DoorDash 101: Getting Started and Making Money as a Dasher

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Side hustles like DoorDash are taking over the country world, and for good reason: it pays to be your own boss! If you're wondering how to get started as a Dasher or even how to make more money because you're already driving for DoorDash, you're in the right place!

Welcome to SadieSmiley.com where I talk about all things side hustle and help you make a shit ton of money! I hope you stick around. 🙂

What is DoorDash?

If you've been living under a rock, you may not even know what DoorDash is, so let me enlighten you. In select cities (over 4,000 of them) and countries, folks can pull up an app and order food to get it delivered right to their doorstep. This means DoorDash needs delivery drivers, or Dashers, to complete said orders.

That's where you come in! Whether you want to make a few hundred bucks a month to spend as you wish, or you need to catch up on bills, DoorDash could be the answer. Be sure to read this whole guide before deciding, though, as DoorDash is not for everyone!

While you're here, check out my best side hustle posts. It'll keep you busy – and making money – all year long!

DoorDash Driver Requirements

In order to drive for DoorDash, you must be 18 or older and have been driving for a year. You can drive any car with registration and insurance, as well as scooters and bicycles in select cities. You'll need a Driver's License number, a social security number (if you're in the U.S.), and you will have to consent to a background check.

To sign up, you simply submit your application, choose your driver orientation, complete the sign up, and download the app… then you're ready to start Dashing!

Become a Dasher

To sign up to be a DoorDash driver, you fill out an application online.

Head over to their website and enter your email address, phone number, and zip code.

doordash driver requirements

Then, you'll enter your name, password, and create an account.

doordash vehicle requirements

Fill in your vehicle details. If you are allowed to drive a scooter or ride a bicycle for deliveries with DoorDash, that option will show on this screen.

doordash background check

Fill in background check info, including your social security number here. Click “continue”, then you will be taken to a screen to confirm your personal information and read the background check disclosure.

check status of doordash background check

To check on the status of your background check, put your information into Checkr. My background check came back within 2 hours of me submitting my info!

doordash driver signup

Enter a valid shipping address so DoorDash can send you a Welcome Kit.

The next screen will show you where you're at in the process to become a Dasher. After you submit for a background check, you will need to add a bank account so you can get paid, and complete your first delivery.

Once you get a confirmation via email that your background check has been completed, you'll need to log in and watch their training video.

doordash driver tips

Watching this short video – it's literally only 2 minutes long – will get you familiar with how the ordering and delivery process works.

Driving for DoorDash

Driving for DoorDash is simple! People send in orders for food delivery, and you pick it up and deliver. 

how to become a doordash driver

Start by driving to a hotspot (marked on map), and wait for an order to pop up.

doordash driver tips

Accept the order, drive to restaurant/pick-up location.

side hustle door dash

Pick up their food, drive to customer's location, follow delivery instructions left by customer.

Rinse and repeat until you’ve met your $$$ goal for the day (or night)!

Completing Your First DoorDash Order

Don't be nervous about completing your first order! Here are a few pro tips to make sure it goes smoothly.

Pick a delivery, any delivery. While I don't want you to lose money while Dashing, sometimes it's easiest to pick a lower paying order right off the bat just to jump in and get your feet wet. Choosing a restaurant or area of town you're familiar with may help relieve any first-order jitters you may have. 😉

Read the instructions for pickup/delivery. Some people who order through DoorDash leave detailed instructions at checkout. Read them first so you know if they're requesting extra napkins, or condiments, or if they want you to drop the food off at the top of the stairs, etc. There are all kinds of reasons customers leave instructions. It's your job to make sure you're aware of them.

Check the order. When you arrive to pick the order up from the restaurant or store, be sure to check the order! If the order is wrong, that's on the person who made it, but guess who deals with the brunt of it? You guessed it: Dashers. When the wrong food arrives, people get angry – maybe because they're a bit hangry – and it's up to you to try and prevent that. Checking the order takes just a few moments.

Load 'em up. Be sure to include silverware (a few sets if there's more than one dish ordered), napkins, straws (if there are drinks), condiments (like ketchup if they ordered fries), etc. This extra step goes a long way.

What if the customer isn't responding?

Sometimes, you will need to contact the customer but they won't answer. There are occasions where you get to McDonald's, and their ice cream machine is broken… or so they say.

In the case of replacements or substitutes, text or call the customer. If they don’t answer while you’re getting the food, don’t waste your time waiting more than 5 minutes.

Make an executive decision, and text or leave a voicemail with what you chose: ex: “there wasn’t honey wheat bread so I refunded you for it”, or “Mcdonald’s ice cream machine is broken again, so make sure you put in a missing items request to DoorDash to get refunded once your food is delivered”, or “Jack in the Box didn’t have any curly fries left, so I took their offer to give you regular fries with your meal instead.” 

If the customer doesn’t answer when you’re trying to give them their food, DoorDash will prompt you to text them, then call them and wait. You didn’t get this advice from me, but most of the time if I don’t get in contact with the customer within three minutes, I just leave the food at the doorstep and shoot them a text telling them where I left it and a picture.

DoorDash will prompt you to wait a certain amount of time with a countdown and allow you to leave with the food after, but the timer is long and I have money to make! 

Learn more about how the best Dashers communicate with customers.

What is the DoorDash Red Card?

You get your Dasher Red Card after completing your first few deliveries. They mail it to you along with a hot/cold bag. It takes about 7-10 days to deliver, and after that you’re eligible for deliveries that require red card payments.

From experience, these are mainly grocery deliveries like Walgreens, and some restaurants like Raising Cane’s. There are plenty of non-Red Card deliveries, so don’t let that hold you back from starting Dashing! 

How to Make the Most Money With DoorDash

There are many ways to increase your earnings with DoorDash. Take advantage of promotions, referral challenges, and weekend challenges. If this is your main source of income, become a Top Dasher (more about that later) for the best opportunities.

Tips from Top Dashers:

Only accept orders that equal out to about $1 a mile, or more.

Only Dash when it's busy. You aren't getting paid to sit around, so money's being wasted unless you're busy. There are some things you can do from your phone during down time, as long as you're parked, such as work on your Etsy store or other side hustle.

After you're established, or have about 50 lifetime orders, don't accept deliveries under $5 – it's a waste of time!

Figure out the best times to dash in your area: Paydays as well as the 1st and 3rd are typically good for grocery deliveries, while paydays and weekends are normally busier for food deliveries.

Holidays are usually better for tips. During football season, Sundays are busy for lunchtime. Sundays after church hours are normally busy.

Depends on location; college towns are dead during school breaks because students go home, etc. Dinnertime is normally bigger orders, or breakfasts after major “party” holidays (4th of july, etc…. hangovers) 

Always try to stay in hotspot areas shown on the Dasher map.

Watch for “Peak Pay offers” or added Challenges, which provide opportunities to increase earnings. This means extra money and usually signals a busier time to hit the road. 

Hot Spots

Hotspots are your best friend. Eventually, you’ll figure out which restaurants are the busiest around which times, etc. But when you’re first starting, go right to that hotspot area.

If you don’t have an order by the time you get to the parking lot of the restaurant, only wait 3-5 minutes before moving along to the next hotspot.

Map: white shows not busy areas, light res shows busy, dark red would indicate super busy. If there is a promo in the area, it will show that on the map as well. 

Having to wait is pretty rare, especially if you’re dashing while it’s busy. However, it happens! For me, I know that the hotspot further from my house has bigger orders. But, if it’s not busy there, the mall area a bit closer is always busy with multiple, smaller orders. 

Promotions

Promotions come out once or twice a week, and it’s basically when DoorDash thinks that drivers will be in highest demand. That doesn’t always mean they’re right. Schedule out, especially in those primo times. When they first are announced, it’s good to grab a slot because DoorDash won’t let you over book. 

Also be sure to keep your notifications for the app on! There will be times where DoorDash didn’t expect it to be busy in your area, and they’re “desperate” for drivers. This prompts them to add promo $1/delivery type things to get more drivers out and on the road. 

Scheduling Dashes

Scheduling dashes is an awesome tool, and you'll want to take advantage of it when I can. If you schedule your dashes when you know you’ll have time or when it’ll be busiest, you’ll always know what times to block out rather than just kind of hopping in your car and hoping there are deliveries to be made.

Guaranteed Earnings Incentives

DoorDash offers something called “Guaranteed Earnings Incentives” both to new and old Dashers.

guaranteed earnings incentives doordash

Check out the Guaranteed Earnings page to see current incentives. This is an easy way to make your first $1,000 – or more! Average 5 deliveries a day over the first 90 days and you'll earn at least $2,750.

Making Money During Your Downtimes

If there are slow times and you aren't ready to go home yet, find some place centrally located to park while you wait for an order to pop up. While you're parked – no texting/internetting while driving – work on another side hustle.

Freelancing. Park in front of a place with fast wi-fi, like Starbucks or McDonald's, and outline an article using your phone. Better yet, dictate the post in Google Docs or bring your laptop so you can type it up. I write more about freelancing in my “side hustles that pay this weekend” post.

Work on your Etsy shop. If you have an Etsy shop (you have an Etsy shop, right? RIGHT?), downtime is the perfect opportunity to renew orders, put your shop on sale, update your “about” page, or even use Canva to create new products. The Canva mobile app is pretty great, especially if you use templates. You can also use your phone, tablet, or laptop to create new digital planners or design stickers to sell.

If you have a physical Etsy shop, you can work on knitting or crocheting, or packaging stickers, or writing “thank you” letters… there are a million things you can do to stay busy AND make money! 🙂

Schedule or post on social media. Pick your poison: TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest… they all have their pros and cons and they can all help you grow your side hustles.

Using your downtime is the perfect way to increase your income without having to add 1,000 more deliveries to your day. Optimizing the time we have is how we scale our businesses and earn the money we set out to make!

Benefits of Becoming a Top Dasher

Regardless of whether or not it is busy, as a Top Dasher, you are always welcome to schedule a dash and “Dash Now”. Continue scheduling time slots in order to avoid having too many Dashers on the road.

The Dasher app will also allow you to dash in any nearby zones at all times. Please note that just because you are able to dash / schedule at your convenience, this does not mean that it will always be busy. It's still recommended that you dash in areas that are red on the map, but as a Top Dasher you're given the power to get on the road in whatever zone you choose (even if it’s a gray one!)

When things are slower, you will be prioritized for new orders. This means that if there are only two nearby Dashers who can take on an order, the Top Dasher will get the order.

How to Become a Top Dasher

On the 1st day of each month, if you meet the criteria, you will be considered a Top Dasher! You can access the Dasher Rewards page in the Account section of your Dasher app, where you can view the rewards you will receive for the month. You will have access to these rewards until the last day of the month.

In order to qualify for the program next month, you need to meet the below criteria by the last day of this month:

  • Customer rating of at least 4.7
  • Acceptance rate of at least 70%
  • Completion rate of at least 95%
  • 100 completed deliveries during the last month
  • At least 200 lifetime deliveries completed

Dashers will only be added into the program on the 1st of each month; if you meet the criteria mid-month, maintain those stats until the last day so you can be eligible for rewards the following month.

If you lose qualification during the middle of the month, you will still be able to access your rewards through the end of the month.

Read more about the Top Dasher program on the DoorDash website.

BEWARE: Be VERY mindful of your completion ratio. Drivers have been deactivated for unassigning too many orders.

How Much Do You Get Paid for DoorDash?

The amount of money you make by being a DoorDasher will vary drastically based on several factors, including how many hours you work, which jobs you take, how busy you are during those times, and your location.

You’re paid per delivery. Delivery price & tip are shown when you accept an order. Sometimes your payout is a bit more (the customer changes their tip), but that’s pretty rare. As someone who uses DoorDash often, when the driver actually follows the instructions I leave and calls me when they drop my order off, I double the tip.

How Much DoorDash Drivers Really Make

As a Dasher, you can be your own boss and enjoy the flexibility of choosing when, where, and how much you earn. All you need is a mode of transportation and a smartphone to start making money.

Your results will vary based on several factors, but DoorDash can be a full-time gig if you live near a big enough city, or in a touristy area where people order food delivery more often.

DoorDash is available in over 4,000 cities in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, so chances are, you live close enough to one of those cities to be a Dasher!

Many Dashers start out making about $15USD an hour while they are learning and familiarizing themselves with the app, driving and delivering, etc. You can make $20-$30 an hour by:

  • taking large orders
  • knowing the best hot spot areas
  • working during busy times and on weekends
  • getting more experience
  • driving a more fuel-efficient vehicle

How to Make Your First $1,000 With DoorDash

Making your first grand with DoorDash comes down to timing. Following the tips in this post, choosing the right times and areas to Dash in, and putting the work in.

If you estimate $15 an hour on the low end, it will take you about 67 hours to make $1,000. That can easily be accomplished in less than 2 weeks if you treat it as a part-time job.

Calculating your hourly rate at $20, it will take 50 hours.

And if you get fancy with it and figure out how to make $25 an hour, that means it will only take you 40 hours to make $1,000 as a Dasher!

Pro tip: team up with a friend so you don't have to waste time to find parking! Just this one tip can increase your earnings drastically. This can be a fellow Dasher or just someone who wants to keep you company and work on their own side hustles on their phone while you're driving around.

Things get really exciting when you combine DoorDash and your other side hustles, though. If you're making an average of $20 an hour with DoorDash and you have some downtime, use that time to make sure you're making at least that with your other side hustles.

Whether you're writing articles as a freelancer or selling digital products on Etsy, when you're on the clock, make sure you're putting the work in instead of mindlessly scrolling social media. Your bank account will thank you for it!

Take it a step further and figure out how you can go digital with DoorDash. What about making a DoorDash guide for your friends? Type it up in Google Docs, download it as a PDF, and sell it for $15. You made it once and can sell it over and over again! That is the magic of digital products and that is why I'm constantly talking about them.

Imagine spending 3 hours to design the DoorDash guide and selling it 100 times for $15 each. What about 1,000 times? Expand beyond your friends and family and share on social media. Create guides for other drivers like Uber or Lyft drivers – you can also create rideshare signs in Canva that they can customize and print off. I actually teach exactly how to do that in my Etsy course!

How Does DoorDash Pay?

Add your bank account details to receive free, automatic weekly payouts. 

  • From the Earnings tab of your Dasher app, click the bank icon in the top right corner, then tap “Add Bank Account” to add your account details.
  • Every Monday, they'll transfer your earnings from the previous week. Depending on your bank, direct deposits can take up to 3 days to process. You should see your earnings hit your account by Wednesday each week.
how to get paid with doordash

Once you link your card and go through the 7 day verification window, you can get instant transfers. The fee is $1.99 every time you transfer, but the money is instantly deposited into your account.

Is DoorDash a real job?

Any job or gig that makes money is a “real job” to me, but it's important to keep in mind that when working side hustles, you are an independent contractor and you will get a 1099 at the end of the year. You will have to pay taxes on the 1099. The amount of taxes you have to pay depends on various factors, but if you have a lower income and have dependents, you may not owe at all.

Speak with a tax person before starting any side hustle, so you know how much you'll be on the hook to “Uncle Sam” for at the end of the year. I remember the second year I made six figures, my income got into the next tax bracket and because I hadn't paid in all year, I owed like $15,000. YIKES! I wish I could say I learned my lesson and started paying taxes quarterly, but I didn't. Don't make my same mistakes. That tax bill at the end of the year is not fun!

Don't let that discourage you from Dashing. In fact, the chances of you having to pay $15,000 in taxes is slim to none… but it's important to stay on top of how much you're making as well as the expenses you have, so you can claim them and minimize your tax liability when filing taxes.

Expenses with DoorDash

Speaking of taxes and expenses, there are many expenses you can write off as a Dasher. I won't get into all of them here because I'm not a tax expert, but think about some expenses you may have while Dashing:

  • gas/mileage
  • car maintenance
  • car payment
  • insurance
  • cell phone
  • home office
  • internet

Check with your local tax expert to find out what you can and cannot write off. You may be surprised!

Supplies to Buy

Other expenses like these supplies are optional but will help tremendously!!

I recommend purchasing:

DoorDash Frequently Asked Questions

Ready to become a Dasher? How to Download DoorDash Driver App

On the app store download the “Dasher Driver” app. Install, and fill out the info! Provide name, birthday, license, social security number (US only), and let the background process take its course!

If this post helped you in any way, please take a moment to pin it or share it with a friend! I appreciate it a TON and it helps my little blog grow. 🙂

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