Making Money Like A Millenial: Postmates

1200px-Postmates-Logo.svg

Once again, it’s been awhile since I did one of these. Last week while looking through employment sites and Craigslist I found Postmates. I had heard about it on Scott Pilgrim VS The World, at least I think that was it, and some other show and discovered it had finally arrived in Jacksonville.

I was eager to try it out as it seemed a bit more fun than Uber Eats and I could use my better gas mileage vehicle for it.

What it is:

Postmates (Use code:FL-RBKTW to get us both a bonus!) is a delivery app that allows you to deliver virtually anything to someone who orders it on the app.

Getting started:

I found a Craigslist ad which directed me to the Postmates site. All you have to do is answer a few questions about your license, agree to a background check, and download the app to your phone.

After initial sign up Postmates will send you a prepaid Visa card which you will use to purchase ordered items. You will have to receive it and activate it before you can get to work, but the whole process is relatively quick. I signed up on a Wednesday and was on the road the following Tuesday.

General experience:

When I first signed onto the app I noticed it looked a lot like the older Uber app, complete with bonus areas highlighted. And just like Uber, once you actually arrive at the area, the bonuses mysteriously disappear.

Now you see it….

Now you don’t.

Just like Uber or Lyft, the app dings when you get an order. You accept the order and navigate to the location. Be careful of the directions though. My first order was in the mall, and instead of taking me to the food court, the app sent me to the front entrance.

‘Twas actually on the south side of the mall.

The pickup experience is a bit different than either delivery services I have done, Uber Eats and plain old pizza delivery. With both of those the order is already prepared (in theory) and all you have to do is pick it up and deliver it. With Postmates you have to go to the store and place the order yourself.

As you can see above, the orders can be simple, or they can be very specific. Accuracy is key.

Once you place your order, you take a picture of the receipt, receive the items, tap “Pickup Complete” and then you are directed to your drop off point. Navigate to the drop off and deliver the items, with a smile of course.

Once you drop it off, click “Drop off complete” and you’ll get a message about how much you made for that delivery. This notification isn’t always instant. I had one take ten minutes. And from what I understand the tips don’t always show up for a few days.

Orders took about 30 minutes to complete. The quickest was a drive thru, but since I had to drive a distance to get there (without being paid) the speed of the pick up didn’t really matter.

How Much Money Are We Talking Here?

Well… I will be honest here. On a Tuesday night, during “Prime” hours, I worked 2.5 hrs, drove a total of 31.2 miles and made a whopping $10.91. After calculating for gas, I estimated my wages to be $2.50/hour. That’s pretty abysmal.

Maybe with tips and working weekends it would improve? I kinda doubt that. Postmates is new in town, so people may not know about it yet. And with a ton of other services out there, it’s not likely that they will be jumping on that bandwagon anytime soon.

General Tips:

Just like all the other apps, if someone tells you they are going to tip in the app, that’s code for “don’t expect a tip.”

Know your area. I had been out of town for six months and as a result I was a bit hazy on the locations of some things, like places in the mall.

Be prepared to travel all over town. Unlike Uber or Lyft, there is no function to travel to a particular location. So you just kinda wander wherever the orders come. For me, this meant turning down an order in the opposite direction that popped up right as I was ready to head home.

Bottom Line:

Maybe as an add on to both Uber and Lyft (though three apps at once gets cumbersome) Postmates would be a profitable venture. And maybe in a bigger city where people know about it. And a place where people tip. But around here, Postmates is just not profitable as far as I can tell.

I will give it another go and see what happens, when I am not unemployed and in need of real money.

Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised.

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Making Money Like a Millennial: Instacart

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For this one I had to interview the wife. She did this. Not me. So here’s what she had to say, paraphrased of course.

What it is:

Instacart is a grocery shopping and delivery service that saves its costumers time and energy by allowing them to order groceries online.

On the shoppers end Instacart is an app which allows you to choose blocks of three hours to work in specific neighborhoods in your area. You can either sign up as a full-service shopper who shops and delivers or an in-store shopper who shops for orders within the store for pick up by the customer.

Whatever floats your boat.

How to get started:

Sign up as a shopper and download the shopper app from the Instacart site. Answer some questions, and wait for what seems like forever for them to accept you and send you the Instacart card.

General experience:

Unlike Uber where you can just jump in your car and start driving, Instacart requires you to apply for 3 hour time blocks in specific geographic areas.

Get in the zone…

The blocks are opened up every Wednesday and are first-come first-served. If you have “early access status” you can sign up for hours the Sunday before.

This screenshot sponsored by Uber.

When you are scheduled to work, drive to the geographic area you signed up for and wait for a call. Usually it makes sense to park at the grocery store you most expect an order from. This is not an exact science, sometimes you will get an order from a store on the other side of the “zone” you are working and you’ll have to spend time driving there.

Once you get the text you have a certain amount of time to accept the request. If you don’t accept it in time the request cancels and you get a ding on your rating. Before you accept it, you can click on the request and it will tell you how many items are in the order, how far away the purchaser is, and how much time you will have to complete the order. This can help you decide whether or not to accept it (though it is in your best interest to take it).

Then you shop. During shopping you can communicate with the customer via text if there are any items you need to substitute or anything you are unable to get.

Each list is divided by product type and in theory by store aisle.

Once you finish shopping you pay with the prepaid Instacart card. Then you load up and a drive to the customer’s house. You unload the groceries for them usually, but sometimes they will help if it is a particularly large order.

Make sure you inform them that the “service fee” is not a tip and the shopper never sees it. The customer will need to click on it in the final total screen and erase it before completing the transaction. If they want to leave a tip that has its own section.

How much money are we talking here?

During Thanksgiving week she made $500, but that was a super busy week. Usual revenue is more around $150, it really depends on tips. If you are nice, and you explain the “service fee” nonsense, folks are a lot more willing to tip.

People are so generous at holidays…

What makes it particularly difficult to make money is the fact that it is hard to get hours with the free-for-all system that they use to distribute them. We have heard that it has gotten easier recently though, so you may have a different experience.

General tips:

Try to get two orders at once. That doubles the money per hour.

Make sure you jump on the app early during the hours selection period every Wednesday. If possible qualify for early access by working 90 hours in 3 weeks or 25 hours in the past three weekends.

A rare day with hours available…

Bottom line:

Instacart is fun, you get to meet some cool people and enjoy the challenge of shopping on a time schedule. Money wise it’s not the best if you don’t jump on the hours when available, but when combined with other shopping services like Shipt it can be a great way to supplement income.