Newspaper Delivery–Is It the Best Route for Extra Money?

newspaperNewspaper Delivery – Is It the Best Route for Extra Money?

I decided to try delivering newspapers for extra income. I rode along with a substitute driver for the route I was going to be taking to see what it was like. She gave me a drive list to follow along with the stops she was making. Unfortunately, she didn’t start at the beginning. She started somewhere toward the end. Then we went to the beginning. Then we worked on the middle. It was all confusing, but I didn’t give up.

The next day, I rode along with a different substitute driver. Luckily I had the drive list from the day before since one wasn’t available on the docks when she picked up the papers. She explained how the bundles work and that we would get a top sheet which had important information like stops–customers that had stopped their newspaper delivery; starts–new customer homes we had to start delivering to; complaints–self explanatory; and requests–these were usually reminders of where they want their paper delivered (i.e. they had a box we didn’t know about, etc). On this day, we started from the beginning. It made a whole lot more sense to me. I took extensive notes as she drove.

About a quarter of the way through, she received a phone call from her son that his car had broken down. He was on another route. She decided to have me finish the route by myself and she took off to help him. I worked on the route for five hours until I absolutely had to leave to get Desert Son to class. She met me to take the remaining papers and finish up the route.

I went to the newspaper office later that day to sign the contract. My contract is for one year that can be cancelled with 30 days written notice. It had terms such as how much I would be paid per paper, that I would be charged for missed houses, and that I would forfeit any money I had earned if I abandoned a route. In addition to forfeiting any earned money for abandoning the route, I could also be charged a $250 fee. My rate for Sundays and holidays is a little higher than the daily rate. Oh, and newspapers needed to be delivered by 6am on weekdays and 7am on weekends.

The next day, which was a Saturday, the papers were late to the docks. I drove the route by myself. It took me about seven and a half hours, give or take. It was a long rural route. I had a lot of houses in subdivisions before I hit the back country roads. I was unfamiliar with these subdivisions so I spent a lot of time using the drive list and the GPS on my phone. I made even more notes on the drive list as I went along.

The papers were late again on Sunday so I didn’t get on the road until 3:30am. This time it took me six hours and forty-five minutes. I was getting a little faster. I was so exhausted when I got home that day. I contemplated whether it was worth it or not. I was putting a lot of miles on my car and filling my tank up every two days. On top of it, I had to continually add air to the rear passenger tire at least every other day. I talked myself into quitting and forfeiting the money I had earned from the weekend. If the route continually took me 6 hours, I was not going to make it to my day job during the week.

I spoke to the woman in charge of the newspaper carriers and let her know I wasn’t cut out for this. She offered me a different route that was closer to my house and was mostly in town deliveries. The miles on the new route were about half of the route I had been doing. If I would finish the week on the existing route, she would get somebody to split the route with me. And the kicker, the new route paid $300-$400 more a month! I agreed to switch.

During that week, I was able to get my half of the route done in 3 hours or less. I had plenty of time to get home before I had to be at work. A few days later, I was asked to train the man taking over the route. He rode along with me on Saturday. I assigned him to read the drive list to me. Unfortunately he was a talker and spent more time talking than reading the directions to me. Because I am not a patient person, I kept going which confused him as to where we were on the paper. However, we were still able to get the route done at a decent time. Not on time, but not as late as I had done the prior weekend either.

The plan on Sunday was for us to split the route. We met at the newspaper office to pick up the papers. I showed him around so he was aware of the route mailbox with any messages in it and where to get the papers. I finished my half of the route within 3 hours. I offered to help him finish his half, but he wanted to do it himself. I was very thankful as I just wanted to go home and take a nap.

On Tuesday (there is no Monday paper), I will start my new route. The new route has 50 more subscribers than the last route. My plan is to take the drive list and do a dry run during the daylight to get an idea. I am supposed to have somebody split the route with me during the week so I am not late for work.

I like delivering newspapers a lot more now than I did that first weekend. It does cause me to have odd sleeping habits but I am adjusting. I’ve been keeping diligent mileage records for taxes at the end of the year. I won’t know until the 5th of next month whether this is profitable or not. I believe it will be. I estimate I will be spending a third of the money on fuel. I’ll be giving Desert Son a small stipend for helping me. This is not a bad deal for him since he sleeps on the route most of the time. In the end, I should be netting half the contracted amount.  

Delivering newspapers seems like a quick and relatively easy way to bring in side income. I almost wouldn’t mind it becoming one of my main streams of income so I can give up my day job. I would much rather be self-employed than just employed.
© 2016 by Marge Fox