Driving for Uber in Chicago can be daunting – traffic is a big issue, but earnings can also be higher than average given how busy the city is both for residents and tourists. Senior RSG contributor Sergio Avedian had the opportunity to interview an incredible Chicago driver, Emanuel, about what it’s like driving in Chicago, how Emanuel got his start rideshare driving, plus how he earns $3,000 weekly!
Since I started the Show me the money club (SMTMC) live stream on the Rideshare Guy Youtube channel, I have had the chance to meet or communicate with drivers from all over the country. I also have a new appreciation for what these gig companies offer millions of people.
Does that mean I am soft now? No chance of that! Are Uber, Lyft and other gig companies perfect in the way they treat their drivers? Absolutely not! But if you know what you are doing in combination with determination and hustle you can still make a great living shuffling passengers around.
A majority of drivers do rideshare on a part-time basis, but some like our superstar driver from Chicago are full-time veterans, just like Roxie the Uber Winterbird as well as Kyle from Los Angeles. This week I have the pleasure of introducing Emanuel to our readers.
After finishing high school, Emanuel got his first W2 job at a warehouse, where he worked for about ten years, and then at U-Line for another two, where he said he would bring in $1200-$1500 every two weeks. At the time, he had the safety net of being an employee, but as he describes, he was always an entrepreneur in spirit and wanted to own his business.
“I never liked the regular jobs. I always felt that there was more to life. I worked in a warehouse for over 12 yrs with two different companies and I never made over $40k per year. Then, after all that time, I was unexpectedly let go.”
Emanuel’s Rideshare Start
Emanuel had to do something – he had a family to support. Just like millions of people, he took advantage of the sign-up bonuses for Uber and Lyft and started driving part-time in 2015. He initially worked weekends for extra cash.
When he got laid off from the warehouse job, he dove into rideshare on a full-time basis and has never looked back. Today, he is a top driver in Chicago, making a great living. It’s not all sunshine though – as you’ll see, being a top driver in any city comes with its share of grit, determination, commitment, and hustle.
“So in April 2015, I started driving for Uber/Lyft part-time on the weekends just to make extra money. Never thought that I will be doing it 7 years later full-time, I have given over 28,000 trips with both apps. In April 2017, my last company let me go. I started driving Uber/Lyft full-time. I would’ve been happy to make $1000 a week.
I will never forget that first trip or the first week when I made $1200. I was elated, excited and month by month I got better at this gig, developing strategies that work for my city of Chicago.”
After his first year as a full-time rideshare driver, Emanuel probably made the best decision he could make and bought himself a luxury ride in order to drive on higher-end platforms like Uber Select and Lyft Lux. This is what sets a regular driver apart from an entrepreneur: Emanuel figured it out, he made an investment that paid off handsomely, and then he bought his second Lincoln MKZ in 2021 (pictured above).
Even when the pandemic hit, Emanuel adjusted. Uber and Lyft should consider themselves lucky to have someone like Emanual, because without people like him, there is no gig economy!
To me, what sets Emanuel apart is his hunger for knowledge and his desire to improve. And as you will see below, his consistent weekly earnings are nothing short of extraordinary.
“In September 2018, I made the decision to buy my first Lincoln MKZ so I can get on Uber Select and Lyft Lux. It was a good decision. I was easily making $2000-$2200 per week.
Fast forward to March 2020 the pandemic hit, I was scared, where was I going to make money? So I moved to Instacart for about a year. At that time I brought in anywhere from $1500 to $1800 a week, kept me afloat. I got back to ridesharing March 2021 full time and I will say that 2021 was the best year for me ever. I was making anywhere from $3000 to $3500 a week.”
Emanuel’s Typical Daily Routine
Good things come to those who hustle, figure the system out, and work as efficiently as possible. Today, Emanuel is on autopilot, as he puts it. He does not sway from his daily routine.
He wakes up around 3:30-4:00 AM every day, and after his cup of coffee, he turns both his apps on and catches a trip to O’Hare airport from the suburbs he lives in. That puts him within 15 minutes of the “hot zone”, as he calls it, Downtown Chicago.
After a few more trips to O’Hare on higher platforms like Lyft Lux, he works the morning rush hour with certain strategies he’s developed over the years.
His day is done around 3 pm. He told me that he loves the Upfront Destinations Uber released in Chicago a couple of weeks ago. Instead of using a destination filter (DF) to go home, he burns them all during his shift to position himself, like many top drivers do in major cities. The lesson here is he applies the 3 P’s I talk about all the time – Patience, Position, and Planning.
“I live 40 minutes away from downtown Chicago so I strategize my whole day and exactly know what to do. After 28,000 trips, you really learn how to master the apps and figure out how to be profitable in this business. I work from 4am-3pm daily but if I need to do something with the family I take a day off, this is why I like this gig. My family is my #1 Priority and I feel that my work ethic and ambition sets a good example for my kids.”
Emanuel’s Consistent Earnings
I know many people will talk about how he does not have a life. Well, those are the people who constantly complain about what is wrong with the gig economy.
Let me be very clear: can I or millions of others do what Emanuel does? Absolutely not. But when I meet drivers like him (the first time during our SMTMC driver town hall), I have nothing but the utmost admiration for them and appreciation for the gig apps and what they provide for people like Emanuel who was stuck in a warehouse job.
The following screenshots of what he consistently earns from the last four weeks prove to me that Emanual is in the top 1% of drivers in his city.
Emanuel says he spends about $250 in gas per week and drives about 1200-1500 miles to produce these results. His online time ranges from 55-70 hours a week since he has both apps on at the same time, picking and choosing the most profitable trips.
Some weeks he favors one app over the other, depending on who is showing him the money. We always tell our readers and viewers that multi-apping is a must. If Emanual is not a good example of that, who is?
Takeaways for Drivers
This may be an old cliche, but hard work pays off. Emmanuel’s story is nothing short of remarkable. He is always looking to improve, and as Uber and Lyft zig, he has adapted and learned how to zag.
I am sure I will hear from some readers that drivers like Emanual and his earnings are not typical for a vast majority and that I always put high-earning individuals in my articles. Why wouldn’t I?
Of course, his results are not typical but being a top driver in any city takes a lot of knowledge, experimenting and hard work. I bet thousands of Chicago drivers don’t even earn half of what Emanuel does.
Did Emanuel’s story inspire you? Do you think you could do what he does to earn $3,000 a week with rideshare?
-Sergio @ RSG