How Lyft Let Me Be An Artist
Trying to survive as an actress or artist in Los Angeles is tough, so waiting tables has been the go-to for covering rent until Lyft came along. Rideshare companies have changed the economy, and offer the freedom to set your own schedule.
For me, this means I can have time to actually pursue a passion, not just a paycheck.
It’s never been odd to me to work side gigs while trying to find my way as an artist. The hours have been long, unpredictable, and on more than one occasion, left me short on rent.
For all the creatives without steady hours, a side hustle is pretty much a necessity. For me, rideshare driving with Lyft is a natural fit. It’s the best way to put food on the table, without having to serve food to a guest’s table.
Lyft Beats Serving Tables
If you’ve worked in a restaurant, you know the struggle. There are no money-making guarantees when you walk in the door. You can literally spend hours waiting for guests to arrive and leave with barely enough to cover the bus ride home.
Lyft not only provides the time needed to create my work, but incentives like Prime Time let me make more cash during specific work hours. And Lyft’s weekly bonuses allow me to increase my overall earnings. The benefits of being a Lyft driver mean boxing up someone’s leftover Rigatoni Bolognese is a thing of the past.
As an independent contractor, Lyft drivers aren’t paid an hourly wage. I get paid by distance and driving time, but the big payoff for me is the tips: 100% of tips from passengers go to me. Add in the occasional weekly cash bonus (and sign-on bonus when you start driving), and I bring in around $20 an hour on average, sometimes a bit more.
No more closing the restaurant and getting home at 2 a.m. Choosing my own hours lets me book shows or festivals and still make art my concentration. I sign on four or five days a week, and even though traffic can be horrendous, working through the high volume hours can bring in more cash. Prime Time hours – which tend to happen during holidays, promotions, or events – are the best. Any time I get a notification from Lyft that it’s busy out, I tend to log on.
Since I choose my own hours, I also get to choose what I do in my downtime. Finding the time to be in the studio or work with other L.A. creatives nearly never happened when I waited tables. Now I can rearrange my hours to make sure events that matter to me (like the Rose Bowl Flea Market) take priority.
If you’re not a people person, Lyft may not be your ideal side gig (maybe try Doordash or Caviar instead), but the conversations sure beat what you’ll have serving at any restaurant. From wedding parties to job interviews, I’ve been a part (even if just a small one) of so many different phases of life, and it’s awesome. Seeing people at their best, or just being a listening ear when one is needed, is really one of the best parts of this job.
Tips for Driving With Lyft
Whether you’re attempting to make it on Broadway or just need one gallery owner to hang your work, I’ll share the secrets I’ve learned about making the Lyft side hustle work for you.
- Be your own boss: Being self-employed carries a lot of responsibilities, risks, and rewards. There’s no paid time off for sick days or vacation time, so be prepared to work extra hours to make up the missed cash.
- Discipline: The light bill still has to be paid when it’s cold or rainy, so if you don’t have the self-discipline to work through the elements (or skip the marathon of “Sex and the City” reruns) stick with a 9-to-5.
- Know the city: Driving for Lyft works out best when you can take the back way around traffic and major highways. Understanding how secondary roads connect will help you respond faster to waiting riders, ultimately putting more cash in your pocket.
- Check your insurance: If you’re like me and you’re just trying to make enough to get groceries for the next few days, car insurance probably isn’t top of mind. But if you’re in an accident, it becomes desperately important. Lyft provides insurance coverage for while you’re driving, but you should still consider adding rideshare coverage to your policy. Companies like Allstate, State Farm, and Geico now offer insurance specially designed for rideshare drivers at a low cost.
- Take advantage of incentives: Prime Time hits when the number of available drivers goes down and demand for rides goes up. The rate increases and you can make more cash. What you’ll find is that a number of other drivers have the same idea, so your best bet is to take advantage of Prime Time in the area you’re already driving. Don’t bother racing to an area ten minutes away to catch a Prime Time ride. Generally, Prime Time only lasts a few minutes.
- Stay in the city: I will do anything possible to stay on the West side or the North valley while I’m driving. Venturing into the suburbs means fewer riders and more time getting back into the hustle and bustle. Stick with the crowds for the most cash. Use the Lyft destination setting to keep yourself in a particular area.
- Offer an extra: I didn’t get the idea to offer riders a phone charger as an extra until a few people asked if I had one. Once I realized how often people needed to boost their device, I grabbed a couple of chargers (one Android, one Apple). Once I added charges for rider cell phones, tips went up a bit.
- Track it all: Even though Lyft may just be my side gig, I keep records of everything. From tolls to miles driven while I’m logged in, I keep it all together for tax time so I can itemize my work costs. Using a mileage tracker helps. I use Quickbooks Self Employed to track my expenses and mileage, but many drivers have started using Hurdlr and love it.
I’m a part of L.A.’s new creative underclass, the group that needs a way to make cash for rent to follow a passion. That’s where Lyft comes in. When I’m not elbow-deep in Abstract Expressionist-inspired artwork, I’m scanning a digital map, waiting on the next rider. And when paintings sit longer than they sell, I drive. I listen to the stories, and best of all, I don’t wait tables.