[Fellow blogger Harry Campbell shares what it’s like to be a Lyft and Uber driver today – including how much it pays. Sounds kinda legit!]
I’ve always been good at making money. But not just any kind of money, I seem to attract jobs that pay well, are laid back and don’t require a whole lot of work. That should sound like the perfect recipe to J Money’s nation of side hustlers out there.
Even with my day job as an engineer, I somehow got assigned into the long flow division where projects are measured in months instead of days or even hours. And now that I know I have this power, I’m always looking for fun and innovative ways to make money.
First Off, What The Heck Is An Uber And A Lyft?
It’s conceivable that you may not have ever heard of Lyft, but Uber too? Come on now people, Uber is an $18 billion dollar company and its also one of the fastest growing tech companies in the US. Lyft isn’t far behind but it’s definitely the baby brother in the rideshare family. Both companies actually started off in San Francisco as a cashless way to hail a ride with your smart phone.
I used to abhor taking taxis because they often tried to screw you, were pretty disgustingly messy and they didn’t accept credit cards. Lyft and Uber are pretty much the complete opposite of that and the coolest part is that a lot of the drivers are ordinary people like you and I. Over the past year, rideshare as its known in the industry has exploded. There are now tens of thousands of drivers across the country and many people including yours truly, refuse to take cabs now.
I Started Off As A Passenger
I started off taking Uber and Lyft as a passenger. The companies were (and still are) doing tons of promotions so I don’t think I paid for a ride for at least 3-4 months. During one of my rides, the driver actually told me that since Lyft was new to Orange County he was getting paid $30/hr whether he gave rides or not. All he had to do was sit at home with the driver app on and wait for requests to come in.
Say no more, I applied the very next day. That promo for drivers actually ended before I got going but I started driving for Lyft during my free time anyways and I loved it. The money was good, but for me I really enjoyed meeting new people from different walks of life, networking and just doing something totally different.
I eventually signed up for Uber too (since they paid me $500 for one ride!) and now I drive for both companies on weekends or whenever it’s busy out. That Uber sign-up promotion has since ended but new Lyft drivers can still earn up to $150 after just 20 rides using my referral code.
How Much Do Lyft Drivers Make? What About Uber?
One of the first things people always ask me when I tell them that I drive for Lyft and Uber is, “So how much money do you make?” Whoa, that’s kind of personal I always say to myself, maybe I should try countering with, “How much money do you make at your job?”.
So just how much can you make with Lyft or Uber? Either way, I don’t have a problem telling people that I generally aim for $30-$40/hr but I’d say the average is closer to $20/hr. And now that I have a lot of experience driving and blogging, I also created on online training course for drivers called Maximum Ridesharing Profits. Sales from that are pretty strong and it’s become a pretty good side hustle.
The nice thing for me is that I don’t need the money from this job so I’m able to cherry pick the best hours. I primarily drive weekends and holidays since that’s when you’ll make the best money and meet the most interesting people.
Trust me too when I say that I’ve met some interesting people driving for Lyft and Uber. I’ve given rides to B-List celebrities, models, foreigners, teenagers, couples uninhibited by PDA rules, athletes and drunk people. Lots and lots of drunk people. But the funny thing is, I’m now over a few hundred rides between Lyft and Uber and I haven’t had one bad experience. I’ve had some weird ones for sure but every ride has been pretty unique and I never felt scared, uncomfortable or even unhappy.
Correlation Between Effort and Pay
One of the reasons why I think being a rideshare driver is the ultimate side hustle is because there is a direct correlation between how hard you work & how many hours you put in and how much money you’ll make. If I put in 10 extra hours a week at my day job, my boss will give me a nice pat on the butt. But with rideshare, you have a lot of control over how much money you make.
If I blow a bunch of money at the bars with my friends one night, you can bet that I’ll be out rideshare driving the next night to make up for my horrible decisions of the night prior. A lot of passengers assume that rideshare drivers do this full time but I’d say about half are like me doing it just part time.
The Most Flexible ‘Job’ Ever
The last thing that I love about rideshare is the flexibility. I can flip into driver mode whenever I want, take a 2 hour lunch break or go home if things are slow. How many other jobs that pay this well offer flexibility like that? At the end of the day, I’m my own boss and I get to decide how much or how little effort I put into things.
I’m not limited to one platform either. When I drive, I leverage both Uber and Lyft so that whatever request comes in first, I take that one and turn off the other until I’m ready for another ride. This really comes in handy during weekends and holidays when Uber is on surge pricing.
Uber’s pricing model is based on supply and demand so when there are more passenger requests than available drivers, the pricing goes up. I’ve seen it go as high as 13x but normal surge is in the 1.25-3x range. I primarily drive during this time since that’s when you can really make the big bucks as a driver. On the morning of July 4th, I gave a 20 min. ride that earned me $68 dollars (surge was at 3x).
Is There A Downside?
Based off what I’ve told you so far, I bet there are already some people thinking about quitting their jobs right now and applying to drive with Lyft and Uber. But not so fast, there are definitely some drawbacks to being a rideshare driver. Since this is such a new and innovative form of technology, there is still a lot of uncertainty with what the future holds.
I think the future looks good for Uber (recently valued at $18 billion) and Lyft but there are lots of ongoing issues with insurance, permits and driver pay. In fact, over the past year the war between Uber and Lyft has really gained momentum with each company trying to poach each other’s drivers and continual fare cuts.
It’s now cheaper than ever to take a Lyft or Uber as a passenger, but that also means that drivers are making less than ever. I don’t think driving full time would be something that I would ever enjoy but I’m also the type of guy that likes to work about 5-6 hours a day and call it quits.
UPDATE: Here are some cons that were thrown out by commenters since this post went live. Be sure to check out the comments if you’re considering being a driver as Harry did a good job of answers most of them below:
- Safety concerns as a woman (especially at night)
- You’ll get hit on a lot more as a woman (apparently, from what Harry says ;))
- Wear and tear on your car
- You have to pay for your own gas
- Have to pay for tolls/etc
Other things to consider:
- You need a 2004 or newer car
- And a smart phone
- You go through a background check
- You need a *clean* driving record (ie no DUI’s!)
- Your car goes through a 20 pt inspection from a licensed mechanic
- Passengers have the ability to rate drivers, so the bad ones get flushed out of the system
- Uber drivers need to maintain 4.6 and Lyft need to maintain 4.5
- Paid 1099 so you own your own biz and are allowed to write off mileage at 56.5 cents/mile!
- There are lots of ways to make money in the sharing economy. You can also make money delivering food (Post Mates), renting out your car (Relay Rides), or even renting out your house/apt (Airbnb)
Becoming A Lyft Or Uber Driver: The Takeaway
Ultimately, you’re not going to get rich off rideshare driving but you can make some decent side income. I consider it an integral part of my secondary income portfolio and I actually enjoyed it so much that I started a blog and podcast for rideshare drivers at The Rideshare Guy.
If you’re interested in becoming a driver or learning more about rideshare in general I encourage you to check out the site or follow me on Twitter or Facebook for all of the latest industry news and trends. My Maximum Ridesharing Profits course is also a great resource that will help give you a really strong start. It has advice for both beginner and advanced drivers.
And if you need a little incentive to give it a try, Lyft is currently offering a sign-on bonus of up to $150 for new drivers for cities all across the country and Uber is also offering a bonus of up to $150 for new drivers too. So try one out and let us know how it goes!
What do you think? Sound like something you’d be interested in doing?
Harry Campbell is an aerospace engineer and online entrepreneur. He runs a personal finance blog at Your PF Pro and his latest project is a blog and podcast for rideshare drivers at The Rideshare Guy
[Liked this? Check out our entire list of 50 0ther ways to make side money!]