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17 min read

    17 min read

    Even though Uber and Lyft make up a majority of the on-demand economy, there is no shortage of other apps and services that you can work for. And when I heard about a new electric scooter company called Bird, I decided to sign up and give it a try.

    Now if you’re wondering what electric scooters have to do with rideshare driving, you’re right! On the surface, they may seem like pretty different companies, but scooters and rideshare are both part of the shared mobility space, and they actually have a lot more in common than you may think.

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    Both businesses are mobility marketplaces: Uber connects drivers and riders while Bird connects scooters and customers.  And as it turns out, those scooters need able-bodied  workers to charge them every night, so that’s where workers in the on-demand economy come in handy.

    After covering the rideshare industry for four years, I’m already seeing a ton of parallels between the two business models and, like we saw with rideshare driving when it first hit the scene, there’s a lot of opportunity for ‘Chargers’ right now since Bird is growing quickly and able-bodied workers are in high demand.

    Bird Charger Pay – how much do you get paid to charge Bird Scooters?

    Based on my own experience and from talking with other chargers, you can easily make $20-30 per hour working for Bird. If you’d like to download a copy of our free Bird Charger Quick Start Guide PDF, please opt in to our e-mail list below:

    Bird Charger

    Bird Charger

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    What is Bird?

    Bird is a new electric scooter service that first launched in Santa Monica, CA and if you live in a Bird city, you’ve probably noticed hundreds of people riding around at all times of the day on black (and sometimes white) electric scooters. The company is raising hundreds of millions of dollars right now and expanding across the nation rapidly so if you don’t have Bird in your city yet, it’s only a matter of time before they arrive.

    Riding a Bird Scooter

    Riding a Bird Scooter

    You can rent the scooters for $1 plus $0.15/min and travel around town, campus or wherever your heart desires.  I originally signed up with Bird as a customer (you can get your first ride free here) because it seemed like a fun way to zip around town and I was quickly hooked! Here’s a video about what it’s like to rent a Bird Scooter:

    Related Article: Bird Scooter Review on exsplore.com: adventure travel blog

    Sign Up to Be a Bird Charger

    After a few rides, I noticed a button one day in the app that said ‘Become a Charger’ and I immediately clicked it! Uber actually uses a similar button in the Uber passenger app to get passengers to sign up to drive, and this was the first of many similarities I noticed between the two companies.  It’s also important to note that Bird’s founder Travis VanderZanden was VP of Global Driver Growth at Uber and COO at Lyft before starting Bird. And it looks like Ryan Fujiu and Steve Schnell from Uber also joined Bird.

    Become a bird charger

    Become a bird charger

    From there, the application asks for personal information, tax information and your bank account information so they can send you direct deposits. This part of the sign-up process was pretty standard.

    Bird Charger Sign up

    Bird Charger Sign up

    Soon after, I got a phone call from Jake at Bird asking me a few questions about why I wanted to be a Charger:

    1. What do you love about Birds?
    2. What type of car do you have?
    3. How many Bird do you think you can charge per night?

    The phone call was refreshing, since it seems like Bird actually wants people to sign up who are passionate about the service and wants to ensure you’ll be a good fit for the company.  Uber driver requirements and Lyft driver requirements tend to be more focused on getting as many people into their application funnel as possible and have no real vetting other than the background check.

    I wasn’t sure how stringent the vetting process for Bird would be, so I made sure my answers reflected how much I love Bird and to show that I have a big car and am ready to do a lot of work! Here’s the gist of my responses:

    1.  I love how easy it is for the short-trips around town and the fact that you can leave the scooters anywhere.  I’d like to see more on the roads and want to help make that happen.
    2. I have two cars that I could use for this job, a Ford Fusion Hybrid or more likely my SUV since the second row folds down, and I’ll have more space to store the scooters.
    3. I’m not sure exactly what’s required of charging but I think I should be able to do at least 10-15 a night no problem since I live in West LA and am free at nights.

    Related article: Essential gear for scooter chargers

    Bird Charger Application: Phone Call with Bird

    Jake from Bird walked me through everything in about 20 minutes, and below are my notes from the meeting:

    A charger has three main duties: capture, charge and release back into the ‘wild’.  Bird is big on using ‘bird’ terminology, so I hope you’re ready for a lot of bird related PUNS 🙂

    Bird Charger Requirements

    • Must be 18 years or older
    • Must have a car
    • Charge at least 3 birds at a time
    • Must live in/near a service area where Bird operates

    The last three requirements seem more like suggestions to me and if you’re carless, you can still be an effective Charger if you happen to live in the busiest Bird areas, since you can just walk or ride the Birds back to your house, charge them there and you won’t have to drive around looking for them.  Just check out how this guy does it!

    Bird also says you must live in a coverage area and while that definitely makes things easier since you have to drop them off early in the morning, as long as you live relatively close and/or don’t mind up getting up early, it shouldn’t be a problem.

    Bird Scooters

    Bird Scooters

    Bird Charger Earnings/Salary (& How To Maximize Income)

    Chargers are paid for each Bird they pick up, charge and release. Most Birds will pay you $5.  But some Birds will pay more, depending on how difficult it is to find, charge and release.

    Meelad Mashaw, a content marketing consultant here in Los Angeles, bought an electric meter to measure how much electricity a Bird scooter uses for a full re-charge and found that it cost only 7 cents per scooter in LA.  So the cost to charge a Bird scooter is pretty minimal.

    If you want to learn more about how to maximize your earnings while charging bird scooters, read our Bird Charger Tips and Tricks article.

    Bird App – Charger Mode

    Once you are approved to become a Charger, Bird will activate ‘Charger mode’ in your Bird customer app. This allows you to toggle into Charger mode, then capture and charge Birds.

    There’s only one app that you use for both charging and riding (similar to Lyft) and here’s what the ‘Charger Mode’ toggle looks like:

    Bird Charger App

    Bird Charger App

    Finding Birds to Charge

    Birds are coded on the map in different colors and each color has a dollar value

    Finding a bird to charge

    Find a bird to charge

    At the start, you’re going to want to go after green birds after 9 pm when Bird releases most of the scooters onto the map (10 pm in some markets).  You can capture Birds at any time throughout the day but the company tends to ‘release Birds’ back into the wild at 9 p.m. So you’ll see the highest number of Birds on the map right after 9 p.m and they’ll be on the map until they’ve all been captured.

    Looking for bird scooters

    Looking for birds

     

    How to Capture Birds

    Once you’ve located a Bird, capturing it is a lot easier than Duck Hunt. All you have to do is scan the QR code located on the handle bar or enter the 4 digit code.  Once you’ve captured at least one Bird, you can head to My Birds on the navigation menu of the Bird app and see which Birds you have captive (these are Bird’s terms I swear!).

    Capture a bird scooter

    Capture a bird scooter

    You’ll see the Bird ID, battery percentage (real time) and current status (charge – this means the scooter is plugged in and charging).

    Your captured Birds

    Your captured Birds

    How to Charge a Bird Scooter

    Charging Birds is pretty straightforward, but you will need to get special chargers from Bird. The Chargers are free but you only get 3 to start since the charging supplies are in high demand right now.  If you’re waiting on charging supplies, be patient but also don’t hesitate to follow up with Bird via the help tab of the app or by e-mailing [email protected]

    Each scooter takes around 3-5 hours to charge 100% and while you could potentially charge multiple scooters with one charger, I don’t recommend it since the scooters do lose charge once you unplug them and it’s annoying to get up in the middle of the night to switch them out.

    How To Get More Charger Cables

    If Bird is taking too long to send you more chargers then you can purchase more here instead.

    Purchasing more chargers is the fastest way to increase your earnings because you will be able to charge more scooters at once.

    Click here to view more essential gear for chargers.

    Releasing Charged Birds to a Nest

    I think being a Charger is a lot easier than becoming an Uber driver or Lyft driver or delivering food for Postmates or DoorDash since there’s no customer interaction, but there are a few rules. This is especially true when it comes to releasing Birds back into the wild. Here are all of Bird’s ‘suggested’ rules for releasing Birds:

    • Scooters need to be dropped off between 4 and 7 a.m. anywhere within a Bird’s Nest
    • Bird asks you to release scooters in sets of three on private property in a nest
    • Try to find a flat surface as close as possible to high foot traffic area while never obstructing or blocking pedestrian pathways
    • Scooters should be evenly spaced and wheels turned out

    Bird provides in app guidance on where to drop the Birds in the morning.  Here is a screenshot:

    Bird Scooter Nests

    Bird Nests

    How Much Money Can You Make as a Bird Charger?

    The cool thing about Bird is that you actually get paid on the same day if you release all your Birds by 7 a.m.  On the morning of my first drop, here’s what the earnings report looked like before payment (9:24 a.m.) and then after payment (10:56 a.m.).

     

    How much money I made charging bird

    Bird Charger Earnings/Pay

    If you want to learn more about how to maximize your earnings while charging bird scooters, read our Bird Charger Tips and Tricks article. And if you’re thinking of being a Bird charger because you need money fast, check out our how to get 100 dollars fast article for other ways to make money quickly.

    Bird Charger Customer Support

    I was impressed with Bird’s customer support throughout the sign-up process, and they’ve continued to quickly and thoroughly respond to any questions I’ve had.  There were a few different modes of communication (e-mail, text, in-person) I used to contact Bird, but text was definitely the easiest and most convenient for me.  Here’s a sampling of the questions and responses I got (my responses are in yellow):

    Bird customer service app screenshot

    Bird Customer Service

    The solid customer support has been a nice change of pace from dealing with Uber and Lyft. Right now, actual Bird employees are manning the support lines. As they scale and potentially transition to a third party, I really hope they continue to provide solid support. I can’t tell you how nice it is to get your questions answered by someone who knows what they’re talking about.

    Most of my customer support interactions these days though happen through the help tab of the app.

    Related Article: Essential gear every Bird Charger driver should have

    My First Day of Bird Charging

    It’s been fun learning the ropes of a new shared mobility service, and I’ve also found that it can be quite lucrative.  Whenever these services first launch, they tend to pay well because they need to drum up demand.  On my first day of charging, I was actually in Santa Monica for lunch, so on my way home I located three birds, captured them, put them in the back of my car, and took them home and charged them.

    Once you get the hang of it, finding the birds is pretty easy and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes per Bird.  Charging them takes a few hours but all you have to do is plug them in, so it’s pretty much passive at that point.  The only challenging part for me was getting up early and dropping them off by 7 a.m.

    But there’s not much traffic at 7 a.m., especially on the weekends, and it only takes a few minutes to pull them out of your car and place them on the street.  Here’s what my first Nest looked like, how’d I do?

    Dropping off Birds after charging them

    My first Bird Nest

    When all was said and done, I probably spent about 20-30 minutes actually working and made just under $15 (conservatively $30 per hour). If you’ve got an SUV or even a truck, you could easily do 6-12 Birds at a time, and make significantly more, especially if you pick and choose the best times to work.  The Birds are heavy, around 25-30 pounds, and a little awkward to handle but they’re definitely manageable.

    Overall, I had a lot of fun riding the scooters, and then signing up to charge them. This job won’t be perfect for everyone, but it is surprisingly flexible, and I could imagine many different scenarios where it would make sense for Uber and Lyft drivers to work for Bird or really anyone looking to make some extra cash, similar to using the Ibotta promo code shopping cash-back app.

    If you’re in California and would like to sign up with Bird, you can download the app from the App Store or Play Store, then tap ‘Become a Charger’ in the menu.  The other way is to signup on the web.

    And if you’d like to learn more about working as a Bird Charger, check out our latest post or watch the video below:

    Gear and Services for Bird Chargers

    1.) ScooterMap – This is a cool tool that pulls in scooter data for Chargers and allows you to filter by time, bounty and more!  Click here to sign up using our affiliate link.

    2.) Bird charger/mechanic forum – connect with other people who maintain scooters

    3.) Magnetic phone mount for your car since you will be constantly using your phone:
    4.) Work gloves to handle the scooters with touch screen finger tips so you can still use your phone:
    5.) Flashlight to help you find Birds at night:
    6.) Reflective vest so you look “official” and reduce the risk of getting hit by a car:
    7.) Power surge protector if you’re charging a bunch at a time:

    Click here for the full gear list

     


    Bird Charger T-shirts and Sweaters Available

    Makes a great gift!

    Bird Charger, Lime Juicer - Electric Scooter Charger T-shirt

    Bird Charger, Lime Juicer – Electric Scooter Charger T-shirt

    Click here to purchase a t-shirt

    We also have long sleeves, sweaters, and hoodies available in multiple colors and sizes

     


    Bird Frequently Asked Questions

    What is Bird Scooter?

    Bird is a new electric scooter service that operates all over the United States.  You can rent scooters for $1 + $0.15 per minute and they also hire ‘Chargers’ to pick up, charge and release the scooters every day.

    Where is Bird Available?

    Bird is expanding rapidly but as of 6/12/18, they’re available in the following places:

    • California – Los Angeles, Westwood, Santa Monica, Venice, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Pacific Beach
    • Arizona – Scottsdale, Tempe
    • Colorado – Denver
    • Texas – Austin, Dallas
    • Tennessee – Nashville
    • Georgia – Atlanta
    • Florida – Miami
    • North Carolina – Charlotte
    • District of Columbia – Washington DC

    You can also contact Bird here to find out when they make it to your city.

    How do I sign up for Bird Scooter?

    Bird is available in the Android Play Store and the Apple App Store – you can get a free ride by signing up here with our referral code. If you’re interested in signing up for the Charger program, you can sign up in the app by tapping ‘Become a Charger’ like I did or click here.

    How much can Bird Chargers make?

    Chargers are paid for each Bird they pick up, charge and release. Most Birds will pay you $5. Some Birds will pay more, depending on how difficult it is to find, charge and release.

    Does it cost anything to sign up as a Bird Charger?

    No, it’s completely free to sign up, but you do have to be older than age 18.  Bird will also provide you with the actual chargers that you can use to charge the scooters you capture.

    What type of scooter does Bird use?

    Bird uses the Xiaomi M365 Electric Scooter, which is a foldable scooter and also used by several other scooter companies.  Bird also uses a ‘new scooter’ model, the Ninebot KickScooter by Segway (ES2)

    Why does Bird use so many bird puns in their marketing and slogans?

    I’ve asked the company for comment and no one was willing to take credit for it 🙂

    Here are some more resources to learn about Bird:

    Links:

    Related Blog Posts:

    Related Youtube Videos:


    What do you think of the company and the charging gig? Is this something you would be interested in trying?

    -Harry @ RSG

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    Read next: Essential gear for people who charge and maintain scooters

    Harry Campbell

    Harry Campbell

    I'm Harry, the owner and founder of The Rideshare Guy Blog and Podcast. I used to be a full-time engineer but now I'm a rideshare blogger! I write about my experience driving for Uber, Lyft, and other services and my goal is to help drivers earn more money by working smarter, not harder.