Since writing my first article about becoming an Uber driver, I have received many questions. The most common one is, “Why should I drive for Uber?” It is a reasonable question, right? People looking for extra income want to know if it is really worth the time and effort.
As an Uber driver, you are a small business person and an independent contractor. A couple of years ago, Slate’s Alison Griswold wrote, “The more hours you work for Uber, the more reliable your hourly average becomes. … As the number of hours worked per week moves past 50 or 60, drivers start to reliably earn somewhere between $20 and $35 an hour. But for those working part-time, and especially less than 30 hours, it’s a crapshoot. Some are averaging $25 net per hour. Others are averaging upward of $40 or even $50 while others are barely scraping $15.”
Being An Independent Contractor
If you are not familiar with being self-employed and an independent contractor, there are some things you need to understand. There are general rules that apply to every industry, not just Uber drivers.
- You control how much and how often you work.
- To make money, you must work when work is available.
- You pay for the cost of your equipment and supplies.
- You are responsible for your own finances.
- You are responsible for your own benefits like health, vacation time, and retirement.
The U.S. Small Business Association states, “Commonly known as consultants, freelancers and self-employed, independent contractors are individuals who are hired to do a particular job, receiving payment only for the work being done. Independent contractors are business owners, and are not their clients’ employees. They do not receive employee benefits or the same legal protections as employees, and are often responsible for their own expenses.”
Being an independent contractor means no one owes you a paycheck, a living wage, or anything else typically associated with being employed by another company. You are your own company.
The Best Tips for Uber Drivers
If you work smart, Uber can create a healthy income. There are some drivers out there making big money. I worked as a driver for a while and still do when I have time. If you know what you are doing, Uber is an easy gig.
Don’t Give Up Too Soon. Expect your first few weeks to be frustrating. It will take time for you to learn the best times to drive. You will become aggravated with long pauses between riders. It takes time, and there is a learning curve.
Ignore Uber Recommendations, One thing learn very quickly is Uber’s recommendations for when and where to drive rarely work out. Those texts and emails are for Uber’s benefit, not yours. You need to stage yourself at locations and times that bring you the most dollars per hour with the least amount of miles.
Don’t Buy Snacks and Water. Uber’s training videos tell you to keep snacks and water in the car for riders. If you are an UberX (economy) driver, you are not compensated enough to absorb this cost. Leave it for UberBLACK (luxury) drivers.
Know Your Area. It is important to know where to park and make pit stops between rides. Staging areas are important. One of the best places I found was a parking lot at the train station during the afternoon rush. I have also become an expert on all local Wawa markets.
Don’t Chase the Surge. During periods of high demand, Uber increases their rates. During these times, you have the opportunity to earn up to 4 times or more of your regular rate. The surge is triggered by too few drivers in an area compared to riders. However, once things balance out, the rate returns to normal and you have added unpaid miles to your car.
Don’t Cruse. Whatever you do, do not drive around trying to get a rider ping. Those are all unpaid miles. Miles cost you in fuel, maintenance, and vehicle depreciation. The more unpaid miles you put on your car, the less you actually make. It is not only your per hour dollar earnings that is important. The amount you earn for total miles driven is just as important.
Should You Become an Uber Driver?
There is very little downside to becoming an Uber driver. The fact is few self-employment opportunities come with virtually no upfront costs. With Uber, you can set your own schedule and are paid every week. At the very least, it can supplement your existing income. Give it a try for a solid month. You may find you’re making more than you ever expected.
Requirements to be an Uber driver:
- Minimin Age 21
- 2000 or newer vehicle (2005 in some cities)
- Ability to pass a background check
There are other opportunities as well such as UberRush, an on-demand delivery service in San Fransisco, Chicago, New York and coming soon to other cities. Businesses can now offer delivery service without the overhead costs.
If you would like more information, or are ready to sign up as a driver, please check out Uber’s website.