Looking back, economists may define the 21st century into two periods: life before the sharing economy and life after the sharing economy. It has been a disruptive force throughout the economy and society on a scale similar to when cell phones were introduced. Worth $14 billion in 2014, the sharing economy is set to explode to $335 billion by 2025.
For you personally, it can be a lucrative way to make some extra money. Whether by renting out your spare room on Airbnb or by becoming a part-time driver with Uber or Lyft, it’s an easy way to start making money instantly. Uber and Airbnb are very attractive side gig options, especially when compared to other side ventures with steep learning curves and long lead times before you start making money, like selling stuff on Amazon.
However, it can be hard to make a decent living as a rideshare driver. The competition has recently been getting fierce. The increase in drivers can drive down the weekly earnings of drivers, sometimes to below minimum wage.
But being a rideshare driver isn’t a job. Being a rideshare driver is to be an independent contractor. Your paycheck isn’t guaranteed by your employer, instead, your income is directly linked to your efforts. You become your own business, and you have to embrace this mindset. It comes with more risks, but it can come with more rewards.
By thinking about your venture as a business you might start to spot opportunities to make more money. In our research, we found that earning +$50,000 a year with Uber is not only attainable but also sustainable. As one example, see the story of the Uber driver making $90,000 in 6 months.
If you’re just looking to get started as an Uber driver and make money as soon as possible, be sure to check out our quickstart guide. In a nutshell, you need:
- A car that meets the requirements
- A smartphone with data
- The Uber driver app
- A clean driving and criminal record
For the experienced Uber drivers, if you’re looking for some ideas on how to increase your weekly payout, then continue reading below. We compiled 5 of our favorite strategies on how to hustle up extra cash as a driver.
5 Uber Driver Secrets to Make More Money
There are many ways for Uber drivers to make more money. Let’s dive right in and take a look at a few of our favorite strategies.
1. Uber Driver Sign-Up Bonus
Once a new driver has claimed their Uber sign-up bonus (now called a “guarantee” we talk more about the changes here), there’s still a lot of money to be made from their own referrals. For most drivers, referral codes are the main reason they sign-up, and they can be the most lucrative way a driver can make more money.
Put the pedal to the metal without clocking extra driving hours by working both driver referral and passenger referral codes. Hand them over to anybody and everybody you meet in person or share online to boost your network.
(Okay…don’t share everywhere online. Don’t be that person that shares it on Craigslist, coupon sites, and other similar pages. Apart from this being a spam tactic, Uber can penalize and ban your referral code.)
Some of our favorite creative ways that drivers have shared referral codes:
- Fake parking tickets (This one worked incredibly well, and generated huge buzz on social media)
- From Reddit: “I had the idea to make my code my license plate and just put a little vinyl message on the back bumper pointing at it. Thoughts?”
- Partnering with bloggers online to promote your code. For some reason, this method works incredibly well for drivers that reach out to mommy bloggers
There are tons more, and I could go on forever, but these are just a few of my favorites that I’ve come across.
3. Incentives and Promotions
From time to time, Uber offers various promotions to motivate Partners to drive more or earn more than normal. This usually happens during a special event.
During these promotions, drivers can boost, or even sometimes guarantee, payout amounts by meeting Uber’s milestones for that promotion.
As an example, in March 2016 a San Francisco driver could take advantage of an Hourly Guarantee offer that equated to $8,000 per month! If a driver met the requirements of the promotion, and their total ride fares were below the guaranteed amount, Uber made up the difference.
These promotions are sometimes seasonal, ongoing, or a one-off deal. Look out for these promotions and capitalize on them.
Although Uber used to discourage riders from giving tips, they can do so now on the latest version of the mobile app. Many riders hand out cash tips on top of giving 5-star ratings, especially for amazing customer experiences. Drivers who turn on the charm, ensure a pleasant appearance and a clean car, and provide tips and recommendations to their riders, can get rewarded.
Despite all the negative buzz you find all over the web, getting tips from Uber passengers isn’t too hard, but does require effort. A driver we interviewed gets a minimum of $10 in tips every time they hit the road. Their advice? Be friendly, helpful, and give riders a good experience, and you’re likely to get tipped.
Another thing not many drivers get: pick up on social signals. You know how annoying it is when you get in a taxi or an Uber and the driver doesn’t get that you don’t want to talk? Don’t be that person. It will harm your driver rating and get you no tips. However, if your rider is up for a conversation, then chat with them. Don’t miss the mark on this.
5. Drive Efficiently
Instead of chasing surges, drivers should try and get multiple rides within a small area. Banking on volume is more important than most drivers realize. It cuts down on drive time, limits wear and tear, and saves on gas.
Surge Pricing isn’t all that it’s made out to be. In 2015, a journalist went undercover as an Uber driver in Philadelphia and found that she could earn more money by going against the herd. She would ignore Uber’s recommended areas, such as neighborhoods with bars and clubs on a Saturday night, or a stadium just after a game, as the flock of drivers would eventually cause the Surge Pricing to decrease and make it hard to pick up fares.
You can apply this tip by staying in a central area instead of driving out to the suburbs to pick up fares. You don’t get to choose where your fare goes, but you do get to choose where to pick them up.
You should also look at driving for other ridesharing apps such as Lyft at the same time. It cuts down on wait times, ultimately allowing you to make more money. It’ll also diversify your streams of income in case one of the companies drops their rates. Check out this in-depth tutorial for driving for two companies at once by Harry Campbell, aka at The Rideshare Guy.
There’s nothing sweeter than earning more than you originally set out to. With these tips, you’re guaranteed to increase your take home from driving with Uber on each payout. Check out these tips through this video:
You’re finally set to become a success on the road as an Uber driver. All these strategies rely on one thing: do not think of being an Uber driver as a job but as owning a business. Weigh your options, keep your eyes open for opportunities, and take action on any ideas you come up with.
It may take more effort than you think and you’re bound to make expensive mistakes along the way, but with perseverance, an open mind, and a little bit of luck, you’ll start bringing in more money and turn this adventure into a lucrative business.
Do you have more tips on how to earn more as an Uber driver? Share it with us in the comments section below!