So the holidays are approaching, and just like many other moms, I find myself looking for ways to make a little extra cash. I want to be able to buy my son that new smart phone operated sleek bodied android, get my daughter the truck load of blind bags she’s been dying to open, or even get my husband some ruggedly whimsical gift that will get added to the collection of novelty presents on top of our dresser. The dollar signs just steam out of my ears-$$$$$- at the thought of holiday shopping. Being a stay at home mom the hardest part is being at the mercy of my husbands wallet. It’s especially nice having my own cash to pay for his presents, so that he’s not the one that’s got to pay for them, because let’s be honest, no one likes knowing that they paid for their own presents. So, to prevent my husband from being more upset that his own blood, sweat and tears went into that new poker set that I bought him, I try to find extra ways to earn a little side cash.
I sifted through tons of the ‘etc’ jobs listed in the Portland section of craigslist, and after loads of junk found what could be a promising answer, Postmates. If you’re not familiar with the, now multi-million dollar company, allow me to elaborate. Postmates is part of a competitive group of on-demand delivery services. Similar to the boom of the ride share industry they allow you to drive your car, ride your scooter, or bicycle to make food deliveries. I read the specs, ‘work when you want,’ ‘make $25+ an hour,’ and I thought why not I’m gonna give it a go, because unlike Uber or Lyft, at least I won’t have to have anyone get in my car with me. And not that I want to sound like a stuck-up snob about sharing my car, but as a woman, wife, and mother, I do get concerned for my safety.
My first night with Postmates.
I signed up for a two hour slot from 6-8pm, in the hopes that I would get their claimed priority dispatch. After my kids and I finished dinner I scrubbed the dishes and thought what the heck, I’ll start a fair 20 minutes early. I begged my neighbor to bring her kids over and communally watch our 4 kids combined. I kissed their cheeks, ran out the door, got in my car, and switched the toggle at the top of my screen.
Now I have never done any rideshare jobs, I’ve never worked in the service industry, nor have I ever been a courier, so suffice it to say I was a bit nervous. I waited and wait, still no “pings.” I noticed the top of the screen reads ‘we’re finding your next spot. Head to a hotspot to receive more deliveries.’ And that’s exactly what I did, I drove a quick 4 minutes drive to the nearest hotspot, and as soon as my car entered the red zone, I got my first ‘ping.’ The green pop-up appeared on the lower part of the app and said a new delivery was available, score money time! I clicked the option on the right, to view the details of the delivery, I found the destination and via gps app drove to the restaurant.
As I pulled up to Shandong the quaint little Chinese place 1.5 miles from my house, I checked the app for further instructions, and discovered I had about 20 minutes wait before the order would be ready. I decided to utilize this time the same way any other mother would use this time, checking my emails, returning that two week old text message to my mother-in-law, making sure my bills have been paid for the week, and before you know it time to head in.
In the postmates FAQs on how to handle your delivery they tell you to walk in and say you’re picking up an order for postmates, so obviously that’s exactly what I did. What they don’t bother to tell you however, is what do say when they ask what the name is or what the order number is. So here’s where my little freak out moment occur, name!?! Whose name? My name? The name of the person who placed the order? I wasn’t sure, because postmates didn’t tell me. I did what any other confused newbie would do and made a shrug while I flashing the host my phone. “Oh Shana he muttered.” That’s my name, the order was under my name, well come to think of it I suppose that makes sense, I’m the one picking it up, but still it wasn’t clearly noted anywhere that if the host/waiter were to ask for the name who’s name you’re supposed to give them.
By this point I’m headed to the drop, and I’m getting a little excited, I’m almost done with my first delivery. I arrive at the house, knocked a few times, and after a couple of tries I finally get an answer. I’m not quite sure why, I half-anticipated I would be greeted by Oscar-the-Grouch, but I wasn’t and even more shocking, the face that did greet me was so ecstatic to open their door . Which in hindsight, I do remember several delivery nights spent waiting by the door for 45 minutes, with sheer excitement when my order arrived. After a quick exchange, I hand over the food, and I’m offered a wad of one dollar bills in exchange for my service.
As I hop back in my car and try to make sense of the functionality of the app to confirm that the order has been delivered. The FAQs always make everything look so easy, of course nothing every really is. I look for the buttons that are supposed to be at the bottom, and get so confused I almost log off and just accept my $5 profit for the night. I wondered what would happen if I hit the “Delivery Unconfirmed” button. Well what do you know, there it is, the option to change it to delivered or not delivered, is within the delivery unconfirmed section, (which in my mind if it were the correct button would be written as “Confirm Delivery,” ugh semantics). I confirmed the delivery and saw my total earnings for the delivery $5.62 a total of $10.52 when added with my tip of $5, not bad for only 25 minutes worth of work.
The rest of my first week seemed to be roughly the same, in terms of payout. Each delivery itself was between $4.10 (the least you can earn on a delivery) and $7.50, with tips ranging between $2-15, and about 5 deliveries for every 3 hour block I’ve completed. I’d say my average earnings for a 3 hour block would be about $60, and considering its doing the top three things as a mom I already do regularly, act as a taxi driver (because let’s face it we drive our kids where they want to go all day long), sit around waiting for some one playing with my phone, and serve people their food, because in our house we’re dishing out food to these kids, and the hubby around the clock. So might as well put those skills to use, and get paid a decent wage wile doing it.
Major Perk Number 1: Work when you want to. I feel the need to stress to you the difference between “working when you want” and “set your own schedule.” And you might be laughing, but this was one of the trickiest parts of the whole ride-share industry for me to grasp. A lot of these companies Amazon flex, for example promotes the fact that you can set your own schedule. When I heard this I went thumb crazy on my phone trying to sign up to deliver with Amazon Flex, a week after being approved I sat down to map out “my schedule that I’m setting myself,” when I realized, wait if I want to squeeze in an hour before I need to get my older kid ready for school, or another in while my younger one is taking a lunch break, or an hour in after my husband gets home from work, I can’t do that. I need to drive a set number of hours back to back. And that’s just not the kind of flexibility that I need. With companies like Postmates, you can work when you want to. So if I need one hour from 7-8am, another hour from 12-1pm, a couple of hours from 4-6pm, and another hour from 10-11pm, then I can do that. I like the flexibility of being able to stagger blocks of time throughout the day.
Major Perk Number 2: Blitz Pricing. Postmates uses a system they call “Blitz Pricing,” whereby deliveries cost more during peak hours. Even if you’re already logged in when Blitz goes into effect, you will receive a higher payout for all deliveries you accept when blitz pricing is turned on. It’s pretty straight forward, the higher the volume of customers putting in requests, the higher the demand for couriers, therefore the higher you will be paid to meet the needs of those customers. It’s similar to Uber’s incentive “surge pricing.” Essentially, they know we don’t want to go out there and brave it during rush hour traffic so they’re willing to increase your pay, say by 1.25 or 1.5%.
My overall experience: And will I continue. I really didn’t mind driving people’s food around town. Overall it was pretty easy, it was also a nice driving with out having to yell, “leave her alone,” or “if I have to pull this car over.” The only disappointment was the website promises $25+ per hour, a $5 an hour difference isn’t that big a difference if you’re only driving a couple of hours a day, so I wasn’t too upset that they fell through on that promise. At $20 an hour, I figure it will only take a few hours a week to save a decent amount so I can splurge on those big ticket items. Hey at this point I might even schedule myself a massage, because if after being a full-time mom we have enough energy to squeeze some work in there, I think we’ve earned it.
If you want to apply to be a postmates driver use the referral code bellow, you and I will both be eligible for the referral bonus!