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How Much Can You ACTUALLY Expect Driving for Doordash? - The Truth

One of the most common questions I typed in on Google, and what I think is the most frequently asked questions asked to me about Doordash, UberEats, Lyft and other apps like this is "how much can you actually make consistently?"

This is a very fair question, and honestly is the most challenged concept in the history of the gig economy, because of the number of factors that play into the answer to this.

Between expenses, time you are actually able to put in, the location you are driving in and so much more, it can be hard (at least for me) to say a single number and say that is what I make on a consistent basis.

With that said, that doesn't mean there is not a certain amount of consistencies that do play a part and I want to spend some time and really talk about that in as much depth as possible without sounding confusing, because there is a lot to talk about!

Before we do that, allow me to introduce myself so you are not just listening to a random article with no face.

My name is Joseph Mandracchia, I have been making money using driving apps on a full-time basis since mid-late 2018 and have completed over 7500 deliveries. It is my hope to impart some of my knowledge to you to help you succeed in the gig economy!

With that said, let's break this down by app and see how much you can actually expect to make driving for Doordash!

What is Doordash?

Doordash is an American Food Delivery Service, launching into business in 2013 in Palo Alto, California and is currently the one of the largest food delivery services in the US.

They have expanded across the United States and because of this, you can drive for Doordash in almost anywhere!

This is also among the most popular and high paying driver options available on the drivers, or more accurately dashers, side of things!

Barrier of Entry and Sign-Up Requirements

Doordash also has one of the lowest barriers of entry and sign-up requirements to get started among these options which are the following:

  • Age of 18 or older

  • Access to any car, scooter, or bicycle (in select cities), note here that it did not say have ownership of the vehicle, just have access to it.

  • Driver's license number

  • Social security number (only in United States)

  • Final Step: consent to a background check

This is very important to know as a driver, or really any opportunity that has an easy and low start-up cost with quick returns of any kind, there is going to be a large amount of people that want to sign-up therefore flooding the market, and potentially oversaturating it.

Doordash has done a good job of that though, and I am not saying that in a negative way by any means. While there is a large number of people involved, not all of them will stay and not all of them with even do a delivery. (I wish this was a joke)

Doordash has done a phenomenal job of weeding out bad drivers via deactivation, as well as identifying dormant drivers who seem to have stopped for whatever reason, as well as those who never really got started.

How to Make Money with Doordash

One of the reasons people can make so much money driving for these delivery apps is simply because there is so many types of deliveries and bonuses that you can make money from.

Before we get started on these breakdowns, it is important to note that you are not paid by the hour or any measurement of time by Doordash, you are paid for the work you actually complete so I can and most likely will vary from person to person.

Pay Model Breakdown

Let's start with breaking down how the pay model of Doordash works today. I think a great place to start is the normal Doordash pay model, not the other programs within Doordash, though we will get to them later in this article.

When I say dashing normally, I am referring to the concept of turning on your app and making yourself available to receive orders. This is going to be the primary source of income for most people who drive for Doordash.

When you receive an order, you will see a lot of information thrown at you but it is really very simple, and there are a few key things to think about.

You will see a dollar amount for the order, the number of miles you would have to drive to complete the order according to their estimated route, the name of the business you will be picking up from, the number of items in that order and the options to accept and decline.

While I don't want to get too deep into strategy in this article, let's go over the breakdown of their normal dashing pay model and how they get their dollar amount per order.

So as we had mentioned before, you are paid for each completed delivery you do, and not every delivery is worth the same. The breakdown of how they calculated each delivery, is base pay + promotions + tips = total earnings for that order.

So each of these components has it's own calculations, so let's unpack this a bit more.

Base Pay

Base pay is what you are guaranteed to receive from Doordash as their contribution to the order, not the customer, and can range from as low as $2 to as high as $10 or even higher!

In order to calculate how much Doordash would contribute to the order, the Base pay for any given order is broken down into 3 major components: Time, Distance and Desirability.

Time is determined based on the estimated time to complete the order, the longer it will take the more this component will go up.

Some factors that may go into this is the restaurant itself, how long it takes them to complete an order, and hand it off to the Dasher.

This would likely explain the button you would see on an order where it says "Still waiting on an order? Tell us what's happening so we can get better!"

So they can not only raise it for their algorithm, but also make sure before they send a Dasher that it would actually be ready when we get there!

Though that is just a theory and I have yet to see confirmation on that account on whether or not it is actually getting someplace.

Another component of time is ironically enough is distance.

Distance is determined by how far away the order is from where you are located and how long it would take to arrive to the restaurant, then from the restaurant to the customers location on a normal day (not taking into account traffic or other factors on the road).

This is based on the amount of time according to the GPS in their system as well, so it likely isn't taking into consideration things like parking, the location itself (is this an office building? Apartment, Home, etc.), or any external factors of that sort.

This is a very specific problem and isn't something I can imagine them investing an exorbitant amount of time and energy fixing in the grand scheme of things, though would still be an issue for this next factor as well.

Desirability is probably one of the most ambiguous and subjective calculations I have ever heard of in my life! Though it does have a good calculation and we can estimate that through some experiential things on our side, the only thing Doordash said about this is:

"Desirability is how desirable an order is"

Now no one knows for sure what components they actually use to calculate this but there are some factors that we can estimate.

Keep in mind as I talk about this component this is simply theory and may not even have anything to do with it, but this is what I would do if I were in the position to make decisions for Doordash.

So the initial desirability can be calculated by almost all the things you see when you receive an order.

How much you earn from the order with tips, promos, base etc.? (ironic and backwards it seems but bear with me)

How many miles would I need to drive?

How many items are in this order?

What restaurant is this order taking me to?

Then we have some outside the box questions

Would the order take me out of my starting point/zone, therefore would I need to drive all the way back before I receive an order?

Is the restaurant one that takes a long time to do what seems like a simple task?

Do I have to go through tolls to complete the order? (thank you for that South Florida)

Is this order going to take me to a bad neighborhood?

See these and many other questions can factor into desirability for the initial order. Then over time, an order can be rejected enough times to where the desirability is proving to be low, therefore the value of the order goes up.

This part has actually been proven by many people, confirmed by Doordash, and has been the only reason some orders get accepted at all.

Like really, I am not kidding. I once accepted an order for $8 and it was all base pay and was apparently sitting on the shelf of Chipotle for a really long time!

All in all, this is merely speculation and until Doordash clarifies what factors and components are directly factored into the calculation of desirability, there is no way to truly know.

Until then, there will be an abundance of memes going around on the subject.


So promotions for Doordash are distributed in a three different ways, peak pay, challenges and in some instances On-time pay.

Peak pay is where during a specific period of time, you can make a certain amount of bonus pay per delivery. For example, during 10:30am - 2pm you can earn +$1 per delivery.

Peak pay can keep climbing and growing based on how backed up they are in an area, as far as orders not being accepted or just a very high volume.

This can be because of a variety of reasons, like there are a lot of people who aren't tipping and they need to speed up the acceptance process, or it is the dinner rush and they need more Dashers during that time, it can also be weather and road conditions.

I remember talking to a friend in New York City and them being so excited about driving for Doordash on a Sunday when it was downpour raining during the dinner rush while he is on a bike.

I though he was nuts, then I saw he was getting a $16.50 peak pay bonus and I understood why from that point, making $16.50 more per delivery is very exciting, and can lead to making a lot of money in a very short period of time.

Then there is the challenges, which I don't know why this is included in base pay because it really shouldn't be but since Doordash included it in their base pay image, let's talk about that.

So challenges are during a specific period of time in the day, if you accept and complete a certain number of orders during a short period of time you will receive a bonus after the challenge is complete.

For example, between 10:30am - 2pm if you complete 7 orders you will receive a $7 bonus after all 7 are done. Now if you complete 6 during that time you didn't complete the challenge therefore no amount of the money for that challenge can be paid to you.

This is why I don't think it should be included in the pay by order image, because it really isn't pay by order, it is pay by a batch of completed orders, which isn't the same thing and should be considered a separate pay model altogether.

Now in certain instances, you will see that there is also an on-time pay for an order. This means if you arrive to the customer with the order and it is completed on-time you will receive a bonus.

This really only happens if a Doordash Drive order didn't get accepted via the Drive menu and it worked it's way into a normal dash section because they really need a driver, and it is probably why it isn't illustrated in their pay model image.

...but challenges did.

It's not usually much, it is an extra $2 on a rare occurrence, but it is nice to get when you do.


Finally we have the only reason Dashers can make a full-time living on Doordash, and that's customer tips. All 100% of the tips the customer puts on the app is yours to keep.

There was a period of time where Doordash was proven to be using some of the tips so they can pay for the platform.

However, once they were officially caught they changed the pay model to this so we all can see exactly what we were tipped and confirm with the customer that we got it, thank them and move onto the next order.

Now when I said that most of our income should come from tips, I am not kidding. From Doordash, about 2/3 of the money I make from this platform is from tips the customers I work with are kind enough to give me.

Now most tips I receive are from the app and I know for the most part how much I am making per order before I even accept it. Yes, you can accept cash tips and that is absolutely possible.

However for the purposes of income expectations, that isn't measurable and shouldn't be a factor to rely on.

If it seems like you didn't get tipped on the app, you will likely not receive a tip on the card after and likely not receive a tip especially if you received a contactless delivery.

How Many Orders Should I Expect to Complete Dashing Normally?

Now I do want to be clear that, you should expect to complete, on average, about 2-3 orders an hour assuming all goes well during the orders, leaving room for error and minor inconveniences, and you are in a decent area where you can receive orders with good tips.

During the course of the day however, you will notice some points in the day are busier than others, and this is dependent on location and various other factors as well.

Now what I am saying is what you can expect to complete, not receive and not accept. Personally, I would never accept an order if I am sure I am not receiving a tip or if it is less money than miles.

Make sure you set a standard of what is the lowest order you are willing to accept as well as the number of miles you are willing to do for those deliveries and that should help you make as much money as possible when driving for any delivery app, not just Doordash.

Now in a given day, I recommend setting a goal of how much money you want to make in a work day and a desired time to stop during the day. So that way, you know what you need to do to pay the bills while still being open to making more than you expected initially.

Let's Talk Number's

So assuming you are in an area, where you can make good tips, you drive normally and you are expecting to drive during time people actually are ordering food.

If you set your standard to $8 minimum like I do, your miles never exceed the money you make, and you are receiving, accepting and completing 2-3 orders within any given hour you are working, it then depends on how much you are actually willing to work.

Let's say you set your standards like I do, and you drive 8 hours a day during busy times for 5 days a week. On average, you should be looking at $600+ a week.

Now if you are doing more hours/days, you can expect more. If you are doing less hours, you guessed it, expect less.

For any of the driver apps on the market, you are not paid for your time, you are paid for the work you are actually doing. Which is exactly why there is so many ways you can expect to make money in some instances and some instances make less.

It's a different mindset than the typical salary or paid per hour job because you can't just sit there and sponge money from your boss if the business is having a slow day.

What about Doordash Drive Orders?

So Doordash Drive orders simply put are large catering orders that you accept either the day before or before you would log into a scheduled dash time, and you schedule yourself for a single order in your Doordash schedule to complete that order.

These orders may require setup, and other minor tasks that go with it, however they can be extremely lucrative being upwards of $10 in base pay alone and tips can be through the roof!

I loved accepting orders that I knew were going to pay me $75 for these deliveries and that was worth the hour or so to get them done.

Now for Doordash Drive, you would need to have a 4.5 customer rating and 20 lifetime deliveries to be able to accept them but that doesn't mean you can.

Doordash Drive is invitation only by Doordash themselves and the availability of the orders are like watching a racecar go by. You blink and you will miss them the moment they become available.

If you see an order in the schedule tab of the Doordash Drive menu, it is likely because they didn't want to do an order with all base pay and no tip (yes, that is still 100% possible).

Therefore, I don't really prioritize my time for inconsistent income.

What about Doordash Referral Links?

So there are two sides to Doordash referral links to talk about, first is the customer links where they can place an order and you get a small referral bonus for getting them a new customer, and then the Dasher referral bonus, which can be a lot of money per referral.

So for the customer side, if they refer and friend they can earn a bonus credit for referring them a new customer to the food delivery app. It's not cash, but if you also order on Doordash as well as drive, it can be worth it.

Then there is Dasher Referral links, which for a long period of time it was extremely lucrative because the bonuses were so high.

How it works is you refer a friend to become a dasher, they sign up, get started, complete 200 deliveries in the first 60 days and then you make a huge bonus! Some areas you were looking at $2000!

Now here is the challenge with that, most people won't do 200 deliveries in 60 days, not because they can't they just won't, which is the sad reality of it.

Now if you get the bonus that's great and I am happy for you, but most people you see will be on your bonus menu, sitting at 0/200 deliveries.

Also the bonus is not available at every point in time of the year, in fact there can be an extremely long waiting list for people who you refer and even if they get started, because they were on that waitlist you lose the bonus.

With that said, you can make good money with it, just not consistent money and the goal is always sustainable income.

Final Remarks

After writing this article, there is really only one real answer to the ongoing question. "How much can you actually make with Doordash?" and that is as much as you are willing to work.

I talk to a lot of people about this, and I think most of us figured out what to do after doing it for a period of time. It really came down to how much we were willing to do and what standards we put in place to actually do it sustainably.

So if you are considering driving for Doordash, let me just say this: Just get out there and give it a shot! You will learn more by doing than by reading an article or turning on YouTube.

With that said, thank you so much for taking the time to read this article! I hope you found some value and that you can apply and help you succeed in this gig economy!


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