Have you ever wondered what makes some drivers make the leap from part-time driving to full-time driving? Rideshare driving can be unstable work, but if you can leverage your time to be more efficient and earn enough, it can one of the most flexible jobs in the world. Today, RSG contributor Jay Cradeur explains why he decided to become a full-time driver.
I have been driving for Uber and Lyft full time now for over 18 months. At first, I started out like most drivers; I wanted to try it out and see what driving had to offer.
On my first day, I drove in Sacramento for about 6 hours, and made $100. It was fun, it was exciting, and I really like the immediacy of the pay. Then I began to think, what if I did this full time, what could I do with this opportunity?
Getting Started as a Full-Time Driver
Like many of you, I began looking at YouTube videos and soon realized two things: I needed to work for Lyft and Uber together to maximize my earnings, and San Francisco was the Promised Land of driving. I saw videos of others making $1,400 in 3 days in my city by the bay.
As I drive now, I hear from my passengers about drivers who commute from as far as Sacramento and Fresno to work in San Francisco for 3 days on the weekend. Some even sleep in their car at the Marina Safeway. It is like the old Gold Rush of 1849.
After a week of part time driving in Sacramento, I signed up with Lyft, and secured a hotel room in Berkeley to work in San Francisco for 3 days over a weekend. While I did not make $1,400, I did pretty well, and determined I should only be driving in San Francisco. My goal was to see if I could make $2,000 per week.
After a few weeks of living in Airbnb residences, I realized I could reach my goal. I then decided to relocate to San Francisco and go full time. I choose to be a full time driver for the following four reasons.
The Work is Enjoyable
I sincerely like the work of rideshare driving. I enjoy ferrying passengers all around San Francisco. It is a beautiful city and even though I had lived in San Francisco three different times in the past, I really did not know the city like I do now.
I also enjoy the conversations. The folks who are passengers are, for the most part, very interesting. At this time in my rideshare driving career, I am closing in on 14,000 trips, so I have had many conversations. I have learned from my passengers. My passengers have entertained me.
Best of all, my passengers have inspired and moved me, especially when I pick someone up who is going through a troubling time, such as the death of a loved one, or job loss. This constant and varied daily interaction is stimulating and satisfying. I never finish a day of driving and feel I wasted my time.
A Significant Increase in Weekly Earning (Total and Per Hour)
During the first two weeks in August, I earned over $5,200 (net) and worked 140 hours. That is a per hour rate of over $35 per hour. As a part time driver, I could not complete enough rides to earn the various bonuses offered by both Uber and Lyft. Let’s look at the pay statements for those weeks:
July 31 to August 13th, 2017 with Lyft
July 31 to August 13th, 2017 with Uber
The bonuses contribute roughly 25% of my earnings each week.
At of the time of this article, I can earn an additional $315 from Lyft and another $200 or so from Uber each week from Quest Bonuses. As a full time driver, I have learned how to manage my ride flow so that I can maximize my trips during the week to reach my goals and earn all the bonuses both companies have to offer.
You will also notice that I drive more for Lyft than for Uber. Last year, Uber had more demand and so I drove more for Uber. As of November, that situation has changed. Head to head, Lyft now is the dominant company in terms of rider demand in San Francisco by a factor of 2 to 1.
Freedom and Flexibility
“Drive for Uber and see the world.” If I were a part time driver, I would need another job to make enough money to honor all my obligations such as rent, utilities, food, and entertainment. If I had another job, I would most likely have a boss, and with a boss comes a lack of freedom.
I like to work hard and play hard. This year, I will take 4 vacations totaling 9 weeks. As I full time driver, I can work hard, make my $2,000 per week, and then take a wicked cool vacation to Bali, when I want. This freedom is invaluable to me.
Driving for Uber and Lyft is “Good Work”
By good work, I mean as a driver I am providing a valuable service. As drivers, we take people from point A to point B, and they are happy. I have had plenty of jobs in which I sold a product of questionable value, or performed some task I did not feel was worthwhile. Being an Uber and Lyft driver is good work. I can be proud of what I do. That alone is worth quite a bit to me.
Certainly there are some drawbacks to being a full time Uber and Lyft driver. It is not all unicorns and rainbows. Some days I would rather not get up at 5 a.m. and begin driving at 6 a.m. Some days I would rather go to the beach, or just sleep, or get a massage. I hate that as a driver, I can get a surprise $300 ticket in the mail for being stopped in a bus zone. Some days my back hurts. Some days, I look with envy at my passengers who are going to the airport to fly to Tokyo on business.
But I have learned that every job gets boring from time to time. There is no point in looking at someone else’s life to make a comparison. I like what I do. It is simple. I have learned to do it well. It pays well. Most importantly, I have freedom.
I have read right here on RSG that most drivers quit after a few months on the road. The driving gig is not all that they thought it would be. These drivers suffer from the “grass is always greener” syndrome. The grass over here as an Uber and Lyft driver is pretty darn green, if you work it right, exercise good discipline toward your work schedule, and manage your off time so that you don’t feel like you are spending all of your life in your car.
Uber and Lyft both want full-time drivers to drive for their respective company. They are competing for us because we are consistent and we have established a strong track record. We are reliable as evidenced by our good rating, lack of negative comments, and willingness to work through the challenges we confront each day out on the road.
In San Francisco, Uber and Lyft reward the full time drivers with substantial bonuses for our commitment to our craft. The work, the money, the interactions with passengers, and the freedom all have led me to the decision to remain a full time driver these past 18 months. I look forward to getting up tomorrow, putting gas in my car, getting my vanilla sweet cream cold brew coffee, firing up my apps, playing my Spotify “First Thing” playlist, and getting that first ping. I’m all in.
Readers, are you a full-time driver or part-time driver? Would you want to be a full-time driver? Do you have any questions about what it’s like to be a full-time driver? Leave a comment below for Jay to answer!
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-Jay @ RSG