If you're reading this, I'm guessing you're thinking about signing on for one of the third party delivery services like Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub, Instacart and others. But you're not sure, are you?
Is being a delivery driver worth it? Or is it a mistake? Maybe you heard some great things. Or perhaps you heard the horror stories? Which one will it be for you?
Obviously I cannot tell you if it's the right thing for you. It may or may not be. However, as someone who has delivered for several of these companies for several years, I can tell you I've loved it. I mean, I even have a website about it all, right? I know the good, the bad and the ugly and I want to help you see all sides of it.
There are some real traps and issues related to being an independent contractor for food delivery platforms. You need to understand those and go into things eyes wide open.
However, understanding all sides of it, for me it has definitely been worth it. In fact I think it's one of the best decisions I ever made. I share the reasons you should think twice in another article, but for this one I want to share why, for me, it was very definitely worth it.
Delivering for Doordash, Uber Eats, Grubhub and some others was one of the best career decisions I could have made.
Don't get me wrong.
I don't see delivery for these companies as a career.
In fact, if you're not already, you MUST be aware that it's not even a job. These companies hire us as independent contractors, meaning we're doing these deliveries as businesses and not as employees. It's extremely important you understand that.
The thing is, the delivery part is not really the thing that made it the best choice for me. For me, it was more about what it allowed me to do.
I've had a number of jobs that many would consider ‘more legitimate' than doing food delivery. I've been a business manager, and I've been sales manager and company president in technology and telecommunications.
And I've never enjoyed what I've done as much as I have since taking on these delivery gigs.
The crazy thing about it all? I never expected this one: I've made as much for my time in delivery as I have in just about any job I've taken on (and more than many).
How can you enjoy something like food delivery?
You know how as a kid you think of what you want to be when you grow up? A firefighter or astronaut or doctor.
I'm not sure many aspire to be a Doordash driver, right?
What I'm getting at here is that it's not like delivery in and of itself is a dream job. I'm not going to tell you that it's the best thing you could ever do.
In my situation, this was a fantastic way to pursue my dreams and pay some bills along the way. And the thing is, I didn't hate it.
Maybe I'm just weird, but something about it is kind of fun.
For me, food delivery was the perfect thing to help me go where I want to go with my life.
I'll get into the things that made it perfect for me in a bit.
The thing about all the business stuff I've done, I got to the point where I just thought there's more to life than this. I started thinking about the things where I want to make a difference. In fact, I knew the things I wanted to do.
Delivery was what allowed me to make those changes in my life and to accomplish my goals. It did so in a much greater way than I anticipated.
Obviously, my story isn't your story.
So you can't make a decision based on what worked for me.
So how do you apply any of this to your life? How can you tell if it makes sense to do something like this based on someone else's story?
But the thing is, the fact that you're reading this tells me that you're thinking about picking up this delivery gig, right? And I'm pretty sure that it's not the delivery part itself that has you thinking that.
You want to accomplish something. Like it was for me, I'm guessing that this whole idea is a means to an end. So how do you decide if this is the right means to that end for you?
I think it's worth asking these three questions:
1. What are you trying to accomplish?
Are you trying to dig your way out of debt? As Dave Ramsey says:
“You need a bigger shovel to dig your way out of that debt. (Psst… the shovel is your income).”Dave Ramsey
Maybe you just need the income to make ends meet. Perhaps you're wanting to save up for something. There's some reason you're thinking about this.
2. What is needed to make your solution fit with your life?
For example, in my situation I needed flexibility. I needed to be free to do things at different times of the day and so I needed something that could work around that schedule. Having time with family is incredibly important to me. Doing things on my own schedule was vital to me.
What are the important things to you? What are the non-negotiables?
3. How can whatever you're looking at help you meet your goals (#1) while still meeting your requirements (#2)?
I'm going to list some of the most common benefits to doing delivery work below. Do these benefits help you accomplish your goals while still meeting your requirements?
Delivering food does exactly that for me. What about you?
11 Reasons being a delivery driver can be worth it.
On demand delivery can be the ideal side hustle for earning some extra cash. It can be a great short term business opportunity. For nearly three years it was a great full time business for me.
Whether doing this full time or as a side gig, the following are reasons it can be ideal for you. Some may fit for you, or maybe not so much.
Before we dive in, I want to give this warning one more time: There are no guarantees. Remember that these gig companies contract with you and you are providing services to them as a business, not as an employee. This opens up a whole world of issues you need to be aware of, and we'll get into that in the next article.
I'm not a fan of Doordash, Grubhub, Uber Eats, Instacart or any of these companies in how they treat their contractors. I don't trust a single one of them.
I know, that's not exactly the thing to say in an article why this is a great way to make some extra money. But that's why I say walk in with eyes wide open. Understand both the pros and cons and when you know what you're working with, you can do so much more.
For me, I found the positives far outweighed the negatives. You should look closely at both before making a decision. For today, we're going to look at the pro's.
1. Delivery contracting is a great way to earn money
After all, the bottom line is it's all about the bottom line. You're thinking of this for a reason, and it usually has something to do with money.
If the money's not worth it, none of the rest matters.
Is the money worth it? I can tell you that what I've been able to earn has surprised me quite a bit.
I'm hesitant to really throw out numbers, because things can vary widely. What one person earns has no bearing or is no guarantee of what another will earn. Also remember that because you're an independent contractor, there is no hourly guarantee or minimum wage (one or two companies will sometimes dangle an hourly minimum but then add so many conditions that it doesn't make sense for food delivery companies.
Each of the food delivery companies has a pay model.
You don't normally have an hourly rate but instead are paid on a delivery by delivery basis. For each delivery completed, delivery people receive delivery pay directly from the gig economy platform they contract with. And then they receive whatever tips the customers offer. Most customers tip through the app these days.
On top of that, there may be bonuses and incentives that pay more for accepting so many delivery orders. Some might require long hours, others offer a couple extra dollars per delivery. All of that adds up.
Sometimes when people tip based on the price of the food orders, you can find good tips and make good money. Other times you can expect a minimum base pay of two to three dollars.
Personally, over the past year or so I've averaged around a $30 per hour in net earnings. That's on the high end, however I know of some who earn more than that. Keep in mind that a portion of that needs to be set aside for taxes and for the cost of using a car. For me it's usually been about a third that I set aside for everything.
One driver set out to see how much he could earn if he put every hour possible into delivering. Sam Lyon delivered 12 hours a day, every day for a month. He brought in a total of $8,357 in a month's time. That pay rate is on a pace of $100,284 in a year's time.
12 hours a day every day is, in my opinion, a recipe for burnout. But what it does illustrate is that there's some amazing potential. There's no limit to the amount of time you can put into it, if you choose to go that route.
2. You can set your own schedule
The thing that makes this the perfect for so many people is that you can go out and make money at whatever time works for you.
If you are a student, you can work around your class and study schedule. As a parent, you can work around your family schedule.
The nature of these delivery platforms is that you choose when you are available to deliver. With some apps like Uber Eats, all you do is tap the “Go” button on your app and you're ready to go. With some others, you can pick your times ahead of or on the day of deliveries.
When a company uses an independent contractor, they cannot set your schedule for you. They cannot tell you when to work. A company is not allowed to control the work of the contractor. This gives you the freedom to go out whenever it makes sense for you to go out.
You get to make your own decisions as to if it makes sense to deliver. Obviously the potential is higher during peak times that people are more likely to order restaurant meals (usually lunch and dinner, sometimes breakfast).
This was the main reason that I personally chose delivery. I needed the flexibility to go earn that extra money when it made sense for me, and to take time for family or for personal projects. You don't need to ask permission to take time off. You simply work when it makes sense to you, and not work when life is happening in other ways for you.
3. Short turn around on your earnings
One thing I always noticed whenever I started a new job: I could plan on it being a few weeks before I saw my first paycheck. Especially if the job paid monthly. In contrast, I love how quickly the pay turns around when I sign up with a new delivery gig.
With a lot of third party delivery services, the application process involves completing a background check, submitting your insurance and drivers license information, and then waiting for the approval. Once that happens you can usually get started right away. Sometimes as a Doordash or Grubhub driver in particular, they'll have you wait until they send a couple of things to you.
All of the ones I'm familiar with pay on a weekly basis, meaning you get paid the week after you perform services. If you take on some deliveries today, you can usually expect to see that extra income dropped into your bank account by direct deposit before the end of next week.
In some instances, there are options to instantly cash out your earnings. That means you could go out on deliveries today and have your money immediately. Personally I advise against using that feature because it's easy to forget to put money aside for taxes and expenses (such as future car repairs) that way. However, a lot of contractors love that flexibility.
4. There's no boss looking over your shoulder
If you've ever been micromanaged (and hated it) you'll love this for that very reason.
I mentioned this before: A company cannot control the work that you do when you're an independent contractor. That's a right they gave up when they chose to use contractors in lieu of employees.
There is no supervisor. There are no requirements that you do a certain amount of work. You don't have to deal with employee reviews or any of that. You are your own boss. That means you have the freedom to make your own choices.
5. You have more control over your earnings
One of the downsides of being an independent contractor is that there are no guarantees. The way I look at this is, it's a trade off for having a higher ceiling.
Remember: You are contracting with these companies as a business and not an employee. Ultimately your relationship with the food delivery companies is one where they are your customer.
You get to make your decisions about when to go out and earn money. That gives you the freedom to make decisions about where and when it's profitable. Most of the time you have an idea what food delivery jobs will pay, and you have the right to accept or decline.
And the beauty of the fact that they're your customers (not your employers) is this: If you're not earning enough with one company, you have the freedom to see if another company offers better delivery fees or if the customer tips seem to be better. In fact, you have the right to pick and choose from delivery orders from several companies at the same time.
In other words you don't have to choose whoever is the best delivery service. You can choose them all.
Personally, this realization was a game changer for me. It would get frustrating when things slowed down with one company or the delivery offers were terrible. Realizing that I could just fire up another app at any time meant I didn't have to stress about what any one company was offering.
A business should never rely entirely on one customer. That's true of independent contractors. If one option isn't paying what you need, you have a good opportunity to find someone who will.
6. Minimum up front investment
Here's what it boils down to: You are starting a business without all the costs that go with starting a business.
Generally you can do this without much investment, if any at all. The main things you need are a way to receive delivery offers (a smart phone with a data plan) and a way to get things from point A to point B (usually driving your own car). Most people already have those things.
There are some tools that are helpful. Often they require little or nothing out of your own pocket.
You don't need to buy inventory. You don't need to do a lot of advertising or marketing or product delivery. Instead, you're providing a service and the customers (Doordash, Grubhub, Uber Eats) are already out there for you.
This is one of the simplest ways to go into business for yourself without a huge initial investment.
7. Worktime stresses don't follow you home
Here's the thing about doing delivery work:
Your agreement with delivery platforms is on a delivery by delivery basis. It begins the moment you agree to complete a delivery, and it ends the moment you complete it.
In other words, as soon as you complete a delivery, you're done. You can choose to take another delivery or you can just walk away.
The hidden benefit in this that I found is, my stress level went down dramatically when I started delivering food.
I didn't have to worry about performance reviews, or what about that meeting coming up? There's no boss, no concern about what's coming up next time.
Instead, you just take a delivery, complete it, and move on.
I've talked with professionals who have taken on delivery. Almost unanimously, they prefer delivery because there's so much less stress.
In three years, I've never laid awake at night worrying about anything related to delivery. I'm not sure there's any job (or business) that I've had that I can say that about.
8. It's a low commitment gig
Let's say you give it a whirl. But maybe it just isn't a fit for you.
Maybe you find you hate the work itself. Or perhaps you're in an area where there's too many other couriers for the number of offers available. You're not making what you hoped you would make.
Or maybe another opportunity came along that you like better.
All you have to do is stop. There's no two week notice. You don't have to worry about ramping down or anything like that.
If you don't like it, you can just walk away. No harm, no foul. Since there was no real investment, nothing was lost. You don't have any repercussions for closing down shop.
All you do is walk away. It's as easy as that.
9. Just the right amount of interaction with people
Personally, I enjoy the interaction with people along the way. I enjoy getting to know some of the people at the local restaurants where I pick up.
Interactions with the customers are short and sweet. Usually it's handing off the food, maybe a nod or “have a great one.” Sometimes you share a joke. I'm a dog lover, so I really enjoy the pooches who are excited that a new friend came, obviously just for them, or who think that food is for them.
And then I get to walk away. I don't have to carry on a conversation. There's no pressure to come up with something to say. It's hello, goodbye, and on the road again.
For me, that's perfect. I'm just extroverted enough that I enjoy meeting people. (In the past year I've been a little bummed because a lot of deliveries have gone no-contact, so those opportunities have been reduced). At the same time, I'm just enough of an introvert that I'm happy to limit that to a few moments.
I like this a lot better than the thought of having people in my car and having to keep the conversation going (or worrying that the customer will rate you low for trying too hard to carry on that conversation).
10. It can be a gateway drug to becoming an entrepreneuer
The “Entre” in EntreCourier comes from Entrepreneur. It's about someone who's in business for themselves.
However, I realize that there are a number of ways we're never truly entrepreneurs. While we have a lot more control over what we do than a lot of people realize, there are limits. It's not like we've developed our own business model or anything like that. And ultimately it's not often a business that you could just sell off like you can so many others.
But sometimes, it gives you a taste, doesn't it?
You start to think, “I like being my own boss. I love making the decisions.” Maybe “I even enjoy the challenge of knowing that failure or success are all on me.”
Like I mentioned in #6, you can get into running a business without all the up front investment that most businesses require. It's a beautiful way of dipping your toe in the water.
And if you're like me, you might get hooked. It's a great way to discover what it's like to be on your own, make your own decisions, and fail or succeed on your own merit. Sometimes it's just the thing to make you say, I'm ready to take the next step.
11. You can learn while you earn
After doing this for awhile, I realized a lot of people had questions about how this works. Or they thought this was just a food delivery job (and thus they thought like employees). I thought I could help with that, and thus I started this website.
There's a lot to learn about how to create a website. In fact, it becomes a business of itself. The problem is, I didn't have time to learn all that AND do the things I wanted to do AND have time with my family AND make money on my deliveries.
Or did I?
The thing about delivery is, you pick up the food from the restaurant, then take it to the customer, rinse and repeat.
Most of the time involved is that time in between. It's the time in transit to the restaurant, or to the customer.
THAT time became my learning time. It was perfect for podcasts and audio books that helped me understand how to do this website. I learned most of what I know about things like podcasting and creating content during the time I was driving around.
If you've been dying to find the time to learn how to do the next great thing in your life, or even just to finish that novel, drive time can be perfect for you. The opportunities and resources that you can listen to while out on deliveries are virtually endless.
I originally had this higher on the list, but then decided to move this below the one about being a gateway drug. That's because it just follows, doesn't it? You start to figure out that you like running a business. There's nothing better than a few podcasts and e-books to help you start plotting, scheming, and learning how to take that next step.
Is being a delivery driver worth it for you?
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It might be.
Maybe it isn't. Nothing is perfect for everyone.
In fact there are a lot of reasons you should think twice before going forward. It's just as important that you understand those as it is to read the points above.
You need to know the pros and cons. Understand the challenges so you go in with eyes wide open.
In my case, it was by far the best decision I could have made. I've often said that doing delivery was the best career decision I could have made. It's not that I ever thought of this as a career. However, delivery has allowed me to develop many of the projects I want to work on and set me up for where I want to be and where I want to go in life.
What would it be for you? Maybe it's only really about paying a few dollars off. Or perhaps it's simply about saving up however much money you can for that dream vacation or that new car. Nothing more, nothing less, just a handy side gig. And that's okay.
Possibly it's about broadening your horizons and seeing possibilities you never thought of with what you want to do with your own life.
The only way to know for sure is to give it a whirl.
What about you? What makes delivery worth it for you? If you're a delivery contractor, are there things you love that I haven't mentioned? If you're not, what are the possibilities you see for yourself?