper” and followed the prompts.

I was prompted to download the Instacart Shopper App (after putting in my referral code from my friend) and then created an account.  At the time I signed up it said that all of their shopper roles were full, so I had to wait a few days and I checked back often to see if things changed.  Finally, I was in!  I was being asked for my drivers license, which they scan through the app. Instacart wants to make sure you are a safe and reliable person so they will ask for information to run a background check (this includes your license and SS#).  

Once you send in your license, you’ll need to finish setting up your account, request your Instacart debit card (not all stores can use google pay or apple pay) and then wait.  My background check took less than a day to come back and clear me to start shopping.

While you’re waiting you can take different instacart training videos to help you prepare for your first order.  There is also a demo-order as part of the app to help you practice.  If you have a friend who does Instacarting, talk to them, ask lots of questions.  I know I had a ton of questions and having that mentor to lean on was super helpful!

My first experience as an instacart shopper

Okay, so I was finally ready to start shopping.  I left notifications for the Instacart shopper app on so that I would be immediately notified of any orders in my area.  You really need to do this if you want to be competitive with other shoppers and get orders.  There are shoppers everywhere who pick up the batches (orders), so if you’re not paying attention you won’t ever get any orders to fill.

When you see batches available you can see the total money you will be able to make (the instacart (or batch) payment and the tip from the customer), how many miles the client lives from the store, and how many items the order is.  I chose a moderately sized order that was going to make me about $20.

My first order was to a local Big Y Supermarket, which is nice and close to me.  It’s also a very clean store and usually well-stocked, even through the COVID-19 crisis, they have had the best selection of meats and their deli is still open.  

I see the order come through and decide to take it, hustle over to the store (protect myself with my mask and gloves), and then swipe to start shopping.

I was given a list of about 25 items organized by “priority items” and then by aisle.  I looked over the list quickly and figured since I was already in the produce section, that I would begin there.  This was a huge mistake, but it was only my first trip!

(I should have started with the inner aisles and saved the frozen, meat, dairy and produce for last because they are temperature sensitive.)

Instacart shopping, become an Instacart shopper

As I walked around trying to fulfill the order, I learned that this was a particularly bad day to start shopping because the store was not well-stocked.  It seemed like every other item the customer wanted was out of stock.  This meant I had to select replacements or refund the items.

I was starting to get stressed out.  What if I picked something the customer hated? What if the only thing left was double or triple the price?  I was starting to sweat.

The instacart shopper app has a chat feature where you can directly message your client and discuss issues with them.  I started to do so, but my customer did not respond quickly or sometimes at all.  This made my stress and anxiety even higher, because it was my first order I really didn’t want to screw it up.

I struggled to make my way around the store, and even found myself going back to some aisles or locations multiple times, hoping it was restocked while I was away.  There was no rhyme or reason to the order in which I was shopping, and that did not help my cause.

When I finally completed the order and did my best to make substitutions, I headed for checkout.  At this point I couldn’t stand wearing my mask and gloves anymore, but I only had a little wait to go.  

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At checkout I alerted the cashier that I was an Instacart shopper and they scanned a barcode from my phone.  I then helped bag the groceries, paying special attention to like items and temperature sensitive items while bagging (no willy nilly bagging for me!).  Since I didn’t have my Instacart debit card yet, I had the virtual debit card in my Apple Wallet and was able to pay electronically through ApplyPay.  

I’ve never used ApplePay before but wow, what a cool experience.  It was so easy!

Once I paid and left the store to pack up my car I clicked on the app to move to the next portion of the job, delivery. 

I was given an address and specific delivery instructions from the customer and then was able to navigate right to the home through my phone GPS. 

Due to COVID-19, instacart shoppers are basically leaving groceries at doorsteps, meaning we’re not handing things to the customer directly.

In order to leave the groceries you have to select that option and then take a photo as proof of delivery.  Once you click complete delivery the batch is transitioned and the money you are owed is transferred to your account (although some funds are held until the end of the week).

Since it was my first one, it took me a little longer than I think it should have, but $20 for about an hour of my time definitely seemed worth it.  After all, I was being paid to grocery shop, which is a really cool concept, to me at least.

My second trip as an Instacart shopper

The next day I quickly jumped on another Instacart order.  It seems like most of the orders come through in my area around 9am.  When I got to the store this time I felt a litlte more confident, and I realized I had to go in with a plan.

I was starting to strategize when I realized the Instacart app had listed all the items in this store by aisle!  This would be a game changer!  Realizing that the aisles were listed in order I was able to weave up and down the aisles (which made it easy to follow the social distancing arrows) and shop as I went, making sure I grabbed everything I needed in each aisle.

I hit all the inner aisles, went down through dairy, past the deli to the meats and then back to the produce section to finish the order.  If things were going to be this easy, this was going to be great!

In addition to the aisle help, my customer was very responsive which made it way less stressful to make replacements or refunds.  I quickly checked out and delivered the order, making another $20+ dollars.

The first week as an Instacart Shopper  in review 

In five days I completed five orders (one per day).  I decided not to do multiple orders in one day yet because I’m still new and don’t want to get overwhelmed.  At the end of the five days I made $142.  If I could keep this up per week I could potentially bring in $400 extra a month, which would help with those pesky student loans I want to get rid of!

Instacart shopping, become an Instacart shopper

The perks of being an Instacart shopper

If you are thinking about becoming an instacart shopper you should consider the following benefits of the gig:

  • You can make your own flexible hours
  • You choose the orders you want to pick up
  • You can do as many or as few orders in a day as you wish
  • You have the control over how much money you make
  • Grocery shopping is pretty easy in general
  • It’s a nice excuse to get out of the house (if you need one)
  • The Instacart app makes it easy to track your earnings, referrals and rating
  • There are lots of stores that participate (WalMart is not one of them)

The difficult parts of being an Instacart shopper

It’s not all sunshine and roses, there are some challenges to the job, such as:

  • It can be stressful to make replacements or decide on refunds if the product they want isn’t there.
  • There are time limits, so you need to make sure you are dropping off orders in a timely manner.

My final thoughts on week one as an Instacart shopper

Instacart shopping as a side hustle is already more lucrative than blogging, and has taken far less of my time by comparison.  If you’re looking for a good side hustle that you can start earning money right away then this would be a great option.  In fact, my husband saw how much I was enjoying it, and realized he could use some extra cash too, so he signed up to shop too!  

My friend was able to make $600 in her first week which is proof that if you really hustle and do more than one job per day you could really rack up the money quick.  During uncertain times like these, when no one really wants to go to the store, becoming an Instacart shopper is really filling a need and there is a high demand for help.

If you have any questions about Instacart delivery or shopping please feel free to comment below or contact me directly.  I will certainly write some follow up articles to let you know how it’s going as things move forward.

Don’t forget, if you want to become an Instacart shopper, use my referral code!

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8 thoughts on “My First Week as an Instacart Shopper [Why I Started and What to Expect with Instacart Shopping]”

  1. How awesome! I’ve honestly thought about doing this myself, I love how there are so many cool ways to make extra money!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience. Really enlightening for someone considering! $20 for an hour is a great way to see it but still stressful for me lol.

  3. I also did Instacart for a awhile and it is not as easy as people think! You really have to plan and have great time management. Great post !

  4. I was unfamiliar with this type of shopping, but after reading your post, I may give it a try. Thank you for sharing such an informative and helpful post!

  5. I had no idea about this, what a shame it is not available here in Australia. It would have been perfect for me as I am struggling to make money through blogging as well. Many thanks, A

    1. Maybe it’s not called instacart, but perhaps there are some delivery services out there to look into! Blogging is so tough, trust me I get it.

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