Becoming a successful DoorDash driver is about so much more than just picking up and dropping off food. For many young, intelligent, talented individuals, gig work is the job they always dreamed of. No boss breathing down their neck, no favoritism and office politics, and a meritocracy that allows self motivated people to pursue the independence of their dreams, earn a living wage, and even leverage their newly learned skills to create other streams of income.
It is with this in mind that I bring to you today, 5 things I wish I knew before becoming a full time driver for DoorDash:
1. Community is an important aspect of gig work
In the words of YouTuber UDM "Nobody understands what you go through, except another delivery driver just like you."
Being a DoorDash driver can be lonely. Most of us spend the day alone in our cars, on the road, travelling from delivery to delivery or waiting for an order. On a bad day, it's easy to feel disconnected or unsupported, but that isn't the case.
Instead of coworkers gossiping at the water cooler, you have access to peers and colleagues via the internet that are there to support you with tips, advice, and similar experiences. As a gig worker, it's critically important to find an online community you vibe with.
In addition to the Tipped community, I’m a member of multiple Facebook, Reddit, Discord, and YouTube creator communities for DoorDash drivers. I recommend joining both national and local groups.
Please be aware, not all groups have the same temperament. Some are very kind and helpful, some are very toxic. Nonetheless, I'm sure there's something for everyone.
If it weren't for these groups, I would never know 90% of what I've learned about DoorDash best practices, current events, and maximizing earnings. We are independent, but we are legion.
2. DoorDash is a Business, Not a Job
When I first started driving for DoorDash, I saw it as a way to earn extra money on my own time for about $15-$18 an hour. I’d heard what DoorDash marketing said, but never met any drivers or done research myself. I had heard second hand that it wasn’t a “real” job.
It was through the forums I previously mentioned that I learned to think of my position as a DoorDash independent contractor more like a business owner than as an employee. It was important I invest time into learning about taxes, what expenses I can/should track, insurance options, etc.
Approaching DoorDash with a long term mindset, I also recommend building additional sources of income e.g. investments, freelancing, flipping, etc. and using this newfound freedom to multiply your income sources and not keep all your eggs in one basket. Think like a boss!
3. Invest in upgraded delivery gear
After you sign up for DoorDash, you get the standard DoorDash hot bag. To be honest, the insulation isn’t great, the bag isn't large enough for many orders, and it’s no help carrying drinks.
The best investments you can make as a new dasher will be a catering bag, a pizza bag, and drink carriers. I found all of my products on Amazon.
Pro tip: when it comes to drink carriers, I recommend getting two sizes, one for small/medium drinks, and another for large drinks.
One mistake you want to avoid, especially as a new driver, is coming to a hard stop and spilling liquids all over your car and the customers food, especially if it’s a stacked order!
4. Utilize companion apps
One of the biggest advantages I have to maximizing earnings is the slate of companion apps I employ. The suite of apps I use saves me time, improves the quality of orders I see, tracks tax deductions, and/or gives me cash back directly.
- Driver Utility Helper (Android only!) - Auto decline orders less than whatever total dollars or dollars per mile amount I set, voice accept, voice decline, one touch decline, and more!
- Beans - Navigation for apartment complexes, condos, newly built communities, etc. Saves time by bringing you right to the apartment!
- GetUpside - Cashback on gas, cashback when you refer people to GetUpside, cashback when referrals purchase gas, cashback when referrals’ referrals purchase gas, etc.
- Gridwise - Tracks mileage, track earnings, works with multiple apps, earning stats, etc.
5. Leverage other income opportunities
DoorDash was my first gig app, but definitely not my last.
To better hedge against downturns, I also signed up with Uber Eats and Grubhub. I found that it increased my earnings in more ways than expected.
Uber Eats allows drivers to earn more by stacking driver promos! For example, I stacked my (1) sign up bonus with (2) quests, (3) surge, and (4) boost pay bonuses running simultaneously, which allowed me to consistently earn $35+ an hour for a few weeks!
After driving for Grubhub, I learned that although they had lower order volume, their emphasis on tipping and driver pay in their marketing consistently made their orders the best offers (on average) in my delivery zone.
Finally, I’m hearing that some delivery drivers work Instacart, Cornershop, and/or Shipt between meal rushes to increase their daily earnings, so I’m currently looking into this as well.
On a final note, becoming a DoorDash driver is a gateway drug to gig life. Gig life is a world that allows you the freedom of scheduling your job around your life, instead of living your life around your job. Nonetheless, your best bet at success is to have a plan and use the blueprint laid out above for you. Just set goals, own your role, and get better every day. Follow me on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter to follow my journey, join my community, and get more tips!