As the UK’s so-called ‘gig economy’ continues to grow, so more and more people are looking for self-employed work as couriers, either with firms such as Hermes and DPD or on their own. It’s now estimated that these ‘lifestyle couriers’ make around 15% of UK parcel deliveries and that figure is set to rise sharply as online shopping continues to thrive. With the freedom to work when you want and to be your own boss, it’s an attractive option for many. But how do you become a lifestyle courier? What insurance cover do you need? And what do you need to look out for to ensure your make money?
One of the big attractions of becoming a lifestyle courier for many people is that they can use their own vehicle to set up and run their business. If you’ve a car or a van then you can simply drive to the depot, load up with deliveries and be on your way, right? Well, no actually. A lot of lifestyle couriers don’t appreciate the fact that if you are making paid deliveries then your standard car or van insurance will not cover you, in fact you could invalidate your insurance altogether. No, if you want to become a lifestyle courier you will need to take out courier insurance. Courier cover doesn’t need to be expensive and it will help keep you and your business on the right side of the law. You can get a cheap courier insurance quote Here
So, you and your vehicle are properly insured, you have some time, so all you need now is some work, but where do you find it? Well demand for couriers has never been higher and there are many ways to easily find work. Popular ways include:
- Using Amazon Flex – Amazon Flex is Amazon’s lifestyle courier service. They pay between £12-£15 per hour and they now have depots all over the UK. You’ll need an iPhone or an Android phone as they work through an app but other than that you should be all set.
- Check out recruitments sites and job boards – leading recruitment sites such as Indeed and Monster have plenty of jobs, especially this time of year. Specialist courier forums such our own Lifestyle Courier Forum can also be a good source of work.
- Go directly to the courier companies – DPD, Hermes and Yodel are just a few of the big-name couriers who are often looking for an extra pair hands.
- Google for local independent courier firms – if you’d prefer some local, seasonal driving, then Googling for local businesses wanting work done can be a good idea. Unlike the big organisations smaller businesses can struggle to meet the Christmas rush and they can also pay more as a result
The gig economy is riddled with tales of people being exploited and lifestyle couriering isn’t immune to this. The Guardian recently reported the levels of low pay that some couriers receive and the hours they need to work. Doing this kind of work can be a great way to earn as and when you please, but it’s worth doing the following before you start:
- Do the maths – is your car or van going to be large enough for you to get enough parcels in it to make it pay? If you’re spending half your time driving to and from the depot to complete your deliveries then you’re not going to make much per hour. Equally you need to consider not just your time and fuel but other costs such as courier insurance and wear and tear on your vehicle. And remember, you’re self-employed: so, factor in no holiday pay, sickness benefit or work on (most) bank holidays
- Do you have the time to make it pay – while this sort of work is all about working when you want to, to make it pay you’ll need to put in enough hours. It’s also worth factoring in where you live and the area your round will be in. If you’re in a city or urban area then getting 80 parcels done in a day can be – traffic permitting! – relatively easy. If, however, you’re working in a rural area where the deliveries are widely spread and the roads poor, those 80 parcels can take a whole lot longer to get shot of and if, as some don’t, you don’t get your mileage paid this could be a lot of work for little reward…
- Be aware of charges – this has been one of the most controversial aspects of this sector of the delivery industry. Some large firms have threatened drivers with the loss of their rounds if they can’t make it in, while others have even demanded money for lost work if the driver could not complete their round
If you’re looking to make a little extra cash from your spare time, don’t mind hard work, have a vehicle and are prepared to get the right insurance to stay legal, then yes it can be. There’s no shortage of work out there and having the freedom to work when you like is always a great bonus.