• Miranda Allison

What I Learned Being a DoorDash Driver for a Week

With job opportunities being scarce and more free time than ever, the market for side hustles has grown exponentially. It's almost as if people who didn't have a side hustle before the pandemic, now have multiple. I am one of those people.

I wanted to make more use out of my time and felt as though my desire to have another stream of income was at an all-time high. Enter my hunt to find the perfect side hustle. As I researched, I quickly realized the vast options of income on the market from food delivery services to pet walking. I decided to give one a try: DoorDash.

It was fairly easy to get signed up online, and within a week, I was given everything I needed to hit the road and make that money. I decided to document my experience for those who are also considering this type of job. Here is everything that I learned in my first week driving for DoorDash, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

It's really flexible since you create your own work schedule.

One of the main things that drew me to this type of work was the flexibility it provided. You make your own schedule and have the freedom to change your mind and sign off whenever you choose. If something comes up unexpectedly or you simply just get tired, you can end your Dash and move on with your daily tasks at any point.

For those that just want a quick, spontaneous Dash, all you have to do is hit the button on the bottom of the screen that says, "Dash Now" and you will be able to Dash for a range of time.

For those that want more of a consistent day-to-day income, there is an option to schedule shifts out in advance to ensure that you will be able to deliver during your desired time period. It's all up to you!

You get a lot of information about an order before accepting it to complete.

Unlike other apps, DoorDash allows the drivers to see facts about the delivery before deciding whether or not to take it. Once an order comes in, the driver will see all the information needed to make a strategic decision whether or not to accept. This includes the pickup location, the number of items in the order, the amount you are guaranteed to get paid, the total miles of the trip, and the time expected to deliver by.

All this information is crucial in making sure you choose orders that make the most sense to you. If you live five miles east and want to end your Dash soon, you aren't going to take an order that requires you to go 10 miles west. Even though you only have a little over a minute to decide before the order gets passed along, don't stress. If you miss an order it's okay, another one will come along within minutes. Just make sure you read all the information before you panic and accept it.

It's unpredictable - your pay will fluctuate with little control on your end.

Unlike a normal delivery driver with a company or a restaurant, you are not guaranteed anything monetary. Meaning, you are not guaranteed any additional tips on your orders, regardless of how long you had to wait at the store. You are also not guaranteed specific work hours. Within the app, you are able to schedule shifts in advance, which can be very helpful for those who want to work full- or part-time, but desired shifts are not always available.

Sometimes, if the area is busy enough, you can Dash on the spot without a schedule but nothing is for sure. If stability and consistency are your jam, you might want to look into a more traditional form of income.

Don't expect this to be a 9-5 because the hours of operation extend beyond that.

This is a job mostly based around delivering food which means peak times will be around breakfast (6 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.), lunch (12 p.m. - 2 p.m.), dinner (5 p.m. - 7 p.m.), and late-night meals (8 p.m. - 2 a.m.). Even though these times cover a good amount of the day there are dead zones in between these times that can cause you to waste both your time and money if you don't plan accordingly.

If you stay in your region, the gaps provide a great time to go home, relax, and get some meals yourself before going back out. Make sure you learn how busy your region gets at certain times throughout the day to avoid sitting in an empty parking lot or driving around aimlessly. There is no need to feel guilty for going back home to take a break, this type of work isn't meant to go for a straight 8 hours. It's all about timing.

Start your Dashes a few minutes before you plan to head out.

When you are about to head out, start your Dash 5 - 10 minutes before you actually leave. This will give the app time to throw those bad orders your way before you even step foot into your car. After all, that's how the app's game goes: when you decline an order as a driver it automatically sends the order to the next available driver. So when you first open the app those initial orders are more than likely ones that everyone in front of you has thrown away. There is a reason no one wants them. It can be a faraway location, a horrible store to work with, or a more than low base pay. Whatever the reason is, be aware and know when to say no.

Know your end goal and create your DoorDash plan around it.

Not every order is going to be worth your time and energy, the goal is to define your standards and stick to them.

Decide the following:

  • How many miles you are willing to drive per trip or per day to make sure you are staying within the reason.

  • How low you are willing to go in terms of pay. A good trick is to base it off miles per dollar, if you are not at least getting $1 per mile you drive then that order is not worth it - go ahead and decline that sucker.

This app is meant for people who need a little money on the side, meaning they are not going to stop throwing low ball orders at you. Make sure you know your worth and only take orders that will help you achieve your goals. There is always a better offer waiting around the corner. Watch this video that breaks down what happens if you accept all orders (spoiler, it's not too pretty).

Take advantage of the starter kit they send you and always try to wear your (DoorDash) mask!

Wearing a mask when delivering is a new rule this year, however, they do not require you to wear the one they provide. When you sign up to become a delivery driver you will receive an activation kit that includes a debit card (called a Red Card), a delivery bag used to keep the food warm during transit, and a mask with the logo embellished on it. This little kit will help save you both time and energy.

When you walk into restaurants the employees immediately know why you are there, therefore less time you waste explaining it. Not only that but when people notice the logo they are more willing to lend a helping hand. From trouble finding an apartment to your order sitting on a back table, people see the mask and do their part to make your life a little easier. Hallelujah for humanity.

Don't always trust the "hot spots" that DoorDash recommends.

When you begin your Dash you will be directed to a few "hot spots" in your area. These are areas that claim to be getting an above-average amount of orders at that given time. The problem with these is that everyone flocks to them leaving a shortage of orders for the number of drivers who don't make it in time.

In order to get the most out of your Dash, use your own knowledge about your area. Where are there clusters of restaurants? Look at the DoorDash app from the customer's perspective and see which restaurants are being advertised, then head their way. Common sense will go a long way here - who knows you might even find your own secret hotspot.

They offer challenges that can make you more money for each Dash.

Wanna make the most out of your time? Then Dash during a "Peak Pay" or compete in one of the daily challenges. This will definitely start to sound too good to be true but DoorDash likes to reward their drivers for helping out during peak times. Peak Pay is when the app will give you a dollar amount bonus on top of each individual order that you complete during a set time.

For example, if 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. is a peak time the app will display it during that time, any orders completed in that region will give a $1 bonus per order. Bonuses can range from $1 extra per order up to $4 extra per order. This is super helpful to make your time more meaningful on the road.

Challenges are a little different. In order to receive a challenge bonus, you must complete a certain amount of orders in the given time frame. For example, in the morning certain regions will do a $15 Breakfast Bonus. If a driver completes 5 deliveries from 6 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. they will automatically be given an additional $15 on top of what the payment for completing the orders was. These are amazing ways to optimize your driving time and give you a fun challenge along the way.

How Much Did I Make?

Now, what you all have been waiting for... how much can one expect to make driving for DoorDash? Well, it depends. You control your hours and your orders so you can control how much you generally make per hour. In addition, your region and the amount that customers use the app will have an effect on how much you make.

Here are some numbers based on my first week:

Days worked: A whole week (7 days)

Hours worked: 11 hours - lower than the average part-time hours given

Deliveries: 33

Delivery Order: Ranged from $4 - $11 per order (most being in the $5 - $7 range)

Total Profit: $250 - if you break that down it averages at $22.70/hour.

Now, this number is based on my region, my time available, and my lack of knowledge when it came to which orders I should have been taking. It is definitely possible to make this much in a day or so if you are doing it right, here is a video that shows how much someone can make in a single day.

So, there you have it. This is everything you need to know to start your DoorDash journey. If you decide that DoorDash is not the path for you that's okay, there are plenty of other side hustles that may suit your needs even better. Check out our blog "Best Side Hustles to Start During Your Quarantine Free Time" for a full list of options.

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