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About distributing leaflets in mailboxes

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Last month I spent sometime delivering fliers in mailboxes. It was a job that was tougher than I had expected.

I had actually inquired about it back in December (2022). I was alone then and had some time to kill. I did not care so much about the money then and I thought if I got that opportunity, it would be good to take long walks with an added purpose.

I did not get a chance then, but they contacted me last month and gave me a “job”. Initially I was overwhelmed – there were close to 4400 fliers to be delivered across suburbs until 10 kms away from where I live (Asquith, a suburb in upper north shore of Sydney). Since the leaflets were about a section of the Sydney train’s rail network’s closure due to maintenance works, they were targeting the residential areas around the train stations of Berowra, Mount Kuring-gai, Mount Colah, Asquith and Hornsby.

I was skeptical about being able to do it but still accepted the job because I wanted to give it a fair attempt and for the experience. I had the luxury of two weekends (and I could also do it on weekdays of course).

They did provide some guide maps for the areas to cover, though in hindsight, I think, they should have been a bit more detailed than that. Anyway, to maximise the potential of the weekends at hand, I had to do a rough plan to optimise the leaflets distribution.

First I looked at the suburbs that were farthest from where I was (Asquith): Berowra, Mount Kuring-gai and to some extent, Mt Colah. Berowra is almost 10 KMs away.
The suburbs closest to my area were: Mount Colah (north of Asquith), Hornsby (south of Asquith) and of course, areas in Asquith itself.

Then I categorised the areas within the suburb into one of the following categories:

1. Far off – houses (Berowra, Mount Kuring-gai, some parts of Mount Colah)
2. Far off – apartment blocks (Mount Colah)
3. Nearby – houses (Asquith)
4. Nearby – apartment blocks (Asquith, Hornsby)

I first chose Berowra and Mount Kuring-gai as they were far off since I could use my weekend time well there. I covered those areas on the first weekend. I could only give a couple of hours per day, so I chose early mornings for that.

The nearby ones were where I could walk or were a short drive away.

Houses are tricky because you’d probably have to walk around 4-5 meters for every frontyard’s mailbox. That and coupled with the uneven terrain that you get at places like Berowra and Mt Kuring-gai, it wasn’t an easy task. I understood early that I’d have to pick up a street, cover a few around it and then use my car to cover the other parts of the suburbs. So I’d park my car at an intersection of neighbourhood streets and try to maximise the walking radius.

On the other hand, apartments are any leaflet delivery person’s delight. You could spend an hour on streets of independent, stand-alone houses and barely manage finding 100 mailboxes, or you could get lucky and find an apartment building that’d present itself with 120 mailboxes that you’d fill up in 10 minutes. I found out that doing evening runs (ok, walks) on weekdays for high density apartment areas (Hornsby mostly) was more rewarding. Also, I could do them at night as most apartments were at places where there was ample street lighting. To do houses at night was unimaginable.

This was the planning part – however, the effort that went into it, despite the planning painted a less rosy picture. I had to record my walking trails (which was fine because that was the only way for them to know if I had actually walked and not cheated). So here’s all the walking I did and the time taken:

KMs | Time (in minutes)
—- |———————
2.42 | 36
4.16 | 50
3.19 | 43
3.47 | 53
2.88 | 40
1.88 | 23
0.66 | 12
3.54 | 58
0.61 | 17
1.25 | 32
1.79 | 44
0.85 | 29
1.35 | 44
0.21 | 2
3.07 | 51
0.63 | 26
1.57 | 63
5.12 | 79
38.65 | 702

Ultimately I ended up walking about 39 KMs in a total of approximately 12 hours. The total amount I was paid was based on per thousand leaflets ($50 AUD/1000). As it turned out, that walking effort that you see there yielded me $220 AUD. If I simply take a per hour rate based on the time recorded while walking, it comes to around $19 AUD per hour. The national minimum wage rate in Australia is $23 AUD per hour. So, it misses the mark by a huge margin. The other thing such a job does not consider is the sheer amount of physical tiredness one has to endure as a result of the effort (Notice that I maximised my time window to do this work). Also, I have not even counted the time taken to drive to/from the points where I started to walk, nor have I considered the cost of the fuel.

All in all, I don’t think distributing leaflets presents itself as a lucrative way to earn money – especially given the rates that they offer vis-a-vis the physical effort and time it takes. I wrote this up as a way to document my experience hoping that it helps someone understand the effort it takes to do a task that otherwise sounds very attractive and easy.


So much thanks to my friend MI, who pushed me to restart this blog after a long time. I hope, with this, I am able to blog regularly like I used to before.

Written by aditya kumar

July 24th, 2023 at 6:46 pm

Posted in Personal,Sydney

One Response to 'About distributing leaflets in mailboxes'

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  1. ‘Apartments are a leaflet person’s delight.’ :-) Enjoyed this piece and how you dived right into the task at hand, and learnt so much about it in the process.
    Looking forward to reading more blogs from you.


    24 Jul 23 at 8:28 pm

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