Kevin over at Financial Panther is the king of side hustles! I first met him back at FinCon in 2018. He was a full-time lawyer back then but has since transitioned to a full-time hustler! At any given time, Kevin is actively working on 15-20 side hustles. No kidding – you can check his monthly side hustle income reports he posts each month!
In today’s post, Kevin’s gonna share details about his biggest money maker – food delivery using modern delivery apps. He’s found a way to make ~$40 per hour while fitting this into his casual lifestyle! Check it out.
Making $40 Per Hour Delivering Food With Postmates, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub
I often get funny looks from people when they find out that I side hustle as a food delivery courier. After all, I’m an educated lawyer who graduated from a top-tier law school and worked at a big law firm making six-figures per year. People like me simply aren’t supposed to be doing “low-level” work like this.
But for me, these food delivery apps – apps like Postmates, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub – have always made a lot of sense. I can turn them on whenever I want, work for as long or as little as I want, and basically side hustle and make extra money whenever it works for me. Even better, I don’t have to use a car to do my deliveries (I’ve always opted to do my deliveries using a bike).
It’s now been five years since I first started delivering with these apps and out of all of my side hustles, food delivery has easily become my favorite and most lucrative side hustle. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m so efficient that I’m able to consistently average $40 or more per hour.
It seems crazy, but it’s true! And with the right strategy, delivering food with apps like Postmates, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub can be very rewarding. The amazing thing is that this is a side hustle that pretty much everyone can do.
Why a Food Delivery Side Hustle?
As a quick bit of background, I refer to food delivery as the on-demand delivery apps that allow you to order food from local restaurants. The apps might differ depending on where you live, but in general, the four main food delivery apps in the United States are Postmates, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub.
These delivery apps differ in various ways, but the basic concept is the same. You sign up to deliver on these apps as an independent contractor. Whenever you want to do deliveries, you simply log onto each app. When customers place orders, those orders get sent out to available delivery couriers in the area. If an order gets sent to you, you’ll get information about how much the delivery job pays, which restaurant to pick up the food from, and where to drop off the food. You can then choose to accept or reject the order.
So why would a lawyer spend their time doing this type of work? For me, it comes down to three main reasons.
First, I find food deliveries fun. One of the most appealing aspects of these food delivery apps is the fact that you don’t need a car to do them. I’m a bike commuter and I enjoy biking, so the fact that I can deliver food using these delivery apps works really well for my lifestyle. I already bike for fun and exercise anyway. Delivering food basically means I can get paid to exercise and explore my city. And as an added advantage, using my bike means I avoid all the expenses that come with using a car. (Note: Although you don’t need to own a car in most markets, most food delivery companies still require you to have a valid driver’s license)
Second, the money you can earn delivering food with these apps is a lot better than you’d think. Most people don’t think of food delivery service as something that can be high-paying, but in the right areas and with the right strategy, it can be very lucrative. You might even make more on an hourly basis than what you make at your 9-5 day job. Indeed, for the past year, I’ve regularly averaged $40 or more per hour doing deliveries. These results might not be typical and the amount you earn will, of course, vary depending on your market. But in many cities, a high hourly rate is very possible, assuming you understand the best ways to use these delivery apps.
Finally, delivering food is a great way to take advantage of a concept I call the Reverse Latte Factor. If you’re a personal finance enthusiast, you may have heard about the Latte Factor, which is the idea that we spend small amounts each day without even realizing it. Over time, those small amounts add up. By cutting these small daily expenses and saving the money we would have otherwise spent, it’s possible to come out with hundreds of thousands of dollars over time thanks to the magic of compound interest.
If the Latte Factor works by cutting small expenses, then the Reverse Latte Factor works in the opposite direction. That is, if we take the opportunities in front of us to earn small amounts of extra money on a regular basis, that money, when saved and invested over the long term, can also add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars (or even a million dollars).
Take a look at the below chart to see what you can have if you earn just an extra $5, $10, $20, or $30 per day and invest all of it. You’ll be surprised at how much it adds up to (the chart assumes a 7% average annual rate of return, which I think is a reasonable assumption).
The math here is pretty incredible. Earning an extra $10 per day and investing all of it means you’ll have more than $360,000 after 30 years. If you double your daily earnings to an extra $20 per day, you’ll have more than $700,000. Make it $30 of extra income per day, and you can become a millionaire – all from doing something as simple as delivering food!
How Much Can You Make Doing Food Delivery?
As with any gig economy app, the amount you can make varies and will depend on a combination of where you are located and how strategic you are with when you work and the delivery jobs you accept.
One thing to think about with these food delivery apps is that your income is earned, not with the time you spend working, but rather with the tasks that you complete. Thus, understanding the difference between trading time for money vs. trading tasks for money is key. Your goal is to figure out the best way to complete your delivery jobs in the most efficient manner so that you can earn the most money in the shortest amount of time.
As I’ve mentioned, I regularly earn $40 or more per hour doing food deliveries. That sounds ridiculous because food delivery is not a skilled position that would seemingly garner such a high hourly rate. But when you break it down, you can see how it’s possible. Specifically:
- I primarily do deliveries during peak delivery hours (i.e. lunch or dinner). This allows me to complete more deliveries in a shorter amount of time since there are more hungry customers during these peak hours.
- I typically average between $6 to $8 per delivery job. This is done by rejecting low-paying orders and only accepting orders that meet my pay criteria.
- I can usually complete 5-6 deliveries per hour. I do this by running multiple delivery apps, accepting orders that I know I can complete quickly and working in a small, dense area that I know very well.
On the low end, if I average $6 per delivery and complete 5 deliveries per hour, I earn $30 per hour. On the high end, I can average $8 per delivery and complete 6 deliveries per hour, leading to an hourly rate of $48 per hour. When you break down the numbers in this manner, you can see how it’s possible for me to generate this kind of income delivering food.
Of course, it likely isn’t possible to make $40 per hour doing this full-time simply because the demand for food throughout the day isn’t consistent – restaurant demand tends to be at the highest during lunch and dinner hours, then drops off a lot outside of those hours.
But this is why food delivery service works so well as a side hustle. If you’re not living off this money and are instead treating it as extra income, it’s possible for you to work only during the best times when you can make the most money.
Food Delivery Strategies You Can Use
Making money with these food delivery apps requires using the right strategies. Here are some food delivery strategies you can use to help you make the most money.
Use a Bike Rather Than a Car
One of my favorite food delivery strategies is to opt to use a bike, rather than a car. There are a lot of reasons why using a bike is ideal when delivering food.
- Most food delivery demand is in dense, downtown areas where restaurants and people are located. A bike allows you to quickly move through traffic.
- Using a bike means you don’t have to deal with parking, which can be a major problem in busy areas for a delivery driver.
- A bike allows you to avoid all the costs that come with operating a car, which leads to more profit at the end of the day.
- Delivering using a bike comes with improved health, which has an indirect monetary benefit.
You don’t have to stick to only using a regular bike either. Over the years, I’ve expanded my modes of transportation to include electric bikes and electric scooters as well**. These come with the added benefit of allowing me to move through my city even faster, all without breaking a sweat.
**Check out the RadWagon 4 as a great value electric cargo bike. FIRE Approved!! 💪
Take Advantage of Multi-Apping
An advanced technique, and one that I recommend everyone eventually learn to do, is to run multiple food delivery apps at the same time. This is key if you want to significantly increase your earnings.
Here’s an example of how multi-apping works. If I’m picking up an order from one restaurant, I’ll often get delivery requests from other apps going in the same direction. By accepting these additional orders, I’m able to essentially double or triple the pay I’m making in the same amount of time. So, if I’m delivering one order that pays me $6, by accepting additional delivery jobs, I can turn what would have been a $6 delivery into a $12 or $18 delivery in about the same amount of time.
This is why I always tell people to sign up for every food delivery app in your city. That includes Postmates, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Grubhub. Depending on where you live, there may be more options as well.
Note that running multiple delivery apps is a skill that takes time to learn. You need to have a good understanding of how each delivery app works and how to piece together orders so that you’re delivering all of your orders in a timely manner. It’s much more important to make sure that you’re delivering orders on time so that you don’t get bad reviews or get deactivated.
That said, with practice, you’ll get a better sense of which delivery jobs to accept and which to reject, and how to piece together different delivery jobs into one smooth, continuous route.
Use Food Deliveries to Earn Money for the Things You’re Already Doing
The thing that initially attracted me to these food delivery apps was how well they could fit into my day-to-day life. I was working long hours as an attorney when I first started with these delivery apps, so I didn’t have a lot of spare time to go around delivering food. However, I found that I could fit my food deliveries into the things I was already doing.
For example, at the end of each workday, I would turn on my food delivery apps and look for orders going back towards my house. Since I was already biking home, delivering food along the way essentially allowed me to get paid for my commute home. These days, I no longer have to commute, but whenever I go anywhere, I almost always turn on my food delivery apps to see if I can pick up a delivery along the way.
Think about how you can use food deliveries to get paid for the things you’re already doing. If you bike as a form of exercise, delivering food is an easy way to get paid for your exercise time. Or think about your commute and how you can incorporate deliveries into that commute. The flexibility of these apps makes it very possible to fit deliveries into your day-to-day life.
Think Like a Business
One mistake that I see a lot of gig workers make is treating themselves as if they were employees, rather than independent contractors. You have to remember that these food delivery apps have chosen to classify their workers as independent contractors. That means if you’re working with these apps, you are essentially a small business.
As with any business, you only want to accept work that is profitable to you. While these apps don’t give you the ability to set your own pay, you have the ability to essentially create your own pay by accepting only those orders that meet your criteria. Don’t be afraid to decline app jobs that don’t make sense for you.
Work Only During Peak Hours
One reason I recommend a food delivery side hustle is because it means you have the advantage of being able to work only during times when you can earn the most money.
Food delivery tends to be busiest during lunch and dinner time hours, so the best way to maximize your earnings is to only work when demand is high. I tend to only work during lunch or dinner hours when demand is at its peak. If you’re doing this full-time, you might not have that luxury. But if you’re using this as a side hustle, you can choose to work only when you’ll make the most money.
Final Thoughts on Making Extra Money With Food Delivery
One of the things I enjoy about the current state of the side hustling world is how easy it is to fit various side hustles into my day-to-day life. We live in a world where it’s possible to make extra cash every single day, whenever you feel like it, just by turning on your phone.
There’s a lot of power in being able to earn extra income in small, piecemeal chunks like this. Not all of us have the time or ability to spend months or years building a business that might or might not earn any income. But I bet almost all of us can spare 30 minutes or an hour each day doing something like this.
Making an extra couple of bucks each day might not seem like that big of a deal. But with enough time and consistency, that money really does add up.
I hope you enjoyed this look into the world of food delivery and how I’m able to make it work for me. If you have any questions, shoot me a comment below!
**Also check out this list of top delivery app jobs for individual company info, pros and cons, and eligibility requirements. Happy hustling!
Joel is a 35 y/o Aussie living in Los Angeles and the guy behind 5amjoel.com. He loves waking up early, finding ways to be more efficient with time and money, and sharing what he learns with others. Rise Early | Retire Early!