Jason has been an Uber Eats driver since 2020, completing hundreds of deliveries in various cities in the Midwest United States.
My Beginning Story
If you are reading this, chances are you have been interested or at least considered what it would be like to be an Uber Eats driver as a side gig or even full time if you are able to. When I started driving for Uber in November 2020, I was working a job I did not like and decided to test out what this would be like on my days off and see if it would pay off, and potentially leave my current job to driver Uber full time. To my satisfaction, I tried a few days for roughly 8 hours each day and made a little over $100 for each day I drove, about the equivalent I was making working 8 hours at my day job. I knew right away this could have potential, but the problem I had was winter was nearly here and if you know anything about Midwest winters, they are very unpredictable and the last thing anyone wants to be doing is taking their own car through hazardous road conditions and freezing temperatures. It can get old quickly.
So I decided when the spring rolled around, I would leave my current job and commit to Uber Eats full time. Luckily, Spring arrived early and by early March 2021, I took the gamble of leaving my job to commit to Uber. During the winter time, I spent many hours reading articles and watching YouTube videos of people doing this full time and bringing home as high as $8,000 a month even. Some even allege if a person commits to Uber full time for an entire year, it is possible to bring home over $100,000 in that one year. I decided even if I can do a fraction of that, I would be happy. So that is what this article is about, my experience with driving for Uber Eats, some tips on how to make your driving experience the best possible, and then my final thoughts as to if this is worth it or not.
Location is Very Important
Now before I describe my story more, I would like to point out location could very well be the number one reason to whether you will have a successful Uber experience or not. This goes beyond the obvious of simply living in rural areas, even some smaller to medium sized cities and towns may not have the highest volume or be the best areas to navigate around. In some cities or regions of the country, other driving apps such as DoorDash or Grub Hub may have more users than Uber Eats. This is field research you would have to conduct on your own. All driving apps run similar, but find the one that works best for you, or even some people use all of them simultaneously to maximize their volume of orders. For location, if you live in an area where it might not be Uber friendly, you may have to commute to the nearest large city to you if that is doable, or consider moving into a large city if that is an option for you. If you are committed to wanting to do Uber full time and know you can do it, what is stopping you from moving into a large city if you have nothing holding you back from doing so? Some people even take advantage of Uber by using it as an excuse to taking a road trip and spend some time in a new city every few days delivering for Uber along the way. It all depends what is important to you and if you have the opportunity and resources to make it happen.
How Much Did I Make and What was My Strategy?
During March and April of 2021, I decided to dedicate to 3 to 4 days a week to driving Uber for 12 hours each day. Keep in mind, I live in a small town, so I would have to drive nearly 40 minutes to the nearest larger city. I would typically drive every other day, and to my surprise, each day I would make anywhere between $210 and $300 each day I drove. I would generally make around $700 a week driving, not bad for only working half the week at your own pace.
I also found it really did not matter what days of the week I worked, I typically made the same whether I worked a Monday or a Saturday. If you learn the habits of the eating times in your area, it really should not matter when you deliver. Monday thru Friday can have busy lunch hours, while weekends might be more busy in the late afternoon and evenings. Night time driving can be great as well. You have no traffic and most of the restaurants that stay open past midnight are fast food restaurants where most of the time you can roll in and out with the order quickly. These are the strategies I found works for me, and it is key to find ones that work for you.
Life had a change of plans for me by May, and I decided to start attending college shortly after. My experience with college will have an article of its own. While I did not continue with this routine consistently, I feel it would have continued to work and I would have achieved my desired goals if I continued full time.
Find Your Routine
The first few weeks were the hardest, learning the routine and finding what restaurants were the most efficient and what areas of the city were best to deliver in. This can be key to your success as well, pick a handful of restaurants you like to deliver from, and be picky about which areas of your city you like to deliver in. If you have consistent volume from the same restaurants, eventually you will develop a business relationship with the staff and they would know why you are there and are more likely to make your experience more efficient. If you can develop a routine that works for you and can put little effort or thought into it, this can make your experience far more pleasant and help with your longevity to delivering.
Of course, every job has downsides, but a positive part I'll note first of driving for Uber is you can work within your own risk tolerance and not have someone push you to work outside of this. The biggest downside I found was having the mental discipline to continue staying out on the road delivering. You are typically not going to be going constantly, and you have to take a break every now and then, and often times you begin to question why you are doing this and think about other things you could be doing, or feeling that urge to go home for the day and that you made enough already so you deserve it. We can't avoid these thoughts, but it is our decision whether we chose to ignore them. It can be tough sometimes.
Another downside I found is drivers fatigue. The more hours you are out on the road, the more likely you are to develop drivers fatigue and in some cases, get into an accident. It can be hard for a lot of people. If you are not a confident driver to begin with, keep your risk tolerances in mind when out on the road.
You might think you have to deal with rude customers, and this can happen, but after hundreds of orders, I can honestly say this has been rare for me. Many customers even request to simply leave the order at the door and you never see them. When I do meet customers at the door, most are usually polite or courteous. If you do encounter a rude customer, simply make your delivery and be mindful of what you say. Long hours on the road can make your tolerance for people run thin, so be careful. All it takes is for a few customers to report you over a stupid incident that may or may not have been your fault for Uber to shutdown your account.
A final negative I have found is while most days I had consistent results, some days you are simply going to be disappointed. You go to all the effort to commit to Uber that day to make hardly anything or even nothing at all if you are that unfortunate. This can be extremely discouraging and may make you reconsider why you are driving in the first place. It happens, we cannot avoid it. You just have to keep going out and trying.
So would I recommend Uber Eats to you? I think it can be a great side gig, as it was intended to be. As for committing to it full time, I think it can be doable for a year, but it is not sustaining. Could you imagine doing this job nearly everyday for several years? It simply is not going to work for almost anyone, not to mention all the wear and tear on your car along the way. The miles can add up quick, but luckily they are tax deductible, so make sure you keep track of your miles. I knew life was going to be changing for me soon, so that is why I did not hesitate to leave my day job and commit to Uber full time for the time being. Then if you live in a colder climate, half the year is generally unbearable driving conditions. However, if you can manage to dedicate a few days a week to driving for Uber and have a routine that works for you, I think you will be happy with the amount of extra income you will be taking home by the end of the year.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Jason