Updated: Jul 21
The gig economy has been in full force for a number of years now. But with high inflation and a shaky economy in 2023, the past couple years have once again shined a light on working side hustles and starting micro businesses to supplement your income.
One of the original ways to participate in the gig economy was food delivery, and it is just as popular today as ever. Companies such as DoorDash, GrubHub, Uber Eats, and Postmates have also emerged as viable options in the present and future gig economy.
This article will review working for DoorDash and help you determine whether this is a good side hustle for you.
What is DoorDash?
DoorDash is a technology company that helps users to order food delivery from their favorite restaurants in the area. Founded in 2013, DoorDash has expanded in recent years and now handles deliveries for groceries, alcohol, and convenience stores as well.
With a presence in over 4,000 cities across the United States and Canada, DoorDash now has millions of active users and employs thousands of freelancers across North America to complete customer orders.
With the ability to work when you feel like it and stay home when you don't, the flexibility is amazing. This article will show you how you can make $2,000 or more per month driving for DoorDash.
Related: Join Side Hustle Acceleration to make up to $20,000 more per year.
How DoorDash works
Here's how DoorDash works.
A user will use the smartphone application to place an order for food, groceries, or other products from a participating restaurant or other store. This is where you come into play.
With the order underway, the DoorDash system will send a Dasher (you) to pick up the order from the restaurant or store, and then deliver it to the customer. In most cases, deliveries will be completed within one hour of it being placed.
One of the cool parts about the process is that customers and Dashers are able to check on the status of an order in live-time. This allows customers to be able to estimate when an order may arrive, and it also allows Dashers to navigate and make it to/from a merchant location timely.
Related: Grubhub driver review
Becoming a DoorDasher
Signing up to work for DoorDash is a really easy process, one that can be started here.
Your first step is to establish your driver account, which is quite simple. In fact, you'll only need an email and phone number to get started.
After you've created your account, you'll need to provide some information about the vehicle that you intend to use to make deliveries. An interesting part about DoorDash is that there are not really any vehicle requirements like there can be with Uber and Lyft. In fact, if you're in a city or urban area, you may even opt to walk or bike your deliveries to their destination.
But if you decide to use your vehicle, just be prepared to prove that you are licensed and insured to operate a vehicle.
Finally, you'll link your bank account for direct deposit. You'll automatically get paid to this account.
The DoorDash registration process
I tested out the DoorDash worker experience in the spirit of providing our readers with full transparency. Here's what I found.
There can be a time delay of multiple days from when you submit the application to when you you are approved, which DoorDash says can take 3-7 days. I find this a little frustrating and wish they would find a way to expedite the process and progress through their checks and review more quickly.
Surprisingly, the auto component, including proof of insurance and consent to a background check, was easier to complete than originally anticipated.
In summary, you'll just want to set realistic expectations - you won't be able to sign up and start driving five minutes later. The key is to start the process a week or more before you would like to start working.
After you've signed up to become a delivery driver, you're going to need to follow these steps to get up and running.
Download the app
Schedule shifts (optional)
Start making deliveries
1. Download the DoorDash app
Once your online registration is complete, you'll need to download the DoorDash app. After you sign in as a driver, using the username and password that you established, you'll see the "portal" that you'll use to accept deliveries, navigate to your deliveries, schedule your shifts, and more.
This is also the same application that you'll use to view your pay history and metrics about your delivery history.
2. Schedule your shifts
In time, you may want to consider scheduling your shifts in advance if you know for sure you are going to work. This is an option that is only available to those that have completed at least five deliveries in the preceding seven calendar days or have completed a minimum of 500 deliveries in their careers.
Scheduling your work ahead of time allows you to:
Select the market in which you'd like to work
Potentially gain priority for deliveries that come up during the shift
Assure that you can work at the most profitable times
Early access scheduling hours are usually released at 3 pm local time for future scheduling periods. So if you want to take advantage, make sure you're prepared to when that time rolls around.
Of course, during most times, you won't have an issue working on demand when you feel like it. But it is possible if there are too many Dashers already on the road.
Learn more about DoorDash shift scheduling.
3. Start making DoorDash deliveries
After you've completed the registration process, it's time to get started making deliveries. Especially early on, you may want to want to pay close attention to your acceptance rate, the percentage of deliveries offered to you that you accept.
For a short and initial period of time, this may mean sacrificing a little bit of profit to increase your percentage and your rankings, but this may set you up for more success and potentially higher-paying deliveries later.
Whether or not your delivery acceptance rate actually plays a role seems to be a hotly contested issue online, so consider trying both approaches for a period of time to see what happens to your earnings. But what is known is that you'll need to accept 70% of your delivery requests in order to become eligible for the Top Dasher program (and the financial benefits that sometimes accompany that status).
Requirements to be a DoorDash driver
There are a number of eligibility requirements that you'll need to meet in order to deliver for DoorDash. Among these requirements are:
You'll need to be at least 18 years old
Having access to a car, bike, or scooter to make deliveries (biking is common within cities)
Passing a background check
Having valid insurance
But if you're prepared to and able to meet all of these requirements, then you shouldn't have an issue in qualifying to work for the app.
How much does DoorDash pay?
The average DoorDasher earns between $18 and $19 an hour, before any expenses you may incur as a result of driving. This hourly rate is determined by a few different variables, including where you work, what times you work at, and what day of the week it is.
Your pay is largely dependent on two variables:
Your pay for completing each delivery
Any customer tips that you receive
100% of all tips designated by customers goes directly to drivers, so if you regularly provide outstanding service, there is a really good chance at earning more than the average driver.
There is another variable that factors into your DoorDash pay though. Occasionally, you'll see promotions that encourage you to work at certain times. These bonuses can be valuable and easy to attain, so keep your eyes out for them.
DoorDash driver expenses
Unfortunately, what you earn by dashing is not your end profit. Similar to any self-employment venture, you'll also be responsible for a couple expenses.
As a driver, you should expect for the following expenses:
Gasoline for your car
The wear and tear of your vehicle
Your cell phone data, which you probably used anyway
There is a silver lining to these expenses though, even in an era of inflation and high gas prices.
The IRS allows you deduct qualifying business expenses come tax time. This includes mileage driven making deliveries. In 2022, the IRS allows you to deduct 58.5 cents per mile, essentially allowing you to to limit the effect of gas prices and car depreciation.
Of course, if you're in a city and considering using a bike, your expenses will be much lower, and you'll benefit from exercising and working at the same time.
How to make money working for DoorDash
Making money delivering with DoorDash is your top priority. And to be successful, you're going to want to focus on all of the small details.
Just check out this YouTube video created by famous YouTuber Tanner Markley.
DoorDash driver money making tips
To make as much money as possible in the least amount of time, follow these tips:
Understand what times you should work at
Focus on completing deliveries initially
Schedule your shifts in advance
Deduct your miles driven per IRS guidelines
1. Work during busy times
This tip may seem pretty basic, and it is, but it is of utmost importance that you understand when to work, since this can be the number one variable that dictates how well you will earn on a given day.
Usually, breakfast is slower than the other meals of the day, and could lead to you earning less. As a general rule of thumb, you'll want to be available during some of these times:
Friday, Saturday, and/or Sunday (times are not quite as important on the weekend)
Lunch, typically between 11:30 am - 2:30 pm
Dinner, typically between 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
2. Focus on completing as many deliveries as possible
Especially early on in your "Dashing" journey, you'll want to focus on completing as many deliveries as possible.
It can be a bit of a balancing act. You'll want to be in a relatively populated area near you, but one with as little traffic as possible. Remember - the faster you finish a delivery, the faster you can get on to the next one.
This may also lead to more satisfied customers and happier tips, as avoiding late deliveries should be a main focus.
3. Schedule your shifts ahead of time
DoorDash now has a feature within the app that allows you to schedule yourself to work before you actually leave to begin accepting deliveries. Utilizing this feature helps you to receive priority when it comes to receiving deliveries during your shift.
This can, in turn, lead to higher earnings.
4. Remember to deduct your driven mileage on your tax return
The U.S. Internal Revenue Service establishes mileage rates (58.5 cents per mile driven in 2022) and allows you to deduct mileage driven for business use from your taxes come tax time. Keep track of this mileage (there are apps that can help you do this) and remember to deduct before you file your taxes each year.
You could save a lot of money!
As basic as it may sound, your primary objective is to maximize your earnings (from deliveries) while limiting your expenses. In the case of driving and completing food deliveries, you'll want to think about how to balance conserving gas and avoiding heavily trafficked areas, which will cost you both time and money.
Though you can deduct mileage as a business expense, you are still putting wear and tear on your car, making things like oil changes and various maintenance activities more likely.
So, if you're serious about being in great athletic shape and living in an urban area, biking may be perfect for you.
DoorDash pros and cons
There are a number of pros and cons to completing deliveries for DoorDash. Among my favorite aspects of the experience are:
Keeping 100% of your customer tips
Being able to work when you want
Getting to choose which orders you want to accept
That doesn't mean everything is perfect about the DoorDash experience. A few things I would like to see improved are:
Getting blamed for restaurant mistakes
Fighting rush hour in or around cities
No guaranteed hourly rate
Is being a DoorDash driver worth it?
Delivering food for DoorDash absolutely can be a side hustle that earns you a few extra dollars. So in that regard, it is worth it.
The key to this is to follow our top tips for drivers. These will increase your earning potential, help you complete more deliveries, and eliminate any frustration you may feel.
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