How to Make More as a Bird Scooter Charger
Bird Scooter charging is one of the newest opportunities to hit the gig market.
The craze started in places like San Francisco and Santa Monica in California and quickly expanded to markets from Dallas to Nashville to Washington D.C. Now, they’re basically in every major city.
But how much money do you get paid to charge Birds? The amount varies, but the basis is $5 per scooter.
When you’re only making $5 to recharge an electric scooter, it’s might not be the most lucrative side hustle.
$5 per scooter means that you’ll have to charge 20 scooters in a single night to make a hundred bucks. If you’re in one of the new $3 markets, you’ll have to do almost twice that to make your $100.
And at 3-4 hours per charge, that’s pretty difficult to do.
Plus, the money you earn from charging Birds is taxable. So after charging 20 scooters, you’re only going to walk away with $70-$80 (depending on where you live).
So what is a Bird Charger supposed to do? How are you supposed to make any money capturing Birds for a living?
We’ve all read articles about Bird Chargers who make $200-$300 a night, but is that realistic? Do people really earn that type of money chasing scooters around the city?
Well, yes and no.
Although it’s difficult to make a few hundred bucks in a night, it’s not impossible. If you work hard (and smart), it’s totally possible. If you want to break the $100 mark, there are a few important things you need to do.
In this article, we’ll outline some tips to help you get there.
Take a look:
1. Get as Many Chargers as You Can
After completing the sign-up process, the company sends you three electric scooter charger kits in your welcome package.
Each kit contains 3 wall plugs and 3 power bricks. Each one enables you to charge one scooter at a time.
Bird electric scooters take roughly 3-4 hours to charge, so you can probably do around 6 scooters in a night with 3 chargers if you work efficiently.
The company says that they’ll send you more chargers once you prove your capability. If you’re able to release at least 6 birds a day on a consistent basis, they’ll mail you another pack of kits.
With more kits, you’ll be able to collect more scooters and charge more at once. Requesting more kits is a great way to grow your income.
Now here’s the secret:
You don’t actually have to wait for Bird to send you more kits. You can actually buy Bird chargers on your own if you to charge more.
They’re available on Amazon, where you can purchase them for around $25.
It’s not ideal to have to shell out your own money to buy more scooters. We get it.
But, if it means that you can make more money each night, why wouldn’t you want to buy more?
2. Always Have Some Scooters On-Deck
Here’s a typical schedule for many Chargers:
Go out and collect scooters. Get one for every charger.
Go home, plug them in, and wait for them to charge.
When they’re done charging, bring them to the Nest. Get more scooters and repeats.
If that’s your plan, don’t expect to make any money.
Well, here’s the thing:
Scooters take up to 4 hours to charge.
But, as you know, charging hours start at 9:00 PM. And if you want to get paid for the scooter the next day, you have to have it out by 7:00 AM.
That means that you have 10 hours every night to charge as many scooters as possible.
If you hang out for 4 hours while your first round charges, then you only have 6 hours left to charge another batch. This leaves you with two hours to go out and hunt more scooters down.
Now, that might work out on some nights. You might be lucky enough to find a few left outside a bar at 1 or 2 AM.
But, chances are that you’ll spend at least two hours driving around looking for stragglers. By the time you get them home, you may not be able to give them a full charge before 7 AM.
Instead of picking them up piecemeal, we recommend that you gather at least 2 batches at once. That way, you’ll have a batch on-deck for when your first one finishes charging.
3. Drive a Truck or Van
We’ll be honest:
Bird Charging isn’t a good job for people with small cars. You can definitely make it work, but it’s going to be a struggle.
At around 3 feet x 3.5 feet, it’s not easy to more than one Bird Scooter in the backseat of a Toyota Camry or the trunk of a Honda Civic. Even if you do happen to fit a few in there, you’re going to waste too much time trying to maneuver and stack them.
On top of that, you’ll end up driving around all night running trips for more scooters. That means you’ll waste money a lot of money on gas, tolls, and other road-related expenses.
One of the best things you can do to make more money as a Bird Scooter Charger is to drive a truck or van. That way, you’ll be able to stack a dozen or more in your vehicle.
Otherwise, this may not be the most cost-effective job for you.
4. Deduct Your Expenses
If you make more than $500 as a Bird charger in a given year, you’ll need to pay taxes. Ultimately, that’ll put a big dent in your bottom line.
But as an independent contractor, you’re able to deduct your business expenses. Everything you spend money on in order to work as a Charger is deductible.
Common deductions include:
- Gas mileage
- Car repairs
- Car maintenance
- Electric bills (used for charging)
- Extra chargers
You can save money by claiming each of these things as expenses on your year-end taxes. While you won’t get the money back directly, you don’t have to pay taxes on that income.
Think of it like this:
Let’s say you drive 10 miles a night driving around looking for scooters. On average, that gas costs you around $1.50 per night.
While a buck-fifty a night doesn’t seem like a lot, it adds up over time. If you work 6 nights a week, you’ll spend 9 dollars on gas each week. Over the course of a year, you’ll spend roughly $450 on gas.
That’s a lot of cash!
If you don’t claim your gas mileage as a deduction, you’ll have to pay taxes on that income. So, not only will you spend the $450, but you’ll also have to pay an extra $150 or so to the government.
So, do yourself a favor and keep ALL of your receipts. Bring them to an accountant at the end of the year. That way, you won’t lose all of your hard-earned wages to business expenses.
5. Double Up as a Lime Juicer
Bird isn’t the only on-demand scooter company out there. Their competitor, Lime, also has scooters scattered around most cities.
And Lime operates using a similar contractor-based business model. They too hire freelancers to collect and charge scooters.
So, you can make some extra cash by working as both a Bird Charger and a Lime Juicer. They pay roughly the same rate ($5 base pay in most markets) and charging hours are the same.
Ultimately, that means that you can collect Lime scooters when you’re already out gathering Birds and double your wages.
Lime is actually available in far more cities than their competitor, so you’re likely to find them in your city if you already work for Bird.
They also use similar chargers and you shouldn’t have a problem using the same chargers for both of them. This makes it easy to get a nice little charging operation running out of your house.
Check out our complete guide to becoming a Lime scooter charger!
There is one hang-up, though:
Lime’s machines take a bit longer to charge. Whereas Birds take between 3 and 4 hours to go from 0%-95%, Lime scooters take between 5 and 7 hours.
This can make it slightly difficult to incorporate them into your pickup/dropoff routine.
And, you obviously can’t drop your Limes off at a Bird Nest, which means you’ll have to drive a bit further and make several stops.
But, once you get past those hurdles and figure out an efficient workaround, you’ll find that doubling up and working for both companies is a great way to make some extra money.
6. Be Wary of Hard-to-Capture Scooters
It happens to everyone: After you sign up to be a Bird charger, you open the Bird app and switch it to charger mode and see a bunch of red $20-$25 Birds. Your first instinct is to find those scooters first.
You probably thought that “difficult to capture” was an over exaggeration and that you’d have no problem climbing fences or digging through the bushes to collect scooters.
You figured that just by going after hard-to-capture Birds, you could start stacking $20s and earn a few hundred bucks every night.
But that’s not always the case. For example, check out this image we found online:
Putting your life in danger to capture that Bird is not worth $25.
Red Birds aren’t always worth your time. Sure, you might make a few more dollars for capturing it. But, if it takes you two hours to wrangle it up, that doesn’t make financial sense. In the same two hours, you could capture ten $5 Birds if they were in an easily accessible location (i.e on the sidewalk).
You tend to find Green Birds in clusters, too. Red Birds are usually off on their own somewhere.
Until they start paying $100 for the capture of a Red Bird, then, it doesn’t really make sense to go after them. If the Bird scooter is on private property or in the middle of a lake, don’t even bother.
The best strategy is to pick up the closest and easiest scooters. They will pay less, but the reduced time makes it worth it. Plus, a lot of Birds that pay $5 is worth more than a single Bird that pays $20.
Spend your time seeking out groups of Green Birds and you’ll find that you make a higher amount of money per hour.
7. Treat It Like a Job
This could be said about any job in the gig economy:
If you want to make a decent income, you have to treat it like a job.
While many of us are enticed by gig work for the simple fact that we get to create our own schedules, it’s too easy to skip work, take breaks, and get distracted. Every minute of your shift that you spend doing something is a minute that you’re losing out on potential earnings.
Bird is slightly different from other gig platforms in that they have limited hours. Whereas you can drive for Uber at any time of day, Bird Charging hours are strict. The only time you’re going to earn any real money is between 9:00 PM and 7:00 AM.
If you need those hours for sleep, charging scooters might not be for you.
But if you’re a night owl, start by setting a work schedule. If this is a part-time job, force yourself to work at least 20 hours per week (standard part-time hours). If this is your full-time gig, force yourself to work at least 40.
Even though you don’t have a boss breathing down your shoulder, you should pretend as if there is one. This will help you to focus on getting those Birds charged.
In the end, it’s definitely possible to make a few hundred bucks each night as a Charger.
While it probably won’t make you rich, getting the right equipment and approaching the job in a smart, strategic way will help you earn a bit more money than you’re making right now.
If you really want to work full-time in the gig economy, it’s best to diversify your income. Try driving for Lyft or delivering for Postmates or Doordash during the day. Then at night, pick up and charge some scooters. The next morning, after you’ve dropped off some Birds, start picking up Uber or Lyft passengers heading to work.
If you can maximize your time and keep your options open, it’s completely possible to pull in a decent wage with gig jobs.
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