The gig economy is growing at a rapid rate and one of the trending side hustle nowadays is to become a dasher with Doordash. You’ve likely heard stories of people making money with it and thought about joining. How far can this job take you and, more importantly, is it worth your time?
This review aims to tackle some burning questions and put into perspective what the job is all about.
Doordash at a Glance
Doordash is an app-based restaurant-only delivery service that connects three parties;
- The customer who does the ordering.
- The restaurant that prepares the food.
- The dasher (aka the delivery person) who picks and send the food order to its final destination.
As a healthy competitor to UberEats, it helps local restaurants get more sales, give customers more food selection and offer an additional avenue for hustlers like you make some extra cash. Dashers are paid on a weekly basis, but can also request for the fast-pay mode if they are eligible.
Here are a few ways to start earning;
1 – Sign Up Bonus
If you sign up through a promo-code – a link of some sort you click through online – a cash bonus is rewarded. The sum can vary depending on cities and it could range between $300 to $700.
However, you need to complete a certain amount of deliveries within 30 days of signing up before the bonus can be claimed. I consider this an incentive to get people motivated for the tasks, especially for beginners.
2 – Food Orders
Deliver orders are basically the bulk where most of the money is generated. When an order is received through the app, it will show the pick-up point, the mileage to the destination, and the minimum earnings, including tips.
This typically ranges between $6 to $18 per ride and again, it varies between cities. On busy hours such as lunch and dinner times, the peak pay will be factored in as well, allowing you to earn more.
3 – Referral Bonus
After earning your first bonus, you’ll be qualified to sign up new dashers using a unique referral link. When they complete a certain amount of deliveries within a set duration, you could potentially make anywhere between $750 to $1500 of the referral bonus. This sum isn’t fixed and tends to change depending on time and place.
The Sign-Up Process
Now that you’ve got an idea of how dashers are paid, check the following to see if you meet the job criteria.
- You must be 18 years or older.
- Have a functional vehicle and a valid driver’s license and car insurance.
- If you have any type of car, truck or even a scooter/bicycle – that will do too, if the area allows)
- Own an iPhone or Android smartphone
- Live in areas where Doordash is active
Once you’ve checked all that, you’ll sign up through the main site or through a referral code and Doordash will send some information to attend an in-person orientation at a facility closest to your location. If such facilities aren’t available, you will be doing it online.
During the orientation, you’ll receive a briefing and get some documentation work done and once you passed all that, you can purchase some insulated bags and T-shirts to start working immediately.
Using the app, you can schedule the delivery time around a certain shift or jump straight into the red locations where dashers are needed the most. When an order pops up on the app, you have about 90 seconds to accept or decline the task. Upon acceptance, you’ll be routed to the restaurant and the delivery work begins.
The Perks of Becoming a Dasher
1 – The job process is pretty straightforward. You just pick up and deliver food orders as instructed. There’s no need to transport customers as you would do with Uber driving or lift heavy groceries in the case of Instacart. Great for female drivers too!
2 – The nature of the job is very flexible. Although most delivery hours stretch between 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., you are free to choose the days and the time that you want to commit. As such, this is a great side hustle for college students searching for extra cash or stay-at-home moms.
3 – The vehicle requirement is very basic and as long as it can take you from point A to point B, you don’t really need a fancy car to run the job.
4 – People will always look for food to eat so there’s a growing market demand for such gigs. Peak periods are usually during special events like baseball or during bad weather when customers don’t feel like going out. If you live nearby a cluster of eateries, there’s the added advantage to do speedy deliveries.
5 – Since you are considered an independent contractor (and not an employee), your earnings are not taxable. If you make $100, that entire sum is yours to keep and profit is calculated after deducting travel expenses like gas. However, it’s your responsibility to report your own taxes to prevent from future penalties.
6 – The reported dasher’s hourly rate is within the range of $15 to $25 – that’s way higher than working as a part-timer in a fast-food outlet where you are likely making an average of $8 per hour. If you are willing to put in the work, taking home about $700 per week isn’t impossible as shown by this particular Dasher.
The Downside of Dashing
1 – Although Doordash seems like a popular on-demand service, it’s still not available in every part of the US. They do cover many major cities and some parts of Canada so if you are living on the outskirt, this gig opportunity may not have arrived yet.
2 – Using the roads for commute means that you are constantly subjected to unpredictable traffic situations. This also includes weathering bad days like a heavy thunderstorm or snow, trying to get from one place to another.
3 – It appears that dasher needs to earn a rating of at least 4.5 out of 5 in order to prove that they can deliver good services. Coupled with the fear of being be kicked out of the platform for anything less than that, it sounds like a demanding side job that doesn’t allow any room for even the tiniest mistakes.
4 – If you are not aware, the company is currently plunged in negative news about its controversial tipping policy. It seems that they are using customer tips to subsidize for the dasher’s base pay without being transparent about it. So some people aren’t happy about that. Will this trigger any amendments to the policy? We shall see what’s the outcome very soon.
5 – Another thing I find controversial is the restrictions imposed on the referral program. In the online space, you can literally see every qualified Dasher writing positive reviews and making YouTube videos to attract new drivers to sign up through their referral links.
Yet, under the terms and conditions, here’s what they say about that;
Does this mean that all the bloggers and YouTubers who use their referral link have gone against this rule? Their links seem to be working well when I clicked on them, so this black-and-white restriction is somewhat confusing.
If you are planning to recommend new drivers to Doordash, I strongly suggest double-checking on this to prevent any misunderstanding or wasting time doing referrals.
6 – And like many gigs out there that try to fulfill the needs of all parties, the nature of the job has no shortage of complaints and concerns, especially in this ride-sharing forum. You get to read all types of stories from getting the wrong food orders to someone trying to hack into your Doordash account – a.k.a steal your money! Not to scare you, but just something to be aware of.
So, Is DoorDash Worth Your Time?
It depends. If you are looking for some extra cash and happen to live around restaurants that partner with the delivery service, it is certainly a side hustle worth considering during your spare time. It’s a pretty straightforward job and doesn’t require a lot of heavy lifting.
However, like any gigs, it has its own sets of limitations and competitions. Even though some Dashers are generating hundreds per week, it may still be insufficient for other bigger expenses or more important savings.
If the priority is to generate long term income versus short term cash, you need to think along the line or running an online business. Fortunately, with modern consumerism and the number of opportunities available nowadays, it doesn’t require a lot to get started.
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