If you’re looking for a way to make extra money outside of your job, there are plenty of side hustle ideas with real potential. For those who live in urban areas, charging electric scooters can be a great way to earn some money with minimal impact on your current life.
Electric scooter rentals through companies like Bird and Lime have become very popular in many cities, and that has led to a great side hustle opportunity. These companies will pay you to charge their scooters and get them back on the streets to be rented again.
There are a number of reasons why you might want to become a Bird charger or Lime juicer, and we’ll take a look at the pros and cons. We’ll also get feedback and insight from someone who has already made a few thousand dollars with this side hustle.
The Pros and Cons of Charging Electric Scooters
Like any side hustle, there are some pros and cons that you should consider if you are evaluating this as a way to make extra money. Let’s take a look.
- Decent income potential. In a minute, you’ll read about Kevin, who has made $700+ in a month just by charging scooters in his spare time.
- Not that much work involved. You’ll pick up scooters that need to be charged, plug them in, and return them when they’re charged.
- Make money while you sleep. You can do something else while the scooters charge, like sleep.
- No special skills or experience required.
- Only an option in cities and major urban areas. Depending on where you live or work, it may not even be an option.
- You need to be approved as a charger. Now that it’s becoming a popular side hustle, more people are applying.
- Not going to be a full-time income. While the money is great for a side hustle, it doesn’t give you the potential to grow it into a full-time income.
This side hustle is ideal if you live in a city and there are Bird Nests or LimeHubs nearby. You can make around $5 per scooter that you charge, but it’s not going to be a lucrative side hustle if you have to go very far to pick up a scooter.
If you can grab a few scooters on your way home from work and return them the next morning, it could be a great side hustle that doesn’t take much of your time.
Read more about other side hustles:
- 20 Things You Can Rent Out for Extra Money
- How to Sell on eBay for Beginners
- Get Paid to Donate Plasma
- How to Become a Virtual Assistant
How Kevin Makes Hundreds of Dollars Per Month Charging Scooters
I first came across to scooter charging side hustle last year by reading about Kevin’s experience with both Bird and Lime. In October of 2018, he made over $700 charging scooters! To make it even more impressive, he doesn’t go out of his way to pick up scooters and he doesn’t even have a vehicle to carry multiple scooters.
I reached out to Kevin to see if you would be willing to answer some questions about this side hustle, and thankfully he agreed. Here is the interview with Kevin.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hey everyone – and thank you to Marc for inviting me onto the blog! My name is Kevin and I’m an attorney and blogger over at Financial Panther, a blog about my journey side hustling towards financial independence. I live in Minneapolis with my wife and our small dog. No kids yet, although that’ll probably be coming up on the horizon.
I graduated from law school back in 2013 with $87,000 worth of student loans, then paid off all of my debt in about 2 years by choosing not to live like a bigshot lawyer. My wife just finished a dental residency and our next goal will be to tackle her student loans and get them paid off as fast as possible – hopefully within the next year!
What do you do full-time?
For the past five years, I’ve worked full-time as an attorney, first starting out my career at a large law firm, then moving to a large government agency, and then finally moving over to a non-traditional legal role with a small non-profit.
During that time, I’ve also been doing every side hustle imaginable, primarily using sharing economy and gig economy apps. Over the past four years, I’ve rented out a spare room in my house on Airbnb, boarded and walked dogs on Rover and Wag, delivered food on my bike with Postmates, DoorDash, and Uber Eats, charged electric scooters with Bird and Lime, and done countless other gigs. In an average month, I’ll bring in income from 10 or more different sources.
So now that I’ve said all that, I have some big news. A month ago, I actually quit my job and made the move to full-time blogging and side hustling! It’s scary going from a steady paycheck to trying to make it on my own, but I’m excited about the challenge! There’s a lot of comfort in knowing that, no matter what, I can still bring in income from side hustling.
How did you get started charging scooters?
I got started charging scooters when they first appeared in Minneapolis back in the summer of 2018. I’d learned about scooter charging from my brother, who had started charging scooters when they first appeared in his city, and after learning about it from him, I knew that this was something I had to try out.
Bird came onto the scene first in Minneapolis and I signed up right away, attended an in-person orientation session, and then got out there and started charging. Lime started here a few days later and I jumped on that one right away as well.
Initially, my goal was just to see how charging scooters worked and whether it would fit into my lifestyle. When it comes to side hustling, I’m big on finding side hustles that fit in well with my day-to-day life, so my basic plan was to try it out, and if it didn’t work out for me, I’d drop it and find something else to do. As luck would have it, scooter charging worked out perfectly for my day-to-day life, and I became obsessed with finding and charging scooters.
Can you explain what’s involved?
The process of charging scooters is fairly straightforward. Once you’ve signed up to be a Bird or Lime charger, you’ll have a new section in your Bird or Lime app where you can see all of the scooters that are available to charge. When scooters get low on battery, they pop up here.
From there, you just find the scooter, scan it with your app, and then take it home however you can. Most people drive and throw scooters into their trunks. I don’t drive to do any of my gigs. Instead, I usually bike or scooter over to different scooters and then scooter home with them, typically by stacking multiple scooters on top of each other and riding them home. It takes skill to be able to do this, but I’ve practiced it enough that I’m really good at it.
Once you get home, you just plug them into a normal outlet. You then have to drop the scooters off by 7:00 am the next morning in designated spots (called Bird nests or LimeHubs). Since I live in a dense neighborhood, I usually have tons of these nests and hubs near my house, so it’s easy enough for me to just drop them off on my way into work in the morning.
How much time do you spend on this side hustle and how much does it pay?
I typically don’t spend more than an hour per day charging scooters. And I never go out of my way to find scooters. Instead, I just grab scooters that happen to be near me or that I’m passing by on my way home from work. The same is true for dropping off scooters in the morning. Since I live in a pretty popular neighborhood, it’s very easy for me to charge up scooters and then drop them off as I go into work.
In terms of pay, you typically get paid between $3 and $5 for charging each scooter. If you’re doing this right and you live in neighborhoods that have a lot of scooters around you, then you should average at least $25 per hour charging scooters. This will drop substantially if you have to drive a significant amount of time to find scooters.
It’s important to note that, in my opinion, scooter charging really only makes sense if you’re either charging a high volume of scooters or, as in my situation, you live in a neighborhood that has a lot of scooters already and, as a result, you can basically just step outside and pick up scooters. If you’re driving around randomly looking for scooters, I don’t think you’ll make a lot of money for your time.
As someone who works in an industry that pays well, can you explain your view on side hustles and why it’s worth your time?
For me, side hustles do two things. First, they give me a bit of an escape from the day-to-day stuff I’m already doing. I’m one of those people that really gets a lot of joy from doing these side hustles, and in a lot of ways, these side hustles basically work as a form of stress-relief for me. Most of us spend 8+ hours a day sitting at a desk. I think there’s a lot of benefit in doing stuff that gets you outside and moving, hence why I do things like charging scooters.
The second reason I do this is that I think most people underestimate the power of the small side hustle. The money you make from these side hustles adds up over time. If you can make just an extra $10 per day, that adds up to over $3,600 over the course of the year. That’s a significant sum of money for most people. And if you invest all of the extra money you make, you can literally become a millionaire just from side hustling. The amazing thing is that with the way technology is now, everyone can figure out ways to make extra money every single day.
How much effort does it take to find scooters that need to be charged, and are you usually able to find some?
For me, it takes very little effort to find scooters because I live in a neighborhood that has a lot of scooter riders. That means there are always scooters at the end of the day available for me to charge. I’ve never had a day that I was unable to step outside and find scooters within a block or two of me.
That being said, this will obviously differ based on where you live. As I mentioned earlier, I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to charge scooters unless you’re someone who is trying to charge a huge number of scooters at once. If you’re treating this as a side hustle though and you live in neighborhoods that have a lot of scooters already, then this makes sense to do.
What type of vehicle is needed to carry the scooters?
I’ve actually never used my car to charge scooters since I do all of my scooter charging on foot. That being said, you’d need a hatchback, a truck, or a van to be able to efficiently carry scooters. If you had a bike with some sort of wheelbarrow carrier thing, that would be really good to use! A regular sedan type car might be hard to charge scooters with.
Personally, if I had to use my car, I wouldn’t charge scooters, since that just doesn’t seem like much fun to drive around and throw scooters into your car.
Do you have any preference between Bird and Lime?
Lime is definitely the better company now, mainly because Bird seems to be actively trying to stop chargers from riding the scooters. The annoying thing with Bird is that they now cap the speed of their scooters to 5mph for chargers, which effectively means I can’t really charge Bird scooters efficiently on foot anymore. Bird also locks their scooters if you don’t get them back out by 7:00 am, which means that, if you’re late bringing them out, you’ll have to lug the scooter by hand over your shoulder.
Lime doesn’t seem to have any of those limitations, which makes it way easier to charge Lime scooters on foot. It also seems like Lime has a better GPS system, which means you’re less likely to roll up on a scooter that isn’t actually there.
Are you able to work for both companies at the same time?
Absolutely. In fact, I recommend you work for both companies in order to maximize your earning potential! Remember, you’re an independent contractor when you do these gigs, which basically means you are your own business. Think of yourself as a business and do these gigs in a way that makes sense for you.
What are some of your favorite and least favorite things about this side hustle?
For a long time, my favorite thing about this side hustle was the fact that, when I was charging, I could basically ride the scooters around for free. This was a lot of fun, although admittedly, it made me pretty lazy since I usually bike to get around places, and by scootering, I wasn’t getting any exercise.
My least favorite thing about scooter charging would be having to wake up early to get the scooters out. I’m not a morning person at all, but I do try to get my morning started earlier, rather than later. A benefit of scooter charging is that it does motivate you to wake up and get your day started!
What would be the first steps for someone who is interested in pursuing this side hustle?
The first step would be to apply! Scooter charging has really picked up in popularity over the past year, so you’ll want to get your application in there as soon as possible. It can take some time before your application is actually approved now, given how many people are applying to be chargers.
It would probably also be a good idea to read more about how scooter charging works. I wrote a really in-depth post on my blog about my experience charging Bird and Lime scooters, which you can check out here.
Scooter charging would be a great side hustle for someone who…
Scooter charging would be a great side hustle for someone who is a young professional that lives in a densely populated neighborhood that has a lot of scooters already around them. I’ve found that most young professionals live in “cool” neighborhoods. These neighborhoods also happen to be the same neighborhoods that scooters tend to congregate in.
If you live in these type of neighborhoods, it’s very easy to just walk outside and grab a few scooters every single day and then drop them off outside on your way into work in the morning. I did this all through the summer and fall last year. $20 per day or so from scooters might not seem like all that much. But it adds up.
How to Get Started with Charging Scooters
After reading what Kevin has to say about his experience, if you think it would be a good fit for you, here’s what you need to do.
The process is pretty straightforward. You can sign up to be a charger at the websites for Bird and Lime:
After you’re approved, you will get cables to charge the scooters. Kevin said that he got the cables for free, but he’s heard reports of other people needing to pay to get them. He also said that with more people applying now, you may not get approval right away.
Once you are in the program, you will use the Bird and/or Lime app to find scooters near you that need to be charged. You’ll use the GPS to locate them, scan the scooters that you pick up, take them home to charge, and then bring them back to a Bird Nest or LimeHub the next morning. The pay can vary depending on a few factors, but it’s generally somewhere around $5 per scooter.
If it fits into your daily life, as it has for Kevin, it can be a great way to make some extra money.
READ NEXT: How to Start a Side Hustle