Making Money the Millennial Way: Uber

uber-serp-logo-f6e7549c89

Sorry for the week delay. Life is crazy, as usual. And I’m horribly undisciplined to boot.

Today’s money making scheme is Uber. I have been doing Uber the longest out of all of the schemes I wish to discuss. I’ve been doing Uber now for about 9 weeks, with weeks (and months) off here and there.

What it is:

Uber is a ridesharing app that allows you to play taxi driver with your own personal vehicle.

Getting started:

In order to drive for Uber you first must have a vehicle which meets basic specifications. These specifications vary from city to city, but the basic requirement is that it have four doors. The model year requirement varies dramatically, here in Jacksonville we qualified with a 2004, in Washington DC the year had to be 2007 or newer. When you sign up you will find a list for your local area.

You will also need proof of insurance, registration, and a picture of your license. Uber does the necessary background checks (mine took less than 24 hours) and then you can get on the road.

Oh yeah, and a smart phone. But you’re a Millennial, you don’t know of any other kind of phone.

General experience:

For an extrovert who loves to drive, Uber is a great experience. I don’t recommend that you apply if you don’t like people or get panicky while driving. You’re going to meet a lot of people in a lot of parts of town, some bad, some good.

The app itself is fairly smooth to run, just start it up and swipe “online” to start getting ride requests. When you do, you will hear a little jingle sound and the request will pop up on your screen. You’ve got 15 seconds to accept so think fast. The app will shown you where the person is after a second or two so you can make a more informed decision.

Once you accept the ride, click the “Navigate” button and your choice of navigation app will pop up with directions already programmed in. A bit of advice here: get Waze. Waze gives better directions (though you ought to be aware of long U-turns) than Google and will tell you where roadwork, police, and crashes are.

Navigate to your rider. Once you arrive the app tells them you are there and starts a two minute timer. This is one of the best features Uber has added this summer. After two minutes of waiting, you will start getting paid for your time. Your riders have an incentive to get out to you quickly which saves you time and gas. Keep in mind this clock only starts when you are close enough to the destination that Uber starts the timer. I’ve had people enter in an address just far enough away that it didn’t trip and then make me wait. Not sure if it is on purpose or not, but keep it in mind.

Screenshot_2017-10-13-18-58-15
What you see when you’re ready to start your trip.

When the rider gets in, greet them. This should seem obvious but I have heard horror stories of not-so-nice Uber drivers (they don’t last long). Swipe “Start trip” and again your navigation will pop up and tell you where to drop them off. Of course this is not foolproof, sometimes they want to go somewhere near what they put in, or what they put in was just a stop and they want to keep going. If the latter is true, make sure you turn off requests so that Uber doesn’t ping you for a new ride before you’ve dropped off your current one. The app will continue to charge until you hit the “End trip” button.

Navigate to your destination, the app will automatically pop up when you arrive with a “End trip” button. Drop the rider off and swipe the button, it’s pretty easy.

How Much Money Are We Talking Here?

In Jacksonville the current pay rates for drivers is $0.60 per mile and $0.08 per minute, so if you’re driving at 60 MPH you’re making $0.68 per min. From what I’ve read each city has a different pay schedule. There is a minimum guarantee of $3.19 per ride, so don’t worry about short rides, unless they are too short (I had a delivery across a parking lot that only spit out $2.68, after I drove six miles out of my way to pick it up).

On a good night I can make over $100 before subtracting gas. On bad nights it’s usually in the $35-50 range before taking out gas. Mind you that’s only about 4-6 hours of driving, so after gas my pay is usually $8-15 per hour. If I wasn’t driving a gas guzzler (Ford Expedition) this would be more.

The best nights are busy nights when there are a load of events going on in town, like football games, concerts, or three day weekends.

I have driven mornings as well, and typically the tips are better, but the trips are fewer and the traffic is worse. This is why I stick to nights, drunk people LOVE Uber.

Screenshot_2017-10-28-20-26-56
During the Florida/Georgia Game Weekend

General Tips:

You’ll see a lot of these elsewhere on pages about working for Uber but I’ll reinforce the ones I’ve found particularly true:

Don’t chase the surges, unless they are particularly close they generally will disappear before you get there. It’s Uber’s way of making sure they have enough drivers distributed around town, so the map is usually a minute or two behind to ensure that enough drivers are in the area.

Park, don’t drive around. I typically start my night by getting gas, turning on the app, driving about a block to the nearest shopping center, parking, and turning off the truck. On an average night I won’t have to wait more than 5-10 minutes for a ping. When you drop someone off, park nearby and wait, unless the app has already found you someone else. I only move if I’ve sat more than 20 minutes. You will learn the best parts of town for rides and the worst. Thankfully those can only be a mile or two apart.

Keep an eye on your gas. I heard a horror story from one of my passengers about a driver that ran out of gas and had the nerve to ask him to push her car off the busy road while she got a gallon of gas. She then had the nerve to tell him she was going to stop for more gas before taking him on to his destination. Don’t be that driver.

Chat it up! Always greet people when they get in, always let them talk if they want to, or not talk at all if they want to, and always wish them a good night. Good customer service goes a long way towards a good tip or a five star rating. I’ve even had good conversations gloss over the fact I missed a turn or hit my brakes a little hard. People are forgiving if you make them feel important to you.

Don’t do delivery if you don’t have to. Sign up for it, and keep it as a possibility (you can turn it off in the app) for slow nights or when you want a stretch break, but don’t do it if you are getting passengers. A typical delivery takes 20-45 minutes from the time you accept it to the time you are able to drop it off. In this time I usually can pick up a passenger or two and make almost twice as much money (and they tip, unlike delivery people). I’m hoping Uber works out the bugs but until then delivery is just staying in back-up status.

Take the shortest time route. Even if you can save a passenger $2 by driving 4 fewer miles, they don’t notice a shorter distance as much as the longer time. Time is money to most people, even if they are technically paying more.

If someone mentions tipping, don’t expect a tip. I don’t know what it is about psychology, but I’ve noticed the only people that consistently don’t tip are the ones who mention that they will.

Bottom Line:

I love Uber. I could write so much more about the experience and about tips and tricks, but that would probably cause you all to drop off my site forever.

If you have the vehicle, and you love people, go, get the app, go through the process, and start driving as soon as possible!

Oh, and before you do, message me for a referral code @ driptorchstudio@gmail.com or through my Facebook page. I’m pretty sure there is some sort of reward for the both of us if you do.

Making Money the Millennial Way: Unemployment

Ugh
Ugh…

Before I start talking about how to make money with real work I must talk about unemployment. If you’ve chosen a seasonal career like me there is a pretty good chance you will be laid off at the end of every season due to lack of work. You will then have a choice, “do I try to work the off season?” or “do I just collect unemployment?”

So what is unemployment insurance? Well, essentially it’s a compulsory system into which your employer pays to ensure that if you are fired there is a structure in place to pay you little bits of money until you get a new job. That’s a lot of words just to say it’s not exactly welfare, but that it’s very similar. It was taken from your employer at the end of a gun, but in theory it was set aside as insurance in case your employer decided to give you the ax.

“How do I get into this magical pot of free money?” you may be asking. Well, that varies state to state. Each state sets its own requirements for who can collect and how much. And each state sets requirements for what you must do to get the money.

The only two states I have experience with now are Arizona and New Mexico. Both require an extensive sign up process (have paystubs and such ready). Both have work search requirements as well.

AZ requires you to make at least four job searches per week on four different days. Basically apply to one job a day on four different days of the week, or do a job search and record it, or call someone about an application, or any such contact with a potential employer. Keep a record! When you file your weekly claim you will need to tell them what you did. Occasionally they will audit your records, so make sure they are thorough,

NM requires two per week. And I’ve been told they give you more money as well.

But here’s the kicker: you can only make what they give you per week, and if you want to work at all you will most likely just lose money. If you do decide to do something part time and just happen to make money doing it, you have to report those earnings.¬†When you file your weekly claim you have to enter in any GROSS earnings you made that week.

This means if you make $200 driving Uber and spend $100 on gas doing it, you must report that you made $200. They adjust your unemployment payout accordingly.

What this meant for me was that if I made $217 from Uber I lost all unemployment benefits, even if it meant I had only netted $117 for the week. I lost out on $100 of unemployment payments, and wasted time and energy putting in a weekly claim.

Bottom line: don’t bother with trying to collect unemployment if you have any desire whatsoever to be self-sufficient. Unemployment is a disincentive to working, honestly.

If you plan to stay “unemployed” but still want to make a living, skip the unemployment altogether and try some of the other methods I’ll be discussing in later posts.

Making Money the Millennial Way (First in a Series)

I know what you are thinking, here is yet another in a million blogs telling you how to make money. And next he’s going to tell me about how this isn’t like the others.

Well, you are correct, on both counts. This is yet another blog out of a million about making money. And I am going to tell you it is different.

“How so?” You ask, incredulous.

Well, instead of telling you I made $1000 from my blog, then telling you all I had to do was give a guy who read my blog a Lyft referral code, and all he had to do was drive fifty trips in 30 days, I’m going to discuss various options for making money these days.

I’m going to give you a low down on all options from blogging to Uber (and yes, maybe even Lyft) to good old fashioned pizza delivery and product sales. I might throw in a yard sale as well, just to cover my bases.

All of these will be things that I or my wife have tried, or are in the process of trying. We are still collecting data and forming our opinions of the various options we have chosen. Therefore this is going to be a series spread out over awhile, so keep checking back, maybe you’ll learn a thing or two.