In a Nutshell: Driving for rideshare companies like Lyft or Uber is a great way to bring in some extra cash — just ask Harry Campbell, better known to many as The Rideshare Guy. Campbell took a circuitous route from working as an aeronautical engineer to becoming a full-time rideshare driver, then on to establishing The Rideshare Guy brand. Through his blog, YouTube channel, podcast, and book, he shares valuable advice for both new and experienced drivers. We spoke with Campbell who discussed some things to consider for those interested in becoming drivers and offered some insider tips for new drivers on maximizing earnings.
If anybody knows how to make a side hustle work, it’s Harry Campbell. In fact, he turned what was initially a side hustle into a lucrative, full-time career.
Campbell was a trained aeronautical engineer working for Boeing in 2014 when he began driving for Lyft and Uber. It wasn’t that he needed the money. Rather, Campbell had always been the entrepreneurial type and was curious to see what these new ridesharing companies were all about.
By the end of 2014, Campbell had quit his engineering job and was fully immersed in his new career as The Rideshare Guy. Campbell was not only driving for services like Lyft and Uber, but he was sharing his experiences and tips through his blog, The Rideshare Guy, which was steadily seeing increased traffic.
As Campbell will attest, driving for a rideshare company is a great way to make extra cash. But, because it’s still a relatively new industry, many people have questions about how to get involved and how it compares to other side gigs.
We sat down with Campbell to discuss some of the things he’s learned over the years as a rideshare guru and his growing library of rideshare resources.
What to Know Before Becoming a Rideshare Driver
Campbell said that, when he began driving for Lyft and Uber, he quickly realized that the job wasn’t rocket science, but it can be more complex than some people might perceive.
“I think rideshare driving is kind of the ultimate combination of safe driving and navigation, customer service, running your own business, and also dealing with drunk people,” Campbell said with a laugh. “Not everyone has those skills but they’re pretty easy to learn if you have the right resources and the right community.”
With the large amounts of information Campbell has amassed through his various Rideshare Guy outlets, the resources are abundant these days for new drivers.
Campbell shared a few important things for people to know and consider before becoming a rideshare driver.
1. The Flexibility is Unmatched
Most people don’t realize just how flexible a rideshare job is, Campbell said.
“It may be the most flexible job in the world,” he said. “You can drive as much or as little as you want. You can get paid whenever you want, whether you cash out at the end of the day or wait until the end of the week.”
Drivers even have options to have their earnings deposited directly to a prepaid debit card or into their bank account via direct deposit.
For many consumers struggling to make ends meet, the prospect of taking on another job is unrealistic as they balance one full-time job and family obligations. Becoming a driver is a great way to bring in some extra funds on your own terms.
2. Take a Ride Before You Drive
Campbell pointed out that since companies like Lyft and Uber are app-based services, there is a technology component involved.
“If someone is reticent about how the technology or the process works, I always tell prospective drivers to download the app and go out and take a ride as a passenger,” Campbell said. “It’s the best way to see how the app works. You can also chat with the driver to hear about their experiences.”
Campbell said the apps generally provide the driver and the customer a quality user experience so even those who may be intimidated by the technology can easily get a handle on it.
3. Be Prepared for Tax Season
As with anything in life, rideshare driving comes with positives and negatives, Campbell said. And one of the biggest things to consider is the fact that, as an independent contractor, rideshare drivers must be organized, especially for tax time.
“You’re essentially running your own business,” he said. “Come tax time, you’ll have to file a Schedule C form, which can be pretty complicated. You’ll need to do a good job of tracking your expenses and most importantly your mileage. If you don’t, you’re going to end up missing out on a lot of deductions.”
4. Know Your Vehicle Requirements and Options
Simply because you have what you consider to be a decent, functioning vehicle isn’t enough to become a rideshare driver, Campbell said.
“Every city has different requirements,” he said. “For the most part, if you have a four-door newish sedan you’ll be fine but the required year range can vary quite a bit. Just be sure to know the requirements before you expect to jump into driving.”
And, for those who are interested in driving but don’t have a car, Campbell said Lyft and Uber have weekly rental options available. They tend to be more expensive than buying or leasing a vehicle, but it is an option for drivers with limited options for employment for whatever reason.
Maximize Your Earning Potential and Driving Experience
Campbell also offers some advice below for new drivers who have done their due diligence and are getting started with their first rides.
In addition to the following tips, Campbell said new drivers can get a free guide full of information from The Rideshare Guy website. And his book, “The Rideshare Guide,” is packed with great information for new and experienced drivers.
1. Stay in Your Comfort Zone for Your First Rides
Campbell said he recommends that when drivers are just getting started, they should give their first rides in areas where they feel comfortable.
“Some drivers can be nervous when they are just starting out,” he said. “You probably don’t want to start your first shift at sports bars on the evening of the Super Bowl. I recommend starting on a weekday afternoon in an area you’re familiar with.”
He said staying close to the driver’s neighborhood or driving along the route he or she uses to commute to work are good options for those first rides.
2. Know When and Where to Drive
Of course, the more rides you give as a driver, the more money you can make. Campbell said there are certain times and places drivers can be sure they will make more money.
“There’s a high correlation between making more money and times when people are drinking,” he said. “Friday and Saturday nights are usually the most lucrative. Some drivers affectionately call those the party hours.”
Campbell said that, for those drivers who aren’t crazy about the idea of dealing with riders under the influence, early morning commuting hours can also provide a high number of rides. And if there is a sizeable airport in your area, it’s a great place to pick up and drop off riders.
3. A Few Tools of the Trade Will Enhance Your Experience
Campbell said just having a qualified car and a smartphone is not enough to make the most out of becoming a rideshare driver.
“I highly recommend that drivers get rideshare insurance,” he said. “There are tons of other accessories you can buy that will make everyone’s experience better. Uber and Lyft will allow you to drive with minimal requirements, but in order to do a good job there is some extra work and some extra purchases you’ll need to make.”
The Rideshare Guy website offers a list of “50 Things Uber and Lyft Drivers Could Consider Having in Their Car.” In addition to things like water, sunglasses, and a phone charger, the list offers a top 10 list of items, including a dash cam, cleaning towels, all weather floor mats, and emesis bags (for the dreaded vomiting customers).
4. Know What Your Passengers Want
As a rideshare driver, you’ll deal with a diversity of riders, Campbell said. It’s important to find passenger’s comfort zone so he or she has a good experience.
A Rideshare Guy article called “3 Strategies to Earn More Money as a New Uber or Lyft Driver” offers a few tips for learning to read customers.
“Don’t be discouraged by the ones who aren’t very chatty. That might just not be their cup of tea or they may have just had a supremely long and exhausting day and just want to get home,” according to the article. “As for the talkers, some will initiate the conversation and others may expect you to start the chit-chat.”
A simple “How’s it going?” can be a good way to open up the floor to the customer and let him or her determine if it’s a good time for a conversation or not.
Now a Full-Time Content Creator, Campbell Keeps His Finger on the Pulse of the Gig Economy
Campbell’s primary responsibility these days is running the Rideshare Guy business and its associated media properties, which include creating lots of original content and establishing and maintaining relationships with advertisers and affiliates.
He said he now has a small staff to help run the business and The Rideshare Guy has an extensive network of contributors from all across the country.
But Campbell still makes it a point to stay in touch with what’s happening on the ground in the rideshare world.
“My day job is running the business, but I still drive Lyft and Uber from time to time, especially when they roll out new features,” he said. “I’ve also been trying out newer services like Postmates and DoorDash.”
For people interested in driving to bring in some extra funds, but who are more introverted or just don’t want to spend a lot of time chatting with customers, the food delivery services are good options. He said, as a driver, the services aren’t all that different whether you’re delivering a person or a burrito.
Campbell said it’s important for him to keep abreast of what’s going on in the industry so The Rideshare Guy can keep delivering quality content.
“We’re able to provide some really valuable information to our readers and listeners,” he said. “People are very appreciative and it feels good to get those positive emails and messages from our audience.”
So, if you’re looking for a flexible side gig that can actually bring in some real money, rideshare driving is a great option. And, between The Rideshare Guy’s book, podcast, blog, and other resources, new drivers should have the answers to any questions right at their fingertips.