I got a $39 parking ticket the other day and it stung. The next day, I decided to make up for it. I had the day off so I drove all day for Postmates and Caviar to see how much I can really make. I’m going to list chronically all the deliveries I completed then we’ll get into the numbers and see what it means.

After a whole day of driving, here’s how much I made:

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I made $142.22, including tips ($21.89). Assuming someone makes this much consistently five days a week, they can make about $2,850 a month, or $34,200 annually (keep in mind this is for the Portland market). That’s more than $16 an hour when compared to a 40-hour work week, which is a livable wage. This sounds pretty good for a job that doesn’t require a college degree, right? Not quite. Before you quit your day job to do this full-time I must warn you of the caveats. And there’s a lot of them. I will discuss the five things that comes to mind.

Abnormal Work Schedule

I drove from 10:30 AM to 4:00 PM and again from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM. This actually works out to be about $14.97 per hour. After taxes, you’re making around $10-11 an hour. And don’t expect to make this much five days a week. The Logistics Associate at Caviar told me that Mondays through Wednesdays are slow. So if you are considering this as a full-time job, you’ll need to give up your weekends.

Before I move on, I want to remind you that I plan to figure out ways to increase my hourly earning to the $25 per hour (and potentially beyond that) that Postmates, Caviar and all the other food delivery companies advertise. That’s what this blog is all about.

Payout Is Uncertain

You don’t always get a tip or Blitz multiplier on Postmates. Also, as these companies figure out their business models, commissions will decrease. At the moment, you can make $20-25 an hour consistently because these companies are trying to get couriers aboard as they enter and compete in new markets. Long term, this hourly rate may not be sustainable for these companies. In such case, they will change their payout structure and experiment with different models. For example, Caviar’s model has changed since they first started, delivery fee used to be a flat $9.99 in 2014 and couriers, or “food messengers” as they’re used to be called, keeps the $9.99. Postmates has experimented with different payout structures, as noted by this Reddit thread.

You Have To Do Both Platforms

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Caviar pays better than Postmates, even without a tipping option programmed in their app. Logically you’d think one can make more money by just driving for Caviar all day and forget about Postmates. However, if you try this, you’ll find that Caviar is pretty slow during the afternoons. After order #4, I stayed on-duty until 4:00 PM but did not get an assignment for Caviar. There’s not a lot of orders placed with fancy restaurants during these hours. You need the fast food typically ordered on Postmates during the afternoons to make up for this.

The Cost To Drive

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You need to factor in what it costs to work for these on-demand platforms. You rack up a lot of miles plus wear and tear on your vehicle. You have to pay for gas. And God forbid, if you get a parking ticket, that’s on you.

You Are An Independent Contractor

Most importantly, you work for these platforms as an independent contractor. You do not get any benefits. This is crucial because each time you hit the road, you risk getting into a car wreck or getting hit by another car while on your bike.

Conclusion

I think it’s fantastic that people have the opportunity to make money just by turning on a mobile application with companies like Postmates and Caviar. This is a great way to make extra supplemental income or serve as a part-time job for students or someone trying to pay off some loans. It’s amazing times we live in but I don’t think these on-demand startups will provide enough income for people looking for a full-time job.

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