Many people look at working for food delivery services like Uber Eats as a side hustle — a way to earn a little extra money on the side. And, with the COVID-19 pandemic limiting many restaurants to takeout or delivery only, taking on some hours delivering food could be a good way to put a little extra cash in your pocket.
But Sam Lyon of Salem, Oregon, wondered if it was possible to earn a liveable wage by working exclusively for Uber Eats. After a planned IT job fell through, he needed to find a way to earn money quickly.
“I wanted to see what was possible and how much you can make given the time frame that these delivery apps give you,” Lyon told The Penny Hoarder “Can you make a wage that pays for a house, pays for a car, that can [amount to] what most people would consider an actual career?”
So, he decided to set a 30-day challenge for himself to see how much money he could earn as a delivery driver for Uber Eats. At the same time, he thought it would be interesting to document his experiment on TikTok.
On Day 1, he outlined the challenge on his TikTok account: 30 days of delivery for 12 hours each day. The goal: make as much money as possible. Of course, Lyon knew there would need to be some sacrifice to fulfill his goal.
pt 1. of my Uber eats challenge #foryou
Lyons early set a daily earnings goal of $300. He got oh-so-close a few times before finally smashing through the pay ceiling on day 6! According to this TikTok video, he averaged over $30 an hour during his 12-hour day.
It is fascinating to watch Lyon’s progress as he settles into his routine each day. He gets to know the workers and even some of his clients, shares tips on how to sign up for an Uber Eats gig, and more.
At the end of his 30-day challenge, Lyon said he earned a gross income of $8,357, of which $2,988 was from tips. He spent $599 on gas and $49 on an oil change. Lyons made a total of 795 trips and put 4,484 miles on his car. As a 1099 (independent contract) worker, he will need to pay about 30% of his profit in taxes.
Lyons donated some of his income, including tips from viewers and his final day’s earnings, to Save The Children. He then traveled through major cities, doing deliveries for one day and then exploring for one day during his West Coast Challenge. Now, he is starting a new business and documenting that process on TikTok.
How do Lyon’s earnings compare with the average Uber Eats driver? While it is difficult to estimate hourly wages because the company bases pay per delivery rather than per hour, Ridester’s review of Glassdoor comments estimates that an average driver earns $3.50 per delivery. Extrapolating from this data, a driver’s income may equal about $8-$12 an hour after expenses. A little math shows that Lyons earned about $21 an hour before taxes were taken out and about $15.50 an hour after taxes.
So, according to Lyon’s experiment, it is possible to make almost $100K a year as an Uber Eats driver. Of course, results will vary depending on a driver’s hours, community and hustle. But, it may be worth looking into if you need a full-time job.