Harry Campbell

The Rideshare Guy
the gig economy

Many don't really understand how much they'll get paid.

Many don't really understand how much they'll get paid.

Published: Dec 08, 2022 6 min read

Depending on your point of view, the gig economy can seem like a godsend or a ghoulish way for companies to take advantage of people desperate for extra cash. And sometimes gig workers — generally, part-timers without benefits who earn money handling jobs arranged on apps like Uber, Instacart and Taskrabbit — can feel exploited and thankful in the same breath.

Harry Campbell, a former aerospace engineer who runs the gig worker-focused blog The Rideshare Guy, understands this better than most. He hears constantly from caregivers, retirees and all manner of freelancers who love having the ability to decide when and how much they'll work a side hustle.

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But it’s far from a universal experience.

"There are people (particularly immigrants) who get into gig work full-time because that's the best or only option for them, and they lack protections like sick pay and health insurance," Campbell tells Money via email. "In those instances, accidents can be catastrophic. That's when you hear a lot about how the gig economy 'doesn't work.'"

He created The Rideshare Guy in 2014 mostly because, as a part-time driver for Uber and Lyft himself, he discovered it was incredibly difficult to get trustworthy information about what it was really like trying to earn money using rideshare apps — not to mention the realities of transporting strangers in your car. Campbell quickly found an audience and soon turned to the blog full-time.

Despite its name, The Rideshare Guy has long since expanded beyond its roots. It now covers gig economy jobs in general. And that’s perfect timing, given that the industry has grown massively in recent years.

A 2021 Pew Research study estimated that 16% of Americans have earned money from online gig platforms, a number that’s higher among Hispanic and Black adults as well as lower-income workers. According to a projection from Mastercard, there will be 78 million gig workers worldwide by 2023 — nearly double the total five years prior.

Many of these workers need help navigating the gig economy landscape, which now includes a long roster of rideshare and food delivery apps, plus dozens more in categories like home improvement (Handy), dog-walking (Wag) and random chores (Fiverr).

That's where The Rideshare Guy comes in, with a range of guides detailing how different apps work. Campbell and contributors to the site also break down how much money you can realistically make and share tips for maximizing your profits, boosting your customer star rating, figuring out what kind of auto insurance you need, paying taxes on side gig income and more. Recent posts include a review of Zevvy, a new electric car lease company, and strategies to help drivers cope with the delivery of food or passengers that smell weird (air fresheners and rolled-down windows).

The Rideshare Guy is not an advocacy or watchdog group, and Campbell is upfront that it's very much a for-profit operation. (The company makes money from driver referrals, online ads, consulting and such.)

But The Rideshare Guy, which now includes podcasts and YouTube videos, has helped the community of gig workers be a lot more informed.

Over the years, gig workers have been able to pool their knowledge to move toward better working conditions. In particular, Campbell says, "Uber and Lyft have listened to driver concerns and have made things safer and easier to understand, with more options for drivers to contact Uber/Lyft in cases of emergency, and with greater information about where passengers are going and how much drivers are estimated to earn per ride."

Among the improvements: Drivers (and riders) can often contact 911 or an affiliated security service with a push of a single button in their gig app of choice.

However, according to a 2022 report from Gig Workers Rising, a group supporting app-based independent workers, there's still plenty of room for progress. The report is calling for lawmakers and gig economy corporations to institute policies that would automatically compensate gig workers injured or killed on the job, increase transparency about assaults and deaths among gig workers, and give them more freedom to unionize and collectively bargain for higher pay and better conditions in general.

Campbell is skeptical that strikes and efforts to unionize are the best negotiation tactics in this industry, but he does believe it’s critical for gig workers to be vocal about what they want. Above all, though, he stresses that people should learn as much as possible to figure out if gig work makes sense for them.

“Many don't really understand how much they'll get paid and how they shouldn't necessarily accept every ride,” he says. “That can lead many to quit.”