Soon after dipping their toes in the business, drivers find themselves facing this question. The answer is, your income will vary depending on a number of factors. Independent transporter set their own hours – you could put in the hustle to earn every last dollar available, or choose a more sedate lifestyle and modest revenues.
To examine these options closely, let’s look at what veteran drivers have been telling us and analyze the strategies they implement. A huge thank you to all the community members who took the time to contribute to our research!
Our data shows that an average active driver, completing 15-20 shipments per month, has a monthly revenue somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000. Those who manage to keep the pace throughout the year gross well above $100,000.
Adjusting for expenses gets a little tricky (we have a whole article set aside just for that). As a rough estimate, you would shave 30% to 40% off the averages shown above, mostly to cover the cost of fuel. This leaves you with a net income of $6,000 to $8,000, give or take.
Experienced, established transporters operating multiple vehicles often outdo this by some distance. Their average monthly income often goes as high as $20,000, and that’s after expenses.
Of course, not everyone can get to these kinds of numbers right from the off. Shipping customers favor experience, so beginners need to make highly competitive bids to get things running. Early on, before they’ve built up a reputation, It can be a challenge to break even but building up a reputation and experience will lead to more earning capacity. But as is so often the case in life, persistence pays out.
On average, newcomers submit well over 20 bids before they win their first shipment, but the chance of winning scales up sharply with the positive feedback they get. According to our data, the very first review they get doubles their odds!
“In my Ford Transit, I drove 200,000 miles and made $137,000 the year before. In my RV, the same would only take 90-100k miles. Volume, baby, volume…”
Analyzing the success rates of various approaches, we found that veteran drivers tend to start their bids at or around $0.50 per mile. This can seem pretty low for a single delivery, but route planning and ridesharing can get you to an effective rate of $4 or $5 per mile.
One strategy is to try and hit your going rate with every bid you make. You quote roughly the same price per mile on each shipment, trying to make a bid competitive and profitable at the same time. Playing it safe, however, can result in fewer shipments won.
With an alternate approach, you would try to maintain your rate only as an average over a period of time. In a single month, for example, your bids could go much higher on profitable shipments and much lower on less profitable ones. This is a hazardous proposition, allowing you to pick up more jobs but potentially cutting deep into your profits.
Speaking of bids, it’s a popular misconception that undercutting people will always win you the job. In fact, only about 50-60% of accepted shipments go to the driver who’s made the lowest bid!
“I start with a per-mile cost based on known expenses. If stacking or return trip I adjust bids accordingly, often half or less than normal… because my expenses are less.”
As any independent transporter will tell you, the importance of volume cannot be overstated. The higher your vehicle’s carrying capacity, the more efficient your trips will be. But there’s more to it than just buying a great big SUV and hoping you’ll be able to fill it each time.
CitizenShipper offers a Rideshare Tool designed to help you find additional jobs in the area you’ll be traveling through. The process is automated, suggesting extra shipments that complement your existing bids.
You can also manually look for shipments to add to your rideshare. Our recently upgraded Search Tool enables you to sort through the shipments on the site by multiple criteria (pick-up location, drop-off location, category, and delivery date).
Veteran drivers routinely deliver shipments through ridesharing and save massively on fuel costs. This, in turn, allows them to offer more competitive bids. It’s common practice to schedule extra shipments for every return trip, so you wouldn’t be driving empty.
For those still finding their feet, however, careful planning is in order. You might want to tinker with your notification settings first. Choose different cities and states while on the move, and you’ll be notified of all shipments listed along those routes.
One thing to consider while ridesharing is maintaining the quality of service. As a guiding principle, you should handle each job with the attention it deserves. In the long run, building a solid reputation will be more valuable than trying to earn an extra few hundred.
“My monthly revenue is about $30,000, at least half of which is from word of mouth. I have two full-time drivers; I hit the road maybe once every couple of months.”
We hope that this brief overview of a transporter’s earning potential will be of use to new drivers, and perhaps some of the veterans as well. If you have any questions, feel free to contact our support team or get in touch with us through social media.
What to read next
For more general-purpose advice, see the Transporters section of our Help Center.