Make Money Rideshare Driver
M$M007: Making Money as a Rideshare Driver
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The 7th installment of Make Money Monday (M$M) is brought to you by Harry Campbell a.k.a. “The Rideshare Guy”.

Sidecar, Uber & Lyft – you’ve probably heard of at least one of them by now. These companies are all part of the “sharing economy” and use a smartphone app to connect people from Point A to Point B.

If you’re unfamiliar with how ridesharing companies work, the brief summary is that they are similar to a taxi service. However, unlike traditional taxi services, these new ridesharing companies allow drivers to use their own cars and determine their own work schedules.

Customers digitally “hail” an Uber, Lyft, or Sidecar driver from the apps on their phones. Drivers in the area receive a notification that someone in the area is looking for a ride, and drivers can decide to provide the ride and earn money.

I’m actually a driver for all three and I usually make around $20-$30/hr. If you have a fairly new car, a smartphone, some spare time, and an interest in making extra cash, setting up your own driving empire can be fun and profitable.

Getting Started

In order to become a driver all you’ll need is a car and a smartphone.  But there are a few rules ridesharing companies have for drivers:

  • A 2004 or newer car.

  • Clean driving record – no DUIs and you will have to pass a background check.

  • 20-point inspection for your car.

You’ll sign up with Lyft, Uber, or Sidecar (or all 3!), download the apps on to your smartphone, and log on as a driver. The best part about being a rideshare driver is the flexibility – if you’re bored, go into driver mode and wait for someone who needs a ride. If you get tired or want to spend time with family, turn off your app and take a break.

Making Money as a Rideshare Driver

If you’re a part-time driver, like I am, the best times to log on as a driver are weekends, particularly Friday and Saturday nights. Basically, you’ll want to follow the alcohol, as these customers will be looking to get home from a night out.

Holidays are also a popular time to log on as a driver, because surge pricing comes into effect during these busy times. Surge pricing means you get paid more because the number of people looking for a ride outnumbers the drivers offering rides. Neither the companies nor you as a driver set surge pricing. Instead, it is based on supply and demand, and most people would prefer to be home during the holidays than be a rideshare driver. However, that’s one of the best times to be a driver: this past 4th of July I made $50 an hour in 10 hours over the course of the holiday weekend.

Rain or snow will also often lead to surge prices, as most people won’t want to drive in poor weather. If you’re comfortable driving in bad weather, it’s a good time to log on as a driver and shuttle people who got caught in the storm… or still want to go out to the bars on a rainy night!

You’re paid at the end of the week, and all transactions are cashless. If you’ve never taken a rideshare ride, users sign up with their credit card, and they pay you with that account through their phones.

You are guaranteed the ride’s fare, while it is up to the passenger to leave a tip or not. However, you will know exactly how much you made at the end of each night as a rideshare driver. It’s an easy way to keep track of your cashflow and hustle more (or less!) if you’ve reached your goal for that night.

If you live in a big city, you’re likely to make more, especially during the weekend and holidays. However, if you live near an airport, you could still make significant money on people who don’t want to take a taxi (and pay a higher price).

Benefits of Being a Rideshare Driver

Being a rideshare driver is the perfect source of second income for a lot of reasons, but there are a few additional reasons in particular why I like it:

  • Meeting interesting people – I like driving on the weekends not only for the extra money, but also for the people! I’ve given lots of rides to drunk people, but I’ve also given rides to B-List celebrities, models, foreigners, teenagers, couples uninhibited by PDA rules, and athletes. While I’ve given a few hundred rides, I’ve never had a bad experience – and that goes for anyone puking in my car, too!

  • Diversifying income as a business owner – I have a full time job, but I like to have multiple sources of income. As a rideshare driver, you are considered an independent contractor. This means you qualify for certain tax deductions, like mileage reimbursement.

  • Being a driver is fun – When I get off work, I actually look forward to driving and interacting with some normal people.  I work at an engineering company during the day so my daily conversations aren’t always the most stimulating. I like talking to people and learning about what they do. The networking is great, and I always learn something new about someone or the job they have.

  • Correlation between effort and pay – The more I work, the more I get paid. If I worked 10 hours at my full time job, my boss would show me the door. However, I can work 10 hours as a rideshare driver, make $20 an hour, and go home.

Ultimately, while you won’t get rich off rideshare driving, you can make a decent side income. Being a rideshare driver is one of my more lucrative second sources of income, plus I enjoy it.

About the author: Harry Campbell is an aerospace engineer by day and rideshare driver by night.  He also runs a blog and podcast for rideshare drivers at The Rideshare Guy. If you’re interested in becoming a driver or learning more about rideshare you can follow him on Twitter or Facebook for all of the latest industry news and trends.

Photo Credit: TheTruthAbout with edits by Brent.
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