January is typically a difficult month to make ends meet as rideshare drivers. But this year is sure to be extra painful due to the added difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic.
While the rate of rides varies by market and month to month, senior RSG contributor Paula Gibbins shares tips for how to beat the January slump, even during a pandemic.
“Take What You’re Making Now, and Cut it in Half”: Reasons for a January Slowdown
There are many explanations that could be accurate to explain why in January and even into February the business seems to slow down a bit… or a lot.
As one Redditor posted: “January is the slow month for rideshare. With the pandemic raging, it’ll be worse. Whatever you are making now, cut it in half.”
1. Holiday Spending
People spend a LOT around the holidays. By the time January comes around, your passengers are realizing just how much they spent, and they have to start paying off their credit cards from all the gifts they bought and all the rides they took to and from stores and from visiting friends and family.
While people may have made fewer trips to family and friends, they may have also made up for the lack of presence with more presents. Either way, it’s a time when most people cut back – or try to – and that can mean fewer rides and deliveries for drivers.
2. New Year’s Resolutions
It’s highly possible that many people made New Year’s resolutions along the lines of “spend less money” and unfortunately for us, that money could mean taking an Uber or Lyft to places when they are perfectly capable of driving themselves.
3. Bad Weather
Of course, if you live in the northern part of the U.S., you know that bad weather will prevent people from going anywhere unless absolutely necessary, but those who do need to get places will likely be paying a premium price.
Now, with the pandemic, we already have many people working from home on a regular basis, so bad weather could make it more difficult to find work as far as ride requests go. But there will always be people who need to get to work whose cars won’t start or who have missed their bus.
4. Pandemic-inspired Shutdowns
And, of course, this year we have the pandemic to take into consideration. Many drivers have already seen a large decrease in rides throughout the past 9 months and with a new wave of shutdowns put into place all over the country, it’s likely to only get worse before it gets better.
Pay attention to your local shutdown announcements and plan your livelihood around it. Are restaurants closed except for delivery? Get out there during lunch and dinner rush. Are grocery stores going to have limited customer capacity? Consider Instacart over the weekends when the majority of people order their groceries.
How to Turn Things Around
Just because there’s a whole host of reasons why people might not be spending money on Uber or Lyft rides during January, don’t lose hope! You’ve got several other options to consider, and as we’ve said many times, it’s more than a good idea to be on as many platforms as possible. In the case of a slow down on one, you might find more business on another.
With the coronavirus pandemic facing shutdowns leading into the holidays, it’s possible this year that people will be spending less money on traveling for the holidays, but will still need food delivery and presents delivered more so than in previous years. We’ve already seen a boom in deliveries since the start of it all in March.
Find some of our favorite food delivery companies to work for here.
People working from home and doing their best to shelter in place provide a great opportunity for you to take on the delivery side of the business. Those who used to go everywhere with Ubers are now looking to have everything come to them.
I know personally, I use Amazon Prime Now grocery delivery on a weekly basis. I rely on it and so do many others. As a special treat about once a week when I get tired of my own cooking, I use services like DoorDash to get fast food delivered.
These trends are likely not going to stop around the holidays. People aren’t going to be visiting friends and family, but instead are looking at ways to stay at home and make things festive that way. You can be there as a delivery driver, ready to help make staying home over the holidays a little more bearable.
I wouldn’t discount Uber and Lyft completely, because there are several people whose jobs do not allow them to work from home and will need rides to and from work on a regular basis. But, when your day starts to slow, consider going online for a delivery service to fill those gaps.
As one generous Reddit poster suggested however, if you only do this for a side gig and don’t really need the money, stay home. “When volume is low, let the people who feed their families get first crack.”
Prediction: New Year’s Eve and Day will still likely be busy. I have a feeling people will be fed up with staying home for three weeks (as many state shutdowns are currently set for). I feel like, if there are places open, or if people are “allowed” to visit with friends and family again, you’ll still keep busy while ringing in the new year.
It may look different from previous years, but people will be stir crazy and wanting to get out and kick this year in the butt.
Delivery Apps You Should Sign Up for Now
Delivery is likely going to be the saving grace this January, but keep in mind, it’s better to be signed up for more apps rather than less. With the majority of drivers already having switched to delivery, the market is going to be tight, even with increased demand from customers. Be prepared and have as many apps available as possible so you can be efficient and have minimal downtime.
People are ordering food as they work from home, shelter in place and get tired of their own cooking, or even people who simply cannot cook. Sign up for DoorDash to deliver fast food and restaurant orders to customers.
You do NOT need a car to qualify for DoorDash. You can deliver on scooter or bicycle, depending on your market.
Read our DoorDash tips and tricks guide for more info.
Instacart has exploded since the pandemic hit. They saw a huge increase in orders placed on their platform. With customers ordering their groceries online more frequently, this is a great opportunity for you to earn, even during a typically slow month for ridesharing.
You can be a full shopper, meaning you do the in-store shopping as well as delivering the food to the customer. In some markets, there is also the opportunity to just be an in-store shopper or just a delivery driver. Check your market for availability.
Take a look at our Instacart shopper pay article for more tips on how to increase earnings!
Uber Eats/Uber Connect/Postmates
Uber recently acquired Postmates, but there don’t appear to be any major changes on either platform yet. In the meantime, go ahead and sign up for Postmates and Uber Eats to help keep yourself busy and earn that needed cash.
Uber has also recently announced a new service available in select markets known as Uber Connect, which is a way for drivers to deliver packages for people instead of shuttling around passengers or delivering food.
You can deliver packages with Amazon Flex. In January, people will still be getting deliveries…possibly in place of gifts they returned from Christmas exchanges and bought something they actually wanted.
Keep in mind, with Amazon Flex, you sign up for a time slot that you’ll be driving for. So, if you sign up, be sure to be online and ready to deliver.
For more gig work suggestions, check out our master list of the best gig jobs to sign up for.
Other Work and Income Possibilities to Consider
There is more than just driving and delivering out there. Think about other things you’re good at and enjoy doing. You can find many work-from-home jobs in this new pandemic climate.
Do you have a Plan B you’ve been working towards? Take the slow time of January to develop that more. Come up with your business plan that you’ll present to banks and lenders to get the funding you need.
Don’t have a Plan B? Come up with an idea for one. Always make sure you have a backup in case of instances like a worldwide pandemic, or getting kicked off your favorite driving platform, or just to work towards loving what you do.
Here’s a list of ideas to help you make $1,000 fast!
There is a possibility for another stimulus package
After months of negotiations and struggling to come to a mutual stimulus plan, it is still possible that something will come through in January to help struggling gig workers. With the pandemic death rate reaching record-breaking highs, the powers that be in government seem to finally be waking up and realizing $1200 and added unemployment benefits that ended about 5 months ago isn’t enough to help out people who have no other means of surviving.
Every day it seems there is news on a new round of stimulus. Currently, it doesn’t look promising that we’ll receive another $1200 check anytime soon, but padding unemployment once again with $300 a week is being considered and forgivable loans for small businesses also seems to be on the plate as part of “an emergency relief package”.
It seems that President-Elect Joe Biden understands that Americans are suffering and need help immediately, but it’s unclear what will happen in January once he officially takes office. He recently tweeted:
If Congress and President Trump fail to act by the end of December:— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) December 5, 2020
– 12 million Americans will lose unemployment benefits
– Emergency paid leave will end
– The moratorium on evictions will expire
The situation is urgent. Americans need help and they need it now.
“If Congress and President Trump fail to act by the end of December:
- 12 million Americans will lose unemployment benefits
- Emergency paid leave will end
- The moratorium on evictions will expire
The situation is urgent. Americans need help and they need it now.”
Time—something many of us don’t really have—will tell if we get more government help. In the meantime, do everything you can to secure yourself and your earnings. Best of luck this January and stay safe out there.
What are your plans when it comes to making money in January? If you rideshare or deliver full time, are you investigating Plan B options?
Want More Tips? Deliver With DoorDashDashers receive tips on 97% of their deliveries. DoorDash has a tip button and encourages customers to setup "automatic" tips. Become a dasher here.
Get started as a gig worker today! Learn more:
- Is driving for Doordash worth it?
- Postmates Driver Pay
- Instacart Shopper Pay
- Uber Eats Driver Review
- Best food delivery service to work for
- Rideshare insurance
-Paula @ RSG