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“But Cody, you’re supposed to be cool and successful, not some UberEats delivery guy!”
Don’t worry, I have a perfectly good explanation for this. Let me tell you the backstory as to why I currently deliver UberEats as a side hustle. I will also highlight the ups and downs of UberEats on a bicycle (pun intended). After reading this article, you will possess the necessary information to decide if this side hustle is something you’d like to pursue.
How Did I Get Here?
I graduated from college one semester early in December 2017 in order to travel to Australia for six months. I had plenty of money saved up from previous internships and side hustles, but the financial-independence-seeking devil on my shoulder told me that I MUST earn additional income in Australia. After 22 applications and nearly three weeks of waiting, I was still jobless. Maybe my Tuesday to Thursday daytime availability didn’t thrill too many potential employers.
Nevertheless, this frustrated me because getting a job in Australia was supposed to be “easy”, or so I was told. I knew that my criteria for the ideal job were quite specific, but hey I’m on vacation so I can be picky. The job needed to provide flexible hours, the ability to take time off, and a reasonable income. After searching online for days, I stumbled across UberEats, a delivery platform I had heard of but never used. It satisfied all three of my criteria! It provided completely flexible hours, no set shifts, and a (somewhat) reasonable income.
I minimized my startup costs by getting the cheapest equipment possible. By the way, “A$” means Australian dollar.
- Bicycle (Yes, it’s a women’s bike) & Helmet – A$40 on Gumtree (basically the Australian Craigslist)
- Seat Cover – A$5 on eBay
- Phone Mount – A$4 on eBay
- Bike Lock – A$5 at K-Mart
Now, I was A$54 in the hole and ready to make some money. After my background check cleared, I went to my nearby Uber Hub to pick up my UberEats bag, which warranted a A$35 refundable deposit. On my way to make my first delivery, my rear brake cable snapped. I guess I got what I paid for. I coughed up A$23 for a cable replacement at a local bike shop. With A$112 invested into this side hustle, I was finally ready to roll.
During my first week of deliveries, I learned some extremely valuable lessons.
- NEVER deliver in hilly areas. The exercise is just not worth the compensation. I’m a reasonably fit guy but after an hour of deliveries in the precipitously hilly neighborhood I live in, I was ready to die.
- UberEats doesn’t care that you’re on a bike! The advertised time for any given delivery is between 15 and 25 minutes. However, if the dropoff location is 2 miles up a steep hill, there’s almost no chance of me accepting the order, biking to the restaurant, picking up the food, and finally delivering it on time. This is especially true for a double order (when two separate customers order from the same restaurant but have different dropoff locations). Despite the negatives, UberEats will never assign a bicycle a trip over 3 miles, which is nice.
- Only deliver during “Boosts” or prime hours. In Brisbane, Australia where I deliver, there are three boost periods per day: 7-9 AM, 12-2PM, and 5-8PM. These boost times offer a 1.1X bonus to the base pay. I learned this lesson the hard way during my first day when I rode around aimlessly from 2 PM to 5 PM completing a total of four orders. I guess nobody orders their afternoon snack on UberEats.
Aside from these three main rules, make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks if you tend to get hungry. Be cautious when riding at night and always wear bright colors or a reflective vest. And oh yeah, if the customer fails to take his/her order for whatever reason, it’s yours to eat! 🙂
Crunching the Numbers
After two weeks of deliveries, I decided to religiously track my real hourly earnings. Before we dive in, I want to detail the UberEats payment system.
Distance: A$1.45 per mile
In the city of Brisbane, UberEats takes 30% of the delivery fare in fees. “Distance” is how far the customer is from the restaurant. If I bike 1 mile to get to the restaurant, that is not included in the distance calculation. Let’s look at an example of how much I make for one delivery.
Example: I accept an UberEats trip and bike 1 mile to the restaurant ($A0). Then, I walk into the restaurant and pick up the food (A$6.10). Next, I bike two miles to the customer’s location (A$1.45 x 2 = A$2.90). Finally, I hand the customer his/her food and complete the trip (A$2.90).
My raw earnings are A$11.90, but after UberEats takes its 30% cut, my total earnings are A$8.33.
***If this delivery was during a 1.1X boost period, I would earn an additional A$1.19 AFTER the 30% deduction for a grand total of A$9.52.
My earnings averaged A$103.29 over my eight-week analysis. I worked only one day during Week 2 and Week 6, hence the lower earnings.
These definitely helped my overall income at an average of A$10.26 per week. The typical boost for my area was 1.1X, meaning that I would earn an additional 10% on each delivery.
After trying to deliver in my mountainous neighborhood and exhausting myself after one hour, I decided to try somewhere else. I discovered that the best location to deliver was a flat, populated area approximately 20 minutes away via bike ride. My total commute was approximately 40 minutes (20 x 2) for each day that I delivered.
This is the time when I was actually “Online” on the UberEats app actively delivering orders. Sometimes, during slow periods, I had to wait 30 minutes for my next delivery. My average weekly delivery time was 6.9 hours.
Real Hourly Wage (A$)
This is calculated by dividing my total earnings by my total time spent. The formula looks like this: (Earnings + Boost Earnings) / (Commute Time + Delivery Time) = Real Hourly Wage ($A). My average real hourly wage was A$13.73.
Real Hourly Wage ($)
Using a $0.80 USD to $1.00 AUD exchange rate, my real hourly wage in U.S. dollars was $10.99.
My average real hourly wage was A$13.73, but the Australian minimum wage is A$18.29. Ouch.
My average real hourly wage in U.S. dollars was $10.99. Although I made more than the national minimum wage of $7.25, I just nearly missed my home state of Massachusetts’ minimum wage of $11.00.
If I did not deliver during boost periods, the numbers would have been even more dismal.
If you’re looking to earn a ton of money, UberEats via bicycle is not for you. However, if you want to get paid for a decent workout and completely flexible hours, this job is a good opportunity. Now that you’ve seen the math, you can understand what you’re getting yourself into from the start.
UberEats is certainly a better opportunity from a monetary standpoint if you ride a moped, motorcycle, or other single-passenger motor vehicle. Your travel time is greatly reduced, and you can take on a multiple-order pickup with no problem. But, like I said, if you enjoy the challenge and the workout then try UberEats via bicycle. If you’d like to sign up, click here and please enter my invite code: codyb2495ue.
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